Posts by Aaron Pressman

  • Mixed bag for Big Blue: IBM Q1 profits top views, but sales lag

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 7 hrs ago

    It's not quite a turn around yet, but IBM (IBM) CEO Ginni Rometty finally had some decent results to crow about in the first quarter, or maybe more like adjusted decent results. At first glance, it was another down quarter for Big Blue, its 12th-consecutive quarter of declining revenue. Sales on continuing operations of $19.6 billion were down 12% from last year and missed analysts' forecasts of $19.7 billion, according to FactSet Research Systems. But, excluding businesses IBM is divesting and adjusting for an 8% drop due to foreign currency moves, the company's sales were actually flat from a year ago. And after almost three years of falling sales, even adjusted flat sales are an improvement.

    " W e had a strong start to the year," Rometty said in statement, though for the second quarter in a row she skipped the company's call with analysts. "Our strategic imperatives growth rate accelerated, demonstrating the power of our offerings in these new opportunities and contributing to improved revenue performance."

  • Yahoo gains search flexibility in revised Microsoft deal

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 4 days ago

    Yahoo (YHOO) is getting more flexibility to run its search business under a modified deal with Microsoft (MSFT) announced on Thursday. Under the new agreement, Yahoo will gain the ability to work with other partners in search and also take greater control of ad sales on its own web sites. Shares of Microsoft and Yahoo, the parent of Yahoo Finance, were nearly unchanged after the deal was announced.    Back in 2009, Yahoo signed a 10-year deal to let Microsoft's Bing provide search results for its customers on desktop PCs in return for giving Microsoft 12% of the advertising revenue generated. Even though the deal runs for five more years, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has chafed under the terms, as Microsoft's search technology has lagged behind Google's (GOOGL) in its ability to monetize search advertising. With Yahoo's display advertising revenue plummeting, Mayer has been looking to increase revenue from search ads, particularly on mobile phones, which aren't covered by the Microsoft deal. Last year, she beat out Google, her former employer, to be the default search engine in the Netscape browser. Mayer has also said she plans to try to win the default position on Apple's (AAPL) iPhone away from Google, as well. “This renewed agreement opens up significant opportunities in our partnership that I’m very excited to explore," Mayer said in a statement. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sounded a little less excited. Microsoft will "look forward to building on what we’ve already accomplished together," Nadella said, touting the Yahoo partnership as "one example of the diverse partnerships we’ll continue to cultivate." Analysts said the new flexibility could help Yahoo in several positive, though modest, ways. Yahoo could now partner with other search providers, some of whom might be able to bring in more dollars per ad than Microsoft's Bing, Nomura analyst Anthony DiClemente said in a research note. "The news is a modest positive for Yahoo’s search business, given new flexibility to pursue additional monetization partners," he wrote. The deal also changed the way ad sales responsibilities will be split. Under the new deal, Yahoo gained the right to sell all kinds of ads for searches on its sites, giving Microsoft the same right on its sites. Previously, Yahoo sold ads to major advertisers, so-called premium clients, on all the sites combined, while Microsoft handled automated sales to smaller advertisers. "This will allow Yahoo better ability to serve all advertisers on its search platform, whereas previously, Yahoo was exclusive for premium advertisers on search only," DiClemente noted.

  • Hedge fund money going to venture-backed startups is skyrocketing

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 6 days ago

    The amount of venture capital startup companies are raising from hedge funds, mutual funds and others beyond the traditional venture capital community is skyrocketing, fueling fears of another tech bubble.

    While venture capitalists poured $11.3 billion into startups in the first quarter, up only 11% from a year ago, non-traditional funds invested $6.4 billion, a 167% increase, according to a report on Tuesday from CB Insights, which tracks the market. Two years ago, the outsiders contributed less than $1 billion. Hedge funds and mutual funds have been getting more involved in venture capital investing as fast-growing startups stay private longer. Some also blame the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policy, which may be prompting funds to take more risk to achieve acceptable returns.

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  • Qualcomm and other aging tech giants ripe for activist investors

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 7 days ago

    Hedge fund Jana Partners' move to pressure Qualcomm (QCOM) into a break-up, disclosed by the Wall Street Journal on Monday, marks the latest step-up in the activist shareholder war on aging tech companies. Expect further escalation across the tech sector. San Diego-based chip maker Qualcomm looks like an obvious target for Jana, with its stock down 11% over the past year despite a cash hoard of nearly $18 billion and cash flow from operations of over $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014. Jana, which owns $2 billion worth of Qualcomm shares, says the company should spin off its semiconductor unit from its patent licensing business, cut costs, buy back more stock and generally follow the entire activist shareholder playbook. The same could be said about many of the older and now slower-growing tech stocks. Intel (INTC) had a fine 2014 but its shares have dropped 12% this year as the PC market slows. Shares of Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Oracle (ORCL) have done better, but the companies still may look like slower-moving, cash-heavy targets to activists. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and eBay (EBAY), Meg Whitman's current and former spots as CEO, have already agreed to splits.

  • Yahoo brings Tumblr closer to the fold

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 10 days ago

    Almost two years after acquiring Tumblr, Yahoo (YHOO) is moving to integrate the popular blogging site more closely with the rest of its operations.

    Under a management reorganization announced this week, Tumblr CEO David Karp, who started the blogging service in 2007, will now report to Simon Khalaf instead of directly to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. When she acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion back in May, 2013, Mayer had promised "not to screw it up" by letting Karp continue to run the site independently.

    Tumblr has grown more than 50% since the acquisition to 460 million users at the end of last year, most of whom use the site to post personal blogs. Yahoo has been increasingly adding advertisements amidst the Tumblr posts and Mayer said in February that the site was on track to reach $100 million in revenue this year. "We're starting to see really strong business results," she said at a Goldman Sachs conference on February 11.

    "As we continue to look at ways to accelerate our growth, aligning our product teams to enable tighter collaboration is critical to drive innovation," Clark said in a statement.

  • Internet naming group asks FTC to investigate .sucks controversy

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 11 days ago

    The group that oversees the Internet's naming and address system on Thursday asked the Federal Trade Commission to review whether any laws have been broken in the roll out of a new .sucks domain.

    Currently, only trademark holders and celebrities may register Internet addresses ending in .sucks at a cost of more than $2,000 per name. Once the early registration period ends, ordinary people will be able to register .sucks names for as little as $10 in June.

    The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit that sets policies for the global domain name system, said in a letter to the FTC and Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs that companies have complained the system is "predatory, exploitive and coercive."

    ICANN asked the regulatory bodies to determine whether any laws had been broken. "ICANN is concerned about the contentions of illicit actions being expressed, but notes that ICANN has limited expertise or authority to determine the legality of Vox Populi's positions, which we believe would fall in your respective regulatory regimes," the group said in the letter.

  • Apple Watch reviews don't matter to early adopters

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 12 days ago

    A batch of mixed reviews for the new Apple (AAPL) Watch likely won't deter many early adopters from purchasing the latest hot gadget.

    Of almost a dozen reviewers who got an early look at the watch, most agreed the device was good-looking and useful, but disliked the somewhat complicated user interface and short battery life. Apple plans to start taking pre-orders on Friday and delivering watches, which cost from $350 to as much as $17,000 for a gold model, on April 24.

    Only two reviewers, Joanna Stern at The Wall Street Journal, and Nilay Patel at The Verge, recommended skipping the first-generation watch altogether.

    Excerpts and links for all of the early Apple watch reviews can be found here. "There's enough in these reviews that says the watch is right for some people that I don't think they'll do any real damage," says Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. "I don't think the reviews will put a big dent in watch sales."

  • Oyster to sell ebooks, goes after Amazon and Barnes & Noble

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 12 days ago

    Subscription services for movies and songs have decimated sales, as many consumers no longer feel the need to own the latest Rihanna album or "Parks and Rec" DVD set. Subscription book services are at a much earlier stage than the likes of Netflix or Pandora, but the end result could be the same, with avid readers finding a new equilibrium between what they buy and what they rent.

    No doubt there are plenty of challenges facing Oyster, one of which is that last July Amazon added a subscription component to its already market-leading Kindle ebook store, leaving Oyster at a disadvantage with customers who might want to switch between buying and renting on a regular basis.

    "Really what it comes down is to working with them to figure out how we can grow their business while also growing our business," Stromberg says. Pointing to the billions of people getting online for the first time with smartphones, Stromberg says: "It really presents an unprecedented opportunity in book publishing."

    Oyster's new sales effort also comes as the ebook market is getting much less competitive on the retail level.

  • Oprah, Kevin Spacey, Apple grabbing .sucks Internet names

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 13 days ago

    Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Spacey and Taylor Swift are trying to outsmart the haters. Representatives for the celebrities, along with many well-known companies, are grabbing up new Internet website names ending in ".sucks" at a cost of more than $2,000 a pop.

    The moves, though spendy, prevent anyone else from controlling the website names when public registration for .sucks names opens in June.

    Consumer advocates supported the new domain name space as an opportunity for people to voice their complaints about businesses and, it is hoped, get quicker responses.

    But if you want to complain about your Apple TV, Microsoft One Drive or Timex watch, you won't be able to do it at appletv.sucks, onedrive.sucks or timex.sucks. Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT) and Timex have already taken those monikers during the ongoing 60-day early registration period reserved for trademark holders and celebrities. Yahoo (YHOO), the parent of Yahoo Finance, has also registered some .sucks names.

    More from Yahoo Finance

  • Stock market investors ignore hacker attacks at their peril

    Aaron Pressman at Yahoo Finance 18 days ago

    Hackers are breaking into public companies around the world and stealing every kind of data imaginable. But news of the breaches is typically ignored by the stock market, even though the victims suffer financial damage over the long term.

    The review authors attribute the indifference in part to a lack of data. Companies don't always disclose hacks on a timely basis and may not reveal the full scope of the damage initially. Companies are operating under vague rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission that give considerable leeway in making disclosures.

    That may change as the attacks increase in frequency as they have been. And President Obama's proposal, announced this week, to encourage more sharing of information about attacks while limiting companies' liability from those disclosures could also give stock market investors better data to assess the damage.

    "Both businesses and the government understand that they can't effectively address cyber threats in isolation and have to cooperate better," Kvochko says.