Weekly Tech Business Recap: Apple 3D Camera, Bad Week for Best Buy

Monday

Verizon (NYSE:VZ) sees its earnings per share estimates lowered by Citigroup, as its $39 price target and Neutral rating remains. Citi analysts cited narrower wirelines margins plus a potential for payroll and benefit costs to rise seasonally, as reasons.

Three major tech companies have much interest in the April 8th introduction of Nokia’s (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 900 in the U.S. The new LTE-capable smartphone will start at a price of $99.99, and Nokia hopes that the device will not only be popular here but will also spark interest that will spread to its other products. AT&T (NYSE:T) wants interest in Lumia to positively affect its fourth generation network, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) seeks legitimacy for the Windows Phone platform.

A potential share price of more than $70 for Sohu.com (NASDAQ:SOHU) is possible, says Citroen Research on Monday. The jump was fueled by rumors that the Chinese online media concern Sohu is on the buy list of certain other companies.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) just can’t seem to catch a bad break – its shares even rise on negative news, such as its under-performance (!) Monday. In late trading shares rise 1.5 percent, perhaps at the news that its iPad has a greenlight for a launch in China, or maybe just because.

Competitors of Nintendo’s (NTDOY.PK) Wii are now having the same effects on the console market that the device had with its own launch, that of luring casual gamers by the millions into buying conventional systems. The original Wii sales phenomenon might have rescued Nintendo at that time, but Horace Deidu comments now that competitors’ mobile devices are threatening the company’s future and that its 3DS handheld may not be sufficient to offset the trend.

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Tuesday

Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC) hopes to avoid being disallowed access to classified U.S. government information on cyberthreats, due to its partnering with Chinese firm Huawei Technologies. To that end, Symantec expects to have the dissolution of its joint venture with Huawei finalized within the next two weeks.

It appears that the sci-fi show Terra Nova will not be revived by Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) after all. The Hollywood Reporter says that Netflix has dropped the plans for the show, after talks with studio 20th Television (NWS, NWSA) failed. However, the company said a week ago that it will produce gothic mystery series Hemlock Grove.

Harry Potter news from Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN): All seven of the books by J.K. Rowling are now available on Kindle readers and also on any of the free Kindle apps for other devices. Meanwhile Amazon selects Jeffersonville, Indiana, as the site for its new fulfillment center, in which it says that up to 1,050 new jobs will be created by 2015.

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In an attempt to make Google+ more relevant, and to place itself further into social media, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) plans to launch a 3rd-party commenting system. The new platform emulates Facebook’s commenting plugin, in that users are enabled to evaluate sites via their log-ins.

Yelp (NYSE:YELP) shares pop and reach their alltime high, in part due to an announcement that the company will provide a new tool on its website which should enable customers to improve their ability to measure metrics.

Wednesday

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) announces that in April it will initiate sales of Windows Lumia smartphones in China, and shares pop. The Finnish company has recently lost market share to Apple and Samsung, and this move is seen as an attempt to correct that situation. It was also reported that China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) will handle the Lumia sales at first, but two other large carriers have been enlisted for that task as well.

Bad news causes Progress Software (NASDAQ:PRGS) shares to falter in early trading. The company’s fiscal first quarter earnings plunged 64 percent due to a sharp decline in revenues from software licensing, and it was announced that CFO Charles Wagner Jr. will exit PRGS, effective immediately.

The much noted absence of Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook’s (FB) recent analyst meeting is getting mixed reactions from Street analysts. One of them remarked that “We don’t think he should be hiding from the investors”, But former analyst Henry Blodget defended Mr. Zuckerberg, saying that it shows that ‘he has his priorities – to build the best products and company, not sucking up to investors’.

Shares of Yelp (NYSE:YELP) take advantage of the lack of major news and continue on their upwards way following Tuesday’s rally. The stock is currently up 40 percent from its post-initial public offering opening price, and trades at 23 times its 2011 revenue.

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Liberty Interactive (NASDAQ:LINTA) reveals that it sold 12 million shares of Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) at a price of $34.32, and the shares fall on Wednesday accordingly. The divestiture shrinks Liberty’s investment in Expedia from 26 percent to 16 percent.

At the head of the current week’s AppData list of the fastest-growing Facebook games, is Slingo, which is made by Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA). The number of daily users of this game, which combines slots and bingo, has jumped by an estimated 74 percent to 4 million, and it’s hoped by the company that Slingo will afford it a new beginning to the slow start it has faced so far in 2012.

Thursday

Shares of Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) rose early but fell later as its fourth quarter numbers and plans were revealed. Year-to-year domestic segment online revenue grew by 21 percent, and U.S. comparable store sales of tablets and eReaders each grew by low triple digits. Stocks initially jumped at the news of planned cost reductions by fiscal year 2015, but as investors took in the falling same-stores sales number (down 2.4 percent with a flat gross margin), shares fell sharply. Also downplayed by investors was the announced plan to attain $850 million in cost reductions by closing 50 big box stores in fiscal year 2013, to be replaced by the launching of 100 small format stand-alone mobile stores. Finally, the report projects fiscal year 2013 sales of $50 billion to $51 billion versus a $51.84 billion consensus, and guidance of earnings per share of $3.50 to $3.80, versus a $3.70 consensus.

AOL (NYSE:AOL) gets a bad rap from patent-advisory firm M-Cam, which advises that AOL’s IP portfolio would bring $290 million, an amount far lower than MDB Capital’s assessment of $1 billion. M-Ca, also remarked that “most of AOL’s patents are not commercially viable, or are junk grade.” However, shareholder Starboard Value counters that the portfolio could generate as much in licensing income.

Even though Michael Dell remains optimistic in his projections involving Dell’s (NASDAQ:DELL) upcoming Windows 8 (NASDAQ:MSFT) tablets, the company’s mobile device efforts do not seem to go anywhere. A few months ago Dell shut down it Streak Android tablet line, and now sales of its Venue and Venue Pro smartphones in the U.S. have ceased, leaving thousands of company employees owning Venues in the lurch.

Toshiba (TOSBF.PK) and Micron (NASDAQ:MU) both want to sponsor Elpida Memory’s recovery from bankruptcy. The winning firm will be selected in May, and that company could acquire Elpida, given terms acceptable to both sides. Word is, that Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) may also be interested.

Is this hype, or is Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) effect on the S&P 500 and the overall market this large? Barclays analysts estimate that Apple comprised 15 percent of the S&P 500’s 12 percent rise this year, “contributing over four times its weight in the index”. However, Barclays sees “concentration risk” from Apple in the numbers, calculating that if the giant were removed from the S&P, the index might be left with a ‘rather weak earnings period’.

Friday

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) Vice President Patrick Spence reiterates that his company wants to expedite “targeted consumer segments”, even as he downplays chatter that RIM will abandon most consumer markets. Earlier during a conference call, Thorsten Heins implied that partnerships will reinforce his firm’s standings among consumers.

Is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) working on an advanced 3D camera? A new filing with the U.S. Patent Office by that company, which details a camera that would utilize multiple sensors and “microlenses” to create 3D images with higher, more accurate and detailed resolution than those currently available, implies that the rumor is true. Image sensor providers OmniVision Technologies and Sony could see new links with Apple as commercialization of the technology goes forward, depending upon costs, and the new partner selected by the company.

Rounds of expected layoffs from Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) will begin next week, though executives are “still trying to figure out” how its ad tech and search operations will be impacted. The company employs almost 14,000 persons, and even on Friday the exact number of layoffs – estimated to be in the thousands – is still under discussion, according to AllThingsD.

Even as its DVD operations are said to currently be on the back burner, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) acquires the DVD.com domain name, probably for a price in excess of a million. This is after the company brought back its $8 a month standalone DVD rental plan, and there is so far no indication as to whether Qwikster.com will redirect to the domain in question.

EMC (NYSE:EMC) is the last word in big data storage, opines Jim Cramer, with its shares at approximately 14.7 times earnings and with a 15 percent long-term growth rate. Further positive attributes of EMC are said to include its positive exposure, and leading in storage and analytics, enterprise storage, data protection and security. Cramer expects its shares to climb a lot higher in the sector, even though Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) produced a strong quarter and guidance.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Lawson at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com