Steve Ballmer might look like Joe Everyman on the outside, but under that sweat stained exterior is a billionaire in disguise, and according to Reuters he’s cashing out. The CEO has apparently confirmed reports that he has sold 49.3 million shares of Microsoft stock worth an estimated $1.3 billion, a move that some feel might be motivated by the end of Bush-era tax cuts on capital gains.
According to Ballmer investors shouldn’t read too heavily into the decision to sell off shares, and it was done purely for personal financial reasons. At current prices Ballmer is sitting on about $10 billion in company stock, so despite the poor optics of a CEO selling off a large pool of shares, we suspect the temptation of all that non-liquid cash simply became too much. When you consider that his 2009 bonus was a mere $670,000 as a result of poor performance in the mobile and tablet market, it would make sense that he would want to supplement his income somehow.
Despite the sale Ballmer will remain one of the top shareholders in the company with a 4 percent stake, second only to Bill Gates who holds 7 percent. I guess with Windows Phone 7 and Kinect now on the market Ballmer just needed a bit of extra pocket change before he heads over to his local Best Buy.
Adobe this week let it be known that sales and earnings for the next quarter will likely fall short of expectations, news of which sent the software maker's stock in a free-fall.
Adobe shares sank more than 20 percent from Tuesday's close, even going so far as to hit a new 52-week low at $25.81 per share.
"We're taking a cautious approach to the guidance," Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen said during a conference call with analysts. "The U.S. back-to-school environment this time was a little weaker overall."
Education sales account for more than 10 percent of Adobe's revenue, but that's not the only factor. Adobe also cited weak sales in Japan, noting that the Japanese economy "hasn't really come out of the recession yet."
Adobe now expects fourth-quarter revenue to be in the neighborhood of $950 million to $1 billion, less than the $1.03 billion some analysts had projected.
In recent months, Facebook has been working hard to recruit talent from Google. For example, Google lost Android Product Manager Erick Tseng to Facebook a few months back. Rumor has it the The Big G is now starting to take the situation seriously, and is making some serious counter-offers to keep employees from going to Facebook.
TechCrunch has spoken with one former Googler who was offered a substantial 15% raise, quadrupled stock benefits, and a $500,000 bonus (!) to stay for one year. This particular developer, and others, have still taken the Facebook deal for one simple reason. Facebook is expecting an IPO soon. They haven't been making it official, but sources claim that Facebook is telling prospective employees that their individual stock benefits could be worth $100 million in just a few years. Now that's walking around money.
How big is the problem for Google? According to LinkedIn, at least 118 Google engineers have left for Facebook so far. It's not likely to damage the Google brain-trust, but it's not a trend you want to see.
A recent filing with the SEC has confirmed what we've all been expecting. That's right folks, Skype is going public. The VoIP service is looking to raise around $100 million in this first round of financing. The shares will trade on the NASDAQ Global Market, and be managed by the likes of JP Morgan and Goldman-Sachs. Analysts are expecting the IPO to be a success; Skype has been expanding and forging new business relationships.
Skype has 560 million registered users, 124 million of which are active monthly. 8.1 million pay for the service, averaging $96 per year. Skype managed to rake in $406 million in revenue and $13.2 million in profit in the first half of 2010. A big step up from the $99 million loss in 2009. Although, at the time, Ebay held a 65% stake in the company and there were disputes over just who owned what. Now that Skype's original creators are back at the helm, many are expecting profits to continue.
Do you use Skype on a regular basis? Are you one of the 8.1 million that pay for the additional features? The SEC filings don't divulge the details of how many shares are going out, but we'll probably hear more at the date approaches.
OCZ, which began life as a small enthusiast memory company back in the day, is putting on its suit and stepping into Wall Street. Starting this Friday, April 23, the company will be listed on the NASDAQ Capital Markets under the ticker symbol "OCZ."
"Trading on the NASDAQ has been a goal of OCZ since we listed in the US, and our approval is a significant milestone for our shareholders," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ. "Our core initiatives are focused on strengthening our position in the burgeoning SSD market, which our recent announcements on retail and enterprise product launches and the signing of distribution partners for our SSD products represent. We look forward to gaining visibility on the NASDAQ and utilizing the benefits of trading on the exchange."
It's not surprising that OCZ wants to pump up its SSD business. The company has been one of the most active players in solid state storage, releasing a range of SSDs from the entry-level on up to enthusiast-grade drives, including PCI-E based units appropriate for enterprise settings.
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Following a board meeting last week, VIA has come to the conclusion that it needs to cut capital to NT$5.17 billion ($153.4 million USD), a 60 percent reduction. A shareholder meeting on June 19th will decide when the reduced capital will take place. As a result of the planned reduction, VIA said it expects shares to improve to $NT11.36, or almost three times as much as the current NT$4.50 share price.
VIA didn't say what effect the reduced capital would have on its Nano processor roadmap, which could put the heat on Intel in coming months. Citing un-named market sources, news and rumor site DigiTimes notes that demand for Intel's Atom netbook CPUs has been slowing down lately in the wake of price cuts by low-end notebooks. The sources also attributed the reduced demand to consumer anticipation of the next generation of Atom processors, currently scheduled for the second half of this year.
Tired of all the drama surrounding the future of Yahoo? You're not the only one. Not a week goes by without a new twist emerging in what's to become of the would-be search giant, and billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens has had enough. Aside from having one of the coolest names ever, Pickens also owned 10 million Yahoo shares, all of which he sold at a loss.
Pickens picked up the stock back in May in anticipation that activist Carl Icahn would wage a proxy contest to force Yahoo's board into signing on the dotted line with Microsoft. Tired of waiting, Pickens unloaded all his shares, but not without taking a parting short at Yahoo management.
"I think that Yahoo management was pathetic," Pickens told the San Francisco Chronicle.
It's unclear exactly how much money Pickens lost in the ordeal, but Yahoo stock was selling around $27 per share in late May and has since dropped to around $20 per share. Talk about a costly way to make a point.
Few companies wouldn't mind switching places with Google, who posted a $1.25 billion profit, but when you're the undisputed champ of the online world (or if you're Dr. Evil), a measly billion dollars just isn't enough. Along with earnings per share of $3.92, the numbers aren't adding up to what analysts had predicted, leaving many to wonder if the online advertising market might be taking a turn for the worse. Google Cheif Economist Hal Varian sees it differently, saying:
"Consumers are being cautious in their online spending patterns just as they are in the offline spending. Despite the weakness in the economy, advertising seems to be hodling up remarkably well in most sectors. This illustrates the point that we've made several times that during periods of slow economic growth, the last thing an advertiser wants to cut is its spending on search-based advertising."
But Varians comments did little to assuage investors, nor did posting gross sales of $5.37 billion, marking a 39 percent improvement over one year ago and hitting analysts' estimates. The company's shares still managed to drop 10 percent to $479.70 in after-hours trading.
Given the overall growth and $12.7 billion in cash, is the panic justified?
Although ATI has been the lone source of promising news for it in recent times, AMD is ruing its 2006 acquisition of ATI. The chip manufacturer heavily overpaid for the ATI acquisition and now values the graphics chip maker at only $2.9 billion – it bought ATI for $5.4 billion.
Its announcement that it will take a $948 million charge drove its stock price to a 16-year low of $4.84 on Friday. It will officially report its Q2 loss of 51 cents per share on 17th July. It will be its 7th consecutive quarterly loss. Most analysts paint a dreary picture of AMD’s future but a few like CRT Capital Group’s Ashok Kumar remain sanguine about the company’s prospects. AMD will have to quickly turn a corner if it wants to survive.