The big story is how lame the markets look on Friday.
Where is the strong bounce after a beating of more than a week? Where are the upbeat comments and guidance from companies from the late June investment bank conference season? None of these things are to be found, at least right now, and that should be a worry to investors. While we are at it on the rant front, GM's (GM) reboot of the beloved 1980s nameplate "Blazer" Thursday night is terrible.
The Blazer was always a cute but tough-looking truck. My dad had one in the late 1990s, decked out with all the interior creature comforts and manly exterior aftermarket parts. It had an identity that said: "Hey, you really don't want to own a Ford (F) Bronco." What GM has unveiled is a rounded piece of plastic that could be any mid-size, family hauling SUV. It reeks of cost savings. Too bad.
Around the Horn
Talk about pumping up one's chest.
Even in the face of realities such as streaming content and broke teens/millennials looking to save money, AT&T's (T) CEO Randall Stephenson is bullish on TV. To be sure he has a vested interest in seeing that TV survives especially after nailing down the Time Warner (TWX) deal. But still, this comment he made at a Wells Fargo conference Thursday evening borders on silly. "We actually think we'll be growing it [TV subs] over the next couple years. Stephenson's optimism stems from people willing to pay for premium content. "It's up. Where and how and when people consume premium content has shifted. But it's up. It's being consumed." Gotcha.
Interestingly, just as Stephenson dropped the mic after this one, Netflix (NFLX) shares closed the session around a record high. Year-to-date gain for Netflix: 106%. Mr. Market predicts Stephenson is wrong, and Netflix's next 20 quarters will be damn impressive. Here is more on the Netflix stock surge via TheStreet's Annie Gaus.
Who isn't wrong? Digital payments juggernaut PayPal. Fresh off announcing a deal earlier in the week, Action Alerts PLUS holding PayPal (PYPL) said late Thursday it will plunk down $120 million to buy fraud prevention outfit Simility. PayPal's more aggressive use of cash in recent months is helping to widen its lead over rivals while also sending a signal to Wall Street that management team is done being extra conservative on capital allocation. Hat tip to PayPal CEO Dan Schulman -- everything you told TheStreet in this podcast is playing out.
Names on TheStreet
I sat down with BlackBerry (BB) CEO John Chen on Friday to talk about the company's better than expected earnings and the broader outlook for tech. Chen tells TheStreet he is looking to do deals this year.
Oddly, BlackBerry's stock has cooled off this year, down 13% despite numerous positive signs in the business. Further, the stock's tepid showing comes amid the surge in FANG (Facebook (FB) , Apple (AAPL) , Netflix (NFLX) and Alphabet (GOOGL) ). It's as if the FANG trade has sucked the life out of tech in a way, pulling in all the money that once would have gambled on a turnaround story like BlackBerry. Nevertheless, I continue to think BlackBerry is sold to an Nvidia (NVDA) , Softbank or Microsoft (MSFT) within the next five years. Should the stock continue to lag, that timetable could speed up.