Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB): More than 700 mln shares to be freed from lock-up on Wednesday

About 773 million shares of Facebook Inc(NASDAQ:FB)- the largest chunk yet - will be released from lock-up on Wednesday and will become available for selling.

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About 200 million shares of locked-up shares were released on October 29 and shares of the social networking site fell 3.4 percent to $21.12 that day and have further plunged to $19.15 since then.

However the market is dreading Wednesday's expiry of locked-in shares since it is the largest number of shares that will become available since the company went public in May.

It will also mark the day when Chief Executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg will become eligible to sell about 504 million of his shares. But Zuckerberg has already said before in a regulatory filing that he would not be selling his shares, as a mark confidence in the company.

However it remains to be seen whether any of the top executives in the company will be following his example, such as Chief Operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman.

The next expiration date is December 14, when more than 155.9 million shares may free up. This is when stockholders who sold into the IPO -- including big names like early backers Peter Thiel and Mark Pincus and co-founder Dustin Moskovitz -- are free to sell their stock.

After December, the next date to look for is May 18, when more than 47.3 million shares can be sold. These shares include those held by investors like Mail.ru Group Limited and DST Global Limited.

Amazon.com (AMZN) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) accused of being immoral in the U.K.

U.K. authorities have, for some time now, suspected Internet companies such as Amazon.com, Inc.(NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google Inc(NASDAQ:GOOG), of paying lesser taxes than are warranted by their income.

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The two companies have been accused of intentionally hiding their profits from their operations in the country in order to lower their tax liabilities.

The allegations have been made by a committee comprising Ministers of Parliament.

Matt Brittin, who heads Google's North European operations, appeared before the committee and explained that the company's international operations are based in Ireland since the corporate tax rates are lower in the country at 12.5 percent.

According to a report in Digital Trends, "The company’s filings show that it had £2.5 billion worth of sales in the United Kingdom last year, but despite having a profit margin of 33 percent, managed to pay only £3.4 million in taxes. That’s because it diverts non-US sales through the Irish headquarters, which asks for just 3.2 percent in taxes on non-US income."

“Like any company, you play by the rules [and] manage costs efficiently to offer fair value to shareholders,” Brittin told the committee.

This argument did not however impress committee chair, Margaret Hodge, who accused the company of being immoral in its dealings, if not illegal.

It fared even worse for Amazon's director of public policy Andrew Cecil, who was accused of being totally evasive. He was unable to tell the committee who owned the company and unable to give details about the income generated by its British operations.

Hodge said that he was clearly “not a serious person” to appear before the committee, pointing out that British customers who order books from the site, and receive their orders shipped from a British depot, and yet Amazon seems to be paying taxes on those sales in Luxembourg (Amazon.co.uk paid £1.8 million in taxes last year on £200 million turnover according to the company’s own figures), the Digital Trends report said.

Stocks To Watch - Molycorp Inc (NYSE:MCP), American International Group, Inc.(NYSE:AIG)

Shares of Molycorp Inc(NYSE:MCP) continued to tumble in Monday’s session and slid 5% after falling 14% in Friday’s session as the company revealed that it is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission over the accuracy of its disclosures, among other things.

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As per the filing the company received the notification of SEC investigation in August but no further details were given. Molycorp is fully co-operating with SEC and said that it cannot predict the length or scope of investigation, further it is not clear if there will be any impact on operations.

The company posted a third-quarter loss after the market closed on Thursday, but came in above analyst expectations.

Chief Executive Officer Bob Benmosche said American International Group, Inc.(NYSE:AIG) plans to sell off its savings and loan business soon it receives label of “too big to fail” from a federal panel.

Over a telephonic interview the CEO said that the company is looking more aggressively at making and purchasing mortgages as investment vehicles.

Four years ago the company received a $182.5 billion in bailout money from U.S. taxpayers at the height of the financial crisis. Since then it has been working to repay the government and regain its creditability.

Regulated by the Federal Reserve American International Group has savings and loan business without which it is likely to come under permanent Fed oversight anyway as a "systemically important financial institution," or SIFI.

Benmosche said of the S&L, "we are planning to close it down. It's a business that doesn't make sense to be in."

Benmosche said that it has spoken to banks as potential buyers and hired lawyers.

Even as it looks to sell off the bank, though, one place AIG is bulking up is in mortgages.

Shares are down nearly 10 percent since, with most of that drop coming after the company said it would ease up on buybacks in favor of using its capital to manage its debt load.

 "The main thing is we feel we should try to get to a 51 percent sale such that we can deconsolidate the debt from AIG, so that's a target that we have, but we will have to see how it goes," he said. "We are looking for a major launch that gets us more than halfway there."

News Recap: Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Tripadvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP)

Shares of Tripadvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP) surge 2.50% to $34.98 following the reviews of Morgan Stanley Internet analyst Scott Devitt.

Devitt has upgraded his rating to Overweight from Underweight.  He has further revised his Price Target to $41, a rise by 32% from its prior Price Target.

“We believe management is altering its monetization strategy for the better by testing a Meta display and improving bidding visibility for advertisers,” he writes in a research note. “We expect hotel shopper growth to remain robust and pricing headwinds to dissipate, leading to TRIP meaningfully beating 2013 consensus estimates.”

The three primary reasons for his upgrade are firstly Monetization as the company shifts it model form pop-up windows to a metasearch display which will improve the user experience and become a source of income as it will lift in conversion rates for advertisers. Secondly Growth of the company where Devitt sees a 4-year growth at 17% compounded, up from a previous estimate of 15%. Thirdly it will be cheap as Devitt says the Priceline deal for Kayak comes at 18x 2013 EBITDA, and 38x EPS, highlighting “the significant value of online travel companies at the top of the funnel.”

Sterne Agee analyst says that Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) will receive $6 to $8 for every Android-based HTC phone sold. Apple and HTC announced a patent settlement and a 10 year licensing deal late Saturday night, terms of settlement for which were not yet disclosed.

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For the sale of 30-35 million Android smartphones annually HTC generates $180-$280 million in annual revenue for Apple which is a sure profit as no cost is associated with it. But this money does not matter a lot for Apple as it earned $41 billion in net income during its last fiscal year.

HTC also reportedly send $5 to Microsoft for every Android-phone it sells. This means it's paying $11-$13 per phone for patents.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Starbucks SBUX), And Amazon.com (AMZN)To Be Confronted By UK Lawmakers Over Tax Issues

Lawmakers in the UK will be quizzing executives of Google Inc(NASDAQ:GOOG), Amazon.com, Inc.(NASDAQ:AMZN) and Starbucks Corporation(NASDAQ:SBUX) on Monday on how they have managed to pay only meager amounts of tax in Britain while saving sales worth billions of dollars.

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The Public Accounts Committee is in-charge of monitoring government financial matters. It has sent invitation to companies to present evidence in the wake of increasing political and public concerns regarding tax avoidance by reputed international companies.

A member of parliament for the opposition Labour Party, Margaret Hodge said that it is difficult for the ordinary people to believe it is a fair practice. It makes people angry beyond limits in the present fiscal climate. She said so referring to the austerity measures that large budget deficits have dawned upon the United Kingdom and many other countries.

Germany and Britain have declared last week that they have plans of pushing Group of 20 economic powers to make multinational companies to pay their share of taxes after there were reports of large companies taking undue advantage of loopholes to avoid paying taxes.

Reuters had reported last month that Starbucks had paid zero corporation and income tax in the UK in the last three years. It has paid only 8.6 million pounds on totality as part of UK tax over a span of 13 years.
Campaign group UK Uncut is opposed to government austerity measures. It has organized a number of protests against Boots and Vodafone over their tax practices. It mentioned in a statement that it had plans of targeting Starbucks.

The biggest coffee chain the world has said that it has complied with the tax regulations of every country it operates in and it has sought to pay its own share of tax amounts.

Amazon avoids UK taxes by reporting European sales through a unit in Luxembourg.

Google’s filings revealed that it had $4 billion of sales in the UK the previous year. However, since it had a group-wide profit margin of 33%, it’s main unit in the UK had a tax charge of 3.4 million pounds in the year 2011.

Ballmer: Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Surface Tablet Has A Modest Start

CEO of Microsoft Corporation(NASDAQ:MSFT) has said that sales of Surface tablet are modest. It has also touted the coming availability of a top-notch Intel version.

Steve Ballmer has spoken to French daily Le Parisien and mentioned that sales are starting modestly.

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Ballmer has also stated that the sales faced constraints by the restrictions of the sales channel. The Surface tablet is available only on Microsoft Store online. In the US, the tablet will be available in a number of brick and mortar stores.

However, the demand for the tablet through sales channel of Microsoft was high enough to indicate a scarcity of the $499 model online for over a week, while it was enlisted as ‘out of stock’.

Ballmer has not revealed any sales figures to the French newspaper.

Ballmer, however, has mentioned that the Intel-based top-notch tablet is on its way.

The more expensive version is 0.53 inch thick and weighs some 2 pounds. It comes with some appealing high-performance silicon, 4 GB of storage space, a third generation Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 Processor and much more. It also has support for high resolution displays like 1920 x 1080.

The Intel-based Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro is has not yet been priced. It is being expected sometime next year. However, Microsoft has mentioned in the past that it would be charged in line with ultrabooks that carry similar configurations.

Ballmer commented on the outlook for the economy of the US. He exhorted politicians to act on the deficit, even though he fell short of saying if spending cutbacks must be a subject of emphasis.

He said that it is not about spending more or less, it is more about balancing income and spending. He feels that since the elections are over, it is time to get back to action. 

Double Digit Gainers: Crexus Investment Corp (NYSE:CXS), Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD)

Annaly Capital Management Inc., a real estate investment trust, is offering to purchase the remaining specialty finance company of Crexus Investment Corp(NYSE:CXS) in lieu of $839 million. Annaly has mentioned that it is ready to pay $12.50 for each share for the stock it does not already own.

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Annaly already owns a 12.4% stake in CreXus. That translates to about 9.5 million shares. CreXus has nearly 76.6 million outstanding shares.

The offer price is an almost 13% premium to CreXus’ closing price as on Friday of $11.10. Shares of CreXus soared by $1.33 to $12.43 in Monday’s session.

Chairman and CEO of Annaly, Wellington Denahan has stated that the buyout offer would provide a chance to branch out part of its investment portfolio.

Denahan said that Annaly may opt for up to 25% of its shareholders’ equity for real-estate assets other than agency securities that are backed by mortgages.

Fixed Income Discount Advisory Co, a subsidiary of Annaly manages CreXus and two workers who are on the company’s board.

Annaly is predicting that CreXus will make a special committee to calculate its offer that is supposed to be made by directors independent of its company.

In other news, Gilead Sciences, Inc.(NASDAQ:GILD) has reported a 100% cure rate in a few patients with the most common type of Hepatitis C.

The mid-stage study has examined 25 patients having genotype 1 chronic Hepatitis C virus infection. They were treated for a span of 12 weeks with a combination of three different drugs: GS-5885, sofosbuvir and ribavirin.

GS-5885 belongs to a prospective new class of drugs known as NS5A inhibitors that stop the hepatitis C virus from replicating.

The infection was undetectable for four weeks after completing therapy in all the patients, who had never received this combination of drugs before.

Gilead has recently begun the first Phase 3 trial evaluating a fixed-dose permutation of sofosbuvir and GS-5885 in patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C virus infection, who were never treated with these drugs before.

Shares of GILD were up 13.72% to $73.93.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), HTC agree to settle all court cases

Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) and HTC have agreed to settle all differences between themselves and put an end to all legal disputes that each have filed against the other over the last two years.

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It rare for warring companies to arrive at a mutually agreed settlement when patent violations are involved and rarer still to find them agreeing to settle all cases.

Apple had HTC have been warring against each other since 2010, when Apple filed its initial lawsuit against HTC, which then counter-sued and thus the saga has gone on.

According to a statement by Apple, which is up on is site, the two companies have “reached a global settlement that includes the dismissal of all current lawsuits and a ten-year license agreement.”

Both Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple provide short and to-the-point quotes on the situation:

“HTC is pleased to have resolved its dispute with Apple, so HTC can focus on innovation instead of litigation,” says Peter Chou, while Tim Cook echoes his words by saying “We are glad to have reached a settlement with HTC. We will continue to stay laser focused on product innovation.”

This can technically b seen as a win for Apple, which is seen to be waging a proxy war against Google and its Android operating system, by filing cases against its handset partners such as Motorola, Samsung, HTC, LG and others.

Samsung is no doubt, it bitter rival and the two companies have been winning and losing court cases against each other, depending on where the trial is being heard.

For HTC, it must be a relief that it’s not going to have to face the possibility of a $1 billion judgement against it, as unlike Samsung, it doesn’t have money to throw around.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) pays $21 mn for using clock design

This is one mistake that Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) could have done without, since it has cost the company about $21 million in pay-outs.

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Apple has had to pay $21 million to Swiss national rail operator SBB or the use of it famous clock without taking permission, a report in a Swiss Daily said last week.

The clock design is a recent one by Apple appears in its latest operating system iOS6.

Last month, Apple agreed to compensate the Swiss rail operator so that it could continue to use the SBB’s Swiss-designed station clock face on its iPads and iPhones, the Tages-Anzeiger daily reported on its website, citing unnamed sources.

Considering that Apple is such a stickler for patents and design violations by others and is quick to take legal recourse if it catches so much as a whiff of anyone even trying to copy its designs, it seems rather strange that the company should be guilty of the same thing.

The company should have asked for permission first from SBB before using a symbol that is so iconic and at once recognisable.

According to Tim Worstall, writing for Forces, "It’s much, much, cheaper to negotiate IP before you launch a product, when you still have the choice about whether to use it or not, than it is to have to cough up after you’ve distributed a few tens of millions of the product. You know, when the IP owner definitively has you over a barrel?"

Incidentally Apple has been taken to court by many companies for using designs of other companies without bothering about IP.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Reminder - We are mobile

With consistent remarks on Facebook Inc(NASDAQ:FB) not paying so much attention to its mobile applications by Wall Street in the past, the company has finally answered and indeed affirmatively. The company has recently posted in a blogthat it's got its mind on mobile.
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The blog mentioned in details about the work that is in process by the product teams of the company. With mobile devices bringing in transformation, the company too is engaged in updating its main Facebook application frequently. Infact, the company moves on to say that “it's all about mobile”.
Product Manager Michael Eyal Sharon wrote in the post that the company is paying attention to standalone apps which is the key to that process. He further substantiated it citing example of the update released earlier this week that integrated Camera and Messenger features into the main app. "Having mobile apps designed for the most popular mobile activities allows us to take the best features from each and cross-pollinate with our core Facebook for iOS and Android apps.” 
However, the obstruction faced in this path is the crucial decision as to which features make the most sense for the core apps. Once this has been sorted one needs to seek through ways of implementing the same. According to Sharon, the solution has involved retooling the development process. "Having a single team own the product experience in their standalone apps as well as the integrated experience in the core app means that we have more thoughtfully executed experiences across platforms and applications," Sharon wrote.

New Addition to Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD)’s Board by Abu Dhabi

A second representative has been added to the board of directors of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.(NYSE:AMD), by its major shareholder, Mubadala Development. Mubadala is actually an investment arm of the Government of Abu Dhabi. According to the statement issued by the Sunnyvale, California-based company yesterday, Mubadala has chosen to nominate Ahmed Yahia Al Idrissi to AMD’s board.

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In an e-mailed statement, AMD spokesman Drew Prairie explained the decision in detail. Mubadala’s long-time association with AMD and its dedication to the company is absolutely in line with the appointment of Ahmed Yahia Al Idrissi. Another reason for this addition to the AMD board is due to the extreme importance of the semiconductor industry to Mubadala.

Analysts have predicted quite some time back that the personal-computer market is headed for a slowdown, which will adversely affect AMD. It is quite possible that the firm will face acute shortage of cash flow, which will prevent it from introducing new models in the market and thus turnaround its fortunes. Mubadala owns 20% of AMD and they are looking to combat the aforementioned slowdown in the future, by broadening its oversight of AMD’s management.

According to the statement by AMD, Yahia is in charge of its metals, mining, utilities and advanced materials and products, being an executive director of Mubadala Industry. He was previously a partner of McKinsey & Co. and is a degree holder from the Ecole Centrale Paris and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Abu Dhabigot its stake in AMD via Mubadala when it purchased the manufacturing division of the company, which gave birth to the contract chip manufacturer Globalfoundries. This transaction took place 4 years back in 2008 and now AMD is Globalfoundries’ main customer. Shares of AMD went up 2.5% to $2.03 in New York at the close, although their stock has dropped 62% in 2012.

U.K. Court orders Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to pay Samsung’s legal fees for misleading public notice

Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) has been ordered to pay rival Samsung's legal fees after the company was found not to have complied with a previous ruling that required it to put up a notice on its website saying that Samsung had not infringed on the design of its iPad.

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According to a report by Groklaw, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales found that the original notice on the Apple website contained inaccuracies and "false innuendo," warranting the payment of Samsung legal fees on an "indemnity basis," which is higher the "standard" basis.

In July a court in U.K. had ruled that Samsung could not have copied the designs of Apple's iPads as the Koran handset maker's devices were not `cool' enough.

It also ordered the maker of iPhones to put up a notice on the homepage of its U.K. site specifically stating that Samsung had not copied its designs.

When the post went up, however, it came in the form of a link to a statement which Apple had modified, adding in three paragraphs of non-compliant text between the ordered material's two paragraphs, Apple Insider said.

The court found the added content to be false and sought to "undermine the intent" of the order, specifically citing a quote from Judge Birss regarding the distinctive nature of Apple products, saying it was taken out of context and "foster[ed] the false notion that the case was about the iPad," the report added.

What has created confusion is that along with the notice, Apple also added references to other court cases between it and Samsung and the U.K. court of appeals said that this would create confusion in the minds of customers and other interested parties.

The court observed that the notice contained "further false innuendo that the UK court's decision is at odds with decisions in other countries whereas that is simply not true."

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) To Shell Out $700,000 To Settle Overcharging Argument

AT&T Inc.(NYSE:T) is reportedly nearing an agreement with the US government on forcing monthly data packages. The mobile carrier has agreed upon paying the federal government an amount of $700,000 and offering refunds to customers for forcing some smartphone users into using monthly data plans by mistake.

In late 2009, AT&T had started necessitating new customers to subscribe to monthly data plans. Present customers with pay-per-use plans or no plans were forced to get a monthly plan when they had updated to a new smartphone.

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The condition was not supposed to pertain when subscribers replaced a lost or damaged phone through a warranty or insurance program, or in case they moved to different AT&T service area. However, a computer malfunction moved all these customers into monthly plans.

AT&T now needs to reinstate the older plans and issue refunds. According to the Federal Communications Commission, the refund amount could amount up to $30 per month.

AT&T has mentioned that the issues have affected a small number of clients and that those who have got in touch with AT&T have already been refunded. After signing an agreement with FCC on Tuesday, AT&T needs to post notices on bills of customers and offer them a chance to return a pay-per-use plan or drop data usage totally.

A spokesman for AT&T, Marty Richard has downplayed the importance of the agreement. He stated that the approval decree took into account less than 0.03% of its wireless customers, who unintentionally had subscribed to monthly data plan after getting a new smartphone through an insurance scheme or warranty or after relocating to a different network area. He said that as a part of the verdict, the company will be providing a bill-page notice to customers affected, offering refunds and giving them the option to return a data plan.

Molycorp Falls Again (MCP, LUK, KO, BZH, DHI, CXS)

Shares of Molycorp Inc (NYSE:MCP) slumped another 7.50% to $6.95 and made another life time low of $6.61. On Friday, the stock slumped 13% as SEC filing disclosesan SEC investigation regarding the accuracy of disclosures of certain sales of stock by officers, directors and private equity firms, as well as certain corporate acquisitions during 2011.

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Leucadia National Corp.(NYSE:LUK) shares gained 0.69% to $21.80after Leucadia National and Jefferies Group announced that the boards of directors of both companies have approved a definitive merger agreement under which Jefferies' shareholders will receive 0.81 of a share of Leucadia common stock for each share of Jefferies common stock they hold. The merger is expected to close during the first quarter of 2013.

The Coca-Cola Company(NYSE:KO) stock increased 0.30% to $36.40. The Coca-Cola Company replaces its corporate website with Coca-Cola Journey, a rich, socially enabled digital platform. Coca-Cola Journey represents a significant leap forward in how Coke will use digital communications to drive business results and share the Coca-Cola system story with the world.

Additionally, KO‘s stock had its “neutral” rating reaffirmed by Zacks in a report released last week. They currently have a $38.00 target price on the stock.

Beazer Homes USA, Inc.(NYSE:BZH) posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $66.23 million, as compared with $43.18 million last year, while quarterly loss per share narrowed to $2.82, from $2.91 a year ago. Analysts expected loss per share of $1.22 for the quarter. Total revenue advanced to $370.93 million, from $334.91 million in the prior-year quarter. Analysts estimated revenues of $335.11 million for the quarter.

D.R. Horton, Inc.(NYSE:DHI) stock climbed 3.35% to $21.29 after the company reported a fourth quarter profit of $100.1 million, or $0.30 a share, as compared with a year-ago profit of $35.7 million, or 11 cents a share. Home-building revenue jumped 21% to $1.3 billion. Analysts most recently forecast earnings of 28 cents on revenue of $1.35 billion.

Crexus Investment Corp(NYSE:CXS) shares climbed 14.86% to $12.70. Annaly Capital Management announced that it has proposed to the Board of Directors of CreXus Investment to acquire for cash all of the shares of CreXus that Annaly does not currently own. CreXus has approximately 76,630,528 shares of common stock outstanding, of which Annaly holds 9,527,778 shares, or approximately 12.4%.

International Business Machines Corp (NYSE:IBM) Announces Storwize V3700 Array

On Tuesday, International Business Machines Corp (NYSE:IBM) declared the Storwize V3700 storage array that starts at US $11,000. It is among the lowest priced storage products that the company is offering right now.

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The V3700 array entails a stack of technologies that include thin provisioning and virtualization features that together effectively manage storage on a mix of solid-state drives and disk drives. A simple user interface is designed in order to simplify the array. The hardware offers tools and drivers to support OpenStack, which is an operating system that connects with the server, networking features and storage to enhance data center performance.

The array is for cloud apps or the ones that store huge amounts of data. It will be successful in handling both structured and unstructured data, as per the vice president of IBM’s marketing and strategy, Ed Walsh. The array incorporates a couple of features and management facilities from the top-notch Storwize V7000 arrays.

The array is intended for both small and medium-sized business as Walsh mentioned. A simple configuration of the array will begin at US$11,000 and it can be ordered at the moment. The product is slated to release at the end of this month.

The array comes in a 2U rackmount inclusion and can amount to 180TB in storage capacity. The disk system is equipped with dual controllers, each of them supporting up to 8 GB of cache. The standard host controller is 1Gbps iSCSI, with the option of 8GB Fibre Channel or 10 Gbps iSCSI/ Fibre Channel over FCoE host controllers.

The array is optimized for flash storage and has involuntary thin provisioning and volume management features. The amount of usable capacity could increase by 2-5 times owing to real-time compression capabilities. IBM is focusing on helping customers effectively manage storage resources to cope with the growing invasion of data.

Apple Inc.(N@SDAQ:AAPL): iPhone 5S coming soon; trial production to start in December

Supply problems have been dogging Apple's iPhone 5 ever since it went on sale on September 21 worldwide and in order to avoid a similar situation with its next edition of the phone - the company intends to start production of iPhone 5S in December itself.

This is of course according to some rumours, which is as yet unverified.

You may well ask what the iPhone 5s, considering that it’s been barely two months since Apple released iPhone 5 and customers are still waiting to get the handsets they had ordered.

Well, the gossip is that Apple is already working on its successor that may again be ready for the fall release next year, much like its predecessors.

The Cupertino company is allegedly ready to begin making trial versions of the next gen iPhone and a Chinese newspaper has said that it will begin production of up to 100,000 iPhone 5S units in December this year. After that the company will be ready to start mass production of the new phone in the first quarter of 2013.

Of course, knowing Apple's track record and ability to surprise, they may not be as far-fetched as it seems. After all the company did release an iPad 4 even as customers were still digesting the iPad 3. The market did not even suspect that there was a new iPad in the works; everyone was so obsessed with the iPad Mini.

This creates a lot of confusion among customers who hardly know whether they should be buying the latest phone or should be waiting for the next one; the products keep coming so thick and fast.

Stocks In News: Microsoft, Nokia Corporation, Amazon.com – NOK, MSFT, NOK

Microsoft Corporation(NASDAQ:MSFT) has announced that the Nokia Corporation (ADR)(NYSE:NOK) 920 and HTC 8X (which both run on Windows Phone 8) will be launching on Nov. 12 on Rogers Wireless News.

Rogers has already shipped a limited supply of Nokia Lumia 920s to some select stores in Canada, but now it will be more concentrated and HTC's 8X will have a few days exclusivity on Bell's version, according to Mobile Syrup.

Is Lumia A Real Turnaround Formula For NOK and Investors Should The Stock Now? Find Out Here

The Lumia 920 is priced at $99.99 on a 3-year term and $549.99 on a month-to-month plan. The pricing of the 8X has not yet been revealed.

Rogers will be selling both the 8GB and 16GB versions. The WP8 powered Samsung ATIV S is mysteriously missing from all communication, but should be available within a couple weeks.

Meanwhile online retailer Amazon.com, Inc.(NASDAQ:AMZN), launched its specialty wine store, Amazon Wine on Thursday.

The wines will be available in 12 states now - California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming along with Washington D.C. - but Amazon plans to introduce it in other states as well.

Customers can choose from a wide range of U.S. wines, browsing online. Bottles selling on the new online store cost from $10 up with delivery of up to six bottles priced at $9.99.

Amazon plans to make available a lot of information about the wines online so that customers can find it easier to make a choice.

Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) & Samsung legal fees reduced by magistrate judge

Good news filters for both the Silicon Valley giants and rival. The legal fees for both Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. have been cut by the Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal of the US District Court of the Northern District of California.
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The fees have been sliced to $21,554 for Samsung and Apple Inc. has been ordered to pay $160,069 to Samsung over discovery violations in the smartphone patent suit concluded in August. The legal fee for both the parties has been slashed and is considerably less than either of the parties have requested. Samsung's award was based on Apple's endeavour to force the manufacturer to turn over declaration testimony.
The U.S. Magistrate Judge Grewal raised question to both overstaffing, and "block billing that failed to detail how attorneys spent the time they billed. When claimed by one of the Quinn Emanuel associate that he has spend 93.5 hours for "assistance with all aspects of the preparation" of Samsung's case and billed the same, Grewal was perplexed in regards to the claim. Further in examining 50 hours of work billed at $1,035 per hour by partner Marc Becker, Grewal wrote that "the court tends to find it unreasonable that a partner with almost 25 years of experience needed 50 hours to draft a 14-page motion and to review a 15-page reply, especially when five associates also billed 85.8 hours for the same motion.".
He thus applied the rates according to the general consensus and slashed the highest rate from a Quinn Emanual associate from $620 down to $470. Not only this, Grewal also reduced the fees for Apple Inc by 20 percent from its claim stating that it is excessive. In addition to this, he denied that the attorney being paid any fees for sealing motions, and "refuses to incentivize more sealing actions" by allowing the fees to be charged.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s Custom Audience catches on

Facebook Inc(NASDAQ:FB) pleasantly surprised its investors when its third quarter results showed that the company is serious about growing its revenues, especially on mobile devices.

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The company has taken several measures to increase its ad-based revenues and also launched several products in the recent past.

For instance, Facebook offers is now available as a mobile app. Then it took its app install program out of beta for mobile app developers.

But the biggest initiative seems to be the product called Facebook Custom Audience. This is a feature that may lead to privacy issues, though Facebook is trying to make it as secure as possible.

Under Custom Audience, marketers can upload details of their offline users on Facebook. This means that if you are an advertiser then you can take an email list or phone list of your current customers, prospects, loyalty club members and so on and upload that information on to Facebook.

The social network will use that information - after encrypting that data to maintain user privacy - to serve the users targeted ads as they spend time browsing the site.

According to reports the initial response and results from Custom Audience has been encouraging.

One of the very first companies to use the feature was e-commerce company Open Sky, which claimed that it was able to increase its conversion rates by 34 percent after using it.

The Washington Post’s ad arm SocialLike reported that Custom Audience delivered a 15% lower Cost-per-Like and 87% higher Impression-to-Like rate.

Targeted advertising has long been used by Facebook, as it has attempted to keep track of users and sites they visit after logging out of the social network.

Stocks In News: Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), Zipcar Inc (NASDAQ:ZIP)

Stocks of Yahoo! Inc.(NASDAQ:YHOO) rose by 12 cents or 0.70% to $17.36 in the morning session.
Yahoo! Inc.(NASDAQ:YHOO), which is based in Sunnyvale, California, announced it plans to leave South Korea three weeks ago without estimating the cost. Recently the company revealed that it will cost about $94 million charges for closure of South Korean business.

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In Thursday’s regulatory filing Yahoo said that most of the charges will be taken in its fourth quarter. All but $7 million will be non-cash charges. Yahoo expects to pay $5 million to cover the severance packages for laying off 200 employees affected by company's exodus from South Korea and another $2 million for closing offices in the country.

Zipcar Inc(NASDAQ:ZIP) shares surge by $0.96 or 15.89% to $7.00 in Friday’s session as the company posted a strong third quarter.

Revenue for the quarter rose by 15% to $78.2 million, a rise by 3% in comparison to analyst expectation of $75.6 million. Further its membership grew by 18% to about 767,500.

For 2012 the company expects net income of as much as $3 million and said that it will not do worse than break-even. Wall Street is forecasting net income of $900,000, or 2 cents per share.

For the third quarter the company posted net income of $4.3 million or 10 cents per share, a rise by 400 % in comparison to last year. The result included a benefit of $1.7 million from zero-emission vehicle tax credits.

Analyst expected a profit of a penny per share on revenue of $75.6 million.

For the fourth quarter the company expects revenue to range between $67 million to $71 million and for the full year it expects revenue of 275 million to $279 million. Analyst expects $274.6 million.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Introduces third-world mobile web land grab

Google Inc(NASDAQ:GOOG) is all set to experiment with its all new program “Google Free Zone” in Philippines. This new program is aimed at drawing phone users in developing nations onto the mobile internet by way of the search giant's ad-supported online properties. Philippines is the first country that this largest search engine driver has chosen as its area of operation. The “Google Free Zone” service was launched on Thursday itself in collaboration with wireless carrier Globe Telecom.
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 The service gives a chance access Google Search, GMail, and Google+ for no cost provided the customers’ are on Globe's network and obviously have an internet-capable phone. The users can access the Google services even if they haven't subscribed to a mobile data plan.
In addition to this, the customers can also surf through third-party websites that show up in Google's search results at no charge. However, clicking on any other links directs the customers to a screen which flashes the instruction to purchase mobile data from Globe. Analysts anticipate that the “Free Zone” service provided by Google is mainly targeted at users of so-called feature phones, which are popular for making phone calls and sending SMS messages but aren't often used to access the internet.
With claims that once users get familiar with accessing the internet on mobile phones, they'll eventually shift for upgrading their mobiles to more fully featured smartphones, Google product manager AbdelKarim Mardini said, “[Google Free Zone is] aimed at the next billion users of the Internet, many of whom will be in emerging markets and encounter the Internet first on a mobile phone, without ever owning a PC." The company has plans for introducing this program to other developing nations in the near future but the launch of this pilot program would be in Philippines.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to Sell 46.5 Million iPhones in December, as iPhone 5 Supply Improves

Foxconn had recently reported that they were having a tough time in manufacturing iPhone 5 models because the process was complex, which may have led to supply constraints. But there are definite indications that Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL)’s capacity has improved quite a bit. Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee said in a note to investors on Thursday, that he has probed into Apple’s supply chain and confirmed that the production capacity has significantly gone up, ever since the iPhone 5 debuted in September.

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Wu has calculated that Apple is likely to sell around 46.5 million iPhone units overall in the December quarter, now that supply constraints are under control. If Wu’s predictions are correct, then it will be a huge quarter-over-quarter increase from the 26.9 million iPhone units shipped by Apple in the September quarter.

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou had stated earlier this week that his firm had to put in tremendous efforts to keep up with the demand for the iPhone 5, since orders were pouring in by the hour. In fact, Gou admitted that Foxconn had fallen behind schedule due to this enormous demand. Wu says that the supply chain problems regarding components have been resolved, although the assembly of the device is creating an issue.

Apparently, the in-cell touch panel and aluminum chassis of iPhone 5 have led to quality control issues for both Foxconn and Apple. A source from Foxconn went so far as to say a month back, that iPhone 5 is the most complicated device that the company has assembled till date. A survey conducted last week of US carriers revealed that constraints of iPhone 5 are still abundant in the top two carriers – Verizon and AT&T, whereas supply of the model is going up in the 3rd-largest carrier, Sprint.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Now Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPads sold at lower prices by AT&T

Now Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPad will be sold like the iPhone - as a bundled offering with a network carrier.

America’s AT&T has become the first company to offer the iPad at a subsidised rate under a two-year contract.

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According to an announcement by the No. 2 service provider in the U.S., AT&T will be offering a promotional discount of $100 to customers to buy a new tablet, including the new iPad, which is LTE-enabled capable of supporting 4G network, and attached to a two-year service agreement.

According to AT&T, customers can get a new iPad at a subsidised rate depending on the data plan that they sign up for which can range from $10 a month to $50 a month. The iPad can also be added to one of the telecom's Mobile Share plans, in which a number of devices share data from a single quota, with plans ranging from 1GB to 20GB per month.

The various data plan on offer with the iPad are -

AT&T Mobile Share: $10 to share between 1 GB and 20GB
AT&T DataConnect 250MB: $15 for 250MB
AT&T DataConnect 3GB: $30 for 3GB
AT&T DataConnect 5GB: $50 for 5GB

David Christopher, who is the Chief Marketing Officer of AT&T, said that the promotion was created to incentivize holiday shopping.

It is also an attempt by the company to synchronise its sales strategy with that of the iPhone and also as a way to further push sales especially with other competitors such as Google and Amazon breathing down its neck, with tablets that are priced cheaper.

While Apple is loath to reduce prices, since that would hurt its profit margins, partnering with network providers to offer the tablets at a cheaper price is a clever way to lure customers.

Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) Witnessed Blood Bath Selling Post Earnings

Online daily deals site Groupon failed to enthuse investors with its third quarter results with revenues missing expectations.

The company reported a net loss of $3 million and broke even on a per-share basis, compared to a net loss of $54.2 million and a loss of 18 cents per share in the year-earlier period.

This loss included stock-based compensation and acquisition-related expenses of $25.1 million.

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Excluding these charges, Groupon said its earnings were 3 cents a share. Revenue rose 32 percent to $568.6 million from $430.2 million in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts had forecast earnings at 3 cents a share and revenues at $590 million.

Groupon, which offers daily discounted deals online on spas and restaurant services, has estimated current quarter's revenues at $625 million to $675 million.

On Thursday the company's shares spiralled down more than 16 percent to $3.29 a share taking its total depreciation to about 80 percent since its debut in November last year.

A day later the company's shares had fallen about 30 percent to a record low of $2.76 each.

Once a darling of investors and a poster-boy for the second generation Internet companies, it is now being shunned by investors who have raised questions about the business model, while the Eurozone debt crisis has been blamed for denting consumer demand for some of Groupon's deal.

Groupon offers coupons to its subscribers, which give them discount deals that are available that day only on anything from restaurant meals to spa treatments.

Adding to the difficulties, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has been looking into Groupon's accounting and disclosures to the stock market.