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. Amazon opens Fire
Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) is finally rolling out the set-top media-player that it was rumored to be introducing before last year's holiday shopping season. One can argue that the market wasn't exactly impressed with Fire TV. Amazon shares closed lower when the streaming device was unveiled on Wednesday, even as the S&P 500 rallied to close at an all-time high.
Some argue that it's too expensive at $99, as Roku and Chromecast players can be had for less than half that price. Others were hoping that Amazon would roll out an ad-supported video service for the masses, launch a pay-TV platform, or just price the gadgets so low that it could give them away to Amazon Prime members.
However, Amazon's doing it right. Fire TV costs more than rival entry-level devices, but have you seen the specs, including a quad-core processor and four times the storage? What about the ASAP technology that minimizes the buffering downtime, the unique voice search using the remote control, or the fact that this thing plays games that get even better if one is willing to spring $39 for the Fire TV gaming controller accessory?
Fire TV is a great product. Amazon just needs some time to show consumers why they need it.
2. Is this Intuitive's masterstroke?
Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG ) hit a fresh 52-week high this week after releasing its latest robotic surgery device. The da Vinci Xi marks the fourth generation of Intuitive Surgical's platform that helps surgeons make more precise incisions across a growing number of procedures.
The new surgical tool's flexibility opens the door for a wider range of surgical procedures to be approved down the line, and this is the kind of boost that Intuitive Surgical investors have been clamoring for after a few quarters of sluggish growth.
3. Pandora adjusts its volume
Don't write off Pandora (NYSE: P ) just yet. A recent price increase and new competition in streaming music have led some to wonder if the music-discovery pioneer is peaking in popularity. Well, that certainly didn't happen last month. Pandora offered up some encouraging metrics for the month of March.
Pandora served up a record 1.7 billion hours of content, a 14% spike in listener hours over the past year. You have to go all the way back to November to find the last time that Pandora posted a stronger year-over-year uptick in usage. Pandora's 75.3 million active listeners were flat with February's tally, but its 9.1% share of the total U.S. radio market is a new record.
4. One giant step for MannKind
They say that it's always darkest before the dawn, and that applies to MannKind (NASDAQ: MNKD ) . Things didn't seem to be going too well for the biotech, which is trying to get its inhaled insulin on the market. The stock shed 18% of its value last week after an FDA staff review raised concerns about Afrezza's impact on lung function and other factors.
The negativity began to carry over into this week. MannKind shares slumped another 17% on Monday, but those who held on were treated to a 73% pop on Wednesday when the FDA advisory committee reviewing Afrezza voted overwhelmingly in favor of the treatment for patients with diabetes.
5. I'm going to Disney World
Disney (NYSE: DIS ) is finally rolling out access for all park guests to make advance ride reservations in Disney World. It's been testing its MyMagic+ and FastPass+ platforms for months with its resort guests, and it must have been frustrating for day guests to stand in long lines to use one of the confusing kiosks while hotel guests gobbled up the best reservation times weeks in advance.
This is a pretty big gamble for Disney. The high-tech upgrade is valued at a cool $1 billion. However, when it works, it does enhance the park experience in a way that regional and even rival theme parks can't at the moment. Disney's widening the tech gap in experience customization for the theme park industry.
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