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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. GM makes the connection
General Motors (NYSE: GM ) has been a surprising laggard when it comes to in-car tech.
Sure, GM is the company that put satellite-based telematics on the map with OnStar. The Chevy Volt is also an intriguing entry in the plug-in market that sidesteps the "range anxiety" suffered with traditional electric vehicles.
However, when it comes to dashboard technology, GM's been more of a follower than a leader.
The leading automaker is hoping to change that next year when most of its 2015 model-year Chevy, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac vehicles will have the option to go online with 4G LTE data plans.
Sure it won't be cheap, but it may not be that prohibitive as carriers move to shared data plans to keep customers connected across a growing number of devices. Either way, it's got to be a better deal than the outlandish monthly rates that OnStar is charging these days.
2. Flying high
The skies may still be bumpy for online travel websites, but priceline.com (NASDAQ: PCLN ) keeps finding ways to fly.
The popular portal posted strong quarterly results as gross bookings climbed 33%, resulting in a 20% pop in revenue. Priceline's adjusted earnings of $6.77 a share blew past the $6.53 a share that Wall Street was forecasting, but what else is new? Priceline has come through with 27 consecutive quarters of beating analyst profit targets.
Despite turbulence overseas, Priceline continues to collect passport stamps. A stunning $5.5 billion of Priceline's $6.6 billion in gross bookings during this past quarter were international.
When William Shatner was talking about naming your own price on Priceline, he may very well have been talking about the stock's buoyant share price.
3. Facing the music
It took 13 years, but the music industry is finally pumping up the volume.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry is reporting that global recorded music revenue rose roughly 0.3% last year. The slight uptick to US$16.5 billion in physical and digital sales and subscriptions makes this the first up year for the music industry since 1999.
It gets better.
Trend tracker NPD Group is also reporting this week that the volume of illegally downloaded music on peer-to-peer websites fell by a sharp 17% last year.
Fewer pirates? More customers? Somebody strike up the band.
4. ZAGG doesn't sag
ZAGG (NASDAQ: ZAGG ) investors didn't need to cover their stock certificates with invisibleSHIELD scratch protectors this time.
The maker of third-party accessories for tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets posted blowout quarterly results this week. Net sales spiked 30% to $87.5 million and adjusted net income checked in at $0.37 a share. Analysts were only banking on a profit of $0.29 a share on a 24% top-line spurt.
The company's come a long way. Several quarters ago, ZAGG was counting on invisibleSHIELD -- the thin protective film for tablet and smartphone screens -- for nearly 90% of its revenue. The acquisition of iFrogz and expansion into gadgetry keyboards and other accessories now finds invisibleSHIELD accounting for just 43% of ZAGG's sales.
Some will argue that this is bad news given the high-margin nature of its flagship product, but diversity is important these days.
ZAGG's guidance for 2013 is encouraging, as it targets 10% to 13% in adjusted EBITDA. Analysts were modeling revenue of $308 million, but ZAGG's update is now aiming for at least $313 million on the top line.
5. Bundles be gone
Cablevision (UNKNOWN: CVC.DL ) is apparently sick of cable networks bundling lesser channels with their stronger properties to get pay TV customers to shell out more money.
Cablevision is suing Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA ) , alleging that the cable network giant forced it to take on lesser cable properties in order to retain carriage rights for its MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central juggernauts.
Enough is enough. Can we finally start paying for the channels we actually want to watch?
Cablevision's motives aren't entirely clear. It wouldn't be in its best interest to shrink monthly cable bills. However, cable providers have been shedding net video subscribers for a few quarters now. The cord-cutting trend is real, and Cablevision can help its cause by ridding itself of superfluous channels that only a sliver of its viewers may be interested in watching.
This is going to be an ugly battle, but one that may ultimately deliver beautiful results for consumers.
Another smart move
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