Uh Oh Canada: Trump Starts Up With Our Neighbors to the North; Marissa Mayer Walks Away Golden; Nasdaq Yowza!

Good Tariffs don’t make good neighbors…

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As if things weren’t awkward enough between the President and Mexico, now it’s the U.S.’s relations with Canada that are getting the Trump treatment. This time it’s Canada’s lumber industry that’s getting caught up in the import debate as the President’s plan calls for a tariff of up to 24% on Canada’s lumber products. Canadian lumber companies are pretty ticked off and Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is itching to fight back. Just how remains to be seen. In case you didn’t know, Canada is the world’s largest soft-wood lumber exporter and the U.S. is its biggest customer, reportedly importing $6 billion worth of the resource just in 2016. But here’s where things get dicey, well for the U.S. anyway – shares of home-building companies took a very unwelcome dive on the soft-lumber dispute, as Wall Street realized raw materials could get a whole a lot pricier. That will likely end up leading to a very unpleasant domino effect on other related industries. If you’re looking to buy a home, take note that this Canada lumber is issue is sending home prices up as well. Incidentally, Canada is going to stop importing U.S. dairy products, as a sort of retaliatory action. Sort of. But basically, this means dairy farmers are getting screwed here too. And don’t you hate when that happens? On the flip side, U.S. lumber producers said that cheap lumber imports from Canada, which are they say are unfairly subsidized by the Canadian government, have put a major crimp in their business and these tariffs will give the domestic lumber industry a much needed reboot.

What color is your parachute?

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Yahoo might have gone bust but Marissa Mayer will be walking away from the entity with $186 million lining her pockets. That’s even after Verizon agreed to buy the  beleaguered company. She’s sitting on 4.5 million shares of the failed internet company and she’ll get that substantial wad of cash once she pays to exercise her options. That $186 million is based on Monday’s closing price, in case you were wondering, and while Mayer may not have had the best run at Yahoo, the stock still tripled during her five-year CEO stint there. And as Verizon plunks down $4.5 billion for Yahoo, Mayer will take in another $3 million as part of her golden parachute. That’s besides the fact that last year she lost out on her bonus following the massive data security breaches that affected one billion Yahoo accounts.

Making a break for it…

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The Nasdaq broke the 6000 mark with a lot of help from big corporate gains and, believe it or not, even President Donald Trump. That’s because the President has big “tax reform and reduction” plans which involve reducing the United States’ onerous corporate tax rate from a whopping 35% to a more corporation-friendly, and globally competitive, 15%. Plans like that could mean a big boost all-around on Wall Street. Companies including Apple, Microsoft and McDonald’s, to name a few, reported impressive gains, sending the Nasdaq all the way up to 6034.74. If you’re finding Trump’s contribution hard to swallow, consider that the result of France’s Presidential election also factored into that 6000 point breakthrough. French Presidential Candidate Emanuel Macron’s first-round victory helped matters, probably because of his centrist politics, which apparently Wall Street digs. It wasn’t since March 7, 2000, that the Nasdaq broke the 5,000 barrier. But alas, that remains nothing but a very distant memory.  The Nasdaq, incidentally, is up over 10% since the beginning of the year and up way over 20% in the last twelve months.

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Love is…An IPO; Volkswagen’s “Goodwill”; Snapchat Vs. Facebook Video Smackdown

For the love of money…

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Image courtesy of atibodyphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While the odds of meeting “the one” via online dating are slim, that hasn’t stopped Match Group Inc from making a regulatory filing for an initial public offering on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol MTCH. The company, which also owns Tinder and OKCupid, is looking to raise close to $404 million in order to pay of some of its debt to billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC InterActiveCorp. The company’s, whose value is estimated to be around $3 billion, is looking to sell some 33.3 million shares for somewhere between $12 – $14 a pop. Indeed, online dating is very big business, despite the odds. In 2014, Match Group pulled down $148 million in profit on $88 million in sales. In the last twelve months, the company saw about $1 billion in revenue with sites getting 59 million monthly active users along with 4.7 million paid members. The sites run on 38 languages in close to 200 countries. A lot of the big bucks are coming from mobile users as evidenced by the fact the 68% of new registrations came from mobile devices in just the first six months of the year. So whether you find love, or not, is besides the point. The money comes from the quest to find it.

A little desperate?

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Image courtesy of Paul/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You know its bad when they start handing out $500 Visa gift cards. And that’s exactly what Volkswagen decided to do in the wake of the company’s emissions software scandal that magically allows some cars to release up to 40 times the legal amount of nitrogen oxide into the air we breathe. The embattled auto company is also giving away $500 in dealership credit. Oh, and three years of free roadside assistance. Did I say free? Well, you basically relinquish your right to sue Volkswagen if you happen to own or lease one of their 11 million affected cars. Don’t worry, though. Only 482,000 of them are currently polluting the United States. So say goodbye to personal lawsuits or class-action participation. Like the one that’s suing Volkswagen to get it to buy back your vehicle for the exact amount you paid. Of course, that’s assuming the lawyers arguing that case actually win. Then there’s the potential $18 billion criminal lawsuit looming against Volkswagen for violating the United States Clean Air Act. Except, you can’t be a part of that one since it would be coming from the government. But you would lose out on any potential future compensation. Once you sign up for one of Volkwagen’s “goodwill package,” you are on your own.  Some Audi drivers will be eligible for the deal, as well. In order to get your $500 Visa gift, dealer credit and free roadside assistance, you have to go to VWDieselInfo.com and sign your life away. Sort of. Then wait four weeks to go shopping. You have until April 30, my emissions spewing friend.

Do I smell an IPO?

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Snapchat dissed Facebook once by rejecting the social networks’s $3 billion offer to buy it back in 2013. Now, the messaging app is nipping at Facebook’s heels as it just announced that its daily video views tripled to 6 billion…since May. Facebook’s video views, while doubling to 8 billion, are not considered nearly as impressive, since Facebook’s views are coming from desktop computers and mobile devices, while Snapchat’s views are exclusively done on mobile devices. Those video advertising’s numbers pull in way more cash than your plain old digital ads. One research firm predicts a 42% jump in digital video revenue to $7.5 billion and you can be sure Snapchat and Facebook are going to be fighting it out for as big a share as possible. Especially where apps are concerned, those digits are huge. But there seems to be some dispute as to what counts as a video view and it all depends on where you’re watching it. If you happen to be spending some quality time with your Facebook account, the social media counts a view as three seconds or more. Youtube counts 30 seconds as a bona fide view. But Snapchat charges for views that just less than a second. You be the viewing judge.

Nasdaq’s Getting Crafty; Costco’s Earnings Knock it Out of the Warehouse; Labor Market Laboring

How crafty…

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Image courtesy of sattva/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Etsy is looking to join the big kids on Wall Street. The online marketplace for all things crafty is looking to score $100 million for its IPO but that number could go much much higher. Brooklyn-based, Etsy, which would trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ETSY (catchy, no?) was founded in 2005 and by 2014 it pulled in $195 million in revenue, a 56% increase over the previous year. Half of that revenue, though, comes from transaction fees. Plenty of that revenue also comes from the services it sells to its sellers, which are basically, payment processing, shipping labels and promoted listings. Impressive numbers definitely, but the company is spooking investors since it also took in a $15 million net loss last year and expects its operating expenses to “increase substantially.” Yikes. So yeah, that little tidbit puts a damper on things. Etsy currently has about 1.4 million sellers with close to 20 million buyers.

Are you even surprised?

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Image courtesy of photoraidz/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Costco came out with its quarterly earnings, easily topping analysts’ predictions and if that is at all shocking to you then clearly you have never stepped foot inside one of its 671 warehouses dotting the world. News of the good earnings sent shares rising today 2.5% and why shouldn’t it? The stock went up 30% during 2014 and is already up 10% this year. And while the strong dollar has been playing some nasty little fiscal tricks with its earnings, the third largest retailer still managed to nail $598 million in profit at $1.35 a share on $27.5 billion in revenue. Analysts were only expecting $1.18 on $27.65 billion in revenue. It should be duly noted that some of that profit came courtesy of a $57 million tax benefit over a special dividend from last month. But it should also be duly noted that same store sales were up 2% and sales up 8%. These earnings come on the heels of Coscto’s AmEx breakup and its new contracts with Citigroup and Visa. Now it even has plans to sell a Kirkland Signature Chevrolet truck – a particularly handy vehicle for your average Costco run.

LinkedOut…

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Image courtesy of winnond/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For some not-so-pleasant news on the labor market we look no further than the Labor Department who just shared with us that the number of people seeking jobless claims for the first time rose to a seasonally adjusted 320,000 for the week ending February 28, adding an unwitting 7,000 applicants. That leaves us with close to 2.5 million people getting jobless benefits and that’s the highest number it’s been since May. Analysts actually expected that number to fall to under 300,000. Some people might even be wondering, “Hmmm. What seems to be going on with this fickle little job market of ours?” Excellent question. Naturally weather always makes a good scapegoat for this sort of thing. But otherwise, the Labor Department couldn’t really pinpoint any one reason why that offensive number reared its ugly unwanted head once again. Last week, that number also rose instead of going back down to a cozy semi-acceptable spot below the 300,000 mark. Experts were hoping that it was just a little labor market hiccup that would correct itself by this week. It didn’t.