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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. Gimme Five
It's been a hard summer for bargain sellers as discount department stores, and deeper discounting closeouts specialists, have been posting soft sales. A popular theory is that, as the economy's improving, penny pinchers are trading up -- but not every chain selling stuff on the cheap is struggling.
Shares of Five Below (NASDAQ: FIVE ) soared 17% on Tuesday after posting blowout quarterly results. The chain that sells trendy stylish goods for $5 or less saw its sales climb 35%. Brisk expansion carried that growth, but same-store sales still clocked in with an impressive 6.6% gain. Adjusted earnings of $0.11 a share were more than the $0.09 a share that Wall Street was expecting.
2. All your iPhones are belong to us
Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) is spicing up its trade-in program -- with a twist. Everyone seems to be offering programs that will turn old electronics into cash or credit, but Amazon's raising the stakes by allowing sellers to lock in trade-in prices now, and have until next month -- Oct. 15, to be exact -- to turn in their smartphones, tablets, and iPods.
This is a neat perk, especially since trade-in prices tend to drop as the next generation hits the market.
Amazon was already offering highly competitive prices on trade-ins. This is just the icing on the cake to stand out in what has become a very-crowded market.
3. Netflix thinks inside the box
Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) shares hit an all-time high this week, and a reason for that was a deal announced with Virgin Media in the U.K. that gives many subscribers access to Netflix streams directly from their cable set-top box.
Netflix has been trying to get stateside cable and satellite television providers to do this for more than a year, but their instinct has been to shun Netflix. They see Netflix as a gateway drug to cord cutting, but that's the wrong approach. Working with Netflix, by working on bundling deals, will make cable services stickier. It will also keep Netflix close, because now that Netflix has more than 37 million streaming customers worldwide, you don't want CEO Reed Hastings on the other side of your battle.
Well done, Virgin Media -- and Netflix, of course.
4. Pandora express
Pandora (NYSE: P ) users don't need to search for months to find what they're looking for, but the media giant did in smoking out its new CEO. Digital advertising vet Brian McAndrews was named the leading streaming service's new helmsman.
It's a great call. McAndrews is best known for taking aQuantive from being a small boutique online marketer into a juggernaut that was eventually acquired in a $6 billion deal. Some may have been hoping for a glitzy programming guru from the ranks of terrestrial or even satellite radio, but Pandora's problem isn't content. It already has the tech in place to serve up custom-tailored tunes and the industry-leading 72 million active listeners to keep improving that data mining.
What Pandora needs is someone who can milk as much ad revenue as it can out of its streams, and it's hard to top McAndrews on that front.
5. Facebook gets moving
The top dog in social networking hit new all-time highs this week, putting to bed any jokes and chatter about it being an IPO dud last year. However, the reason it makes the cut this week is that it's starting to lay the groundwork for video ads.
I was a critic when reports began to surface about Facebook getting ready to roll out video advertising. As lucrative as it may be, the possibility of a loud and obtrusive ad blaring in a news feed seemed like certain death for Facebook. However, this test finds me changing my tune. These ads are silent by default. Facebook is also doing a brilliant thing by having friend videos begin scrolling first, so when the video ads do start to roll out, they won't seem as intrusive.
Thinking inside the box
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