Weekly StockWatch: Musk Threatens to Exit Twitter Deal, Uber is “Recession Resistant”, NIO Poor Q1 Results, Apple Enters “Buy Now Pay Later” & More

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Musk-Twitter Spat Over Fake Twitter Accounts

The Musk-Twitter saga remained in the spotlight, as the feud between the two sides over Twitter's fake accounts continues, casting doubt over the $54.20/share buyout agreement.

Back in May, the CEO of Tesla (TSLA) had put the deal "temporarily on hold" until he could verify the firm's estimate that fake/spam accounts represent less than 5% of its user base [1]. CEO of the microblogging platform Parag Agrawal, had posted a series of tweets on the issue, noting that the figure is an internal estimation which cannot be performed externally, "given the critical need to use both public and private information".[2]

This week, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) included a letter from Mr Musk's lawyers, in which he accuses Twitter of "actively resisting and thwarting his information rights" under the merger agreement. As per the letter, this constitutes a "clear material breach" of the firm's obligation and Mr Musk threatened to pull out of the deal, as "reserves all rights resulting therefrom, including his right not to consummate the transaction" [3]

Later in the week, the Washington Post reported that according to its sources, Twitter was planning to comply with Mr Musk's request for internal data and give him access to what is called the "firehose" API with more than 500 million tweets posted each day. [4]

The public spat over Twitter's fake/spam accounts has attracted the interest of the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who opened an investigation against the company for potentially false reporting over its fake bot accounts. [5]

Target Warns of Lower Profitability

The retail giant, had announced very poor profitability for fiscal Q1 in mid-May, hit by surging inflation, which had caused its stock to plunge and had sent SPX500 to its worst day in more than 2 years. Target had also lowered its forward guidance for Operating Margin, projecting it at around 6% for full fiscal 2022, while for Q2 it expected it at around 5.3%.

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This projection did not last long, since this Tuesday the firm downgraded the Q2 forecasts, now expecting Operating Margin at around 2%, while guidance for the second half is still around 6%. [6]

This is a result of a Q2 action plan for "additional markdowns, removing excess inventory and canceling orders", among other things. CEO Brian Cornell said those initiatives will result in "additional costs in the second quarter", but expressed his confidence that these actions will pay off "for our business and our shareholders over time".

On the brighter side of things, Target declared on Thursday a quarterly dividend of $1.08/common share, which is 20% higher from the prior quarter. [7]

TGT.us dropped after the lower guidance on Tuesday, running another negative week, at the time of writing.

Uber is "Recession Resistant"

This is what its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi proclaimed at an interview this week, at the Bloomberg Technology Summit, adding that he does not see a signal of recession, although he did not want to speculate. [8]

He talked of a spending shift back to services and UBER, which is "the definition of a service", is benefiting from that change and essentially dismissed higher fuel costs, noting that although he is hoping for lower prices, these are "not affecting our business". When asked about potential employee layoffs, he replied that "we don't think they're necessary at all".

CEO of rival Lyft Inc in contrast, also made a TV appearance this week, on CNBC. Mr John Zimmer talked of his plans for autonomous driving, which will initially account for a very small part of the ride-hailing business, before scaling up.

A little over a month ago, the two competitors had reported solid results for the first quarter, with Uber registering a 136% Revenue surge year-over-year and Lyft a 44% jump.

EV Maker NIO Poor Results

Before US markets open on Thursday, Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker NIO Inc reported its financial results for the first quarter of the year, which were not very good. [10]

Total Revenues grew 24.4% year-over-year to RMB 9.910,6, which was marginally better than the Q4 figure. Furthermore, the firm's Net Loss narrowed to RMB 1.782,7 billion in Q1, from 2.143,4 in the previous quarter, but this represented a nearly 300% increase from Q1 2021.

Gross Margin dropped 260 basis points from the previous quarter to 14.6%, and Gross Profits slid to RMB 1.446,8 billion.

NIO's forward guidance on deliveries was rather disappointing, since it expects to hand over 23,000-25,000 vehicles in the second quarter, from the 25,768 units it had delivered in Q1. Revenues guidance was somewhat encouraging, as it projects an increase to RMB 9.34 billion in Q2.

CEO William Bin Li, acknowledged "volatilities" in the supply chain and the "challenges" in vehicle deliveries due to the COVID-19 situation in China, but noted that the firm witnessed robust demand. He also pointed to tow new models, the mid-sized sedan ET5 and the ES7 mid-to-large five-seater SUV, which expected for delivery in September and August respectively.

NIO.us shed more than 7% after the results yesterday, ending its-four day winning streak.

Apple to Offer "Buy Now Pay Later" Services

The tech giant announced a series of new products and features during this week's 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), including the M2 chip, new MacBooks and new software versions for its devices.

What stood out for us is the Apple Pay Later service, which represents the firm's entry into the Buy Now Pay Later arena – a sector that has seen increasing popularity and scrutiny.

The new service will be built-in to the Wallets app in the upcoming iOS 16 and will allow US to spread the cost of Apple Pay purchases into four equal interest-free payments over six weeks. [11]

Amazon Implements Stock Split

Back towards the end of the first quarter, the retail and tech juggernaut had announced a 20-1 stock-split and the company's stock began trading on the adjusted basis this week, as scheduled. [12]

Amazon.com is not having a very good year, as high inflation and tightening monetary environment weigh on the tech sector. In late-April it has released its Q1 financial results, posting its first quarterly loss since 2015. More to it, its margins were squeezed during the quarter, whereas Web Services delivered a strong performance.

Nikos Tzabouras

Senior Market Specialist

Nikos Tzabouras is a graduate of the Department of International & European Economic Studies at the Athens University of Economics and Business. He has a long time presence at FXCM, as he joined the company in 2011. He has served from multiple positions, but specializes in financial market analysis and commentary.

With his educational background in international relations, he emphasizes not only on Technical Analysis but also in Fundamental Analysis and Geopolitics – which have been having increasing impact on financial markets. He has longtime experience in market analysis and as a host of educational trading courses via online and in-person sessions and conferences.

References

1

Retrieved 10 Jun 2022 https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1525049369552048129

2

Retrieved 10 Jun 2022 https://twitter.com/paraga/status/1526237578843672576

3

Retrieved 10 Jun 2022 https://d18rn0p25nwr6d.cloudfront.net/CIK-0001418091/2fa8a02b-d097-4089-a4bc-f857d7c03916.pdf

4

Retrieved 10 Jun 2022 https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/06/08/elon-musk-twitter-bot-data/

5

Retrieved 10 Jun 2022 https://www.oag.state.tx.us/news/releases/ag-paxton-launches-investigation-against-twitter-potentially-deceiving-texas-consumers-texas

6

Retrieved 10 Jun 2022 https://investors.target.com/news-releases/news-release-details/target-corporation-announces-updated-2022-plan-focused-inventory

7

Retrieved 10 Jun 2022 https://investors.target.com/news-releases/news-release-details/target-corporation-increases-quarterly-dividend-20-percent

8

Retrieved 10 Jun 2022 https://www.youtube.com/watch

10

Retrieved 10 Jun 2022 https://ir.nio.com/news-events/news-releases/news-release-details/nio-inc-reports-unaudited-first-quarter-2022

11

Retrieved 10 Jun 2022 https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2022/06/apple-unveils-new-ways-to-share-and-communicate-in-ios-16/

12

Retrieved 09 Dec 2022 https://d18rn0p25nwr6d.cloudfront.net/CIK-0001018724/f6c12bbc-aa86-4f1a-8d28-f790dab31a24.pdf

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