Say “Alexa” Again, I Dare You
No, it’s not 2001.
We’re way past that at this point. Alexa is taking over.
Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) held a major reveal yesterday. There were no spiffy invitations like you get for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) events … so you might have missed it.
At the event, Amazon unveiled eight new Alexa-themed products ranging from smart speakers to eyeglasses to a serious AirPods competitor.
You can find a complete rundown of the new products over at Business Insider, but I’m going to hit on a few of the weirder products … because I can:
- Echo Frames. These are Amazon’s nonanswer to Google Glass and Snap Spectacles. They have no display and no camera. They literally do nothing more than provide a built-in microphone and integrated Alexa interface. So, if you don’t like having Echo speakers in every room of your house, hate the idea of talking directly to your phone and like wearing glasses, I guess these are for you?
- Echo Loop. This is another oddity from Amazon’s product release. The Echo Loop is a smart ring — maybe the world’s first? It features two microphones, button activation and a speaker. The Loop is meant to be paired with a smartphone and can alert you to incoming calls or texts. This product might actually catch on, especially among those who want smartphone connectivity, but are not that fond of smartwatches.
- Amazon Smart Oven. Yes, you read that right. A smart oven. This kitchen monstrosity is a combination microwave/convection oven/air fryer that is, of course, tied into Alexa. The Alexa integration allows the oven to use presets to cook many common foods, making dinnertime that much more convenient. If it weren’t for Amazon snooping on Alexa conversations, I might actually be interested in this product.
But wait … there’s more.
Amazon also announced that Alexa will be able to mimic celebrities’ voices, with their permission, of course.
In the announcement, Amazon used the ever-popular Samuel L. Jackson as an example, noting that for only $0.99, you can have Mr. Jackson tell you when your $*%#$ fries are done on your Smart Oven.
I wonder if it will change heating up a cheeseburger to a Royale with cheese…
Much like Apple events of the past several years, there’s nothing groundbreaking in these new Amazon products … although the Echo Loop comes close and just might create a new wearables market all on its own.
The financial media, however, are buzzing about Amazon’s Echo Buds as a serious competitor for Apple’s AirPods. For all intents and purposes, the two devices are remarkably similar. Echo Buds have one key advantage, however: They’re $30 less than AirPods.
Then again, this only means something to you if you need a major brand name on your wireless earbuds. A quick search of Amazon.com reveals a plethora of similar devices for nearly $100 less than both the AirPods and Echo Buds.
In the long run, Amazon’s product extravaganza was more about Alexa product integration than anything else. This is both a blessing and a curse.
With Amazon monitoring and storing your conversations with Alexa, the question is: How much of your privacy are you willing to give up for convenience?
These new products make it even more enticing to relax your stance on personal privacy. They almost had me at the thought of Sam Jackson shouting: “Say Alexa again, I dare you!”
The Good: I Want to Ride My Bicycle
I want to ride it where I like. Sorry, Freddie Mercury, it had to be done.
Stationary bike maker and fitness televangelist Peloton Interactive Inc. (Nasdaq: PTON) is going public today.
The company’s initial public offering (IPO) priced at the top end of its range at $29 per share, raking in $1.16 billion. The IPO also values Peloton at a whopping $8.1 billion.
Now you too can be a well-entertained hamster on a wheel getting “swol” — whatever that means.
The offering is a clear win for Peloton in an increasingly tough IPO market (I’m looking at you, WeWork). But Peloton still has its issues. First and foremost, the company’s net loss widened by 412% from $47.9 million in 2018 to $245.7 million in 2019. And costs are expected to continue to rise as Peloton targets the international market.
What’s more, Peloton is facing a $300 million lawsuit from music publishers for using 2,200 songs without licensing them.
Still, the company’s subscription model has low overhead and revenue is soaring. Investors will want to keep a close eye on PTON shares as they begin trading.
While you’re deciding on whether to invest in PTON or not, I know the perfect people to help you make that decision. Banyan Hill expert Paul has all the information you need to make the best decision on IPO investing.
It’s a wild IPO market out there, and you need people like Paul to help guide you through it.
The Bad: See a Penny, Pick It Up
Or maybe not. Especially if that “penny” is a bitcoin (BTC).
The leading cryptocurrency crashed this week, suffering its worst single-day drop in 20 months.
Since June, bitcoin has plunged more than 36%. The losses are a setback for crypto traders, who had seen bitcoin as the perfect hedge against rising market volatility and global uncertainty. The new gold, if you will.
There are a myriad of factors driving bitcoin’s crash, such as the lackluster launch of a bitcoin futures product called Bakkt.
Bakkt was hailed as the first of its kind in that it settled in actual bitcoins, instead of U.S. dollars like a similar product from CME Group.
This difference was seen as providing additional legitimacy to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general.
Bakkt’s failure to inspire more demand has hit cryptocurrency sentiment hard. That said, bitcoin is now trading near technical price support, which could mean the worst is over and that now is the time to buy.
If you’re looking for someone to cut through the morass of the cryptocurrency market, I can think of no one better than Banyan Hill expert Ian King. Ian’s Crypto Profit Trader service pinpoints winning crypto trends with a unique, three-part trading strategy.
To get in on Ian’s crypto wisdom, all you have to do is click here.
The Ugly: Up in Smoke
The smoky romance is over. The merger between Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM) and Altria Group Inc. (NYSE: MO) is no more.
“While we believed the creation of a new merged company had the potential to create incremental revenue and cost synergies, we could not reach agreement,” said Altria CEO Howard Willard.
Altria has decided to move forward on its own in developing a smokeless alternative in the U.S. In other words, it’s doubling down on its $12.89 billion stake in e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc.
But that will be no easy task.
Juul’s CEO just stepped down amid a federal investigation into the company’s advertising practices. What’s more, the U.S. government is close to banning the sale of flavored vape products, which are seen as enticing to underage users.
Investors should remain wary of investing in either MO or PM at the moment … at least until all the government action dies down.
As for legal smokers out there who favor their flavored vape products — smoke ’em if you got ’em. They won’t last long.
You know the drill by this point. You Marco, I Polo. It’s reader feedback time!
I have to say, I absolutely love my readers. Even the ones who decide to unsubscribe flatter me to no end. Like this note from Les L.:
Please remove me from all of your email lists and send me no more emails. Thank you.
Oddly inappropriate, but flattering nonetheless.
Les, I’ll make sure to do more for you down the road should you ever decide to come back. In the meantime, I’ll see that your request is taken care of.
Moving on, we have Gerald J., who wrote:
Let’s be clear: “Politically agnostic” means that I don’t care which party has control of the U.S. government. Do I have my own personal opinions? Yes. I’m still a person behind all these words. I have feelings too!
However, I set those aside when I’m writing Great Stuff. My job is to focus on what makes YOU money. (See, I can use all caps too!) Like him or not, President Trump’s tax cuts were a significant shot in the arm for the stock market. That made you money.
If any of the Democratic candidates stand a good chance of affecting your portfolio returns — be it negatively or positively — I’ll be sure to point that out with as little political bias and as much snark as possible.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
And now for something completely different … here’s a Great Stuff haiku from Steve G.:
Great Stuff charts the course
Stock insight with wry humor
Email I wait for
I never thought I’d see the day I’d get a haiku from a reader.
You’ve made my day, Steve. Thank you.
Great Stuff: Haiku Contest!
With this week’s reader feedback out of the way, it is, of course, that time again.
Time to feed the Great Stuff beast.
This week, I’m having a haiku contest in honor of Steve G.
Send me your Great Stuff-inspired haiku, and I’ll publish the best of the bunch here next week.
Down the road, I hope to have more to offer you than just getting published in this e-zine, but you’ll have to settle for internet fame for now.
So, send your Great Stuff haiku to GreatStuffToday@banyanhill.com.
Or just drop me a line. I can’t answer or publish everything, mind you. I get a lot of comments even weirder than Les’, after all. But I’ll do my best to answer/publish what I can.
Until next time, good trading!
Great Stuff Managing Editor, Banyan Hill Publishing