PayPal is sorta a bank: Chatted with PayPal (PYPL - Get Report) CEO Dan Schulman Thursday night at the unveiling of the company's re-designed New York offices. What a space. Schulman is one heck of a leader -- driving real change inside the organization, which goes a long way to explain PayPal's mind-blowing stock price performance this year. Anyway, I learned PayPal is now allowing businesses to take up to $250,000 loans (the prior limit was $125,000). PayPal takes about 95% of the risk on these loans. What a clever idea that suggests investors should no longer view PayPal as just a payments platform. No, it's headed down the road of becoming a next generation full services financial services provider.
Apple and Starbucks head down diverging paths: It has been absurdly easy to make money from Starbucks (SBUX - Get Report) and Apple (AAPL - Get Report) through the years. Both dominate their respective sectors. Both have best-in-class leaders. And both have true fanboys/fangirls in Wall Street research offices. But the two titans of business are heading down different paths, at least for a bit. Apple's earnings on Thursday hint at a company that remains in strong growth mode and is unlikely to disappoint Wall Street over the next 12 months. Thank you, iPhone X and iPads. On the other hand, Starbucks is looking simply like another restaurant chain, except with a great mobile platform. Starbucks let down Wall Street with its long-term guidance and stopped a touch short on the earnings call of scaring the hell out of investors. Make no mistake, it still scared investors.
Apple - $900 billion valuation and climbing. Starbucks - $79 billion valuation and falling.
Actually, two hot things dancing around my mind right now. One, how hedgie Bill Ackman just tore apart department stores in an interview with TheStreet's Ron Orol. He sounded especially bearish on Macy's (M - Get Report) . Macy's didn't immediately respond to a request for comment (hey, you have to ask).
Then there is the whipping that toy maker Funko (FNKO - Get Report) took on its first day of trading on Thursday. The company went public at a tough time with Mattel (MAT - Get Report) survival fears lurking and the death of Toys 'R' Us death hot on everyone's minds. But Wall Street doesn't yet get Funko. They will over time, and the stock is likely to be much higher as a result.
People have long been obsessed with what Funko sells. It's hard to explain on a roadshow but head to Walmart's toy section on the weekend and you instantly get it. I have had the chance to talk with long-time CEO Brian Marioti on two occasions this year and came away impressed on each occasion. He eats, sleeps and breathes the brand and so do the creative people he hires. That's something you want to bet on, not slam down 40% on IPO day.
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