Robert's Feed
Jan 4, 2012
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Yahoo’s gain is eBay holders’ pain

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Yahoo’s gain is probably eBay shareholders’ pain. The Internet company has nabbed Scott Thompson, the head of eBay’s PayPal division, as its new chief executive. That’s good for Yahoo, but less so for eBay’s owners. The auctioneer’s payments business is a gem that could grow faster on its own. Thompson’s walk suggests such a split isn’t coming any time soon.

PayPal has grown rapidly and in the most recent quarter accounted for almost 40 percent of eBay’s revenue. But with more than 100 million regular users, further expansion will increasingly need to come from payments unrelated to eBay and even to the Internet. For example, PayPal is moving into services allowing people to use their phone numbers or swipe cards at terminals in brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers would surely be more receptive if PayPal were free of any connection to eBay, a potential rival for them.

Dec 28, 2011
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Next digital tidal wave target: 3D objects

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The digital tidal wave up-ended the music, book, film and newspaper industries. The rise of new printing technology now threatens to wreak similar havoc on producers of three-dimensional objects. While this shift will take years, 2012 is shaping up as the year the technological hype hits the mainstream. 

Dec 19, 2011
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Gray market trading sucking life from IPOs

By Rob Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Facebook’s initial public offering will grab headlines in 2012. But as Zynga’s tepid debut shows, multiple private investment rounds and the ability to trade shares before going public means slim pickings when public market investors finally get their chance to own a slice of Silicon Valley’s emerging heavyweights. That’s one reason the average IPO this year has wound up trading some 10 percent below its offer price.

Dec 12, 2011
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Rumble in rock garden presages more hostile M&A

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A rumble in the rock garden may presage more hostile M&A. That’s one way to read the unsolicited $4.6 billion offer that Martin Marietta Materials made for larger rival Vulcan Materials. The all-stock deal won’t succeed without some more fill. But the lesson is clear: if profits can’t be mined from the ground, they can still be found by cutting costs.

Dec 9, 2011
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Canaries in Q4 earnings coal mine looking sickly

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Two canaries in the fourth-quarter earnings coal mine are looking sickly. DuPont and Texas Instruments now think their results will be weaker than they previously thought. U.S. multinationals’ earnings have been surprisingly robust up to now – but these bellwethers suggest that may be changing.

Dec 6, 2011
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Pharma center of gravity shifts eastward

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Drug research tends to follow spending. Take Merck’s pledge to invest $1.5 billion in research and development in China over five years. Emerging economies’ citizens are growing wealthier and living longer, while their governments’ fiscal health is robust. Merck’s step suggests the pharmaceutical industry’s center of gravity is shifting eastward accordingly.

Dec 5, 2011
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Oracle needs to read Cisco cautionary tale

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Empires built through acquisitions can run into problems as they sprawl. That’s doubly so in technology, where obsolescence is a risk. Oracle has used profits from its database stronghold to expand. Its acquisitions have worked well so far – indeed that’s one reason why German arch-rival SAP has become more active in acquisitions, such as Saturday’s purchase of SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion – but Cisco Systems’ sad experience suggests Oracle boss Larry Ellison needs to stay on his toes.

Dec 2, 2011
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Delay takes shine off Zynga’s IPO

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressesed are his own.

Delay has taken the shine off Zynga’s initial public offering, which could value the company at $9 billion. Revenue at the maker of FarmVille and other Internet games is still rising fast, according to a revised prospectus filed on Dec. 2. But on more telling measures, growth has slowed.

Dec 1, 2011
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Pharma stocks no safe haven in austerity storm

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Shares of pharmaceutical companies traditionally weather economic storms with aplomb. In 2008, for example, drug stocks sustained less damage than the S&P 500. Yet the sector today looks astonishingly cheap relative to the rest of the stock market. Austerity measures from strapped governments everywhere explain this conundrum.

Nov 16, 2011
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Apple rightly keeps chairman, CEO roles split

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Apple has rightly decided to keep the roles of chairman and chief executive split. The divide may have looked temporary when Tim Cook became boss in August, leaving the ailing Steve Jobs running the board. But just a month after the death of the company’s co-founder and long-time leader, the directors have decided to appoint long-time Apple director Arthur Levinson as chairman.