Amazon’s Woes Continue; GE Cuts Dividends; Apple’s Big Announcement

The Water Coolest

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THE HEADLINES

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DANGER AMA-ZONE

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Stock markets are volatile AF rn. Seriously, check the tape. Tech stocks specifically are getting pummeled and no company is safe, not even Amazon. Since cracking the $1T valuation mark in September, Jeffery Commerce has seen his company’s market cap drop 25%. That’s $250B for those keeping score at home.

A particularly brutal selloff in the tech sector, amid a broader pullback, is largely to blame. But add the UK digital tax announcement, tariff concerns, and Amazon reporting a lower than expected holiday forecast, and HQ1 has a perfect storm on its hands. For what it’s worth (read: a lot), Amazon was up 52% YTD as recently as last week.

But that was last week. Now every Amazon investor with a Robinhood account and a Motley Fool subscription is complaining that they are baffled by AMZN’s revenue figures. A business model which allows for products to be sold directly (read: Amazon pockets all proceeds) and through a marketplace of independent sellers (read: Amazon gets a cut of the sale) can cause billion dollar ($1.3B according to one expert) swings in revenue quarter-over-quarter, simply depending on the type of sale for the same goods.

Of course, all of this means that Amazon investors are out A LOT of money. Just ask Jeff Bezos, who lost a record $19.2B in net worth over the past two days alone.

Water Cooler Talking Point: “I’m going to buy the world’s smallest violin on Amazon so I can play it for Bezos.”

 

THE ELECTRIC SLIDE

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New GE CEO Larry Culp inherited the equivalent of “bases loaded with nobody out” when he, somewhat surprisingly, took over as chief executive on October 1st. And he’s already been forced to make some tough decisions … like cutting GE’s divided to one cent per share.

You may remember that GE cut its dividend for the first time since the Great Depression last November, from 24 cents to 12 cents. A negligible dividend is a major blow to the identity of a company that had been a beacon of American industrial pride for generations *cue the bald eagles flying*. Many GE retirees and retail investors count on these steady cash payments as a source of income.

But wait, there’s more

Just when you thought GE’s no good, very bad day couldn’t get any worse … the company announced worse than expected quarterly results, a $22B writedown on its power business, and an SEC and Justice Department investigation related to the massive charge.

Shares of Thomas Edison’s brainchild fell 9% on the day, to a 9-year low.

Water Cooler Talking Point: “Interviewer [*looks at resume*]: So, Larry, tell me about a time you overcame a major challenge.”

 

FRESH AIR

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Like any good tech brand, Apple is rolling out a stable of new products just in time for holiday shopping. Yesterday, the tech giant announced a new MacBook Air with Retina Display, along with a new iPad Pro and Mac Mini. Apple’s second keynote event in just as many months took place in Brooklyn.

Possibly the biggest announcement for anyone writing the next great American novel in their local coffee shop was the new MacBook Air. The machine will come with touch ID, similar to its much more expensive pro counterparts, and will feature a $1,199 starting price point.

As Apple’s only MacBook option anywhere near the $1K mark, beggars will not be able to be choosers. The new MacBook Air will not feature a touch bar, oh, and along with the Mac Mini, it’s made out of recycled aluminum … if you’re into that kind of thing.

Water Cooler Talking Point: “Define buyer’s remorse. I can assure you that it was not easy to write this piece on the now outdated MacBook Air that I bought two months ago.”

 


IN OTHER NEWS

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  • Annual home price gains have fallen below 6% for the first time in a year. Price gains, measured by The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, rose just 5.8% in the year ending in August (vs. 6% in the year ending in July). Economists expect the trend to continue as the housing market appears to be losing steam.

 

  • Venezuela, a country plagued by both economic and humanitarian crisis’, made a nearly $1B payment on its Citgo-backed bond. The Petróleos de Venezuela SA bond due 2020 is the only bond Nicolás Maduro has continued to service as he seems keen to keep control of his country’s main revenue source. Oil exports account for 95% of Venezuela’s income, but production has been falling off in large part due to a lack of access to capital.

 

  • Putting the noble in ‘Barnes & Noble’. B&N alleged in a court filing yesterday that its former Chief Executive, Demos Parneros, was fired due to sexually harassing a female employee and bullying others. This past August, Mr. Pareneros’ filed a complaint claiming that he was fired without ‘justification or warning,’ not given severance and that the canning tarnished his legacy.

 

  • Waymo was granted California’s first permit to test driverless cars on public roads. Although 60 companies have permits to test autonomous vehicles in CA, the state is allowing Waymo to be the first to field cars without a safety driver behind the wheel, with nearly 3 dozen vehicles. And people argue that robots aren’t taking human jobs …

 

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