Friday, January 31, 2014

Moto X $100 Off Codes: Post 'em if You Got 'em

From 3PM - 4PM ET this afternoon, Motorola held another sale for their 2013 flagship, Moto X. During that time, you could cruise over to Motorola's site and fill out a form that would land you a Promo Code code for $100 off a device. For those who managed to sign-up during that short 1-hour window, you should have already received your code that is good until February 3 at midnight.

With $100 off of a full retail Moto X, you are looking at a starting price of just $299 (MotoMaker included). If you upgrade features, like say the storage to 32GB, you could still get into a brand new custom designed Moto X for as little as $349. Or better yet, the Developer Editions were also down to $349 with this deal. Talk about a steal.

Since the sale happened during the middle of the day, we can imagine that many of you didn't have a chance to reserve your promo code before the hour was up. For those who missed out, we thought we'd put together another spot for DL community members to share codes that they don't plan on using. We have done this in the past and always seem to see plenty of love being tossed around.

So if you need a code or have an extra lying around, feel free to share in the comments.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Most Well-Known and Beloved Chinese Role Model"

"How many Americans know that I am here in New York right now?" Chen Guangbiao asks, sitting in an armchair between his translator and his publicist in his suite at the Essex House. "How many media outlets have written about me?"

An assistant offers him a cup of jasmine tea, which he blows on pensively. "Out of 300 million Americans," he goes on, "what percentage would you say have heard about me?"

The publicist, a sweet young woman from DKC Communications, looks slightly flustered. "Well, it's kind of hard to say, because it's still ongoing," she says, tucking back an errant strand of hair. "As you know, the past few days have been ... kind of a whirlwind."

If she seems overwhelmed, she has good reason to be. Chen, a boisterous demolition and recycling tycoon from Nanjing, had arrived three days earlier, after making a bold announcement delivered via an editorial in Global Times titled: "I Intend to Buy the New York Times, Please Don't Take It As a Joke." Then he had a press conference at which Chen introduced two badly burned women who claim to have set themselves on fire at the behest of Falun Gong. He was paying for their medical treatment, he said, as the virtually faceless women waved and smiled at the crowd like a pair of homecoming queens. At the end, Chen serenaded the bemused press corps with a song, "My chinese animated new year cards Dream," that he had written himself.

Chen is a multifaceted guy, as his business card attests. According to the card, Chen is not only CEO of China Huang-Pu, a recycling and salvage company, but the "Most Influential Person of China," "Most Well-Known and Beloved Chinese Role Model," and "Most Prominent Philanthropist of China."

"This Chinese Millionaire Has the Most Ridiculous Business Card," said the website BuzzFeed, which knows from overexuberance.

This is not exactly the kind of coverage most serious businessmen hope to generate, but Chen seems pleased. Back in China, he has created a philanthropic persona that combines elements of Warren Buffett and Oprah with a morning radio host's penchant for stunts. There was the time when, wearing a lime-green suit, he vowed to buy new cars for owners of Japanese-made vehicles whose cars were damaged in anti-Japan protests; the occasion when he beat his own Mercedes to promote sustainable transportation; the particularly smoggy day in Beijing when he sold canned "fresh air" emblazoned with his face to passersby. He's shown up in fatigues to natural disasters, handed out cash to villagers, and—more than once—had his smiling face photographed from behind stacks of renminbi. "I'll give you another title: Most Shameless Person in China," one Chinese blogger quipped.

Picking up his phone, Chen shows me how famous he is. "Look," he says. On the screen is a picture of him posed on a diving board in swim trunks. "This is my participation in a TV program inviting famous figures to dive," he boasts. "This height is the equivalent to the height of three stories building. They said, 'Do you dare?' And I did it." He did, however, suffer an injury. "The water went into my ..." The translator frowns. "Nasal channel? No." He reaches for his English dictionary. "Underneath," he adds, gesturing behind him.

"Oh ..." says the publicist.

"I bought a woman's diaper," Chen continues. "So when the water comes through my— "

"Anus!" finishes the translator, who has found the right page. "Sorry, that word escaped me."

Then Chen leans forward intently: "Tell me," he says. "Do you think Americans like what I do? All of this? Will they like me?"

Now I'm not sure how to answer. On the one hand: Sure? It's not like George Soros ever sings, or talks about his anus—at least not in public. On the other hand ...

" Ahhhhh! " an old woman screamed when she saw Chen bearing down on her on a New York City street soon after he arrived. It turned out he was just trying to help with her groceries—the sort of everyday act of heroism he's known for in China. "But she was like, 'Who is this strange man?' " says a friend of Chen's family from China, a young Realtor in Flushing who doesn't want his name used for fear of being dragged into the circus. Most Americans have reacted to Chen in pretty much the same way: with suspicion and fear.

As China's power has grown, so too has Americans' anxiety about it. A Pew survey last summer put American approval of the People's Republic at a lousy 37 percent, citing concerns about jobs, human rights, and, oh yeah, freedom of the press. The Chinese Communist Party, always a bit sensitive about its image, has in the past few years aggressively gone after news organizations that paint it as repressive, mostly by being extra repressive. It's been particularly punitive toward the Times. After the paper reported on the immense family wealth of former prime minister Wen Jiabao, the regime kicked out two Times journalists for supposed visa violations, blocked the Times' s site—resulting in a 20 percent stock drop—and, it is widely believed, hacked into the e-mails of the paper's reporters.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Holiday Sales Help Push Profit Up at Microsoft

SEATTLE - Microsoft On Sales Thursday said its profit rose 3 percent as its new Xbox game console and Surface tablet lifted sales during the holiday season.

The company reported net income in the last quarter of $6.56 billion, or 78 cents a share, up from $6.38 billion, or 76 cents a share a year ago. Microsoft's revenue jumped 14 percent, to $24.52 billion from $21.46 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average expected the company to report earnings of 68 cents a share and revenue of $23.68 billion.

"Our commercial segment continues to outpace the overall market, and our devices and consumer segment had a great holiday quarter," said Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive officer. "The investments we are making in devices and services that deliver high-value experiences to our customers, and the work we are doing with our partners, are driving strong results and positioning us well for long-term growth."

Microsoft said revenue from its Surface tablets more than doubled from the previous quarter, rising to $893 million from $400 million.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Bullish and Bearish Case for Best Buy in 2014

Deal Of The Day Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) remains in a state of turnaround, although you do not hear the reports of its future death any longer. Best Buy's woes were as simple as the rise of Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) to the point that Best Buy was being turned into the online retailer's outsourced showroom for free. That was then, but you cannot evaluate Best Buy, or any electronics retailer, without considering the Amazon threat.

Best Buy shares rose nearly 300% from their cycle lows. It was one of the best S&P 500 stocks of 2013. With the S&P 500 up over 29% and a gain of more than 26% in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2013, 24/7 Wall St. wanted to run the bullish and bearish cases for Best Buy and other key stocks in 2014.

There are many macroeconomic factors to consider, as well as retail industry issues. Most Wall Street strategists are forecasting higher price targets for the S&P 500. Will the rising tide lift Best Buy again if other ships rise? The Federal Reserve is about to get a new chairman, and it is generally expected that interest rates will rise as the bond buying is tapered. Gross domestic product is expected to tick up in the United States as well.

Best Buy's bullish scenario is that Amazon now has to pay sales tax too in many states, which lowers some of the obvious advantages. Best Buy has spruced up its stores, focused on higher-end appliances and tried to eliminate its money-losing areas of the store. You also no longer hear about its death every day.

Best Buy does have a bearish case as well. Amazon is still a thorn in its side, and the price-matching online competition that Amazon is pursuing can hurt margins, even if it helps sales. Many of the products that Amazon used to make higher margins on (PCs, flat panel TVs and peripherals) are being driven lower as well.

At 16.4 times current year earnings Best Buy sounds fairly priced. At 14 times expected earnings one-year out, it does not sound expensive at all.

The good news is that analysts now have a $46.50 price target on Best Buy, which implies upside of better than 15%, now that Best Buy shares have pulled back from the recent highs. Recent news from competitor hhgregg helped fuel the retreat. With a $13.6 billion market cap, Best Buy shares are back close to a post-recession high. It seems impossible to expect a continued turnaround in 2014 even remotely close to what we saw in 2013. That being said, the pack of analysts sees upside now that the stock has pulled back off its highs.

Mariners Need Approval From Ownership To Spend More

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that the Mariners are still in the hunt for one or more of the following: Masahiro Tanaka, David Price, Nelson Cruz. However, the front office needs to persuade ownership to go for the gusto and spend the extra money.

Sources: #Mariners weighing a number of options - Tanaka, Price, N. Cruz, etc. - but need to persuade ownership to keep pressing forward.

- Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 6, 2014

So this all but confirms the earlier reports that the Mariners were at their spending limit despite the fact that robinson cano stats Cano was their only major sign.

The Mariners are still around $10 million under their payroll from last year and around $20M under their payroll of 2011. They clearly have the money to spend, it's just a matter of getting the ownership group (primarily Nintendo) to loosen the purse strings and help turn this team into a team that can put up video game-type stats.

More as it develops.