Here are some things going on today in the world of tech.
Zuck's PR Blitz
Facebook (FB) shares are up $3.81, or 2.5%, at $158.91, after CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a phone call with the press yesterday afternoon. My colleague Jon Swartz has the details on what he calls " the apology tour."
Zuckerberg called his slowness to guard user data "a huge mistake, my mistake."
Axios's David McCabe and Sara Fischer describe how the apology tour is a "press blitz that's unprecedented for a company" in advance of Zuck's appearance before Congress next week - he's supposed to testify before the House Commerce Committee.
Bloomberg's Sarah Frier this morning emphasizes the rise in the stock, quoting Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley as saying the worst appears to be over for Facebook. Indeed, there are some sighs of relief from sell-side analysts. Ken Sena of Wells Fargo, meanwhile, writes that he sees "no material impact on advertiser spending," as "our advertising and agency contacts continue to point to the fact that marketers with direct and purchased access to third-party data will still be able to apply it to FB targeting."
Spotify Gets More Thumbs Up
Shares of Spotify Technology (SPOT) are up $5.80, or 4%, at $150.02, bouncing back from yesterday's decline of 3%. Will this be the start of an orderly market for the shares?
Perhaps a couple more positive reviews will help things. Stifel's John Egbert starts coverage with a Buy rating and a $180 price target, and Canaccord Genuity's Maria Ripps starts the stock at a Buy with a $200 price target.
Egbert writes that "Spotify's market leadership, emerging-markets exposure, favorable user demographics, the secular shift to mobile and digital services, as well as the near-universal appreciation of music, will support Spotify's growth for years to come."
He predicts the company will use its "technology-driven personalization" to stay ahead of the competition, and predicts the company can reach non-GAAP profitability by 2020.
Apple's All About the Cash
You should not pay so much attention to Apple's (AAPL) sales of the iPhone X, according to Citigroup's Jim Suva. Reiterating a Buy rating on the shares and a $200 price target this morning, Suva writes that the company is likely to increase its already huge capital returns program by $100 billion.
April customarily updates the Street on its capital returns around this time of year. The company's set to report earnings on May 1, after the close of market.
Speaking of Apple, DigiTimes's Sin Han and Adam Hwang report that Apple is having "preliminary talks" with a Taiwan-based company called PlayNitride for production of so-called micro LED materials for displays, citing multiple unnamed sources.
Micro LEDs are supposedly an area of great interest for Apple as an alternative to today's OLED screens used in the iPhone X and made by Samsung Electronics (005930KS). Recent reports suggest Apple is investing more and more to make micro LED technology practicable.
Apple shares today are up $1.38, or 0.8%, at $172.99.
Cheers for Tencent
China's messaging giant Tencent Holdings (0700HK) is getting a bunch of attention this morning.
Keybanc's Hans Chung starts coverage of the stock with an Overweight rating, and a price target of $556 in Hong Kong dollars.
Chung believes "the Street is underestimating Tencent's social media platforms," which he thinks can be worth $300 billion.
"Tencent dominates consumer engagement and has a variety of tools for businesses to reach consumers," he writes. "It has been cautious about monetization, but we believe the opportunity is huge and achievable given the largest scale and engagement in China."
And Well's Ken Sena reiterates an Outperform rating, and a $510 price target, after doing an "in-depth analysis" of the company's video programming, and concluding that its video subscribers may surge by four-fold over the next five years, which may in turn cause Tencent's revenue from video to surge.
Tencent stock closed down almost 3% at $397.60 in Hong Kong trading.
Investors Warming to II-VI
I've mentioned several times of late how laser maker II-VI is getting plaudits from the Street. Today sees another one, this time from James Ricchiutti of Needham & Co. He brokered a bunch of meetings yesterday in Boston between investors and the comaph's chief financial officer, Mary Jane Raymond.
Ricchiuti reports investors mainly wanted to hear about the company's " VCSEL " laser business, which is applicable to things such as " 3-D sensing," used for augmented reality - that's the "Face ID" feature in Apple's iPhone X. Also, investors were interested in silicon carbide, an important emerging category of parts that can be used in automotive applications and other areas. (See my discussion with STMicroelectroncis (STM) about that.)
Ricchiuti thinks that with II-VI stock down 17% in the last three months, "underperforming its peers," it is "an attractive value at current levels."
The stock is up 80 cents, or 1.9%, at $42.30 today.
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