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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Twitter, Hewlett-Packard, Google and Amazon.com

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – November 15, 2013 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the Facebook ( FB- Free Report ), Twitter ( TWTR- Free Report ), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ- Free Report), Google ( GOOG- Free Report) and Amazon.com ( AMZN- Free Report).
Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free .

Here are highlights from Thursday’s Analyst Blog:

Snapchat Yet to “Like” Facebook Offer
Facebook’s ( FB- Free Report ) recent offer to buy Snapchat reflects the company’s desperate move to improve its user engagement particularly among teenagers. According to Bloomberg, Facebook offered approximately $3.0 billion (up from its earlier offer of $1.0 billion) for Snapchat, more than fourfold of the Instagram offer ($700.0 million) last year.

Reportedly, Snapchat rejected Facebook’s offer and stated that it would prefer to remain independent and wait for a better proposal until at least next year. According to The Wall Street Journal, Snapchat has been valued at $4.0 billion by Chinese e-commerce company Tencent Holdings, which has also shown a keen interest in the start-up.

Although Facebook’s strong cash balance will encourage it to offer a substantially higher amount, we believe that this bidding and counter-bidding is pushing up Snapchat’s value to unrealistic territories, particularly post the hugely successful initial public offering of Twitter ( TWTR- Free Report ).  

Snapchat’s mobile app helps users to send photos and videos to their friends, which last only for a few seconds. Despite processing more than 350 million snaps per day in September (up from 200 million in June), the two-year old company is yet to report any revenues.

Moreover, the company is yet to prove its business model and like most of its peers doesn’t want to depend solely on advertising revenues. Instead, the company is focusing on generating revenues from selling virtual goods and games, a model already followed by Tencent’s WeChat and the Japanese messaging app Line. Facebook also generates a small amount of revenues from selling virtual goods.

Despite these disadvantages, Facebook’s interest in Snapchat is particularly due to its growing teenage user base. Snapchat’s attraction particularly for the teens remains in the fact that it provides them privacy (since it destroys the photos and videos instead of storing) that is elusive on the Facebook platform. In 2012, the company launched a similar kind of a service called Poke, which failed miserably.

To woo teenagers, Facebook recently decided to allow users in the age group of 13 to 17 to make public posts. So far, posts made by teenagers could only be seen by their friends and "friends of friends." The company also announced that it will restrict ad quantity in newsfeed in order to improve user engagement.

In such a scenario, we believe that if Facebook succeeds in acquiring Snapchat, it will be imperative for the company to continue with the current system in order to maintain and gain users. Moreover, the acquisition will help Facebook to compete against the likes of WeChat, KakaoTalk, Line as well as messaging apps such as WhatsApp going forward.
H-P, Google Stop Chromebook 11 Sale

Reportedly, Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ- Free Report) and Google ( GOOG- Free Report) have stopped the sale of the latest laptop – Chromebook 11 – after several customers complained about the overheating of the charger. As a safety measure, Google has issued a statement asking Chromebook users to use micro USB chargers instead of the designated ones for the interim period.

Chromebook 11 was released a month back and was competitively priced at $279, which helped it to record incremental sales. Reportedly, the device was the fourth best-seller in the laptop category on Amazon.com ( AMZN- Free Report). Chromebook 11 was also sold through the Google Play Store and other select outlets.

Notably, the current overheating of the chargers is not a one off incident as other computer makers such as Apple, Dell, Lenovo and Fujitsu Ltd. have also faced these issues in the past.

Now, this debacle is likely to hit the sales of the device unless the manufacturer comes up with a speedy and convenient solution. Replacing the chargers is also an option, though it could be costly for the company. Moreover, other hardware makers such as Toshiba, Acer Inc. and Lenovo have announced Chromebook devices which could possibly dent H-P’s share.

As such, H-P is still reeling under pressure from the declining PC business. The company has been trying hard to shift its focus from its PC-centric business to the high-margin server, storage, cloud computing and analytics business. We believe that these segments will help the company grow in the ensuing quarters.

Nonetheless, a sluggish macroeconomic environment and stiff competition from other technology bellwethers such as IBM and Salesforce.com make it even more difficult for H-P to gain market share in the cloud and security space.

Currently, H-P has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

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