Elon Musk’s Mighty Tweet-ful; Confident Are We? Yes We Are; Cable Companies Unite

Surprise!

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tesla shares continued its climb today all because of one itty bitty tweet Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted yesterday. It helped, by the way that he has close to two million followers and the tweet in questions was re-tweeted thousands upon thousands of times. The tweet went as follows: “Major new Tesla product line – not a car – will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30.” Hmmm. Whatever could that be?, thought everybody on Wall Street, and beyond. The top guess is a battery for buildings that stores energy from a home’s solar cells. Definitely a useful item, provided it works. Incidentally/conveniently, Mr. Musk is chairman of Solar City. His tweet-timing was impeccable, as pre-suspense-filled tweet, shares of Tesla were hovering around $181.80, which might seem impressive, just not for Tesla. Shares of the company had been going south on news that competition is fierce and things in China aren’t going as smoothly as thought. Post-suspense-filled tweet, shares went upwards of $192.

In confidence…

Image courtesy of Mister GC/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Mister GC/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

More jobs. More money from those jobs. Americans are confident that these pleasant things are in store for the U.S. economy and if you don’t believe me you can just check out the latest reading from the Consumer Confidence Index. Americans aren’t just a little confident, either. They’re a lot confident. A lot more confident than they were last month and a lot more confident than the 96.4 predicted by analysts. A year ago, that reading was a paltry 83.9. Last month’s reading stood at a respectable 98.8, and analysts expected little if any change to these digits. Instead, the reading took a major jump to 101.3, the second largest reading since December 2007. Americans are sure that spending will improve and increase when and if the weather (ever) gets better. I did say if, mind you. According to the Commerce Department, spending didn’t change much in February but since it accounts for 70% of the economy, everything really will be awesome (thank you, Lego movie) if and when it goes up, according to our confident expectations. ¬†Interestingly enough, when polled, a majority of consumers confidently said they were in the market for a car. Just not so much a house. Or a major appliance for the house. Or a even a vacation to get away from their house. Maybe next month they’ll feel differently.

Charter this…

Image courtesy of  ratch0013/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ratch0013/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So cable companies are finding themselves in a bit of a bind lately because non-cable entities are putting a huge damper on their sales. By non-cable entities, I do mean companies such as Netflix, Amazon’s version of television and other purveyors of finely produced, amply-entertaining, award-winning, nail-biting, binge-worthy fare. So what’s a cable company to do? Well lately, several of them have begun merging/buying/joining with each other in an effort to pick up subscribers and soften the blow to their sales figures. Today’s latest deal involves the fourth largest cable company in the U.S., Charter Communications. Charter is looking to pick up Bright House networks, the sixth largest cable company in the U.S, to the tune of $10.4 billion. For this lofty sum of money, Charter will pick up 2 million more subscribers and become the second largest cable company in all the land. Because Bright House has all these customers in Central Florida, Alabama, Michigan, Indiana and California, it’ll give Charter a nice big hold on those areas, provided the deal goes through, of course. News of the deal sent shares of Charter north. As for Bright House, well, it’s a privately held company.

Luck O’ the Apple’s Alleged Transfer Pricing; eBay and PayPal Headed for Splitsville; Confidence Bruiser

An Apple away…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

There are some very complicated things going on with Apple on the other side of the Atlantic. Except Apple probably won’t get in too much trouble for any of it. Well, maybe a little. It depends on whom you ask. As for Ireland? Well, the Emerald Isle just might be in a whole vat of hot water. At issue is whether or not Apple did something called transfer pricing, the details of which I will gladly spare you. Though some would argue all the trouble has to do with whether or not Apple was getting illegal tax breaks from Ireland – a very major no-no, in the eyes of the EU anyways. In any case, there is a report coming out from an EU commission and, in keeping with the spirit of all things that involve government, it’s all very convoluted. ¬†If anyone or any entity, for that matter, gets fined, it will likely be Ireland, that very corporate-hospitable country, who some people argue was a little too friendly to Apple and whose allegedly generous tax-breaks amounted to, I kid you not, nothing short of “state aid,” according to the Commission. And if you were wondering how any of this affects you, then rest assured – it doesn’t, really.

Breaking up is not so hard to do…

Image courtesy of sdmania/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of sdmania/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Carl Icahn wants, Carl Icahn gets. Eventually, anyways. For instance, activist investor Carl Icahn wanted eBay and PayPal to march head first into splitsville hoping for a “tax-free” spin-off. And wouldn’t you know it, the two companies did just that. How convenient. It helps that Icahn owns about 30 million shares of eBay and scored about $100 million today from the move. EBay, by the way, pulled in revenues of almost $10 billion this year, while PayPal pulled in $7.2 billion. Before you scoff at PayPal, know that PayPal grew at a 20% rate compared to eBay’s 10% rate. So now who’re you gonna scoff at? Huh? This move frees up PayPal to pursue a whole bunch of opportunities that might have held it back if it was still tied to eBay. Staying together would have proved “less advantageous” for both. Ah! What a break-up story. I wonder which studio is going buy the rights to this corporate tearjerker.

Speaking of self-esteem…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looks like consumers aka you, me, us aren’t feeling very fiscally confident these days, that is, according to an informative index that actually gauges our collective confidence level. Which, by the way, weighs in at at disconcerting 86. It’s disconcerting in that last month our collective confidence level was over a 93 – a seven year high, mind you. Quite the tumble, I’ll say. So what exactly is shaking our confidence lately? Not so minor things like job growth that hasn’t been growing quite as quickly as we’d like. And if that isn’t enough of a confidence deflater then how about the fact that Americans also don’t much care for the slow-ish economic growth. But some really intelligent economists out there find that this months “86” index reading is but a minor hiccup in an otherwise positive, albeit, slow economic recovery. So fear not, oh faithful consumer, as falling gas prices and job growth (even though slow, at times) are all within reach.