Tag Archives: AMZN

Can Alexa Take on Venmo?

Venmo, the person-to-person payment app owned by PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL), has been the payment provider’s rising star since it was acquired along with Braintree in 2013. Venmo is extremely popular with millennials, who find the app particularly useful for splitting shared costs like a restaurant bill, rent, and utilities. The app has become so popular it has achieved verb status, with younger users saying, “just Venmo me.”

Last year, Venmo’s payment volume increased 97% year over year to $35 billion.That success has attracted a wide variety of potential competitors, the most notable beingSquare Cash, Apple Pay Cash, and Zelle, a payment method floated by a consortium of 30 major U.S. banks.

While each of these offerings made inroads, Venmo’s biggest challenge may be yet to come.

The Venmo app on a smartphone with Chinese takeout in the background.

Amazon is on the hunt, with Venmo in the cross hairs. Image source: PayPal.

The big leagues

E-commerce juggernaut Amazon.com(NASDAQ:AMZN) is reportedly mulling a person-to-person payment feature using its Alexa-powered smart devices as a starting point, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal (paywall). The company is considering a number of options that would allow customers to send money to friends using its digital assistant, which acts as the software to the Echo’s hardware.

If true, this would be the latest move by Amazon to enter the realm of personal finance. After initially adding a store-branded credit card, the company has expanded its initiatives to include its own digital wallet — Amazon Pay. The company has since introduced the Amazon Payment Global Partner Program, which allows online merchants to offer Pay with Amazon at checkout.The company has also been in talks with big banks to offer its customers a checking account-like product.

The voice-activated Echo has proven to be a boon to Amazon. Customers that own the smart speaker spend 66% more, on average, than those without the device.Amazon claims that subscribers to its unlimited streaming music service have doubled in the past six months, driven by two interrelated factors: the expanding number of members of it Prime loyalty program and the exploding popularity of voice-activated Echo smart speaker.The ability to send payments could make the device even more useful to its customers.

White Amazon Echo Dot on a table next to house keys.

Is Alexa a match for Venmo? Image source: Amazon.

PayPal has cracked the code

While the popularity of the platform among younger customers is undisputed, there were no charges to users for their peer-to-peer transactions — so until recently, PayPal hadn’t made any money from Venmo. That changed late last year when PayPal rolled out Pay with Venmo, which allowed its users to pay merchants using the Venmo app. Merchants accepting the payment method will pay the standard transaction fee to PayPal, which will provide the company with a largely untapped revenue stream.

The amalgamation of payment service and communal platform has captivated millennials, who have grown up in the era of social media. The ability to transfer money, include payment descriptions, and top it off with an emoji may seem frivolous to older consumers, but the intersection of financial utility and social interaction make it a perfect fit for younger users. This combination, and the entrenched nature of the app among friends, is part of the appeal for these consumers, and why it will be difficult to unseat Venmo as the app of choice — at least for now.

Two hands holding a smartphone typing a message into the Venmo app.

Millennials prefer the social aspect of Venmo to other payment apps. Image source: PayPal.

David and Goliath

While Amazon has been enormously successful in many of its endeavors, the company isn’t invincible. If you have any doubts, consider the company’s foray into smartphones, the Fire Phone, which is likely Amazon’s biggest flop to date. The devices were so unpopular that the company took a $170 million charge for the unsold phones just three months after they debuted.

Another great example is Shopify Inc.,an e-commerce company that helps small- and medium-sized businesses set up and manage an online store. After competing for a time using its Webstore platform, Amazon shuttered that business and threw its support behind its former competitor, sending its users to Shopify.

It’s also worth noting that Amazon debuted a similar payment service back in 2007 called WebPay, which allowed customers to send money to friends for free — sound familiar? That service failed to catch on, and the company discontinued it in 2014.

For now, this is merely supposition and rumors. Amazon could introduce a competing payment service, but even if it does, there are no guarantees it will succeed.While the situation certainly bears watching, I don’t think PayPal investors having anything to worry about — at least not for the foreseeable future.

Stocks Worth $2.2 Trillion Are “In Play”; Here’s What to Do

It’s rare that so many of the market’s biggest, most powerful companies get swept up in the proverbial whirlwind, but that’s what’s happening right now.

Headline risk is off the charts – and all over the place: Trump is gunning for Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).

Privacy controversy still swirls around Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB), where CEO Mark Zuckerberg is publicly trading barbs with Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook – who is in turn said to be considering getting Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) chips out of his Mac machines by 2020.

And all this while Elon Musk’s crowd favorite Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA) is burning cash at alarming rates.

Volatility rules right now. Like the saying goes, these are “Interesting times.”

To help make sense of where these stocks – held by millions of investors – stand in the big picture, Editor Mahdis Marzooghian sat down with our Technical Trading Specialist, D.R. Barton, Jr.

No one reads a stock like D.R. – he’s fresh from recommending the latest triple-digit (101.5%) gainer for his subscribers in the choppiest market in years.

Buy… hold… or flat-out dump: Here’s exactly what D.R. thinks of these marquee stocks right now…

Join the conversation. Click here to jump to comments…

Can Amazon (AMZN) Shake Off Trump By Battling Google (GOOGL) in Search?

Shares of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) battled to maintain their early gains on Tuesday amid continued pressure from President Donald Trump and his ongoing war of words with the e-commerce company. Trump on Tuesday morning tweeted negative comments about Amazon for the fourth time in one week.

Can Amazon (AMZN) Shake Off Trump By Battling Google (GOOGL) in Search?Source: Shutterstock

Today’s criticism included another assessment that Amazon is costing U.S. taxpayers “many billions of dollars” through the United States Postal Service.

I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2018

In recent days, Trump has claimed that the Post Office loses a “fortune” from Amazon’s heavy shipping volumes. Others have argued, on the other hand, that Amazon’s business has kept the USPS afloat while demand for physical mail continues to decline.

Trump’s disdain for Amazon also seems focused on the e-commerce behemoth’s disruption of the traditional retail industry. The president has remarked that Amazon’s tax policy, including its practice of not collecting state taxes from most third-party sellers, threatens “many thousands of retailers.”

Amazon does, however, collect state and local taxes from some third-party sellers and on sales of products it sells directly. The company’s third-party business represents about half of its total unit sales.

Trump’s Personal Beef With Bezos

But lying just under the surface of Trump’s rebuke of Amazon’s business model is the president’s personal beef with the Seattle-based firm’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. The enigmatic Bezos also owns The Washington Post—a newspaper that has been vocal critic of the Trump administration. Trump has repeatedly referred to the publication as the “Amazon Washington Post.”

The Trump administration is certainly no stranger to singling out perceived enemies and critics, and if the president can find a legal way to target Amazon for legitimate issues, it stands to reason that he would love to settle his score with Bezos by levying the e-commerce brand with new regulatory headwinds.

Still, the news was not all bad for Amazon investors on Tuesday, with analysts from Cenkos Securities highlighting the company’s budding advertising business and its new efforts to challenge the likes of Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) in search.

“I think Amazon will do retail search and take Google to the cleaners on retail search using their estate,” the firm’s Alex DeGroote told CNBC. “Slowly over time you will use Amazon as your retail search engine rather than Google.”

DeGroote estimates that North America’s ad market is worth about $200 billion right now. Google and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) currently hog the majority of this market, but the analyst expects Amazon could increase its share to $8 billion in North America and $20 billion globally as soon as 2020.

Amazon and Google already face off in the public cloud computing space, so the two companies should be accustom to battling it out for control of a key tech business. But a growing advertising industry should give both firms a healthy opportunity, and any additional share that Amazon can steal should be a bullish catalyst.

Want more market analysis from this author? Make sure to follow @Ryan_McQueeney on Twitter!

The Hottest Tech Mega-Trend of All

Last year, it generated $8 billion in global revenues. By 2020, it’s predicted to blast through the roof to $47 billion. Famed investor Mark Cuban says it will produce “the world’s first trillionaires,” but that should still leave plenty of money for regular investors who make the right trades early.

See Zacks’ 3 Best Stocks to Play This Trend >>

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Can Amazon (AMZN) Shake Off Trump By Battling Google (GOOGL) in Search?

Shares of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) battled to maintain their early gains on Tuesday amid continued pressure from President Donald Trump and his ongoing war of words with the e-commerce company. Trump on Tuesday morning tweeted negative comments about Amazon for the fourth time in one week.

Can Amazon (AMZN) Shake Off Trump By Battling Google (GOOGL) in Search?Source: Shutterstock

Today’s criticism included another assessment that Amazon is costing U.S. taxpayers “many billions of dollars” through the United States Postal Service.

I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don’t have a clue (or do they?)!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2018

In recent days, Trump has claimed that the Post Office loses a “fortune” from Amazon’s heavy shipping volumes. Others have argued, on the other hand, that Amazon’s business has kept the USPS afloat while demand for physical mail continues to decline.

Trump’s disdain for Amazon also seems focused on the e-commerce behemoth’s disruption of the traditional retail industry. The president has remarked that Amazon’s tax policy, including its practice of not collecting state taxes from most third-party sellers, threatens “many thousands of retailers.”

Amazon does, however, collect state and local taxes from some third-party sellers and on sales of products it sells directly. The company’s third-party business represents about half of its total unit sales.

Trump’s Personal Beef With Bezos

But lying just under the surface of Trump’s rebuke of Amazon’s business model is the president’s personal beef with the Seattle-based firm’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. The enigmatic Bezos also owns The Washington Post—a newspaper that has been vocal critic of the Trump administration. Trump has repeatedly referred to the publication as the “Amazon Washington Post.”

The Trump administration is certainly no stranger to singling out perceived enemies and critics, and if the president can find a legal way to target Amazon for legitimate issues, it stands to reason that he would love to settle his score with Bezos by levying the e-commerce brand with new regulatory headwinds.

Still, the news was not all bad for Amazon investors on Tuesday, with analysts from Cenkos Securities highlighting the company’s budding advertising business and its new efforts to challenge the likes of Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) in search.

“I think Amazon will do retail search and take Google to the cleaners on retail search using their estate,” the firm’s Alex DeGroote told CNBC. “Slowly over time you will use Amazon as your retail search engine rather than Google.”

DeGroote estimates that North America’s ad market is worth about $200 billion right now. Google and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) currently hog the majority of this market, but the analyst expects Amazon could increase its share to $8 billion in North America and $20 billion globally as soon as 2020.

Amazon and Google already face off in the public cloud computing space, so the two companies should be accustom to battling it out for control of a key tech business. But a growing advertising industry should give both firms a healthy opportunity, and any additional share that Amazon can steal should be a bullish catalyst.

Want more market analysis from this author? Make sure to follow @Ryan_McQueeney on Twitter!

The Hottest Tech Mega-Trend of All

Last year, it generated $8 billion in global revenues. By 2020, it’s predicted to blast through the roof to $47 billion. Famed investor Mark Cuban says it will produce “the world’s first trillionaires,” but that should still leave plenty of money for regular investors who make the right trades early.

See Zacks’ 3 Best Stocks to Play This Trend >>

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4 Smart Retirement Buys for 7.2% Dividends and Big Gains

Today I’m going to show you 4 funds that, when put together, give you a juicy 7.2% dividend yield.

And that’s just the start. In addition to giving you $595 per month in income for every $100,000 invested, this “instant” 4-fund portfolio gives you diversification that limits your risk of losing cash in a market downturn.

4 Smart Retirement Buys for 7.2% Dividends and Big GainsSource: Shutterstock

Oh, and there is capital gains upside here for you, too.

The reason for that upside is that all of these funds are trading at a pretty big discount to their net asset value (NAV).

Let me explain.

Each of these picks is a “closed-end fund,” a unique type of fund that has a few key advantages over more familiar mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. A big one is that CEFs can—and very often do—trade on the market at a price that is below the actual market price of all of the assets inside the CEF.

How is this possible?

It boils down to this: CEFs set how many shares are in the fund when they do an initial public offering and don’t release new shares in the future. That weird mechanism means funds will often trade for less than their NAV—and those discounts can be really big.

Which brings me to…

“Instant Portfolio” Pick #1: A Real Estate Titan With a 7.9% Dividend

Every real estate developer, landlord and house flipper’s dream is to get their hands on a property that’s selling for 17% below its actual market value. But those deals are hard to come by.

In CEF land, however, they’re easy to get.

All you need to do is buy shares in the RMR Real Estate Income Fund (NYSEAMERICAN:RIF), a CEF that’s been around since 2005 and not only survived the bursting of the 2008–09 real estate bubble but has also been paying out massive dividend checks ever since.

And right now, RIF is paying out a 7.9% yield.

The fund’s portfolio makes this possible. RIF owns shares in some of the largest real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the world—basically companies whose sole purpose is to buy, manage and rent out real estate.

And since RIF’s portfolio is diversified across 125 REITs, shareholders are getting a slice of literally thousands of properties in all kinds of sectors: retail outlets, assisted-living facilities, offices and even data centers for cloud-computing companies.

And here’s why you want to buy now:

A Big Sale Ending Soon

Notice how the fund’s discount to its NAV has gone off a cliff in recent years—but it’s starting to recover? The current 16.7% discount is a bargain that may end soon thanks to a pile-in back into CEFs. That makes this one a fund to consider now—because buying at this point could set you up for 25% capital gains while this fund’s discount disappears.

“Instant Portfolio” Pick #2: Peace of Mind and a Tax-Free 5.7% Payout

The Nuveen Quality Municipal Income Fund (NYSE:NAD) is not only a great option because of its 5.7% dividend yield but also because of the diversification and low volatility it provides.

Let me explain by comparing this fund to the S&P 500, which we will do with the benchmark SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA:SPY). In 2017, the stock market famously saw extremely low volatility, steady gains and little fear, which resulted in stocks climbing up and up, with few corrections.

Then 2018 happened.

Fear Is Back!

The orange line here represents volatility in price changes over the last month for SPY, and you can see how the line fell sharply and stayed low throughout 2017.

But this is an aberration. Big spikes, like we saw in 2015 and 2016, are the norm—moments when the market goes into a panic and starts selling shares. The blue line, however, represents the volatility we saw with NAD, a fund with bonds from as diverse places as Utah and New York.

Although the fund’s price swings did accelerate a bit in late 2016, after Donald Trump was elected president (and the market worried about how his tax plans would affect municipal bonds), the blue line stays pretty quiet all the time.

There’s a reason for this: municipal bond values do not go up and down a lot. That means buying NAD gets you steady income without big paper losses when the market freaks out.

That’s why you need to diversify your portfolio so you aren’t forced to sell when the market collapses. With NAD, you can hedge against a market downturn by diversifying beyond stocks and into these low-volatility, high-quality municipal bonds.

And if you’re worried about missing out on gains, don’t be. Here are NAD’s total returns over the last decade:

Strong Gains in a Safe Haven

A 6.8% average annual return from a fund with such low risk shouldn’t be possible. But here it is.

“Instant Portfolio” Pick #3: A 7.1% Dividend From Top-Quality Stocks

Of course, we still need stocks in our portfolio so we can profit from the good times in the stock market—and I see many of those still to come. As I wrote in a March 8 article, stocks are set for a good year, thanks to rising earnings and a better economic environment, and we want to be part of that.

That’s why you should take a serious look at the AGIC Equity and Convertible Income Fund (NYSE:NIE).

Not only does NIE pay a 7.1% dividend, but it also has an enviable portfolio full of winners, such as Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Visa Inc (NYSE:V). NIE is able to turn big gains from these stocks into steady income for shareholders. That’s why the fund has been able to deliver this massive 9.8% average annualized return over the last decade:

Strong and Steady Returns

The fund also makes its dividend safer with convertible bonds. Let me explain.

In addition to shares in the best companies in the world, NIE also buys and trades a group of unique bonds that smaller and riskier companies issue. These “convertible bonds” are a kind of debt with a special agreement that, if the company’s stock rises to a certain level, the bonds will turn into common stock.

NIE buys these convertibles because it gets them a reliable income stream from these companies and the potential upside of owning actual shares in the firm. The fund has a long track record of using these to secure its dividend and provide more capital gains upside for shareholders.

And despite its amazing track record, NIE is selling at a 10.4% discount! That’s why it’s time to buy now.

“Instant Portfolio” Pick #4: A Rock-Steady Corporate-Bond CEF With a 7.3% Dividend

Speaking of bonds, we should also add some corporate bonds to our “instant” portfolio. Not only can we get a 7.3% dividend by doing this with the Western Asset High Yield Defined Opportunity Fund (NYSE:HYI), but we can also dip our toes in this asset class at a massive 10.2% discount.

And now is clearly the time for HYI to shine.

That’s because the market has turned its back on this fund for too long, despite the recent improvements management has made. Specifically, HYI has focused more on companies that are on the cusp of getting credit upgrades that will raise the value of their bonds. Just take a look at how its discount to NAV has trended over the last few years:

The Discounts Just Get Bigger

The market has sold off HYI in a big way, sending it from an 8% premium to NAV to an 11.2% discount.

And there was a good reason for that back in the mid-2010’s: HYI was not doing well. Its total return was about 17.5% from mid-2010 to 2014, which isn’t great and definitely lagged the S&P 500 over the same period (SPY rose 65% during that same timeframe).

But that’s been changing. Take a look at this chart.

Gains Accelerating for HYI

HYI is up 25% from the beginning of 2016, and its strong gains are just getting started. Why? Because, again, the economy is improving—which means the credit quality of the bonds HYI holds is starting to go up. That increases demand for them, resulting in higher prices on the market and profits for HYI shareholders.

Exposed: The “Billionaires Only” 7.6%+ Dividends You Can Buy NOW

Here’s something else you may not know about CEFs: some of the world’s richest billionaires have been quietly cashing in on them for years.

I’m talking about financial titans like Bill Gates, Bill Ackman and Jeffrey Gundlach, the legendary “Bond God.”

Then there’s Boaz Weinstein, who made a fortune betting against the ridiculous trades of JPMorgan’s so-called “London Whale” back in 2012.

In 2017, Weinstein dropped a cool billion into—you guessed it—CEFs.

Here’s what he had to say about the big profits waiting to be made from these funds:

“You go into it hoping the discount will narrow on its own, but one of the nicest points about this investment is that while you wait, you earn an above-average yield, given the discounted price.”

He also called CEFs “a rare corner of the market where retail investors can get an edge over institutions.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

And now is your chance to grab your share of the profits from this exclusive corner of the market.

The 4 CEFs I just told you about are a great start. But right now I’m pounding the table on 4 OTHER funds throwing off fatter average dividends—7.6% as I write—and one of these unsung cash machines even pays an amazing (and growing!) 8.1%.

Better yet, all 4 trade at even more outrageous discounts to NAV, putting you well on your way to 20%+ GAINS in the next 12 months! Throw in that 7.6% average dividend and you’re looking at a fast 28%+ gain here—with a big chunk of that in CASH!

Returns like these are common in the CEF space. No wonder billionaires like Weinstein, Gates and others have silently flocked to them.

Your opportunity to join this “billionaire’s club” through the 4 very best funds in the space is open now. But the weird discounts on these stout 7.6%+ payers are already starting to slam shut, so you need to make your move!

Don’t miss out. Simply CLICK HERE and I’ll give you the names, ticker symbols, buy-under prices and my complete analysis on all 4 of these 7.6%+ dividend payers now.

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