Archive for February, 2016

The iPhone ‘Special Edition’ will be missing a key feature from the iPhone 6S

Highly reliable supply chain analyst Ming Chi Kuo has detailed what to expect from the iPhone ‘Special Edition’ (SE), the latest rumored device in Apple’s phone lineup.

Apple is expected to launch the iPhone SE, as well as a new iPad and Apple Watch accessories, at an event held on March 21, Buzzfeed reports.

Here’s what Kuo is expecting, via MacRumors:

  • The iPhone SE will feature iPhone 6S internals in an iPhone 5 body complete with a 4-inch screen, including an A9 chip and NFC, which enables Apple Pay
  • One key feature is missing: 3D touch, one of Apple’s key features for the Phone 6S that enables what is essentially a “right click” interaction, is expected to remain exclusive to Apple’s more premium iPhones
  • Changes from the 5S include a slightly larger battery and “slightly curved 2.5D glass like the iPhone 6 and newer”
  • Two storage capacities, 16GB and 64GB
  • Pricing between $400 and $500, lower than the iPhone 6 currently sells for
  • Apple will keep the iPhone 5S as its least expensive new iPhone, which could be discounted to as little as $225

Meanwhile, Nowhereelse.fr has photos of what it says are components for the iPhone SE, which depict a screen assembly, seemingly confirming that the iPhone SE will lack the hardware needed for 3D Touch:

iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S 768x543Nowhereelse.fr

These component spy shots come days after a schematic supposedly depicting the iPhone SE was leaked from a case manufacturer by OnLeaks:

iphone 5 se leakOnleaks

People who are waiting for the iPhone 7, however, will need to hang on until September, when Apple traditionally reveals its new iPhones. Kuo notes that he’s expecting Apple to offer two different versions of the iPhone 7 Plus, one with a single camera, and one with dual-camera technology.

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We just got the clearest sign yet that something is wrong with the US economy

doorman new york apartmentSpencer Platt/Getty

We just got the clearest sign yet that something is wrong with the US economy.

Markit Economics’ monthly flash services purchasing manager’s index, a preliminary reading on the sector, fell into contraction for the first time in over two years.

The tentative February index was reported Wednesday at 49.8.

That’s below 50, the border between expansion and contraction.

The consensus over the state of the economy had been that gains in the labor market and in consumer spending were propelling growth amid a downturn in financial markets.

This narrative has hit a hiccup, however, with this report.

The services sector, which covers jobs including bartending and counseling, is essentially having its worst month since the recession. The only exception is when the government shutdown disrupted business activity in October 2013.

And because the services sector makes an outsize contribution to US economic activity — about two-thirds — a slowdown here is not good news for the rest of the picture.

Many economists expect that economic activity — measured by gross domestic product — will rebound in the first quarter from the fourth.

But Wednesday’s data shows “a significant risk of the US economy falling into contraction in the first quarter,” according to Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

According to Markit’s release, business activity was slammed by scarce new-work opportunities, as clients lacked confidence in the economic outlook, and snowy weather on the East Coast.

Markit noted that service providers had the weakest business outlook in nearly six years.

Screen Shot 2016 02 24 at 10.06.51 AMMarkit

“Slumping business confidence and an increased downturn in order book backlogs suggest there’s worse to come,” Williamson wrote.

“Any bounce-back from the weather may therefore prove to be only a temporary improvement in a steady downward trend of business conditions.”

Economists had estimated a preliminary reading of 53.5, a slight improvement from the prior reading of 53.2, according to Bloomberg.

The final reading for January showed that the sector was slowing down, as both Markit’s index and the ISM non-manufacturing composite fell.

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One smart stock market analyst thinks this is where we’re headed … (gulp)

1929 stock chartJohn Hussman, Hussman FundsThe calm before the storm in 1929 …

No one knows what the stock market is going to do, but if you want to get an informed sense of what it might do, it helps to understand what it has done.

And in the debate about where we’re headed next, one common mistake is confining observations of market history to recent trends instead of the many generations of market data that are now available.

One analyst who takes this long view is John Hussman of the Hussman Funds.

Hussman’s reputation has been clobbered of late because he missed the market turn in 2009 and then acted on his more recent concern about an impending crash several years too early.

As the market has struggled over the past 18 months, however, Hussman’s concerns have been partially vindicated.

And those hoping that the recent 15% drop from the peak was just a little bobble in a great new bull market won’t like where Hussman thinks we’re headed next.

Specifically …

Here’s where we are:

S&P 500 chartJohn Hussman, Hussman Funds

And here’s where Hussman thinks we’re headed next:

1929 stock chartJohn Hussman, Hussman FundsThe calm before the storm in 1929 …

That latter chart is a chart of the 1929 crash, one of the most famous in history.

Hussman thinks it also loosely illustrates our likely future.

Hussman’s key observation about that chart — and the charts of many other market crashes in history, the most recent two of which he has correctly called in advance (2000 and 2007) — is that market crashes generally follow the same pattern.

First, in a market in which stocks are highly overvalued (as they are today) and in which investors are increasingly risk-averse (as they are today — see the spreads on interest rates between safe and risky bonds), crashes are much more likely than they are in any other market environment.

Second, crashes do not just happen suddenly — for years everything’s great and then one day the market just falls out of the sky. Rather, crashes develop over many months. And the “crash” itself — the period of massive, near-vertical market losses — generally starts after the market is already down about 15%.

That’s the insight to note in the chart above.

And because one observation is rarely persuasive, here’s another Hussman chart, this one showing the crash in 1987. Same pattern. Down about 10% to 20% from the top, some failed recoveries, and then, blam.

1987 crashJohn Hussman, Hussman Funds

And, for good measure, here are charts of the crashes in 2000 and 2007. Same pattern. A general peaking and “rolling over” for many months, followed by a 10% to 20% drop, followed by some stabilization and recovery, followed by a mega-crash.


2000 market crashGoogle Finance


2007 crashGoogle Finance

Is that what will happen this time?

No one knows.

But anyone who’s feeling comfortable after a strong week in the markets should at least understand that: 1. The macro environment most conducive to crashes is still in place (overvaluation + increasing risk aversion) and 2. The way the market is behaving now is exactly the way it behaved before the biggest crashes in history.

So, neither Hussman, nor I, nor you should be surprised if the market keeps on dropping and doesn’t bottom until it’s down 50% or more from the peak.

As Hussman noted last week in his usual depressing note, a 50% crash would not even be the worst-case scenario. It would just be a normal correction from valuations we reached in 2015.

The “worst-case scenario,” meanwhile, would take us down 75%.

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Will an iPad Air 3 Help Apple, Inc.’s Tablet Sales Rebound?

By Daniel Sparks Published February 19, 2016 Markets Fool.com

Next month, Apple is expected to launch a new iPad. The rumored tablet will be an iPad Air 3, according to 9to5Mac’s reliable Mark Gurman. If Gurman is right, the iPad could include significant changes, taking some cues from the company’s recently launched iPad Pro. But will significant changes be enough to save the company’s declining iPad segment?

Declining iPad sales
Apple’s iPad unit sales first started declining in the company’s second fiscal quarter of 2014 — or about two years ago. And the decline to follow has been sharp. For context, consider the 38% decline in iPad unit shipments between Apple’s most recent quarter and same quarter two years ago. And iPad unit sales in the company’s most recent quarter are down 25% from the year-ago quarter.

Investors are wondering whether this trend is temporary or representative of a long-term secular contraction in tablet sales. After all, the growing popularity of smartphones with larger displays — phablets in particular — is snapping up share from tablets. Then, of course, there’s the fact that the upgrade cycle for tablets appears to be much longer than it is for smartphones.

A potential rebound?
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been optimistic about iPads even amid a decline in sales.

“We’re very bullish about the future of the tablet market,” Cook said in the second half of 2014 during an earnings call.

Cook has continually cited the iPad’s superior usage statistics compared to usage data for other tablets, the device’s popularity for commercial applications, and Apple’s pipeline innovation in the category, as catalysts for further growth.

Even during an Apple earnings call this summer (via a Reuters transcript) the CEO remained optimistic that the company can count on a meaningful upgrade cycle in the future.

I believe that the iPad consumer upgrade cycle will eventually occur because as we look at the usage statistics on iPad, it remains unbelievably great. The next closest usage of the next competitor, we are six times greater. And so, these are extraordinary numbers. It’s not like people have forgotten iPad or anything. It’s a fantastic product.

During Apple’s most recent earnings call Cook cited data from NPD that pegged iPad’s U.S. market share for tablets priced above $200 at an impressive 85%. Cook also noted an IDC study asserting iPads account for 67% of the U.S. commercial tablet market.

iPad Pro. Image source: Apple.

While it’s not clear yet whether Cook’s optimism for the company’s iPad segment is realistic, investors shouldn’t expect to see a rebound in the current quarter. With Apple’s iPad Air 3 speculated to go on sale during the second half of March, the new product will only impact about two weeks of the quarter.

The true test to see whether there’s hope for iPad sales to begin moving upward again will be the company’s third fiscal quarter of 2016, which begins in April.

Apple’s iPad segment is still the company’s second-largest measured by revenue, highlighting the importance of tablet sales to the company. Notably, however, Apple’s Mac and services segments are close behind. iPad revenue during Q1 was $7.1 billion while Mac and services revenue were $6.7 billion and $6.1 billion, respectively.

The article Will an iPad Air 3 Help Apple, Inc.’s Tablet Sales Rebound? originally appeared on Fool.com.

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Slowdown In The East: Deals And Funding To Startups Sputter In India and China


Deal volume in China fell nearly 39% quarter-over-quarter in Q4’15, a drop 3x steeper than the global pullback.

Venture funding and deal activity in Asia took a serious dip in Q4’15 compared to Q3’15. Not surprisingly, this also held true in Asia’s two largest markets: China and India.

In the KPMG and CB Insights 2015 Venture Capital Report, we dug into global investment data including regional looks at Europe, Asia, and North America, as well as analyses of the funding climates in China and India.

Free Report: The Q4’15 U.S. Venture Capital Report
A data-driven analysis of venture capital deals and dollars from Q4 2015

China investment trends

Deal volume in China fell nearly 39% quarter-over-quarter in Q4’15 to 71 deals, the lowest amount for deal activity in at least 5 quarters (a more dramatic drop than the 13% fall in deal count globally). In terms of funding dollars invested, there was a 29% drop in China over the same period (roughly the same as the 30% drop in venture funding globally).

China was home to 8 of the top 10 biggest deals in Asia in 2015, the largest of which was China Internet Plus Holding‘s $2.8B mega-round in Q4’15

The top city for deals was Beijing, which saw $1.7B invested over nearly 30 deals. But Shanghai saw far larger deals on average, accumulating $5.3B in investment over roughly two-dozen deals.



India investment trends

The slowdown was even more profound in India, where Q4’15 represented a 46% drop in funding dollars quarter-over-quarter. Deal count also took a hit, falling 18%.

India also saw 2 of Asia’s 10 largest deals in 2015: Olacabs‘ $175M Series F and IIFL Wealth Management‘s $173M growth round. Mumbai was the most active city for deals, with $631M in funding occurring across 20+ deals. The next largest market was Bangalore, which saw $357M in funding.



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