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If you're feeling good about the market, you're not alone. Take my hand as we go over some of this week's more uplifting headlines.
1. Netflix's British invasion
After a disastrous year, Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) isn't standing still in 2012.
Last week the market was treated to the revelation that Netflix served up a whopping 2 billion hours of video streaming during the final quarter of 2011. This week the company jumped right in to the U.K. and Ireland.
This will be it for Netflix's global expansion -- for now. Netflix has announced that it will not introduce its video streaming service in a new country until it's able to return to profitability. However, coming through with its promise to roll out in the U.K. and Ireland early in 2012 -- and the second week of the year is about as early as you can get -- will help give the fallen dot-com darling continued momentum as it tries to bounce back this year.
2. Sirius bucks the trend
Things are looking up for Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) . Barrington Research analyst James Goss is rolling out a 2012 price target of $3 on the satellite radio giant. That's not too shabby for a stock that was trading for as little as a nickel when it was on the verge of bankruptcy three years ago.
Goss' goal of $3 is based on Sirius XM fetching 25 times his enterprise value to EBITDA multiple. It may be a high ratio for a media company, but Sirius XM's steady growth and expanding margins are worthy of a market premium.
3. The free e-reader has arrived
It took a few years, but the publisher-subsidized e-reader is finally here.
Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS ) began to offer its $99 Nook Simple Touch for free to those willing to subscribe to the digital edition of The New York Times for $19.99 a month. Sure, paying $240 for an entry-level Nook may not seem like much of a deal, but it's a bargain for the bibliophile who may have been considering buying an e-reader and subscribing to the Nook edition of the popular daily paper.
How much is the publication subsidizing here? How much is the struggling bookseller subsidizing here to move more Nooks? It doesn't matter. The gadgets have finally gotten cheap enough -- cracking below triple digits -- that subsidization is a feasible business strategy.
4. Microsoft's got game
Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) didn't generate a whole lot of buzz in its final year as keynote speaker at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but it did offer up a meaty nugget in divulging that there are now 40 million Xbox Live users.
Microsoft's Xbox business doesn't earn the kind of respect that it should, primarily because it's not the high margin jackpot that Microsoft has in its operating system, productivity suite, and server software segments.
However, having the attention of 40 million Web-tethered gamers is huge. It makes Microsoft bigger than any single cable service or satellite television provider.
Microsoft's been starting to flex its muscles on that front lately. Last month it teamed up with several television networks and service providers to beef up their offerings through Microsoft's Xbox console. As long as the Xbox Live community continues to grow, Microsoft's opportunities to monetize that audience will continue to expand.
5. The bigger picture
Who cares if 2011 was a dud for exhibitors? More multiplex owners are turning to IMAX (NYSE: IMAX ) to help make the most of waning audiences by delivering premium-priced enhanced cinematic experiences.
IMAX's latest deal is a joint-venture agreement with Canada's Cinemas Guzzo. The contract calls for four IMAX screen installations in the greater Montreal area.
IMAX's growing reach and compelling value to both moviemakers and exhibitors helped it become one of Barrington Research's "Best Stock Ideas" for 2012 in a report also issued this week.