Opinion

The Great Debate

Forget Microsoft, Yahoo’s value is overseas

– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

eric_auchard_columnist_shot_2009_june_300_px2The fate of Yahoo Inc has become intertwined in the public’s imagination with the success or failure of its dealings with Microsoft Corp in recent years.

That’s despite the fact that as much as 70 percent of the value investors put on Yahoo’s depressed shares are tied up in its international assets or cash holdings — factors that have nothing to do with Microsoft.

Yahoo’s operations trade for just $5 to $6 per share out of its current $15 share price, once you exclude its Asian investments and the value of its cash. Its hidden assets in Japan and Chinese affiliates — Yahoo Japan Corp and China’s Alibaba Group — alone are worth around $6 to $7 per share.

The trouble is that Yahoo needs to find a way to cash out of its increasingly rocky relationship with Alibaba Group, in which it holds a 39 percent stake after it pulled back from operating its own business in China in 2005.

HP has to look beyond cost cuts soon

EricAuchard.jpg– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own —

The stock price seems to be the only thing growing at Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest computer company. HP shares have risen 75 percent this year, despite few signs of a revival in technology spending.

The company, best known as a supplier of computer printers, has suffered a 19 percent drop in sales of hardware and ink supplies. In good times, this produced the bulk of HP’s profits, but it’s the financial engineering under Mark Hurd, the company’s chairman and chief executive, that seems to be the main driver now.

from Commentaries:

Humbled giants eye business phone market

Nokia e71LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Once they were warriors battling one another on the digital battlefield. Nowadays, Microsoft and Nokia are worriers, huddling together for comfort.

The world's top phone and software companies need each other to compete with Apple, Google and Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (RIM), whose products increasingly define what users expect from phones and charge premium prices in consequence.

In the market for so-called "smartphones", Deutsche Bank estimates Apple and RIM now take home more than half of all profits, despite producing less than a third of high-end mobile phones. Nokia held a 45 percent share of the smartphone market in June, according to Gartner Inc. (Table 2 in Gartner release)

from Commentaries:

Twitter backlash foretold

Technology market research firm Gartner Inc has published the 2009 "Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies," its effort to chart out what's hot or not at the cutting edge of hi-tech jargon. It's just one of an annual phalanx of reports that handicap some 1,650 technologies or trends in 79 different categories for how likely the terms are to make it into mainstream corporate parlance.

Jackie Fenn, the report's lead analyst and author of the 2008 book "Mastering the Hype Cycle," delivers the main verdict:

Technologies at the Peak of Inflated Expectations during 2009 include cloud computing, e-books (such as from Amazon and Sony) and internet TV (for example, Hulu), while social software and microblogging sites (such as Twitter) have tipped over the peak and will soon experience disillusionment among corporate users.

from Commentaries:

Apple-Google learn Corporate Governance 1.0

LONDON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - The resignation of Google CEO Eric Schmidt from Apple's board should come as no surprise to anyone with an inkling of what corporate governance means.

But then Silicon Valley's idea of corporate boards has long consisted of cozy, interlocking directorships which would be considered collusion in most other industries.

Google's CEO is not leaving Apple's board voluntarily. He is only stepping down in response to the increased government scrutiny of obvious potential conflicts of interest between the two companies.

Bracing for black shoots in tech markets

Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Pundits have been talking endlessly about the possible green shoots of recovery in the ravaged world economy.

But early shoots are not always green. They might want to consider the problem of black shoots. These false starts are familiar to lily growers, when a temporary rise in soil temperature occurs after a cold period.

How Apple can take bite of business market

Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Apple Inc is taking steps to make its computers run on corporate networks, but these moves fall far short of ensuring Mac users win equal standing in business.

Full corporate access for Apple computers inside businesses remains years away. If and when it comes, acceptance is more than likely to be the result of broad trends reshaping the office computer market, rather than Apple’s own product genius.

Stock research is more than just a headline

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Stock research analysts get no respect these days. An academic study has concluded that share recommendations have little impact.

A 51-page study entitled “On the information role of stock recommendations,” finds that buy and sell ratings are uninformative and often try to “piggyback” on actual news for their influence. This begs the dismal question: if professional analysts can’t get it right, what hope for the ordinary investor? Click here for PDF.

A vaccine needed for bad statistics

ericauchard1- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

If you look no further than the latest headlines, you might think a worldwide flu pandemic was already underway with a very real threat to millions of lives.

While there are many unanswered questions early on in the outbreak of flu from Mexico, it is crucial to remember that the number of deaths and reported infections remain small — even if its spread across the globe has proved worryingly rapid.

While the infected need access to medical care and anti-viral drugs, the rest of the world needs an inoculation against scary statistics and misinformation.

Real-life spy thriller in cyberspace

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Once in a while a good computer security scare comes along that has all the makings of a taut Cold War spy thriller and the latest news of a global computer espionage ring is one such story.

A new report entitled “Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network,” argues that poorly defended computers used by government and private organizations in 103 nations may have been violated. The study has attracted widespread media attention after a New York Times story about it at the weekend.

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