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. Sirius opportunity
Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) knows that there are plenty of radio buffs that it could be reaching, and it wants to give them a taste.
The satellite radio giant is activating all of its dormant receivers for two weeks. The preview of the company's 60 commercial-free music stations as well as its news, talk, sports, and entertainment channels began on Wednesday.
It's a smart move.
A little more than half of drivers who take advantage of the free trials offered after buying new and now used cars don't stick around as paying customers, and this is a way to reach out to them. There are tens of millions of cars out there with inactive receivers. It doesn't cost Sirius XM anything to make the service temporarily available, and the end result is incremental.
Sirius XM has had these previews before, though two weeks is a bit longer than usual. The media giant is also going out of its way to encourage subscribers to tell their family and friends about the trial to raise awareness.
Qihoo 360 is telling investors this week that Baidu is using a plug-in that warns users of Qihoo 360's Internet browser that's incompatible with China's leading search engine.
It's not the first time that a Chinese juggernaut and Qihoo 360 have battled this way, but it was Qihoo 360 on the offensive that time. Qihoo 360 tried to trip up Tencent when it rolled out QQ Doctor three years ago -- gaining 40% of the security software market overnight -- by having its own 360 Safeguard software flag it as malicious.
Is Baidu giving Qihoo 360 a taste of its own medicine? If so, Baidu's picking a good time to go after a company whose new search engine has been giving it fits. Qihoo 360's CFO is claiming that its apps were "abruptly removed" from the iconic App Store last week. Qihoo 360 has also been recently called in to the Beijing Industrial and Commercial Administration Bureau to discuss potential anti-competitive practices.
3. Deny my friend request, but not by swipe
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is introducing gift cards that can be used through its Facebook Gifts platform.
This isn't the same as the social gaming credits that have been available for purchase for some time. The new plastic will be specifically tied to the Facebook Gifts platform that the leading social networking website introduced just before last year's holiday shopping season.
The draw here is that it will generate offline buzz for the online platform and its merchants.
Facebook has more than a billion active users, so opting for a Facebook Gifts card may make as much sense as iTunes gift cards when someone is unsure of what to get somebody on a special occasion.
4. Apple takes the high road
There's been plenty of chatter about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) having to introduce cheaper products, especially in overseas markets where the iPhone is considerably more expensive than comparable Android devices given the lack of wireless carrier subsidies.
However, it was still a pleasant surprise for Apple to remind the market that it can also go the other way.
The world's most valuable tech company introduced a more expensive iPad this week. The new tablet expands its latest generation of iPads with Retina Display to four products. The new iPad offers 128 gigabytes of storage, and the $799 price tag is $100 more than the priciest tablet that has just half of the flash storage capacity.
Apple has come under fire as it plays small. The average revenue per iPad has fallen from $568 to $467 over the past year, primarily as a result of the new $329 iPad Mini. The bigger concern for investors is that Apple's overall gross margins have contracted from 44.7% to 38.6% in that time.
The new iPad will help bump up average selling prices, and it should have a favorable impact on gross margins, too, if storage-hungry tablet users gobble it up.
5. Amazon grace
Investors are cynics, so when a company falls short on the top line, you can usually expect a bloodbath.
Well, Amazon.com did clock in a little light in revenue in its holiday quarter, but the shares still rallied because operating margins expanded.
Let's call this the anti-Apple. A week earlier we saw Apple take a hit after its gross margins contracted, but now we're seeing Amazon rewarded for its margin improvement.
Amazon still has a long way to go, but the report validates the company's strategy of making big bets on hardware in the hopes of making it back as those buyers feast on its ecosystem.