There were plenty of companies that had it going on this week. In this weekly column, I take a closer look at five companies that got it right. Let's dive right in.
1. Netflix's killer move
Dexter was one of the early hits on Netflix's (NASDAQ: NFLX ) streaming service, only to go away. Now the Showtime show about a methodical serial killer with a conscience is back. Netflix has struck a deal to make all eight seasons of the critically acclaimed show available on its digital platform.
In a smart move, Netflix is making the first four seasons available as of yesterday. The final four seasons will hit the growing streaming library come January.
This is the kind of show that has served Netflix well in the past. Serialized dramas with a little edge appear to be made for the "binge viewing" that finds TV buffs glued to the service as they go through entire seasons of popular shows.
We don't know the financial terms of the deal, but Netflix knows what it's doing, as it's in the best position to know the viewing patterns and preferences of its more than 40 million subscribers.
2. Betting on Baidu
Bucking the trend of weak trading in China's dot-com growth stocks, Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU ) hit a new all-time high after posting encouraging financial results.
Revenue soared 42.3% to $1.45 billion in the third quarter. That was on the high end of its earlier guidance, but the real gem came in its outlook for the current quarter, with China's leading search engine pointing to 45.5% to 49.6% growth for the period. That's a healthy case of accelerating growth at a time when analysts were forecasting for Baidu's growth rate to decelerate.
China's been making some meaty acquisitions lately, so the growth isn't all organic. However, there's a good reason why the number of Baidu shares sold short has dropped by more than two-thirds over the past four months. No one wants to get in Baidu's way now that it's rolling.
3. Tesla gets charged up
Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA ) has been one of this year's hottest stocks, and the electric-car maker turned heads when it expanded a battery deal with Panasonic that would have expired in 2015. The deal will now extend through 2018, with Panasonic supplying nearly 2 billion battery cells for Models S sedans and the upcoming Model X crossover.
Now, this doesn't mean that Tesla's going to make 2 billion cars. As fellow Fool Rich Smith points out, the largest Model S battery pack requires roughly 7,000 of these cells. However, we're still looking at the ability to build about 285,000 more electric cars over the next four years. That certainly places Tesla's expectations above current orders that are averaging just shy of 2,000 a month. Is Tesla betting on the Model X dramatically shaping its business, or is Tesla already planning for the lower-cost car that will likely follow with a more mainstream-accessible price? Either way, Tesla's stock may not be cheap, but it keeps revving in the right direction.
4. Weight a minute
Investors have been chasing volatile diet solutions -- from weight management providers to drugmakers -- for years, but a maker of a machine that's zapping away love handles has gone largely ignored by the market until recently.
Zeltiq Aesthetics (NASDAQ: ZLTQ ) is the company behind CoolSculpting, a non-invasive device that freezes away fat cells from the gut. The reviews are mixed: Cyberspace is full of folks both raving about its success and lamenting about the ineffectiveness and subtle side effects.
Well, the one thing we know for sure after seeing the stock soar 32% on Thursday is that it's definitely growing in popularity. Zeltiq saw its quarterly revenue climb 64% on the strength of new system sales and increasing usage of existing CoolSculpting machines. Zeltiq now sees revenue growing 40% this year, up from its earlier 20% projections and its 10% forecast before that. Zeltiq's putting on weight -- in a good way.
5. Read hasty
Daily deals have helped restaurants, spas, and clothing designers. Why shouldn't book publishers get in on the fun?
Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) introduced Kindle Countdown Deals this week. Just as the name implies, Amazon is giving publishers the ability to offer books with short-lived sales. The incentive to buy when a potential buyer of an e-book stumbles across a deal is that there's a countdown clock that's ticking down the time that will be left at the promotional price.
Is it risky? Will it lead to readers holding back on purchases until they see a flash sale on a book that they are interested in checking out? This is certainly possible, but think back to the LivingSocial or other daily deals that you've bought. You probably wouldn't have bought them in the first place if they weren't being offered at a hefty discount for a limited amount of time. Amazon may be on to something here.
Add these nine winners to the five that I already gave you, and you'll have 14 smart moves
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