This week’s Apple headlines; the latest iPhone 12 leaks, new iPhone display problems, saying goodbye to the MacBook Pro, new iPads and Apple Watches confirmed, Fortnite’s latest move, Apple’s potential search engine, and more… Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha”, turns 90 today. The legendary investor has been one of the most followed figures in the stock market. He is the leader of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A), a conglomerate that owns a portfolio of diversified assets, and also owns a sizable investment portfolio The transition to the cloud is blurring the company’s results. A New York congressman is seeking to double the amount of funding for a Justice Department community policing grant program used to hire officers across the U.S. Apple Inc.’s stock price will appear quite a bit lower Monday morning, but investors shouldn’t fret. News
August 30 update: Apple confirms the termination of Epic Games’ App Store account; post originally published August 28.
Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the latest iPhone 12 leaks, new iPhone display problems, saying goodbye to the MacBook Pro, more speed for the largest macOS laptop, new iPads and Apple Watches confirmed, Fortnite’s latest move, and Apple’s potential search engine.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
iPhone 12 Display Problems
Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max has been widely expected to ship with a fast refresh on the screen with the 120 Hz Pro Motion seen in the iPad. Supply chain issues, due in part to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, may mean that iPhone misses out on the new screen technology this year. UNfortunatly, the design of the screen has some big problems compared to the competition, as I reported earlier this week:
“While it will come with smaller bezels compared to previous models, put them side by side with some of the latest Android flagships such as the Galaxy S20 Ultra and you’ll see that Apple’s bezels are nowhere close to the current vision of a premium screen. If your only point of reference is the iPhone 11, then yes, it’s a great upgrade, but there’s more to the smartphone market than Apple.
“And that’s not going to be the most noticeable problem. The notch is still ridiculously wide.”
Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max render showing the camera + LiDAR design everyone expected.
iPhone 12 Camera Surprise
What does look like an improvement in the high-end iPhone 12 models is the camera. Apple was already expected to use the LiDAR sensor already seen in the iPad, but brought to the smartphone. The latest leak shows not only the LiDAR sensor, but also improvements over the iPad equivalent. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
“Apple was widely tipped to add the LiDAR sensor by shifting the iPhone 11’s triangular camera setup into a square design of four equal sized lenses (three cameras, one LiDAR sensor). Instead, the case shows Apple has kept the same layout and managed to shrink the LiDAR sensor down significantly from the large module first seen in the iPad Pro in March. The result is a sensor which is as small as the LED flash and can nestle into the bottom right corner of the camera hump.”
Goodbye To The MacBook Pro As We Know It
It’s time to say goodbye to the MacBook Pro as we know it. With the introduction of ARM processors for the Mac platform, the next flagship laptop from Apple will have new chips, a new board design, new screens, innovative hardware updates, and more. It will still be called a MacBook Pro, but it will be leaving countless users behind. How will Apple manage the current MacBook base while pushing forward with something radically different? It’s a question I posed earlier this week:”
“The historical move from PowerPC to Intel saw Apple support the older architecture for four years. Is four years of support for an Intel machine purchased in 2020 enough? Given macOS Catalina supports Mac machines from 2013, I think the answer is no.
“Consumers who have put their trust in Apple by purchasing a new Intel MacBook this year will not want to be short-changed by Apple’s tendency to push forward to the future by breaking older technology.”
A Little Bit More Speed For Your 16 Incher
Of course right now the only MacBooks in town are Intel-powered MacBooks. Apple is planning a small update to its largest laptop. Whether the move from Intel’s ninth-generation chipset to the tenth-generation (brining it in line with the 2020 updates for the 13-inch Pro and the Air) is enough to bring more users to a platform arguably near the end of its lie remains to be seen. Darren Allan reports:
So, if this speculation is right – exercise caution as ever around anything from the rumor mill – we are likely looking at 10th-gen Intel processors and beefier GPUs for the MacBook Pro 16-inch, with the FaceTime camera being upgraded from 720p to Full HD resolution.
More at TechRadar.
A Treasure Trove Of iPads And Apple Watches
Thanks to the certifications listed on the website of the Eurasian Economic Commission, a number of new Apple Watches and iPads have been effectively confirmed. William Gallagher reports:
“As previously rumored, the “Apple Watch Series 6” and new iPads are now expected to be soon released by Apple, following a listing on the Eurasian Economic Commission’s regulatory database. A total of seven new iPad SKUs — so one or more models with multiple configurations — and eight Apple Watches are listed.
“The new filings with the EEC found by Consomac show the iPads as running iPadOS 14. Similarly, the Watches are all shown as running watchOS 7.”
More at Apple Insider.
Epic, Apple, Fortnite, Unreal, and the Courts
The battles between Epic Games and Apple continued this week. Following Apple’s notification that it would be removing Epic Games access to Apple’s developer ecosystem – which would directly impact the Unreal engine used by countless developers – on top of the removal of Fortnite from the App Store, the companies have been in court as Epic sought a temporary restraining order on Apple. Manish Singh reports:
“A district court denied Epic Games’ motion to temporarily restore the Fortnite game to the iOS App Store, but also ordered Apple to not block the gaming giant’s ability to provide and distribute Unreal Engine on the iPhone-maker’s ecosystem in a mixed-ruling delivered Monday evening.
“U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said Apple can’t retaliate against Epic Games by blocking the gaming firm’s developer accounts or restrict developers on Apple platforms from accessing the widely used Unreal Engine tools.”
More at TechCrunch. meanwhile Epic Games is continuing the PR fight inside Fortnite, but it’s all starting to look a bit undignified to Paul Tassi:
“Meanwhile, this public-facing anti-Apple campaign is doing…what, exactly? The idea seems to be that a bunch of kids try to log on to Fortnite on their iPhones at season 4 start and they can’t get the new battle pass so they…complain to their parents? Their parents…call Apple? Complain online? I really don’t understand the call to action here, and all Epic seems to be doing is highlighting the futility of their fight, however correct they may be in pointing out Apple’s monopolistic position.”
More on the marketing here on Forbes.
Action Taken On Epic Games’ Account
August 30 update: As expected, Apple revoked Epic Games’ App Store account that was tied to Fortnite (and other Epic titles, including the Infinity Blade series). Heading to the App Store through direct links to the apps will show “this app is currently not available in your country or region”. Following the early legal ruling, the separate account for the Unreal gaming engine remains active. Filipe Espósito reports:
“It’s worth mentioning that Epic Games has an alternative Apple account to manage its Unreal Engine, which according to a judge cannot be blocked by Apple in retaliation for the Fortnite situation. The account that was blocked today was only used to offer Fortnite and some other apps from Epic, which consequently will now prevent the company from offering any updates to its game on Apple platforms.”
Apple has confirmed the move with an official statement:
“We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store. We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused. Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today.”
Meanwhile, the App Store is promoting PUBG, another incredibly popular Battle Royale game.
Is Apple preparing to launch a Search Engine? It’s a curious question The potential of having a search engine deeming embedded into iOS, and one that does not rely on external advertising to finance it feels very Apple especially when you consider its possession of other parts of the ecosystem. Fanciful? Perhaps. Yet AppleBot s acting more like GoogleBot since the July update. Jon Henshaw has thoughts:
“Apple is investing heavily in search, as shown in their job postings for search engineers. The job listings reveal they incorporate AI, ML, NLP, and more into all of their services and apps.
“It’s not clear if Apple uses Bing anymore, as results are labeled only as Siri Suggestions. It is clear that Apple has started to return search results within Spotlight Search and is completely bypassing Google altogether.”
More at Coy Wolf.
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.
Author: Ewan Spence
A Look At Berkshire Hathaway’s Top 9 Holdings On Warren Buffett’s 90th Birthday
Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha”, turns 90 today. The legendary investor has been one of the most followed figures in the stock market. He is the leader of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A), a conglomerate that owns a portfolio of diversified assets, and also owns a sizable investment portfolio of publicly traded stocks.
Berkshire Hathaway owns well-known companies like Geico, Duracell, and Dairy Queen. For years, many have followed the other portion of the portfolio, tracking the stock picks of the legendary Buffett. The company’s equity investment portfolio owns stakes in 44 companies and holds a value of $207 billion.
In honor of his 90th birthday, here is a look at the top nine holdings in the Berkshire Hathaway equity investment portfolio as of June 30.
Technology makes up the largest part of the equity investment portfolio with 46% of assets. Apple makes up the majority of that large stake, making up 44% of the entire investment portfolio. Buffett started purchasing a stake in Apple in the first quarter of 2016. That stake he bought in several installments has gained more than $80 billion over the last three or four years.
The financial sector makes up 32% of the investment portfolio. Three bank stocks are represented in the top nine with American Express also being a top-five holding. In the second quarter, Buffett did lower stakes in two banks, cutting stakes in both Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM).
The quarterly filing by Berkshire Hathaway showed that the cost basis for the current $207.5 billion in securities was $96.1 billion. This shows that these 44 stocks have net unrealized gains of $11.4 billion.
Coca-Cola has remained one of the longest-held stocks in the portfolio, first purchased in 1988. Buffett is famous for his love for the brand as he himself drinks five cans a day. “I’m one quarter Coca-Cola,” Buffett once told Fortune, referring to the drink amounting to 25% of his daily calorie intake.
Warren Buffett is currently the fourth richest person in the world with Forbes ranking his net worth at $82.3 billion. Berkshire Hathaway shares are down 4% in 2020. Shares have increased by 59% over the last five years. Over the last ten years, shares are up 176%.
Happy Birthday to the legendary investor Warren Buffett!
Related Link: Warren Buffett Turns 90: A Highlight For Each Decade Of His Life
See more from Benzinga
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© 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
Author: Chris Katje
Splunk’s Fiscal Q2 Revenue Declined: Here’s Why That’s Good News
Splunk’s fiscal second-quarter performance looked ugly. In contrast to competitors that have recently posted strong double-digit revenue growth, the data specialist’s top line declined despite sales and marketing expenses reaching almost two-thirds of revenue. However, investors should pay closer attention to the company’s performance as its transition to the cloud hides a more attractive long-term story.
Splunk offers solutions to store, monitor, and analyze data from applications and devices. And given the digitization of enterprises, the quantity of data is exploding. Research specialist IDC estimates that the collective sum of the world’s data will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 61% through 2025, which bodes well for Splunk.
Yet the company posted underwhelming second-quarter results as revenue declined 5% year over year to $491.7 million. In contrast, some competitors delivered much stronger numbers on the top line.
Data source: company press releases. Latest quarter ended June 30, 2020 for Datadog and July 31, 2020 for Splunk and Elastic. YOY = year over year.
Splunk’s weak performance was due to its declining legacy license segment, which shrank to $176.8 million, down 37% year over year. By comparison, cloud services increased 79% to $125.9 million. Growing revenue from cloud services could not quite offset the decline of the license segment, as the former corresponds to ratable revenue versus the larger upfront payments for the latter.
For that reason, management expects another quarter of unexciting performance with third-quarter revenue expected to land in the range of $600 million to $630 million, depending on how the cloud segment performs. Splunk reported $626.3 million of revenue in the prior-year quarter.
In addition, that transition to the cloud is pressuring the company’s gross margin. Its legacy licensing business involves minimal costs, as it consists of distributing software to its customers’ infrastructure. But now, Splunk must provide the computing infrastructure with its cloud-based offerings.
Thus, during the recent quarter, cloud services’ relatively low gross margin of 52.5% paled in comparison to the license segment’s 96.9%. And non-GAAP (adjusted) total gross margin declined 560 basis points to 78.4%, down from 84.2% one year ago.
Unsurprisingly, diminishing revenue and lower gross margin led to a larger GAAP loss of $261 million, more than doubling the loss posted in the prior-year quarter and reflecting the company’s near-term challenges.
Image source: Getty Images.
Splunk’s transition to the cloud is happening faster than anticipated. As an illustration, cloud-based bookings represented 53% of total software bookings in the fiscal second quarter, up from 36% one year ago. During the earnings call, CEO Doug Merritt anticipated that this forward-looking metric will reach 60% this fiscal year, ending Jan. 31, two years ahead of the initial plan.
That accelerated development led to lower-than-expected fiscal second-quarter revenue. But it remains a positive outcome that shows customers are embracing Splunk’s cloud portfolio, which bodes well for its long-term business. In particular, management highlighted the company’s observability solutions, an essential element for monitoring and managing cloud infrastructures and applications, as contributing to the strong cloud performance.
During the second quarter, cloud annual recurring revenue (annualized revenue run-rate of active subscription contracts) growth accelerated to 89% year over year, up from 81% in the prior-year period, to $568 million. Trailing 12-month dollar-based net retention rate for cloud reached 132%, which means existing customers spent 32% more than one year ago to use the company’s cloud solutions.
In addition, as Splunk is scaling its cloud business, its gross margins should improve. Management forecast cloud non-GAAP (adjusted) gross margins to exceed 70% by next year, which seems reasonable considering the 80% gross margin reported by the cloud-native competitor Datadog last quarter.
As the transition to the cloud is progressing, management expects operating cash flow to become positive in fiscal 2022 and grow to $1 billion the following year.
Splunk’s market cap is 35 times that forecasted 2023 operating cash flow, but despite that rich valuation and the short-term headwinds, investors should keep Splunk on their watchlists. The company is poised to profit from the explosive growth of data in the coming years, thanks to its rapid transition to the cloud.
Author: Herve Blandin
NY congressman calls for doubling community policing grant
WASHINGTON (AP) – A New York congressman is seeking to double the amount of funding for a Justice Department community policing grant program used to hire officers across the U.S.
U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi told The Associated Press he is adding an amendment to a government spending bill that would increase the funding for the COPS Hiring Program to about $800 million. The grant program, administered by the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, distributed more than $350 million to police agencies across the U.S. in 2020.
In addition to funds for hiring, the grants also provide funding for local, state and tribal law enforcement agencies to enhance community policing, in which agencies use relationships with community leaders to establish dialogues about needs and identify residents’ concerns.
Brindisi – a Democrat who represents a portion of upstate New York, including Utica and Binghamton – said it is “the job of Congress to give cities and towns the tools they need,” including helping police departments replace retiring officers as municipal budgets dwindle.
“This is a plan to recruit, hire and train community beat cops,” Brindisi said in an interview on Sunday.
In 2020, the program awarded 596 grants to hire 2,731 police officers at police departments across the nation, according to Justice Department statistics.
The proposal comes as police departments across the U.S. are facing budget reductions in the coming year, with cities struggling with ballooning costs from the coronavirus pandemic and national calls to reduce police funding in favor of spending more money on social services. Several police agencies have also delayed or canceled police academy classes, which is likely to leave a number of jobs unfilled as other officers retire.
But the grant funding to hire thousands of new officers could allow police departments to focus their resources on strengthening community policing programs, adding additional training for officers and increasing transparency by buying body cameras, Brindisi said.
“This funding will help free up resources to do that,” he added.
Still, Brindisi said local governments must also focus investing in social programs.
“We have to invest more in mental health, we have to invest more in education,” he said.
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.
Author: The Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com
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Can stocks beat gold? ‘Nowhere to go but equities’; avoid these ‘loser’ investments – XOUT Capital
Investors have ‘nowhere to go but equties’ as risks for the stock markets are skewed to the upside, David Barse, founder and CEO of XOUT Capital, who noted that investors should be careful to stay away from value traps.
Barse’s investment strategy with the XOUT index is to eliminate the worst performing large-cap stocks that have a “risk of being disrupted” and could underperform their peers based on seven criteria: revenue growth, hiring growth, capital deployment, share repurchases, profitability and deposit growth (for banks), earnings sentiment, and management performance.
“The market is going through an interesting time now where you have outside influences like the Federal Reserve pumping up the market and you have the inability to allocate to any other asset class , and I look at fixed income, cash, and equities as the three asset classes to allocate to,” Barse said. “Gold, I put in a separate category, but clearly, there’s nowhere else to go but equities, so I look at the marketplace optimistically, and continue to believe that equities are the place to allocate capital.”
The elections may present a major risk to Barse’s bullish views on the equities.
“There are scenarios where the Republicans can lose the Senate in addition to the Presidency, and that, I think, will have a very negative impact on the marketplace, especially if regulatory reforms get underway in a short period of time,” he said.
A reversal of President Donald Trump’s tax reforms and additional regulatory oversights are some of the things that can become headwinds for equities should the Democrats take power.
COVID remains a risk, as even if a vaccine were to be introduced, it would still be a challenge to disseminate this vaccine to the population.
Gold’s role in a portfolio should be as a store of value, Barse said.
“I look at gold as a storehouse of value for those who have an uncertain view of the future and want an opportunity to be able to allocate some component of their capital to gold but it’s different in my perspective, from cash, fixed income, and equities, he said.”
Some of the companies excluded from XOUT’s index include Proctor & Gamble, JP Morgan, Verizon, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, T-Mobile, Charter Communications, and Nextera Energy.
The index has outperformed the S&P 500 by 12% since its inception in July, 2019.
“In each case, these companies have scored poorly on our seven-factor model that we use to identify how to eliminate the bottom 250 of the 500 U.S. large-cap companies,” Barse said.