Weekly Roundup: Twitter as an Analyst's Tool, Amazon Skews Younger, and the Rich Flee the Equities Market
Also, fast food, big oil, and who comes out ahead in the Disney-Netflix deal.
How Twitter Is Being Mined to Predict Market-Moving Events
Last year, the London-based Hedge Fund Derwent Capital Markets bought research conducted by Indiana University computing professor Johan Bollen for close to $40 million. Who said academics wasn't a career to get you rich?
His paper's title alone might explain the corporate interest: "Twitter Mood Predicts the Stock Market" claimed that, by using algorithms to detect mood data in tweets, Bollen could accurately predict changes in the the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) three to four days in advance with close to 88% accuracy.
Amazon Tries to Hook ‘Em Young With New Subscription Service
So far, Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) ventures with its Kindle tablets and Prime video subscription service has been moderately successful, but the company knows that true success will come by increasing consumer appeal. Amazon’s ventures face stiff opposition from arguably two of the most well-established brands in the tech-media world, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), so it should be no surprise that the company will need to do more than deliver on value to compete.
This may be why Amazon recently decided to launch a Kindle subscription service for kids. The new Kindle Freetime Unlimited service offers e-books, games, and videos aimed at children ages three to five, at a cost of $4.99 per month, with a discount to $2.99 per month for Prime members.
Amarin’s Stock Drops on Plan to Sell Heart Drug Vascepa Alone
Shares of Amarin (NASDAQ:AMRN) are falling after the drug maker said it will hire a sales force to market its heart medicine derived from pure fish oil rather than partner with another company. Amarin says it is still exploring a strategic partner or outright sale of the company.
Amarin says it will hire as many as 300 sales representatives to launch the drug Vascepa in the US during the first quarter of 2013. The announcement, made late in the day Thursday, also detailed a $100 million financing the company arranged through an investment fund.
Are the Rich Fleeing Equities for Tax-Free Havens in the New Age of Obama?
The day after President Obama was re-elected back into the White House for a second term, the stock market tanked, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sliding 3.36%, its worst single-day performance of the year. The index has recovered somewhat since then, though it continues to hover around the 13,000 mark.
Can Students Succeed in Pushing Colleges to Divest Oil and Gas Stocks?
Like the way anger over apartheid in South Africa motivated students to successfully campaign to demand colleges and other institutions divest from companies doing businesses in the region, climate change activists are now hoping to do the same with respect to oil, gas, and coal companies.
According to a report from the New York Times, college students at more than 100 campuses nationwide are pressuring their university endowment funds to sell off holdings in fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), BP (NYSE:BP), and Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE:ANR) in order to push the issue of climate change back into the national political limelight.
Will KFC Finally Solve Its Identity Crisis?
Sometimes it seems like KFC is trying to do everything. Yum Brands’ (NYSE:YUM) massive chicken company, which went through a kind of menu revolution over the past few years, has gone through so many phases and so many faces that the menu is unrecognizable as the same place my Little League team used to swarm after our games.
This is obviously at least partially due to the chain’s need to adapt to a consumer base that is (or at least claims to be) increasingly unwilling to stuff fats, starches, and carbohydrates into a bucket and submerge its collective face therein.
Winners and Losers in Disney and Netflix Deal
Tuedsay's unprecedented deal between Netflix and Disney (NYSE:DIS) to stream Disney’s films, and those of all its subsidiaries, doesn’t take full effect until 2016. Despite the subsequent big jump in Netflix stock and the loss in Liberty Media Corp (NASDAQ:LMCA), parent company of Disney’s current partner Starz, the real benefits of this deal will come with the setting of new precedent, as Disney has become the first major studio to bypass major cable providers like Starz and HBO in favor of an Internet content provider with its home releases.
Strong Internet content providers and film studios will benefit while the premium cable channels, and by extension, satellite radio providers, will have to learn to adapt to an industry that will begin changing more rapidly than ever now that the entertainment giant Disney is behind the change.
What Can Europe Teach Us About Better Pay, Conditions at McDonald’s?
The fact that McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD), Wendy’s (NASDAQ:WEN), Taco Bell, and other fast food restaurants have been able to pay hard-working, loyal, and now much older employees wages at or slightly above state-set minimums for years has become, to many, a seemingly unchangeable norm.
To help mobilize the public, organizers behind last week’s Fast Food Forward campaign -- spearheaded by New York Communities for Change, along with the Service Employees International Union, UnitedNewYork.org, and the Black Institute -- have given the media dramatic employee stories, tales that would make any feeling person irate.
Microsoft Plans More Tablets As Analysts Lose Faith In The Surface RT
In the month since Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) launch of the Surface RT, analysts have been eagerly awaiting the tablet’s sales figures, despite Microsoft’s tight-lipped stance on its performance. Although few are willing to jump to conclusions, some analysts are taking Microsoft’s silence as an omen that Surface RT could be a flop and -- along with the disappointing adoption rates of Windows 8 -- is a part of the one-two punch that could cripple the company.
Perhaps most unnerving is the fact that Microsoft was not even predicting big numbers during the Surface’s launch in the first place. According to an article by ZDNET, the company was only expecting to sell 3 million to 5 million units this quarter, which is a paltry number when you consider that Apple sold 3 million tablets in one weekend following the release of the iPad 4 and iPad Mini.
AT&T Wireless Slips to Fourth at Consumer Reports, But Should Investors Care?
Last week, Consumer Reports came out with their ratings for wireless service providers. Verizon (NYSE:VZ) continues to lead the pack for postpaid providers with AT&T (NYSE:T) lagging. AT&T did score well for its 4G service, which is becoming the lead service offering in the industry. As a result, AT&T may see some improvement in Consumer Reports rankings going forward.
As I read the article, I got to thinking about whether ratings such as these mattered to investors. The answer, of course, depends on whether or not there is linkage between ratings and subscriber growth. Or maybe the answer depends on the perception investors have of whether ratings matter to subscriber growth.
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