Sony, Microsoft Consoles Struggle With Thin Launch-Day Stock

(Bloomberg) -- Sales of Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp.’s new gaming consoles fell short of their predecessors during their first week in Japan, suggesting persistent supply bottlenecks will hamper the debut of two of this holiday season’s most hotly anticipated gadgets.Sony sold 118,085 PlayStation 5 consoles from its debut on Nov. 12 to Nov. 15, roughly a third of the PS4’s performance over launch weekend, Famitsu estimated. Microsoft tallied 20,534 units of its Xbox Series X and S during the six days from its start on Nov. 10, also shy of the 23,562 that the Xbox One managed during its first few days, the research house said.Sony fell as much as 1.6% in Tokyo trading on Thursday and Microsoft was down by about the same amount in New York Wednesday. Both fell in line with broader markets.The estimates provided a first glimpse at sales of the new Xbox and PlayStation, two devices that should dominate wishlists this Christmas. Japan was among the first markets globally to get the consoles and is considered a key battleground between two companies vying to establish a lead in next-generation gaming and drive longer-term growth.Read More: Microsoft Sets Sights on Sony’s Home Turf in Console Clash“Supply shortages in the U.S., where sales work on a first-come, first-served basis, are similar to those in Japan,” Citi Research analysts Kota Ezawa and Yui Shoji wrote. “This seems to point to low supply quantities, as well as strong post-release demand.”Factory and logistical disruptions during the pandemic have hurt manufacturers’ ability to keep up. The outcome is likely more reflective of the available supply than demand for the consoles, as both companies saw their machines sell out on day one, said Serkan Toto, an industry consultant in Tokyo.Microsoft has called its new console duo the most successful Xbox debut ever, but that feat appears to have come at the cost of thinly spread supply. The Redmond, Washington-based company released its two consoles to 37 countries simultaneously, a big jump from the 13 markets for the preceding Xbox One generation.Sony is also grappling with inadequate supply as it tries to introduce its new consoles to 65 nations, doubling the 32 that the company covered with the PlayStation 4. Chief Financial Officer Hiroki Totoki told investors in October that supply chain bottlenecks have hampered the tech giant’s efforts to meet demand and that constraints may persist until March next year. In Japan, the company was forced to implement a lottery system to manage PS5 pre-orders.Read More: Sony Hopes the PlayStation 5 Will Become a Long-Term Cash CowMicrosoft and Sony both say they’re working hard to beef up supply of their new machines. But retailers in Japan say it remains unclear when they will be able to reliably stock the in-demand products. PS5 units on resale marketplace Mercari have hit prices upwards of $1,000, from their usual $400 to $500.Not all users are in a rush to obtain the new consoles right away, as most new games are still playable on the departing...


Analysts Say These 3 Stocks Are Their Top Picks for 2021

The year is winding down, and it’s time for Wall Street’s analysts to start flagging their top picks for the coming year. It’s a time-honored tradition, in most walks of life, to take a sometimes tongue-in-cheek look at what lies ahead, and to start giving advice on the say-so of a metaphorical crystal ball.Analysts have been analyzing each stock carefully, looking at its past and current performance, its trends on a variety of time frames, management’s plans – the analysts take everything into account. Their recommendations provide valuable direction for building a resilient portfolio in the new year.As normal, TipRanks has collected and collated the data on the top picks, and made it available for investors’ use. The stock choices, and their data, make for some interesting choices. Let’s take a closer look. UTZ Brands (UTZ)UTZ Brands is a familiar label in the eastern US. The company is known for its range of snack foods, of the salty variety rather than sweet. The company’s line of foods, including pretzels, potato chips, snack mixes, and popcorn, are frequent choices in vending machines. In August, UTZ (then known as Utz Quality Foods) has completed a business combination agreement with Collier Creek, a special purpose acquisition company. The combination brought the venerable snack company into the public trading domain. More recently, UTZ posted strong Q3 results and reported that it has entered an agreement to buy competing snack company Truco. The quarterly results were released first, on November 5, showing $248 million in net sales, a year-over-year gain of 24%, along with a 23% yoy gain in gross profit. One week later, UTZ and Truco announced a $480 million acquisition agreement, which will bring the ‘On the Border’ brand of tortilla chips and salsas into UTZ product line.Covering this stock for Oppenheimer is 5-star analyst Rupesh Parikh, who sees a clear path forward for the company. “[Following] the company’s announcement on 11/12 to acquire Truco Enterprises, [we] overall look very favorably upon the deal economics, synergy opportunity, leverage to the attractive tortilla category including ancillary products (salsa and queso), and compelling growth prospects for the brand,” Parikh opined. “We believe the company is well positioned to drive at least 3-4% organic sales growth and 6-8% EBITDA growth with upside optionality from strategic acquisitions,” the analyst concluded. To this end, UTZ remains Parikh’s top small-cap food pick. The analyst rates the stock an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with a $24 price target. This figure implies a 28% upside from current levels. (To watch Parikh’s track record, click here)Overall, Wall Street loves this stock, earning a stellar analyst consensus rating — Strong Buy. Out of 7 analysts tracked by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 6 are bullish on UTZ, while only one remains sidelined. With a return potential of ~16%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $21.71. (See UTZ stock analysis on TipRanks)RingCentral, Inc. (RNG)From salty snacks we move on to telecom tech. RingCentral is a cloud-based business communications company. The company’s products are software platform packages that combine telephone and computer systems. The flagship product platform, RingCentral Office, allows compatibility of the communications system with other popular business apps including DropBox, Google Docs, Outlook, and Salesforce. RNG also offers unique features necessary for communications systems: call forwarding, phone extensions, vid calling, and screen sharing.Much of the modern business world is about problem solving, and RingCentral does just that for its customers – and the results are clear in the revenues and stock performance. The top line number has been increasing through 2020, with the Q3 revenues coming in at $303 million for a 9.3% sequential gain. The shares recovered easily from the mid-winter COVID swoon, and the stock is trading up 76% so far this year.On the negative side, RingCentral operates at a net loss, and that net loss has been deepening even as revenues rose and the stock appreciated. The Q3 EPS loss came in at 24 cents.James Fish, 5-star analyst with Piper Sandler, wrote the review on RNG, and he is upbeat about the company’s future. “RingCentral is winning new customers and expanding with existing given its ability to converge across the communication software stack, including with contact center… we continue to recommend RingCentral as one of our ‘core 4’ in our coverage and a name to own for the next few years,” Fish commented. As a result, Fish reiterates RNG as his Top Pick. The analyst rates the stock an Overweight (i.e. Buy) alongside a $362 price target. At current levels, that indicates a possible 21% upside for the coming year. (To watch Fish’s track record, click here)Overall, RingCentral has 10 recent reviews, including 9 Buys and 1 Hold, making the analyst consensus view a Strong Buy. The average price target is $337.22, which suggests a 13% upside from the current trading price of $297.79. (See RNG stock analysis on TipRanks)DraftKings, Inc. (DKNG)The world of fantasy sports helps bring fans into the games, and now that the pro leagues have resumed play – albeit for abbreviated seasons, in deference to the coronavirus – DraftKings, which take fantasy leagues online, has been making gains. In addition to fantasy league creation, DraftKings offers sports betting, and the company’s online model has fit in well with the social distance restrictions put in place to combat the ongoing virus health crisis.In the third quarter, whose results were reported earlier this month, DraftKings had plenty of good news. Revenue, at $133 million, beat the forecast by $1 million, and the net loss per share was not as deep as analysts had feared. The company reported a key metric – monthly unique players – surpassing 1 million, an important milestone. Looking ahead, DraftKings revised its fiscal 2020 guidance upward, by 5.7% at the midpoint of the range, to $540 million to $560 million. The midpoint for 2021 revenue expectations is even more bullish, at $800 million.As noted, these gains come as the major sports leagues have returned to play. But that is not the only key here. DraftKings operates in 19 states plus DC – the jurisdictions which permit legal online sports betting. But an additional 8 states are in various stages of legalizing DraftKings’ niche, and the company looks forward to expanding its operations.Summing up the prospects for DraftKings, Rosenblatt analyst Bernie McTernan writes, “[DKNG] remains a top pick in our Consumer Tech coverage. 3Q results will continue the positive revenue estimate revisions given the better than expected guide for ’20E and ’21E. We are at the high end of the ’21E range which we believe is achievable given our expectation for at least MI and VA coming online.”The analyst added, “New state launches will pressure near-term adj. EBITDA but encouragingly the company indicates NJ, their most mature market, is in a similar spot where they had previously hoped it would be for its ramp in profitability.”McTernan rates DKNG a Buy, and his $65 price target implies a robust 41% one-year upside. (To watch McTernan’s track record, click here)All in all, there 19 reviews on record for DraftKings, including 13 Buys and 6 Holds, giving the stock a Moderate Buy rating from the analyst consensus. The shares are currently priced at $46.24 and have an average price target of $59, making the upside potential for the year ahead 38%. (See DKNG stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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