Apple plans to replace Intel chips in Macs with its: Bloomberg

(Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel Corp (INTC.O), Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

FILE PHOTO: A man is reflected in a Apple store logo in San Francisco, California, U.S., August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs/File Photo

Intel shares closed down 6.1 percent at $48.92, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq .IXIC ended down 2.7 percent.

The initiative, code-named Kalamata, is still in early developmental stages but is part of a bigger strategy to make Apple’s family of devices work more similarly and seamlessly together, according to the report.

Apple, which has used Intel chips in its computers since 2005, and the computer chipmaker both declined to comment.

The Mac plays a small part in Apple’s overall financial picture, with sales of 19.2 million units last year and accounting for 11 percent of Apple’s $229.2 billion in revenue for fiscal 2017.

But while the laptop and desktop computer market has been in a years-long slump amid the rise of smartphones and tablet computers, Mac sales rose 4 percent in 2017. The growth in Mac sales came even as PC sales declined slightly to 259.5 million units, the smallest drop since 2011, according to data from research firm IDC.

For its part, Intel still depends on PC sales for slightly more than half its revenue, though the company is aiming to make more of its money from growing markets like data centers. Intel does not disclose how much of its revenue comes from Apple, but reported its PC segment overall generated $34 billion in 2017, up 3.3 percent from the year before on the strength of higher sales of notebooks and high-end gaming computers.

But for the past several months, Intel has been dealing with the reputation fallout from the Spectre and Meltdown chip design flaws, which affected nearly every modern computing device.

While Apple’s reported move away from Intel would be a major shift for its Mac lineup, it follows years of increasing focus on designing its own chips for its devices. The company has been designing its own iPhone processors since the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010 and has steadily increased the amount of chip work it handles itself.

“We can push the envelope on innovation. We have better control over timing, over cost and over quality,” Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said of Apple’s chip efforts last year.

This year, Apple has spent hundreds of millions of dollars with suppliers of the 3-D sensor chips that power its facial recognition technology. Analysts believe those efforts have helped Apple prevent its smartphone competitors from coming up with matching features until at least next year.

Editing by Jonathan Oatis

Tesla: It Was The Driver's Fault

Introduction

Additional information has now been disclosed about the fatal accident that occurred earlier this week when a 2017 Tesla (TSLA) Model X crashed into an “exit divider” barrier. The location of the accident was at a major interchange in the San Francisco Bay area where southbound traffic on the major “north/south” highway on the San Francisco Peninsula (U.S. 101) can exit to the southwest (onto California Route 85) that then goes to Cupertino.

From long having been a San Francisco Bay area resident, I know the interchange well. When I initially heard what had happened, the crash also made no sense to me. It occurred in bright daylight, the exit ramp is clearly visible, and, due to the typical heavy traffic in the Bay Area, most drivers themselves have essentially become “automatons” by just automatically following other vehicles in an endless line of traffic. As such, what would have then caused a vehicle in such a situation to swerve into an exit ramp divider that separated the dividing lanes of traffic?

I immediately suspected a “confused” autopilot system that might have attempted to redirect the vehicle back into the originally traveled southbound lanes on U.S. 101 instead of continuing to the right on the exit ramp for Route 85. But, I had no other information at the time to provide any evidence for such a scenario but Tesla itself has now effectively provided such evidence.

There has also already been an excellent article on Seeking Alpha about the crash (by FundamentalSpeculation.IO) but Tesla, the gift that keeps on giving with its manipulative narratives about things, has now actually confirmed that the vehicle was using Autopilot at the time of the crash. As I will describe in the following, I also think that what went along with Tesla’s confirmation that the vehicle was using Autopilot is both appalling in its attempt to “spin the narrative” and further highlights the potential risks for investing in Tesla’s stock.

Tesla’s “Narrative” about the crash

A Reuter’s article provides what I believe is a very factual and straightforward account of Tesla’s comments about the crash. As the article reports, Tesla has confirmed that the vehicle was using Autopilot:

Tesla Inc said on Friday that a Tesla Model X involved a fatal crash in California last week had activated its Autopilot system

But, apparently in Tesla’s view, the crash was actually the fault of the driver:

Tesla also said vehicle logs from the accident showed no action had been taken by the driver soon before the crash and that he had received earlier warnings to put his hands on the wheel.

“The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken,” Tesla said.

As the Reuters article then describes, however:

The statement did not say why the Autopilot system apparently did not detect the concrete divider.

Tesla then did go on to reportedly say:

Tesla said late Friday that “Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur. It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists

But the Tesla narrative then goes further:

Tesla said that in the United States “there is one automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles from all manufacturers. For Tesla, there is one fatality, including known pedestrian fatalities, every 320 million miles in vehicles equipped with Autopilot hardware.”

As Tesla’s “disclosures” and “communications” are ever artful in the subtle use of words (sort of like the artful way Bill Clinton used words), we don’t really know from the statement above whether Autopilot was actually being used for all of those 320 million miles on those “Autopilot equipped vehicles”, or how it was being used, or since Tesla implies it has such good logs, for how many miles Autopilot had been deployed in all those miles.

In any case, however, with the recent Mountain View fatality, now that there have been two fatalities that we know of in the U.S., that statistic is now only half as good now as the apparently new statistic is one fatality every 160 million miles driven. Also, in case anyone has forgotten, there was another fatality in China from a vehicle being driven in Autopilot, and so the statistics are not as good as Tesla would have you believe.

A statistical digression…

Given my own view of the truthfulness of both Elon Musk’s and Tesla statements and comments about things from Bill Maurer’s excellent summary of such things , I am also not inclined to accept Tesla’s statistics about anything. I do have some suggestions, however, about what would make Tesla’s statistics be far more helpful and also some comments about manipulative those statistics are in any case.

The “baseline” presented by Tesla of “one automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles from all manufacturers” is from a driver and vehicle universe very different than that of the typical Tesla vehicle owner.

That universe would include a huge number of much less affluent vehicle drivers driving much older and possibly poorly maintained vehicles. The universe would also probably include a huge number of vehicles owners having far less education than the typical Tesla owner and while having less education would not necessarily be a contributing factor into more “accidents” occurring, I would guess that would possibly be the case. The overall universe would probably also include many different uses for vehicles other than what I would assume would be the primary uses of Tesla vehicles for either commuting or casual personal driving.

And so, I would like for Tesla to provide fatality statistics for a universe of drivers having similar demographics to Tesla owners and then let’s see how the statistics look. I would also like to see Tesla provide fatality statistics for a universe of vehicles similar to Tesla vehicles to see how those statistics would compare. Examples of other similar vehicles would include cars such as the Mercedes S Class, BMW 7 series, Lexus LS, etc. and also “high end” SUVs from such companies. Until Tesla is willing to provide more detailed statistics for both a similar demographic as its owners and for similar vehicles, none of Tesla’s statistics should have any credibility at all.

Tesla’s manipulative use of statistics

There is actually a far more important issue that I have with Tesla’s use of what I consider misleading statistics which is that such statistics are also used to “spin the narrative” that we should just blindly accept both anything Tesla is doing and the overall concept of “driving assistance” functions and then, evolving from that, “self-driving cars.” Implicit in the way that Tesla manipulates statistics is the patently false argument which is essentially that:

  • since people are going to die in auto accidents anyway, it is ok that some people die while using our systems while we are still developing them.

And, since Tesla would apparently hope for us to accept their view of “progress” – that we should turn a blind eye to what happens in the interim. Of course this is also similar to other aspects of Tesla – such as suggestions that investors should also turn a blind eye towards any scrutiny of Tesla’s truly horrendous financial characteristics (what else can you say about 14 years of losses and over $25 billion in financial obligations?) given all of the “progress” that the company would like for you to believe will be achieved.

In my opinion, Tesla’s narrative about “statistics” is actually just a cover-up for Tesla’s ongoing dysfunctional overall operations. There is no better example of that then what we are currently seeing from the very strange “Model 3 ramp-up.”

First of all, it was Elon Musk that announced that the vehicle was going to go into production in “July 2017” but so far there have apparently been barely 10,000 vehicles produced. Musk also said that “100,000 to 200,000 Model 3s were going to be produced in the second half of 2017” but less than 3,000 were actually produced. The other very odd thing about the Model 3 “ramp” is that all of this was not supposed to happen at all.

From the previous instance of “production hell” when the Model X was introduced and from all of Musk’s comments about how much was learned from that experience and that the Model 3 was “designed for manufacturing” – why can’t Tesla produce more of the vehicles? Such a failure also appears very odd in that Tesla has also now been manufacturing around 2,000 Model S and Model X vehicles for over 18 months now. As such, the Model 3 production ramp tells me that there are many things inside Tesla that are now yet widely known or appreciated that are severely dysfunctional.

With the very strange Model 3 introduction, however, there is at least a reasonable amount of public visibility into what is happening with that. Buried in huge amounts of software code for “driving assistance” and “self-driving vehicle” systems, there is unfortunately no visibility at all as to actually how well developed and tested any of those functions might be.

All we can wait for as data points are unfortunate individual statistics as the one that recently occurred in Mountain View, California. What is even more concerning about all of this is also the well-established practice of having its customers effectively being the “beta testers” of Tesla’s vehicles and developing systems.

Additional evidence of possible Autopilot failures

As Fundamental.IO also highlighted in his recent Tesla article, there was a local news report about the now deceased Tesla driver having supposedly describing to Tesla previously that his vehicle had swerved towards the exit ramp barrier during earlier trips along the same stretch of road. After having read many accounts (too many to link!) about Tesla drivers’ experiences with the erratic new “Enhanced Autopilot” (AP 2.0 or 2.5) introduced after Tesla no longer had access to Mobileye’s systems in 2016, that is why I immediately suspected that Autopilot was somehow confused by the diverging lanes at that particular exit.

Tesla, however, merely just offers up more statistics about how “85,000 trips” past that exit have occurred with other Tesla drivers without any other incidents. Regardless of all of those other statistics, in the event that happened this week – in broad daylight, in a vehicle driven by someone who travels the same stretch of road every day on his way to work, a person who reportedly had previously described to Tesla that his vehicle had other instances of “swerving” towards the same barrier – this driver’s Model X did inexplicably did swerve towards the barrier and make contact with it. This incident also follows an earlier in the year incident (but which fortunately didn’t result in fatalities) in which a Tesla vehicle on Autopilot plowed into the back of a fire truck (a hopefully visible vehicle or object!)

Tesla’s overall response and further risks for the stock

Tesla also mentions in its narrative about the current fatality that the driver had ignored “repeated warnings” from Autopilot to take control of the vehicle and re-engage the system.

I can’t wait for hungry “plaintiff’s bar” lawyers to quickly size up that statement as that to me is clear cut evidence that Tesla’s systems are still not properly developed or deployed. As such, that means that they are still very dangerous both to the drivers of its vehicles and any other vehicles on the road near a Tesla vehicle. Effectively what Tesla has admitted to is its own design flaws where probably after only one warning that was not responded to, that the automated systems should be disabled.

I also believe that the overall environment and public attitudes will start changing about how “technology” companies are operating as businesses. As I already commented on in another recent article (titled Facebook, Uber, and Tesla), I believe that there will start to be a growing backlash about how many companies are treating its customers as pawns in their out of control race to further dominate markets and increase revenue growth.

As we have also now seen from how quickly protests have grown from what is typically a pretty apolitical group (U.S. teenagers) about gun violence, there could also now start to be significant public backlash about possible “car violence” from poorly developed and implemented systems from any auto company. I would now expect there to start being far more controls and requirements about ongoing development projects and testing of such systems and vehicles. As such, I think such trends would be a very underappreciated risk for Tesla investors who seem to assume that every Elon Musk proclamation will come true.

I also continue to believe that at least 20 percent of Tesla’s market value is based on the view that Tesla has a “lead” in the development of such automated systems (which include crazed projections of huge revenues from a future “Tesla Network”). Although I believe that is clearly not the case in terms of Tesla’s actual and likely capabilities, if the development of such systems is much more heavily monitored, regulated, and controlled, that would result in companies with a much less consistent record of successfully developing and introducing products (just think of what has happened over the past few years with the Model X, Model 3, and AP 2.0 introductions) being put under much greater scrutiny. Since the ongoing Tesla narratives attempt to manage any scrutiny applied to the company, that also suggests that Tesla would feel very limited by a lot more scrutiny into its operations.

Another interesting data point this week about how complicated all such systems are to develop and safely deploy, there is also a fairly amusing anecdote about a “self-driving” car getting a ticket for not yielding to a pedestrian in a cross walk. Fortunately no pedestrians were killed in this instance but I believe this shows the complexity in trying to develop such systems.

Conclusion

Since this article also essentially discusses how much we should trust both Elon Musk’s and Tesla’s statements and announced development activities, I thought it would be appropriate to remind readers about another aggressively announced Tesla “feature” which you can see in the following video:

Tesla introducing battery swapping…

What is especially comical about this video are the number of deluded sycophants enthusiastically cheering and making comments like “all right, awesome, cool, wow!” etc. during the video (about something that then never happened!)

There is another comical part of the same presentation where at the start of the “introduction” (which occurred in 2013!), the first pitchman who appeared described the achievement of Tesla’s “first profitable quarter” and then promised that there would be “many more to come!” Another comical part of that video is that a Model X was also “introduced” at the same time (although it would then take three years before it sort of achieved volume production…sound familiar at all?).

What is not comical to me, however, is having what I view as Tesla’s poorly developed and implemented systems being randomly deployed out on our highways with essentially no oversight or visibility. As I have described about ongoing societal trends, I also believe such business practices are becoming much less acceptable to the general public.

Since Tesla so far has been very much supported by the unquestioning acceptance that what it is doing represents “progress” I also think any turn in such sentiments could have huge negative leverage for Tesla. For a severely unprofitable company that is also that is also very heavily leveraged financially (with over $10 billion of debt and an additional $15 billion of other financial obligations), such a sharp sentiment change about the company could also result very quickly in overall financial distress.

Disclosure: I am/we are short TSLA.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: This article expresses the author’s opinions and perspectives about various investment related topics. Since all statements in the article are represented as opinions, rather than facts, such opinions are not a recommendation to buy or sell a security. My own investment position described in the disclosures is not intended to provide investment advice or a recommendation of a specific investment strategy but is a required disclosure item by Seeking Alpha. My own investment position may have been initiated at very different price levels than current prices levels and so that is also why my disclosed position is definitely not intended as an investment recommendation. All investors should also do their own research before making any investment decision.

China’s Rogue Space Station Could Crash to the Earth Tonight

According to the latest projections, China’s Tiangong-1 space station is expected to fall to Earth between late Sunday and early Monday. That broad window reflects the bus-sized station’s chaotic descent from orbit since China’s space authorities lost control of it in 2016.

The timeline comes from the European Space Agency, and the nonprofit Aerospace Corp. German monitors have also reportedly observed the station “tumbling” through the sky.

The uncontrolled descent means it’s hard to know precisely where Tiangong-1 will fall, but experts agree there’s little reason for worry on the ground. The most recent projection, according to Space.com, has the station falling into the Pacific Ocean.

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Even if it heads towards land, the station is expected to substantially burn up when it hits the Earth’s atmosphere, leaving, by the estimate of Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, between 220 and 440 pounds of surviving debris. That debris, McDowell told LiveScience, will be spread over “hundreds of kilometers along the line of travel.” One estimate has the odds of getting hit by debris as 1 in 300 trillion.

Tiangong-1’s burnup is expected to produce an impressive light show wherever it re-enters the atmosphere, complete with fireballs formed by the station’s various sections. For those who want to keep a closer eye on the Chinese station over the next few hours, Space.com is hosting a tracking tool here.

Snapchat’s April Fools’ Gag Pokes Fun at Facebook’s Russian Bot Problem

Snap, Inc’s flagship Snapchat social media platform has rolled out a photo filter that highlights the recent stumbles of its biggest rival — Facebook.

The filter, spotted by The Verge, copies Facebook’s layout, color scheme and icons, but the text is styled after Cyrillic, the Russian alphabet. It’s actually still readable as English (similar to the faux-Cyrillic in the new comedy The Death of Stalin), and the filter’s real message is clear from the included “likes” — one from “your mom” and another from “a bot.”

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The subtext is clear – Facebook, Snap wants you to know, is dominated by old people and fraud. That plays into the already-deteriorating public perception of Facebook. Over the past two weeks, in response to rising panic about privacy, bots, and a host of related revelations, Facebook’s stock has declined as much as 15%. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal fortune has dropped by more money than most humans could hope to see in a hundred lifetimes.

This is just the latest public clash between the rival companies. Facebook has blatantly copied an array of Snapchat features, most prominently photo filters and the disappearing videos known as Stories. On an earnings call last year, Snap, Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel compared Facebook to Yahoo!, which in the tech world, is about on par with insulting Mark Zuckerberg’s mother.

Reminding users of Facebook’s apparent abuse of their trust could help Snap compete. Snap’s gesture is reminiscent of PR clashes last year between Lyft and Uber, when Uber stumbled in its reaction to Donald Trump’s travel ban and Lyft made an extremely well-timed contribution to the ACLU. That, too, was a bit of retribution for prior misbehavior — much as Facebook has stolen concepts from Snapchat, Uber had actively worked to undermine Lyft.

Lyft’s move (along with plenty of unforced errors by Uber) has helped Lyft take huge bites out of its opponent’s market share.

Snap’s attack is riding a wave of calls to delete Facebook, just as Lyft leveraged a boycott of Uber. While switching from Facebook to Snapchat isn’t quite the same thing, similar logic does hold — for digital platforms, what you stand for can matter nearly as much as the service you provide.

Facebook Employees Are Reportedly Deleting Controversial Internal Messages

Facebook employees are deleting potentially controversial comments and messages from the company’s internal communications systems, after the leak of a 2016 memo in which Vice President Andrew Bosworth appeared to place growth priorities ahead of public safety concerns.

According to Facebook employees who spoke with the New York Times, staffers are also urging the company to hunt down the leakers who released the Bosworth memo.

If the report is accurate, the deletion of internal communications could have legal implications, including in an ongoing Federal Trade Commission investigation into the company’s data-handling practices. Destruction of internal documents was a partial focus of the FTC’s recent investigation of Volkswagen.

Bosworth’s memo continued catastrophic PR fallout following findings that the Facebook data of as many as 50 million users was wrongly harvested by the election consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. In the memo leaked Thursday, Bosworth wrote that “connecting people” should be the company’s driving goal, even if “it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies” or “someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”

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Facebook executives have defended the memo as merely provocative, and not actually intended to deny Facebook’s responsibility to try to prevent bullying or terrorism. Bosworth issued a statement via Twitter Thursday night saying he “didn’t agree with [the post] even when I wrote it” and cares “deeply about how our product affects people.” He further wrote that “this was one of the most unpopular things I’ve ever written internally and the ensuing debate helped shape our tools for the better.”

While some parts of Bosworth’s message may be defensible as pot-stirring hyperbole, others are more difficult to rationalize. For instance, Bosworth wrote about “questionable contact importing practices.” That phrase shows high-level internal awareness about choices including the collection of detailed call logs from many Facebook users, which reached public attention last week. That news contributed to growing signs that users no longer trust the social network to protect their personal data.

Science Says The Happiest People In The World Love Saying This Word (It Made Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel A Billionaire)

There’s a pressure on professionals who are at the top of their game to take advantage of every opportunity presented.

However, just as you wouldn’t go out on a date with every single person that asked you, you should exhibit a certain level of particularity when it comes to where you commit your time.

A good rule of thumb is whether the opportunity causes more damage than potential good: if it could hurt your brand or your soul, don’t accept it.

Most readers will be able to spot such instances a mile away. However, the trickier moments in life are when to say no when it seems like you should maybe say yes.

Below are some occasions when you owe it to yourself to say no:

The “Perfect” Opportunity.

According to Dan Schulman, after Obama lost the race for Congress in 2000, he interviewed for a job running the prestigious and progressive Joyce Foundation in Chicago. It would have paid mid-six figures and included other perks such as a country club membership.

Many people would have viewed this opportunity as a buoy in a turbulent ocean after Obama’s public failure. But Obama knew in his gut that he was not done with politics and that’s why Obama admitted to “doing a bad job on the interview.”

If an opportunity is dropped in your lap but it doesn’t mesh with your core instincts, you owe it to yourself to say no.

Your Time is Always Finite.

Your commitment to excellence requires that you say no as there are a finite number of hours in the day and always will be.

Time does not allow you to say yes to everyone: sure, you want to serve on the board of that worthy non-profit, or mentor that very deserving underprivileged kid, but if you want to continue all the numerous other tasks you are committed to with the excellence that you have connected to your brand and your name, you must say no.

It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a master strategist.

Silence is Golden.

Do you remember the period before you were successful? Maybe this was when you were a student or a struggling entrepreneur, or working a job you hated.

This was a time in your life when you weren’t inundated with invitations to dinners, talks, cocktail parties, screenings, or panels.

While all such events are (sometimes) incredibly worthy and can often enrich your career and your network, you can’t and shouldn’t attend all of them.

Back when you were at the start of your career and had a much smaller social network and fewer events to go to, you also had more silence. You had more time alone with yourself to think about your ideas and to tinker with your own creativity, innovation, and imagination.

This is my theory as to why the second album a band puts out often is subpar. The first album was made after much reflection and effort. When the first album and the band takes off in a whirlwind, it often doesn’t give the band the time and space it needs to recreate that magic in the second album.

You have to say no occasionally in order to honor times when you can just be alone and silent with yourself and your ideas.

Saying no comes from a place of strength and wisdom. It indicates that you know yourself, that your goals are crystal clear, and that you have the courage to assert boundaries.

Sometimes saying no to a brilliant opportunity, a fun social event, or a worthy mentee means you’re shouting an even bigger yes to yourself, your goals, and your future.

Gadget Lab Podcast: What the New iPad Means for Consumers, and for Students

Uber Settles With Family of Victim Killed in Self-Driving Car Accident

Uber has settled with the family of a pedestrian who was killed when one of the company’s self-driving cars hit her while she crossed a road in Tempe, Ariz. earlier this month.

A lawyer representing the family of the deceased victim, Elaine Herzberg, told Reuters on Thursday that “the matter has been resolved,” but she did not reveal the settlement’s terms.

An Uber spokesperson declined to comment to Fortune about the settlement.

Herzberg was struck by one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles on the night of March 18 as she crossed a busy street while pushing her bicycle. Although a human driver was inside the self-driving car as a precautionary measure, a video of the accident shows the driver looking down until seconds before Herzberg appeared in front of the car, illuminated by the vehicle’s headlights.

Local police told Fortune that the car was operating in autonomous mode when the accident occurred.

The accident is believed to be the first fatality involving a self-driving vehicle, an area in which several big companies like Alphabet (goog) subsidiary Waymo and General Motors (gm) are heavily investing.

After the accident, Uber paused all of its self-driving vehicle tests, including in California, where the online ride-hailing company is based.

By avoiding any future civil litigation over the accident, Uber has dodged the possibility of the courts establishing a legal precedent over liability in autonomous vehicle accidents.

A recent New York Times article highlighted problems with Uber’s self-driving car program, in which human drivers were more likely to take control of the autonomous cars during tests compared to rival companies.

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Additionally, a Reuters report published earlier this week revealed that Uber removed the number of lidar sensors from its newer fleet of self-driving cars. These sensor are used to help the cars “see” objects in the road, and reducing the number of sensors could have created more blind spots than Uber’s earlier test fleets as well as those of its rivals, the report said.

Amazon shares fall after report Trump wants to curb its power

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) shares fell almost 5 percent on Wednesday, wiping more than $30 billion off its market value, after news website Axios reported that U.S. President Donald Trump is obsessed with the world’s largest online retailer and wants to rein in its growing power.

The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, northern France, February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Trump has talked about using antitrust law to “go after” the company because he is worried about mom-and-pop retailers being put out of business by Amazon, Axios reported, citing five sources it said had discussed the issue with him.

Trump also wants to change Amazon’s tax treatment, the Axios report said, an issue the president raised publicly last year when he called for an internet tax for online retailers, even though Amazon already collects sales tax on items it sells direct to customers.

“The president has said many times before he’s always looking to create a level playing field for all businesses and this is no different,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, when asked about the Axios report. “He’s always going to look at different ways, but there aren’t any specific policies on the table at this time.”

The logo of the web service Amazon is pictured in this June 8, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/Illustration

Trump has been complaining about Amazon in private, believing the company has become too powerful, another administration official confirmed to Reuters.

The official said Trump links this to Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ private ownership of the Washington Post, which he has called “fake news” for its critical coverage of his administration. Trump regards the newspaper as a mouthpiece for Bezos’ business interests, calling it #AmazonWashingtonPost on Twitter.

Amazon did not reply to a request for comment on the Axios report.

FAVORITE TARGET

Trump has criticized Amazon over taxes and jobs in the past, without offering evidence. The president urging the use of antitrust law to selectively thwart a company would be unprecedented, according to Jeffrey Jacobovitz of the law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP.

Amazon’s stock, which fell as low as $1,386.17 on Wednesday, was last down 4.6 percent at $1,427.83. The shares have nearly quadrupled over the last three years.

Tech stocks have been under pressure after Facebook Inc (FB.O) acknowledged this month that user data had been improperly harvested by a consultancy.

“With Facebook and regulatory worries, the last thing nervous tech investors wanted to see was news that Trump is targeting Bezos and Amazon over the coming months as this remains a lingering cloud over the stock and heightens the risk profile in the eyes of the Street,” GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives said.

Additional reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Diane Bartz and Amanda Becker in Washington; Sinead Carew in New York; writing by Chris Sanders; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and James Dalgleish

Is GE Now A Good Value?

About a month ago, I talked about 4.00% being the magic number for General Electric (GE) in a number of ways. One of those ways was the annual dividend yield, because the stock’s fall was putting this number in play. Despite a huge market rally on Monday, GE shares actually declined, with the stock less than 75 cents from this key dividend level at the day’s low. Will this be the point at which investors see value from the name again?

Last September, the board declared a $0.24 quarterly dividend, at which point the forward yield was 3.95%. Unfortunately, this became a misleading number for GE because as the stock fell, more and more concerns built up about a dividend cut, so it was hard to use that payout rate to project a yield. Things reset in early December, when the current rate of $0.12 was declared, and the chart below shows how that yield has fared on a closing basis since.

(Data sourced from Yahoo Finance. Last data point on chart is for Monday, March 26th close of $12.90)

With shares hitting a low of $12.73 on Monday, the annual yield was up to 3.77%. As you can see below, even after GE shares bounced a little into Monday’s close, the current yield is well above even the longest dated US Treasury. Looking purely at income potential, GE represents a better play moving forward if you believe the payout remains at its current level.

(Source: cnbc.com)

The odd part about Monday’s decline for the stock was that the market soared, with the Dow up almost 670 points on the day. There wasn’t a major catalyst that sent GE shares lower, outside of the Wall Street Journal worrying a little about about risks left over from the company’s once massive lending business. Even names like Facebook (FB) and Tesla (TSLA) that have seen plenty of negative news recently managed to go positive by the close, something that didn’t happen with GE.

With the stock doing so poorly lately, and nobody sure of what will happen with the business moving forward, it might not be a surprise that JPMorgan slapped a street low $11 price target on the name a few weeks ago. This was based on the notion that normalized free cash flow per share looks to be well below the street consensus, and we’re not even at a trough. On the flip side, there are those arguing for plenty of upside for the beaten down name, with Melius Capital stating that a breakup likely undervalues the business by 25% or more than previously estimated.

The question for investors is does GE now become a value play? Well, that likely depends on what you think of potential earnings. If you think that the street’s projection of $1.06 in 2019 is fair or even low, then a forward P/E a little north of 12 with a dividend yield of 3.7% seems like a decent value at roughly half of the S&P 500’s current trailing P/E ratio. However, if you think the situation will get much worse and earnings per share could fall as low as say 80 cents next year (a bit worse than street low of $0.85), a P/E above 16 currently is a bit harder to stomach in a declining revenue/earnings scenario.

With GE shares hitting another low on Monday despite a tremendous market rally, I’m wondering today at what point investors will consider the name a value. Will it be the 4.00% annual yield that the stock is fast approaching? With a forward P/E in the low teens, the name is certainly not expensive if you think management can get the business going again, but again, a cheap stock can always get cheaper if the situation worsens. Do you see value in General Electric currently? I look forward to your comments below.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: Investors are always reminded that before making any investment, you should do your own proper due diligence on any name directly or indirectly mentioned in this article. Investors should also consider seeking advice from a broker or financial adviser before making any investment decisions. Any material in this article should be considered general information, and not relied on as a formal investment recommendation.