With the planned Alibaba IPO, more U.S. consumers will no doubt become more familiar with China's largest e-commerce player. This should be a little disconcerting for Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) investors because of Alibaba's popularity outside the U.S.�Amazon�has developed a reputation of cutting product prices to the bone--but Alibaba is no stranger to such practices either.
Mark William, a William and Blair analyst who regularly tracks products sold at Amazon, told Y-Charts in April that there were a number of items on Alibaba's merchant website, AliExpress.com, that were selling at huge discounts compared to similar products at Amazon and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) . For instance, a KitchenAid Classic 4.5QT Standard Mixer was selling at $299.00 on both Amazon and Wal-Mart, but just $199.18 at AliExpress. A Keurig Q10 Coffee Maker sold at $99.00 in Wal-Mart, and $95.44 at Amazon, but only $45.58 on AliExpress.
AliExpress concentrates on selling very low-priced, mostly lower quality products, some of which overlap with products sold by Amazon and Wal-Mart. Currently, few U.S. consumers are aware of AliExpress, let alone do their shopping there. But with the planned Alibaba IPO, this could change very fast, and Alibaba could soon become a household name in America.
Top 5 Safest Stocks To Own For 2015: Outerwall Inc (OUTR)
Outerwall Inc, formerly Coinstar, Inc., incorporated on October 12, 1993, is a provider of automated retail solutions, which offers convenient products and services. the Company's offerings in automated retail include its Redbox business, where consumers can rent or purchase movies and video games from self-service kiosks (Redbox segment), and its Coin business, where consumers can convert their coin to cash or stored value products at self-service coin counting kiosks (Coin segment). Its New Ventures business (New Ventures segment) is focused on identifying, evaluating, building, and developing self-service concepts in the marketplace. On June 9, 2011, the Company completed the sale transaction of the Money Transfer Business to Sigue Corporation (Sigue). In June 2012, the Company�� wholly owned subsidiary, Redbox Automated Retail, LLC, acquired certain assets of NCR Corp's self-service entertainment DVD kiosk business. In October 2013, Jana Partners LLC acquired a 13.5% stake in Outerwall Inc.
Within the Company�� Redbox segment, it operates 35,400 Redbox kiosks, in 29,300 locations, where consumers can rent or purchase movies and video games. Its Redbox kiosks are available in every state, as well as Puerto Rico and are installed at grocery stores, mass retailers, drug stores, restaurants and convenience stores, including Walgreens, Walmart and McDonalds. Its Redbox kiosks supply the functionality of a traditional video rental store, which occupy an area of less than 10 square feet. Consumers use a touch screen to select their titles, swipe a valid credit or debit card, and receive their movie or video game. The daily rental fee at a Redbox kiosk is a flat fee plus tax for one daily rental and, if the consumer chooses to keep the movie or video game for additional days, the consumer is charged for each additional day at the same daily rental fee. Its consumers can rent a movie or video game from one location and return their rental to any of its Redbox locations.! In addition, its consumers may reserve a movie or video game online or through a smart phone application and pick it up at the selected Redbox location.
The Company generates revenue through fees charged to rent or purchase a movie or video game, and it pays retailers a percentage of its revenue. Its content library consists of movies and video games available for rent or purchase. It obtains its movie and video game content through revenue sharing agreements and license agreements with studios and game publishers, as well as through distributors and other suppliers.
As of December 31, 2011, within the Company�� Coin segment, it owned and operated approximately 20,200 coin-counting kiosks (approximately 17,200, of which offer a range of stored value products to consumers) in 19,900 locations, where consumers feed loose change into the kiosks, which count the change and then dispense vouchers or, in some cases, issue stored value products, at the consumer�� election. Its Coin kiosks are available across the United States, where they provide service to retailers, such as Kroger and Walmart, and in Canada, Puerto Rico, Ireland and the United Kingdom. It generates revenue through transaction fees from its consumers and product partners. Each voucher lists the dollar value of coins counted, less its transaction fee. When consumers elect to have a stored value product issued, the transaction fee normally charged to the consumer is charged instead to the card issuers for the coin-counting services.
Within the Company�� New Ventures segment, it identifies, evaluates, builds and develops self-service concepts in the automated retail space. Its New Ventures segment consists of its coffee, refurbished electronics and photo self-service concepts. It generates revenue through fees charged for products and services offered to consumers in select test markets where it is testing business concepts.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Rick Munarriz]
Outerwall (NASDAQ: OUTR ) began trading on Tuesday, but it wasn't an IPO. This is the newly rechristened kiosk operator that investors have known as Coinstar for years.
5 Best Consumer Stocks For 2014: First Cash Financial Services Inc (FCFS)
First Cash Financial Services, Inc., incorporated on April 24, 1994, is an operator of retail-based pawn and consumer finance stores in the United States and Mexico. As of February 18, 2013 , the Company had approximately 829 locations twelve states in United States and 24 states in Mexico. The Company's primary business is the operation of pawn stores, which engage in retail sales, purchasing of secondhand goods and consumer finance activities. The pawn stores generate retail sales from the merchandise acquired through collateral forfeitures and over-the-counter purchases from customers. Pawn stores are also a convenient source for small consumer loans to help customers meet their short-term cash needs. Personal property, such as jewelry, consumer electronics, tools, sporting goods and musical instruments are pledged as collateral for the loans. In addition, some of the Company's pawn stores offer consumer loans or credit services products.
In March 2012, the Company acquired three Dallas-area pawn stores. In June 2012, the Company acquired 24 pawn stores located in the states of Colorado (13), Kentucky (seven), Wyoming (three) and Nebraska (one). In June 2013, First Cash Financial Services Inc announced the acquisition of 19 format U.S. pawn stores located in Texas.
Pawn Merchandise Sales
The Company's pawn merchandise sales are primarily retail sales to the general public from its pawn stores. The items retailed are primarily used consumer electronics, jewelry, household appliances, tools, musical instruments, and sporting goods. The Company also melts down certain quantities of scrap jewelry and sells the gold, silver and diamonds in commodity markets.
The Company acquires pawn merchandise inventory primarily through forfeited pawn collateral and, to a lesser extent, through purchases of used goods directly from the general public. Merchandise acquired by the Company through forfeited pawn collateral is carried in inventory at the amount of the ! related pawn loan, exclusive of any accrued service fees. The Company does not provide financing to customers for the purchase of its merchandise, but does permit its customers to purchase merchandise on an interest-free layaway plan. Should the customer fail to make a required payment, the item is returned to inventory and previous payments are forfeited to the Company. Interim payments from customers on layaway sales are credited to deferred revenue and subsequently recorded as income in which final payment is received or when previous payments are forfeited to the Company.
Pawn Lending Activities
The Company's pawn stores make small loans to their customers in order to help them meet short-term cash needs. All pawn loans are collateralized by personal property such as jewelry, electronic equipment, household appliances, tools, sporting goods and musical instruments. Pawn loans are non-recourse loans and the pledged goods provide the only security to the Company for the repayment of the loan. At the time a pawn transaction is entered into, an agreement, commonly referred to as a pawn ticket, is delivered to the borrower for signature that sets forth, among other items, the name and address of the pawnshop, borrower's name, borrower's identification number from his/her driver's license or other identification, date, identification and description of the pledged goods, including applicable serial numbers, amount financed, pawn service fee, maturity date, total amount that must be paid to redeem the pledged goods on the maturity date, and the annual percentage rate. Pledged property is held through the term of the loan, unless the pawn is paid earlier or renewed. The typical loan term is generally one month plus an additional grace period (typically 30 to 90 days). The Company contracts for pawn loan fees and service charges as compensation for the use of the funds loaned and to cover direct operating expenses related to the transaction and holding the pledged property. These pa! wn loan f! ees and service charges accounted for approximately 26% of the Company's revenue from continuing operations during the year ended December 31, 2012 .
Credit Services and Consumer Loan Activities
The Company has significantly reduced its U.S.-based consumer loan activities, primarily from payday lending, over the past several years. In September 2012, the Company closed seven of its consumer loan stores located in the Texas cities of Austin and Dallas. The Company offers a fee-based credit services organization program (CSO Program) to assist consumers, in Texas markets, in obtaining extensions of credit. The Company's consumer loan and pawn stores in Texas offer the CSO Program, and, in Texas, credit services are also offered via an Internet platform. Under the CSO Program, the Company assists customers in applying for a short-term extension of credit from an independent, non-bank, consumer lending company (the Independent Lender) and issues the Independent Lender a letter of credit to guarantee the repayment of the extension of credit.
The Company subsequently collects a percentage of these bad debts by redepositing the customers' checks, ACH collections or subsequent cash repayments by the customers. The profitability of the Company's credit services operations is dependent upon adequate collection of these returned items. The Company also offers an automobile title lending product under the CSO Program. These credit services fees accounted for approximately 8% of the Company's revenue from continuing operations during 2012 . In Mexico, the Company also offers an installment loan product with a term of 365 days and bears weekly service fees of 7% on the loan amount. These consumer loan fees accounted for less than 1% of the Company's revenue from continuing operations during 2012 .Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Brian Pacampara]
What: Shares of First Cash Financial Services (NASDAQ: FCFS ) plunged as low as 14% today after the consumer finance company cut its short-term guidance outlook.
5 Best Consumer Stocks For 2014: Control4 Corp (CTRL)
Control4 Corporation, incorporated on March 27, 2003, is a provider of automation and control solutions for the connected home. The Company provides its consumers with the ability to integrate music, video, lighting, temperature, security, communications and other functionalities into a unified home automation solution. The Company's solution functions as the operating system of the home, making connected devices work together to control, automate and personalize the homes of its consumers. Control4 Home Operating System (C4 OS) is one of the product line of the Company. It embeds its C4 OS in a range of products, including controller appliances, interfaces and connected devices that interact with various music, video, lighting, temperature, security, communications and other devices. The Company offers its 4Sight subscription service, which allows consumers to control and monitor their homes remotely from their smartphone, tablet or laptop, and allows its dealers to perform remote diagnostic services. The Company's 4Sight allows consumer to remotely unlock the front door to let in a repairman, to turn on the air conditioning on the way home, and to monitor the home security cameras from a smartphone. In addition, its 4Store application marketplace offers a range of third-party applications for use with the Company's products. The Company's solution provides consumers with access to over 6,400 third-party devices.
At the center of the Control4 product line is the Control4 Home Operating System, and the associated application software and software development kits (SDKs). The high-level software components include Director, Navigator, Composer Professional Edition, Composer Home Edition and Composer Media Edition, DriverWorks SDK, and Navigator SDK and Application SDK. Director is a real-time, extensible home operating system kernel that is responsible for monitoring and receiving events from numerous devices and services, processing those events according ! to consumer personalized settings, and then dispatching commands to the appropriate devices to perform predefined actions. Navigator displays intuitive and rich graphical user interfaces on televisions, in-wall and table-top touch panels, smartphones and tablets, as well as list-based devices, such as a remote controls with LCD text-displays. Composer Professional Edition is a software application that enables trained and certified Control4 dealers and installers to design, configure and personalize a Control4 home automation system for consumers. Composer Home Edition and Media Edition enable consumers to view and configure their Control4 managed devices. These drag-and-drop programs provide the ability to manage digital media and create and modify simple programs and policies (such as changing lighting scenes, modifying custom buttons and controlling behaviors among devices based on schedules or times of the day). DriverWorks SDK is a software development kit that enables dealers, programmers and device manufacturers to independently develop and test custom two-way interface drivers to support the integration of a new device or device model into its system, or to customize and enhance an existing driver. Navigator SDK and Application SDK are software development kits that enable third-party dealers and programmers to customize and deliver new application functionality within Navigator user interfaces on Control4 interface devices through the development of applications.
Products with Embedded Software and Services
The Company's controller appliances run its Director software to monitor, process and automate events, statuses and actions for numerous devices and services, creating a connected home experience. It offers the HC-800, a whole home controller appliance, and the HC-250, a single-room controller appliance. It also licenses its Director software on the new Sony ES 5800 and 2800 receivers, transforming them into controller appliances with home theater audio and video ! capabilit! ies. The Company offers touch panels, handheld remote controls and keypads as interface devices. It also develops and delivers software applications for Apple iOS and Android smartphones and tablets that enable these personal devices to become control interfaces to Control4 connected homes, both on-premise and remotely. The Company offers network-enabled 4x4 and 8x8 zone audio amplifiers, and a 16x16 audio matrix switch for versatile multi-room and whole-home audio distribution. It also offers an integrated digital media player for integration of local digital audio and video, as well as Wi-Fi and Ethernet amplified speaker points for streaming digital audio to speakers in areas without an audio receiver.
The Company offers a suite of lighting products that provide personalized control and energy management. Its suite of wireless light switches and dimmers can replace devices in an existing home or be installed in new homes. It offers in-wall wireless switches and dimmers for 120V, 240V and 277V electrical loads, which meet the requirements of North America and many international markets. The also plan to offer panelized systems, where all of the lighting control will be done on a remote panel. Its new Control4 lighting products will have the ability to measure how much energy each load is using and provide suggestions to the consumer on how to conserve energy and reduce costs. The Company offers devices that provide energy savings, convenience and efficiency for temperature control. Its wireless multi-stage thermostat is completely programmable with up to six set points per day and, using its 4Sight subscription service, is remotely accessible and controllable. The Company provides a set of products and software services created by the Company, as well as distribute certified third-party products, including deadbolts, door and window sensors, motion sensors, garage access systems and water leak detection systems, from its security partners, such as Baldwin, Card Access, Kwikset and Yale. ! The Compa! ny offers full motion video and hi-fidelity audio intercom capability through its in-wall and tabletop touchscreens, as well as its exterior weather-resistant door stations. 4Sight is a subscription service that enables 24x7 home monitoring and control from virtually anywhere, remote home programming and support, and instant email alerts based on home events so that homeowners are always in-the-know.
The Company offers a subscription service called 4Sight that enables remote access to the connected home without exposing the installer or consumer to the complexities of communicating around firewalls and private Internet Protocol addresses. This service facilitates connections between remote client devices and its systems through a cloud-based service. Using 4Sight, consumers can remotely monitor and control their Control4 systems as if they were at their homes.
The Company competes with AMX, Crestron, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung, Savant, Logitech, Lutron, Nest, Roku, Sonos and Universal Remote Control, ADT, Comcast, Verizon and Vivint.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Rick Aristotle Munarriz]
Alamy You can never know in advance all the news that will move the market in a given week, but some things you can see coming. From food giants to tech bellwethers, here are some of the things that will help shape the week that lies ahead on Wall Street. Monday -- Organic Growth: The market for organic foods has never been hotter, and Annie's (BNNY) is there to cash in on consumers craving more natural edibles. It makes organic pastas, crackers, frozen pizzas, and other food products. Annie's reports after the market closes on Monday. It should be another quarter of healthy growth. Analysts see revenue and earnings growing by roughly 20 percent for the quarter that ended in December. The one thing that investors will need to watch out for is that Annie's has missed Wall Street's profit targets in the previous two quarters. Tuesday -- In Control: One of last month's big winners was Control4 (CTRL). Shares of the home automation specialist soared 29 percent in January, bucking the market, which took a bit of a tumble. And you don't have to look too hard to spot the catalyst behind its rally. Google's (GOOG) acquisition of smart thermostat maker Nest drew attention to Control4 as another play on automated home technology. The thinking here is that if Google is buying into the niche of Web-fueled home automation, other dot-com giants may consider acquiring Control4 to establish a presence in this new battlefield. Control4 reports on Tuesday. It's unlikely to admit that it's receiving buyout interest on the heels of Google's move, but you know it's going to be asked. Wednesday -- The Cisco kid: It may seem hard to believe, but there was a time when Cisco (CSCO) was this country's most valuable company. Just before the dot-com bubble popped, the leading provider of routers, switches, and other networking gear commanded the market's largest market cap. Then again, at the time we thought that anything Web-related was worth a whole lot of money, and Cisco was the co
5 Best Consumer Stocks For 2014: Xerox Corporation(XRX)
Xerox Corporation provides business process and information technology (IT) outsourcing, and document management services worldwide. Its business process outsourcing services include human resources services; finance and accounting services; healthcare payers and pharma; customer management solutions; healthcare provider solutions; technology-based transactional services for retail, travel, and non-healthcare insurance companies; programs for federal, state, county, and town governments; transportation solutions; and government healthcare solutions. The company is involved in designing, developing, and delivering IT solutions, such as comprehensive systems support, systems administration, database administration, systems monitoring, batch processing, data backup, and capacity planning services; telecommunications management services; and desktop services. Its document outsourcing services comprise managed print services that optimize, rationalize, and manage the operation of Xerox and non-Xerox print devices; and communication and marketing services that deliver design, communication, marketing, logistic, and distribution services through SMS, Web, email, and mobile, as well as print media. The company also manufactures and sells products, including desktop monochrome, color and compact printers, multifunction printers, copiers, digital printing presses, and light production devices for small/mid-size businesses and large enterprises. In addition, it sells paper, wide-format systems, network integration solutions, and electronic presentation systems. The company sells its products and solutions through its sales force, as well as through a network of independent agents, dealers, value-added resellers, systems integrators, and the Web. Xerox Corporation was founded in 1906 and is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Victor Selva]
Xerox Corporation (XRX), with a market capitalization of $13.11 billion, is among the largest companies in the global document markets. It is a provider of business process and document management. The company is a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company engaged in managing transaction processes.
- [By Jonas Elmerraji]
Document solutions firm Xerox (XRX) has been quietly working its way higher since the start of 2013; year-to-date, the stock is up 50%. But the trend is far from over. Here's how to trade new highs in Xerox.
Right now, Xerox is forming an ascending triangle pattern, a bullish price setup that's formed by horizontal resistance to the upside at $10.50 and uptrending support below shares. Basically, as XRX bonces in between those two technical levels, it's getting squeezed closer and closer to a breakout through that $10.50 level. When it happens, traders have a buy signal in shares.
That doesn't mean a breakdown is a 100% foregone conclusion just yet. Shares slipped through $72.50 earlier this week, only to pop back into the pattern (the "bear trap" on the chart above). But a confirmed breakdown is certainly a sell signal.
Whenever you're looking at any technical price pattern, it's critical to think in terms of those buyers and sellers. Triangles, and other pattern names are a good quick way to explain what's going on in a stock, but they're not the reason it's tradable. Instead, it all comes down to supply and demand for shares.
That support level at $72.50 is a price at which there has been an excess of demand of shares; in other words, it's a place where buyers are more eager to step in and buy shares at a lower price than sellers were to sell. That's what makes a breakdown below that price so significant -- the move would indicate that sellers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess demand at that price level. Wait for that indication before you sell.
- [By Douglas A. McIntyre]
And some of the companies which were in the Top 100 in 2009 have fallen off that list completely. These include Xerox (NYSE: XRX), Blockbuster, Merrill Lynch and Saab.
- [By Sean Williams]
This week's loser
On the flipside, information technology and print services specialist Xerox (NYSE: XRX ) tumbled 6.2% on the week after reporting uninspiring first-quarter earnings results. For the quarter, Xerox delivered $5.36 billion in total revenue and an adjusted profit of $0.27. Profits topped expectations by $0.03; however, revenue was $130 million shy of expectations. Xerox saw sales at its document technology segment fall 9%, while service revenue jumped 4%. As Xerox continues to transition toward a service-based model, these sales fluctuations will lessen dramatically. As a big catalyst, I'll be looking for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to drastically boost its Medicare processing business next year in California.