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BenzingaEditorial

Another Technology Revolution Is Upon Us

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TJX NEWS

E-commerce is booming and it will just continue to grow, pushed both by the regular need for tech innovations and the coronavirus outbreak. It is like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) knew where to direct its innovation course and opened its first cashier-less grocery store on February 25th, allowing its customers to walk in the store, pick the items they want, and then walk out the store without any need to stop at the cash register. The picked items will be automatically tracked and monitored, and afterward charged to the credit card once the shopper leaves the store. This technology was also used to power 25 Amazon Go stores.

How does Amazon’s cashierless store technology work?

Amazon created a complex system of specialized cameras and sensors, which are all connected to the developed software that tracks its shoppers’ movements and actions within the store. So, the system follows each customer, detects when each item is picked, allowing the shoppers to walk out of the store with selected items, which are then charged to the shopper’s credit or debit card. Even more, if the shopper decides to return some items, while in the store, those items are removed from the shopper’s shopping cart. This whole system is called “Just Walk Out”. It is offered to all retailers who are interested in upgrading their stores.

Why did Amazon decide to offer its technology to its competitors?

After the success of its cashier-less stores, Amazon decided to extend this technology to its competition. Reuters received the information from Amazon that there are several interested companies that already made official deals. We still do not have the names of those interested retailers, but there must be more than enough interested companies since Amazon decided not to save this jewel to itself. It is logical to assume that there must be an economic reason behind that decision.

Amazon provides us with the necessary items, but social media helps us stay connected

So, Amazon is helping us amid the COVID-19 drama by reducing the physical contact to the minimum with its delivery services and cashier-less stores. But we still need to make contact with at least our family and friends during this uncertain time. And that is where Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) steps in. Many people stayed at home, and they turned to social media to stay connected and also to make the time pass more quickly. And there is no bigger network than Facebook. And when we add other services from the Facebook family, like Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, it is no wonder why many people choose this social media network, causing its usage to skyrocket. And that is why both Amazon’s and Facebook’s stocks have been holding up better than the rest of the market.

E-commerce vs current shopping habits

Many companies are still not focusing enough attention to e-commerce. That is probably because many shoppers still follow their old habits and go physically to the stores. The COVID-19 pushed many of the shoppers to try online shopping during the last month and will only further do so over the next few months. So, all the companies which are not ready to start developing e-commerce as a separate channel of their business as a separate strategy will certainly face a tough period ahead.

JD.com wants to challenge Alibaba’s dominant position – and amid clouds!

JD.com Inc (NASDAQ:JD) is currently well known in China for its one-day or next-day delivery services. Their strategy gave some good results since the number of active customer accounts rose in 2019 for 18.6%. JD’s services kept working during the Chinese Lunar New Year and the coronavirus outbreak.

Nowadays, JD.com, Inc. is working on developing its own cloud computing platform technology, aiming to become the preferred choice for the U.S. customers instead of the currently dominant Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE:BABA) and its AliExpress segment.

COVID-19 just gave e-commerce an additional push

The coronavirus outbreak just pushed the inevitable. We were already on the path to rely more and more on cashier-less, digital and virtual reality, simply everything more autonomous than yesterday, and now we are forced to rely on e-commerce even more. The companies that recognize this will be awarded both with new and returning customers and will somewhat be able to amortize the hits of COVID-19 that brought the economy to a virtual standstill.

BenzingaEditorial

Should Salesforce Shareholders Rejoice or Be Concerned?

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Mid Cap Stocks

Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) will have its annual meeting of stockholders on Thursday, June 11, 2020, but in virtual form. The stock of the global leader in CRM tumbled immediately following its recent first-quarter results. The months before and at the initial phase of the pandemic were exceptionally good. But it is the second-quarter and full-year fiscal 2021 guidance for the year ending Jan. 31, 2021 that resulted in a downgrade. Yet despite the damage and costs brought on by COVID-19, its shareholders have a lot of positive development to rejoice in.

Impressive growth considering the circumstances

Considering the global climate, the fact that Salesforce continued to grow at a fast pace is beyond admirable. Moreover, highlights from the start of the year include the largest deal that Salesforce ever booked and it is with AT&T (NYSE:T). The telecommunications giant will be building a new unified view of all its customer data using Salesforce. It will begin upgrading its services to create a better customer experience during summer.

Market domination

As for the fiscal 2021, the CRM giant clearly dominated the market with $20 billion of expected annual sales. In addition, the pandemic accelerated the switch to cloud computing. Over the recent months, businesses have rushed to implement work-from-home solutions. This is expected to only further boost the company’s SaaS businesses. As for 2019, it was well ahead of SAP SE (NYSE:SAP) and Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) with 18.4% in market share as opposed to 5.3% and 5.2% respectively, according to research firm IDC.

Altered Revenue Structure

While Salesforce has been known as a SaaS powerhouse throughout its entire 21-year existence, this has now changed. Its largest and fastest-growing business is now “Platform and Other” as it topped Service, Sales, Marketing and Commerce. Moreover, the shape of the enterprise is continually evolving. That’s a profound development for a company which occupies third place on the Cloud list. It is just behind the mighty Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Moreover, this is a very clear indicator that the world’s top cloud providers are doing everything in their power to enhance their offerings. The cloud is after all becoming the new IT foundation of the digital economy.

Going strong despite headwinds

Overall, this software giant proved it managed to become and remain an essential ingredient of many organizations’ operational needs. And what’s even more impressive, it maintained its status during such difficult times. The mega-cap cloud computing leader that has a current market cap of $157 billion, along with growing sales of nearly 20% and a stable free cash flow amid a deep recession, is still in an admirable position. And one that is surely envied by its many peers. This tech giant has plenty of liquidity to continue aggressively investing its development along with taking care of both its customers and employees. Moreover, the pace of digital transformation is only accelerating with lifestyles getting significantly altered by COVID-19. And like one of the pioneers leading this transformation, Salesforce has nothing to fear as it is both changing and thriving in the current climate.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Slack Fails to Deliver Another COVID-19 Blockbuster

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Stock Market Tumble

Unlike Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ:ZM), Slack Technologies Inc (NYSE:WORK) didn’t manage to deliver a blockbuster quarter. By no means was it bad as the company reported steady revenue growth with usage increasing over the pandemic. Even Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will be offering Slack to its employees. But expectations were quite higher  so shares ended up dropping 17% in extended trading on Thursday.

First quarter earnings report

Revenue of $201.7 million resulted in an adjusted loss of 2 cents per share. The company added a record 12,000 paid customers in the quarter. This is more than 5,000 in the two previous quarters. Slack’s top competitor, Microsoft’s Teams, saw an explosive expansion of 70% in April as it reached more than 75 million daily active users.

For the next quarter, the company’s guidance for revenue is $206 million to $209 million with an adjusted loss of 4 cents to 3 cents per share.

AWS investment

Besides Amazon offering Slack to its employees, Slack will adopt Amazon Web Services’ Chime video-calling technology to enhance its calling features. Slack amended its initial agreement with AWS where it commited to at least $250 million in a five-year period that ended in 2023. It will now pay least $425 million over a five-year period that ends in April 2025.

Slack didn’t board the blockbuster boat but still did good

Revenue growth was 50% which is pretty much the same as 49% in the previous quarter. Zoom pulled off a 169% revenue growth, more than doubling guidance and exceeding forecasts. Not to mention the skyrocketing usage of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Microsoft Teams. Slack didn’t manage to board that boat. But Zoom’s executives have a different way of looking at it. They find it as a great indication that they are not apples-to-apples rivals as the products are not truly competitive with one another. If we exclude the after-hours move, its shares did go up about 70% since the beginning of the year. But can Slack afford not catching up to the popularity of Zoom and Microsoft is a question that subsequent quarters will answer. Yet, many analysts see the pandemic as the point that either makes or breaks such companies whose products benefit from social distancing. If not now, when?

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Even Oil Giants Are Under Tremendous Pressure

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Canadian Oil

The global oil market is in a state of hysteria. And not only COVID-19 is to blame, although its impact is being felt all over the globe. It is inevitable for the near future to be filled with bankruptcies, cost savings and cuts in spending as businesses are looking for ways to get through this historically difficult period.

The troubled industry

The year already began with over supply thanks to decades worth of expansion in U.S. onshore production. The price war between OPEC and Russia only further amplified the oversupply problem. That issue has at least been resolved. But the real hit was the global economic shutdown from COVID-19 which resulted in a drop in demand. With too much oil and too little demand, oil prices have plummeted to historic lows.

Cutting dividends

The current headwinds are intense, and have led many energy companies to trim their dividends. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.B) and Equinor are two direct competitors that have taken this drastic step to ensure they have ample cash to survive and they have a long histories of reliably returning cash to investors. Even Helmerich & Payne (NYSE:HP) which had a streak of 47 annual dividend hikes under its belt along with a rock-solid balance sheet still felt it necessary to cut the dividend in March.

It’s only logical to question whether or not peers ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) will be forced to do the same.

Chevron cutting jobs

Chevron has increased its dividend annually for 33 consecutive years. At the end of the first quarter, Chevron’s total long-term debt had increased roughly 20% from the start of the year. At the end of May, it announced a 15 percent cut of its global workforce.

Exxon has no layoff plans

Exxon’s dividend streak is even longer as it has increased its dividend annually for 37 consecutive years. But Exxon’s long-term debt jumped even more than Chevron since the beginning of the year as it rose by nearly a third.

Top and bottom lines at Exxon and Chevron are clearly driven by the price of oil which reached historic lows. Even Russia’s second-largest oil producer PJSC Lukoil (OTC:LUKOY) hurt by lower oil prices as it reported a first-quarter net loss of $669 million on Wednesday.

Shell and Equinor Vs Exxon and Chevron

Thus, Shell and Equinor chose to preserve cash by cutting their dividends. Starting out with much lower leverage, Exxon and Chevron have more balance sheet flexibility and they are using to protect their dividends, for now. Paying a consistent and growing dividend is important to the boards of these energy giants. But the energy market is at a painful place right now.

The boards of Exxon and Chevron will make the hard call to cut their dividends if need be.

Whichever the scenario, the big guys actually have a shot at pulling through thanks to the help of the Trump Administration, unlike many of their small peers which won’t even be able to afford Chapter 11 bankruptcies.

Uncertain future

There have been multiple ups and downs in the historically cyclical energy sector over the last three decades. But the biggest change is yet to take place: the green revolution. Exxon and Chevron have taken steps toward the low-carbon future. Exxon is developing biofuels from algae, while Chevron has invested in solar, wind and geothermal power sources. But environmental activists say they haven’t done enough. So, even with the support of the Trump administration, oil has an uncertain future. And even oil giants will need to fight for survival in the post-COVID-19 era.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

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