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1. The SEC has charged a former rising star VC, accusing him of 'misappropriating millions of dollars' and barred him for 5 years01:42[−]

Michael Rothenberg

  • The SEC announced charges and a settlement with Michael Rothenberg, the founder of Rothenberg Ventures.
  • The SEC charged Rothenberg with overcharging investors to fund personal projects. Rothenberg did not admit or deny the allegations in the settlement.
  • Rothenberg will be barred from the brokerage and investment advisory business for five years.


Michael Rothenberg, the founder of a flashy San Francisco VC firm that imploded under a cloud of controversy in 2016, has settled charges with federal regulators alleging that he misappropriated millions of dollars from investors.

The SEC announced on Monday that it has charged Rothenberg with overcharging investors to fund personal projects, including a virtual reality company. The settlement includes barring Rothenberg from the brokerage and investment advisory business for five years, after which he will have a right to apply again.

Rothenberg "misappropriated millions of dollars" from the funds he raised from nearly 200 investors, including using an estimated $7 million of "excess fees" spent to support his personal business ventures and "to pay for private parties and events at high-end resorts and Bay Area sporting arenas," the SEC said in a press release.

Rothenberg was not immediately available for comment.

The 34-year old founder of Rothenberg Ventures did not admit or deny the SEC's allegations in the settlement, which must be approved by a federal district court. The amount of civil penalties that Rothenberg could be on the hook for will be decided by the court.

"It's refreshing to see a government agency function the way it's supposed to"

Rothenberg Ventures was a high-flying venture firm that publicly imploded in 2016. It was known for its over-the-top parties and spending — as well as its young, charismatic founder, Mike Rothenberg. Back in 2016, the company admitted to its investors that the Securities and Exchange Commission was looking into the company, according to an email obtained by Business Insider,

On top of that, multiple employees filed wage complaints against the company with the state of California, several people told Business Insider, and they also cooperated with the SEC investigation.

One of them who was involved in this process told us, "The SEC was extremely professional and easy to work with. It's refreshing to see a government agency function the way it's supposed to."

The firm, which had over $50 million under management, ran out of operating money, and all its employees except its lawyer were told they were put on "unpaid leave" a year ago, according to a lengthy account of the firm's troubles on Backchannel.

Business Insider talked to several former employees of the company who described their experiences with Rothenberg using words like "charming" and "convincing," "vengeful," "a messed-up human being," "megalomaniac," "master manipulator" and "lack of empathy."

EXCLUSIVE ON BI PRIME: 'The future will be won or lost on this technology. I'm very concerned': The founder of a $9 billion company warns that China is on track to dominate the US in AI

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2. Trump says there's 'no timeframe' for the end to the US-China trade war01:37[−]

trump xi jinping

  • President Donald Trump talked down expectations for the US-China trade talks that kick off on Wednesday in an interview with Reuters.
  • Trump also said there is "no timeframe" for an end to the trade war with China.
  • The second set of Trump's tariffs — this time on $16 billion worth of Chinese imports to the US — are set to go live on Friday. China is expected to respond with tariffs on an equal amount of US goods.

President Donald Trump downplayed expectations for this week's trade talks between US and Chinese officials during an interview Monday and didn't set a timetable for the end of the trade war with China.

During an interview with Reuters, Trump said he did not "anticipate much" would come of the trade talks.

Mid-level Chinese officials are set to come to Washington to meet with Treasury officials on Wednesday, marking the first formal talks between the two sides in around two months.

Additionally, Trump said there was "no timeframe" for an end to the trade war.

"I'm like them, I have a long horizon," he said.

In addition to imminent tariffs, Trump also threatened to slap another $200 billion worth of Chinese imports with a duty that would make over 50% of Chinese imports to the US subject to tariffs. Hearings about the proposed $200 billion set of goods kicked off Monday.

The tit-for-tat tariffs are already weighing on US businesses as companies struggle with higher prices for Chinese parts used in their products. Some small businesses have been forced into laying off workers while others are delaying major investments.

In all, economists say that Trump's trade battles could start to hold back US economic growth.

SEE ALSO: Trump blasts Fed interest rate hikes after reportedly complaining about Chairman Jerome Powell at a GOP fundraiser in the Hamptons

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3. An anonymous poll of Google insiders shows how divided employees are over China (GOOG, GOOGL)00:51[−]

China, Google, flag, I/O 2018

  • A social network that enables workers to communicate anonymously polled tech workers about whether Google should build a censored search engine in China.
  • Recent news indicates Google managers are reconsidering an ethical stance they took eight years ago when the company ceased operating a search engine in China because of government demands to censor information.
  • Of the more than 7,300 survey respondents, most of whom work in the tech industry, 64.3 percent said they don't think Google should provide a censored search engine.
  • But the nearly 500 Google employees who responded to the poll gave a surprising answer.

Google's effort to build a special search engine that conforms with the Chinese government's censorship rules has provoked an outcry inside and outside the company.

More than 1,400 Googler's signed an internal letter protesting the move.

But according to one small but interesting indicator, there may be a fair amount of support within the company for doing business in China.

Blind, the maker of a social networking app designed to give workers a way to communicate with each other anonymously, on Monday released the results of a poll asking users of the service whether Google should provide a censored search engine in China.

The app maker received more than 7,300 responses from users, most of them from the broader tech sector. 64.3 percent of them said they don't believe Google should build a China search engine.

But of the Google employees on Blind who took the survey, 64.2 percent of the Googlers said they believe the company should indeed build a search engine in China — exactly the opposite sentiment of their peers in the broader tech industry.

Of course, this is just a limited sample of Google responses, and it's impossible to say how representative it might be of Google's 89,000-employee workforce.

According to Blind, more than 7,500 anonymous Google workers are on its app. But of those, only 472 responded to the poll about China.

The "China Question" has been simmering at Google for a long time

There's no question that the China news has divided many employees of a company that long prided itself on its "Don't be Evil" motto.

Google ceased operating in China in 2010, saying then that it could not agree to censor information. Sergey Brin, one of Google's cofounders, had grown up in Soviet Russia and suggested China's censorship demands were a feature of "totalitarianism."

A recent letter that circulated within Google was critical of a censored search engine and called for the creation of an "ethics review structure," which would make ethical assessments of the company's projects and include rank-and-file employees, according to sources who spoke to Business Insider.

The letter was signed by more than 1,400 members of Google's staff, the sources said.

In its results, Blind pulled some of the explanations that respondents included.

"Look at the flip side," wrote someone with the handle QuadLovin, who claims to work in Google's marketing department. "You can effect change by engaging with China, in however limited ways, even if it means swallowing your pride. Unless you think Dell will say they will disable all laptops in countries run by dictators, warlords or owned by criminals. You cannot punish 1.4 billion people and take away their choices, even if it's an incremental improvement, if that means it can foster positive changes. Engagement is better than isolation."

Read more:

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4. Trump blasts Fed interest rate hikes after reportedly complaining about Chairman Jerome Powell at a GOP fundraiser in the HamptonsПн., 20 авг.[−]

donald trump jerome powell

  • President Donald Trump continued to criticize the Federal Reserve's recent monetary policy decision in an interview with Reuters on Monday.
  • The statement comes after a report that Trump complained about Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and the central bank's recent interest-rate hikes during a fundraiser in Southampton, New York, on Friday.
  • Trump was displeased with Powell's decision to raise interest rates, according to Bloomberg.
  • This would not be Trump's first criticism of Powell and the Fed. The president publicly questioned the interest-rate hikes in July.

President Donald Trump continued to blast the Federal Reserve's recent interest rate hikes in an interview Monday, days after complaining about Federal Reserve Chairman at a private GOP fundraiser.

Trump told Reuters that he was "not thrilled" by Powell's decision to raise interest rates and would continue to criticize the Fed if interest rate hikes continued.

Trump said that during the recent spat of trade fights central banks in other countries have helped to cushion the economic impact, but not in the US.

"We're negotiating very powerfully and strongly with other nations," Trump said. "We're going to win, but during this period of time I should be given some help by the Fed. The other countries are accommodated."

The Fed has been gradually raising interest rates since the end of 2015, with five hikes coming under Trump. While economic theory (in the simplest terms) says that rate hikes slow the pace of economic growth, interest rates today remain historically low, and measures of credit growth show that access to loans is still generally easy.

Additionally, Trump's tariffs on goods coming into the US are generally thought to be inflationary, driving up consumer prices. In the face of higher inflation the Fed typically increases interest rates.

The criticism comes after a private Republican fundraiser on Friday, during which Trump reportedly attacked Powell's interest-rate hikes.

According to Bloomberg, Trump complained that Powell — the president's own pick for the Fed's top job — was raising interest rates instead of delaying rate hikes and keeping monetary policy loose.

Trump was attending a private fundraiser with GOP donors at the Southampton, New York, home of Howard Lorber, the chairman of the iconic hot-dog company Nathan's Famous. The Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and the White House adviser Jared Kushner were also there, according to Bloomberg.

This isn't the first time Trump has taken exception to the Fed's gradual interest-rate hikes. In July, the president bashed the rate hikes during an interview with CNBC but also praised Powell as a good person. Trump followed up those comments with further complaints on Twitter.

The Federal Reserve operates independently of the government, as it is sometimes compelled to make interest-rate decisions that are meant to be good for the economy in the long run but that may be politically unpopular. Presidents have not commented on Federal Reserve policy in over twenty years after Bill Clinton decided to stay mum on the central bank's choices.

Presidential meddling in monetary policy has a troubling history, most notably President Richard Nixon's insistence that the Fed keep interest rates low ahead of the 1972 election. Economists said the pressure helped create the stagflationary economy of the 1970s.

During the previous episode of Fed criticism, the White House maintained that Trump respected the central bank's independence.

"Of course the president respects the independence of the Fed," the White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told Business Insider at the time. "As he said he considers the Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell a very good man and that he is not interfering with Fed policy decisions."

Despite Trump's expressed desire for lower interest rates, the president has so far appointed members of the Fed's Board of Governors that appear to be in line with Powell's thinking on the need for hikes. Typically, the greatest influence a president has over the Fed is the appointment of governors.

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5. The world's biggest marijuana stock soars to an all-time high (CGC)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

marijuana smoke smoking smoker weed pot


Canopy Growth Corporation, the world's largest publicly traded marijuana company, surged more than 11% on Monday to hit a record high of $37.53 a share.

The fresh high comes after Constellation Brands , the company behind Corona beer and Svedka vodka, said it would up its stake in the Canadian cannabis company by $4 billion. Constellation is Canopy's biggest investor.

Canopy Growth has been grinding higher ever since it began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in May, though its price is quite sensitive to regulatory issues. Shares took a hit last week when the Canadian province of Ontario said it would delay the launch of retail marijuana stores.

In its most recent earnings report, which coincided with the announcement of Constellation's investment, Canopy said it lost $0.11 per share on revenue of $25.9 million — both of which were worse than Wall Street had expected.

Shares of Canopy Growth gained 33% since their May initial public offering.

Business Insider interviewed Canopy's CEO, Bruce Linton, last month about his plans to operate anywhere the drug is legal, and about the new THC-infused products you can expect to see in the future.

Canopy Growth stock weed

SEE ALSO: The world's biggest marijuana stock is surging after a $4 billion investment from the maker of Corona

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6. Apple will reportedly release a new Mac Mini and a redesigned MacBook Air later this year (AAPL)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

Tim Cook new Macbook USB C USB-C

  • Apple will release a redesigned MacBook laptop and a new Mac Mini later this year, according to a recent report.
  • The new laptop, which could be a MacBook or MacBook Air, will reportedly feature a 13-inch higher-resolution Retina display with thinner bezels, or borders, around the screen.
  • The new Mac Mini will reportedly be a "professional-focused upgrade" with new processors and storage options.
  • Apple might announce its new Macs in October.

Apple isn't giving up on its affordable Mac offerings.

According to a new Bloomberg report, Apple plans to release a new MacBook Air and a "professional-focused upgrade to the Mac mini" later this year.

Fans of the Mac Mini have recently pointed out that it's been sorely neglected: It's been about four years since the last meaningful update. The $500 computer doesn't have a screen, but you can plug it into any computer monitor you have lying around the house, add a keyboard and mouse, and boom, you have an affordable Mac computer.

According to Bloomberg, the new model will have pro users in mind with "new storage and processor options," which means it will likely be more expensive than previous Mac Mini offerings.

But the new Mac everyone will likely be focusing on will be Apple's new laptop, which Bloomberg says will look similar to the MacBook Air, but with thinner bezels, or borders, around the display. It's unclear if this laptop will be a MacBook Air, or the spiritual successor to the 12-inch MacBook that Apple launched in 2015, which was perceived as a replacement to the MacBook Air.

With regards to the screen, Bloomberg says to expect a 13-inch "Retina" display with a "higher resolution ... that Apple uses on other products." This could mean Apple is using the same Super Retina Display on the new MacBook as it uses in the iPhone X, which features high brightness, a wide color gamut, and an extremely high contrast ratio for deeper blacks.

Bloomberg's sources did not say when to expect the new computers to launch, but in the years when Apple has announced new Mac computers in the fall months, it has typically chosen October — after the unveiling and launch of the new iPhones.

Mac users already have much to look forward to with macOS Mojave, the new software coming to Mac computers later this year. But this new hardware, which sounds like it's aimed towards students and consumers looking for an affordable computer, would be a cherry on top.

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7. Hollywood insiders explain why the box office has had an incredible rebound in 2018Пн., 20 авг.[−]

black panther poster

  • The 2018 box office is up 9% from last year, and the summer movie season is up over 11%.
  • This has happened thanks to sequels working and audiences flocking to diverse titles like "Black Panther" and "Crazy Rich Asians."


At the start of 2018, the forecast for the box office was not great.

Coming off a 2017 when Hollywood saw one of the worst summer movie seasons in history, and a year when movie attendance was at its lowest in 25 years, Wall Street braced everyone for an unremarkable 2018.

But so far the 2018 box office hasn't just turned out to be better than 2017; it's having one of its best in recent memory.

Not only are all the sequels hitting on the mark, or better than projected (remember when we were complaining there were too many sequels being made?), but there are also movies being released by the major studios that cater to diverse audiences, and those have turned out to be cash cows, too. Highlights include Disney's "Black Panther" at the beginning of the year and "Crazy Rich Asians" from Warner Bros. to close out the summer.

“Diversity and inclusion in film is paying off big,” comScore box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Business Insider. “'Black Panther' was important on so many levels: box office, culturally, how it resonated with audiences around the world. It set the tone in a lot of ways in how the year was going to be different, but much more exciting and financially more robust than anyone had imagined.”

Crazy Rich Asians

And things have only gotten better in the summer months, as the box office compared to last summer is up over 11%. Some observers believed the only way the box office could go was up because 2017’s summer was the worst in decades. But the number of movies that worked between the release of “Avengers: Infinity War” in late April to “Crazy Rich Asians” this past weekend was staggering.

So what was so different from this summer season compared to last? Could a MoviePass bump be the reason?

Since the movie-ticket subscription service changed to a $9.95-per-month model to see one movie a day, it has gained over 3 million subscribers. And its members used the service so much over this summer that MoviePass barely stayed in business by August.

“Credit MoviePass a little,” Jeff Bock, senior analyst for Exhibitor Relations, told Business Insider. “They have certainly helped create a bigger appetite for audiences.”

MoviePass boasted it was responsible for 6% of the domestic box-office take this year (which is currently up 9% compared to this time last year).

But not everyone is sold.

MoviePass

"I don't know, I feel like it still just comes down to the content," Dergarabedian said in reference to any MoviePass bump. "I don't see that as the driving force. It's more emotionally driven than financially driven. I think more important is what is the social-media chatter about a movie. I would lay any boom or bust more at the doorstep of social media than any other factor."

What everyone can agree on is that the 2018 box office has been fueled by the success of movie sequels this summer, which in past years have not done so well. But in 2018 it seems Hollywood concocted the perfect formula of franchises audiences wanted to see — “The Avengers,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Incredibles,” “Deadpool,” “Jurassic World” — and followed through by making good sequels.

“There were really no high-profile bombs this summer,” Bock said. “That’s a lot of credit for Hollywood, as audiences are more apt to sample another sequel if the hits keep coming. Negative reviews and media scrutiny can actually erode the entire box office when bombs are dropping left and right.”

But the hit sequels are not a surprise at the studios. Universal’s president of domestic theatrical distribution, Jim Orr, told Business Insider that last year’s stories about the death of the summer movie season were greatly exaggerated.

“This is not hindsight or Monday-morning quarterbacking. Last summer had a couple of titles move out of late summer and you had a couple of titles that underperformed and then all of a sudden people were writing about the death of the industry and that was just never going to be the case,” he said. “There was just too much good product to be slated for this year, and the year after, and the year after.”

jurassic world fallen kingdom

Though Disney is still ruling the box office this year with titles like “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Incredibles 2,” Universal always brings a more diverse slate to audiences and is in second place with releases like “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” the teen comedy surprise hit “Blockers,” and “Skyscraper,” which hasn’t done well domestically but has earned over $225 million internationally.

Orr believes the successful 2018 box office has proved that audiences don’t want just superhero movies. They want a variety of stories to choose from at the multiplex.

“We purposely have a very diversified approach to our slate,” he said. “We did exactly that in the summer of 2018, it's just the perfect example of trying to reach every audience and have something for everybody. Different genres available to the audience can pay off extraordinarily well.”

But will the Wall Street forecast come to fruition the rest of the year? Titles like “Venom,” “Aquaman,” and “Mary Poppins Returns” are the big moneymakers on paper. Yet they could bomb.

Venom Sony

This year there's no “Star Wars” end-of-the-year release to pick up any slack, and 2018 marks the first time since 2014 (the year before “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opened) that Disney is not releasing a movie from the beloved saga in December. It released “Solo: A Star Wars Story” in May.

“We’re not going to have a good September,” Dergarabedian said, adding that last year’s September did so well because of the record-breaking success of “It” from Warner Bros. There’s no major title like that slated for September.

“But there’s a lot still on the way,” he added. “The Oscar season films could break out, especially the ones that are topical. That’s the nature of the beast: It’s a cyclical business.”

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8. What you need to know on Wall Street todayПн., 20 авг.[−]

Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

The market is about to be redefined by one huge shift — and buying these 14 stocks could help you make a killing

The US dollar surprised everyone this year.

Most of Wall Street expected it to be weaker versus its global counterparts, but it has instead surged 7.4% since January, according to the Federal Reserve's trade-weighted measure.

A big part of that is the Fed's monetary tightening, which comes at a time when other global central banks are still employing far looser policies. And any chances for a reversal have been thwarted in recent months amid mounting trade tensions.

A strong dollar is problematic for multinational companies that rely heavily on exports. But by that same token, there's great value in knowing which companies fall into that category, in the event of a dollar reversal. If and when the greenback heads lower, the stocks of those firms could get a big boost.

That's where Goldman Sachs comes in. They maintain an index of companies who get a large percentage of their sales internationally.

The Winklevoss twins are teaming up with exchange rivals to take a page out of the stock market's playbook

Several crypto exchanges are teaming up to form a task force that could bring the crypto markets to the next level.

The Winklevoss brothers' Gemini and three other exchanges on Monday announced the creation of the Virtual Commodity Association Working Group, which could be a precursor to the formation of a self-regulatory organization for digital commodities like bitcoin and Ethereum.

The hope, market observers say, is that it could bring to fruition new industry standards for crypto and make large investors more comfortable with the nascent market.

The marijuana industry is gripped by a deal frenzy

The cannabis sector is booming.

Major Canadian marijuana cultivators, known as licensed producers, have pursued a flurry of deals as excitement around Canada's legal marijuana market ramps up.

Earlier this week, Constellation Brands, the beer-and-liquor giant behind Corona, poured close to $4 billion into Canopy Growth, the largest publicly traded licensed producer. In May, Aurora — another of Canada's large so-called LPs — bought a smaller rival, Medreleaf, in a $2.3 billion stock deal, just days after the company closed a $1 billion cash-and-stock acquisition of CanniMed Therapeutics. That's amid a wave of smaller mergers and acquisitions in the sector.

Though investors are excited about the prospects of cannabis legalization, the accounting giant PwC is flashing warning signs, saying the "deal mania" in the cannabis sector will create some winners — but many more losers.

In markets news

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9. A 'scary' development is taking place at Victoria's Secret (LB)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

victorias secret valentines


Victoria's Secret owner L Brands is breaking its brand image by selling cheap underwear.

Body By Victoria bras, the company's top bra franchise, is now offering a "buy 2 get 1 free" promotion. Its Pink branch, which targets younger women, is running even deeper promotions and just announced $3 panties for members this past weekend. In the eyes of Jefferies analyst Randal Konik, this is a "scary" development.

"Our panty price tracker for over a decade shows this is the lowest ever price point for panties across VS or PINK," Konik wrote in a note out to clients on Monday. "We believe it shows how desperate the company is to drive consumer traffic and also shows how soft demand for PINK has become."

Pricing power continues to erode as the brand extends more and more promos and yet the consumer still isn't responding. It's a major red flag considering Pink is a $3 billion business and accounted for all of Victoria's Secret's segment growth over the past 5 years, Konik added.

"Victoria's Secret brand is broken and PINK is now breaking," Konik reiterated in Monday's note.

Konik has $23 price target — about 30% below where shares are trading — and remains "underperform" on the retailer.

L Brands is set to announce its second-quarter results on Wednesday, with Wall Street expecting $0.35 a share on revenue of $2.96 billion.

Shares are down 45% this year.

L Brands

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10. Nvidia jumps after announcing its next generation of GeForce graphics cards (NVDA)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

Jensen Huang Nvidia

  • Nvidia launched a new lineup of graphics cards at an event in Germany on Monday.
  • The cards are the first time ray tracing is available to every day consumers. The tech creates cinematic renderings for video games.
  • Shares of Nvidia rose about 3% following the announcements.
  • Follow Nvidia's stock price in real-time here.

Nvidia rose nearly 3% on Monday, clawing their way back after a red open, after CEO Jensen Huang took the stage in Cologne, Germany at the company’s GeForce gaming convention to announce a new set of graphics cards.

"Turing opens up a new golden age of gaming, with realism only possible with ray tracing, which most people thought was still a decade away," Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA, said at the conference.

"The breakthrough is a hybrid rendering model that boosts today’s computer graphics with the addition of lightning-fast ray-tracing acceleration and AI. RTX is going to define a new look for computer graphics. Once you see an RTX game, you can’t go back."

The new lineup of video cards includes the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, 2080, and 2070. Some specs of the RTX were leaked over the weekend, and confirmed by the company on Monday. The flagship card will have 11 GB of memory with 4352 CUDA cores, a 20% jump from the previous generation.

Also included is support for real-time ray tracing, a technology that allows for more cinematic and realistic rendering for animation or video games, thanks to Nvidia's Turing architecture. It's the first time the tech has been made widely available to every day consumers.

Monday’s event in Germany comes just days after Nvidia’s second-quarter earnings report suggested the chipmaker is no longer counting on contributions from cryptocurrency mining to pad its bottom line.

"The crypto mining market is very different today than it was three years ago," Huang told analysts on the call, admitting that "it doesn't make much sense" for crypto-specific products to be sold into the mining market.

You can live-stream and watch a recording of the full event on Nvidia's twitch channel here.

nvidia stock price graphics card GPU

SEE ALSO: NVIDIA: Our crypto business is dead and it's never coming back (NVDA)

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11. Tesla whipsaws amid a price target cut and Saudi Arabia looking to invest in an electric competitor (TSLA)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

elon musk tesla spacex

  • Saudi Arabia has been in talks with the electric-car maker Lucid Motors, Reuters reported Monday.
  • JPMorgan cut its price target for Tesla to $195 from $305 on Monday, citing the fact that funding for a go-private deal had not been secured as CEO Elon Musk originally said.
  • Tesla shares sank more than 6% in early trading Monday but crawled back into the green shortly after open.
  • Follow Tesla's stock price in real-time here.

Shares of Tesla were down about 1.3% in trading Monday after fighting their way back from a 6% loss at the open that included brief moments in the green.

The losses come after a dramatic price target cut from JPMorgan to $195 per share and a Reuters report which said Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund was considering an investment in a rival electric-car maker, Lucid Motors.

News of the talks comes almost two full weeks after the Financial Times reported the kingdom's sovereign-wealth fund had bought a 3% to 5% stake in Tesla. That report was followed by a tweet from CEO Elon Musk suggesting that funding had been secured to take the electric-car maker private at $420 a share.

In response, Tesla shares skyrocketed to near record highs, hitting of $387.46 apiece, on August 7. But they slumped more than 20% from that level through Friday, and Monday's selling was poised to wipe away all of Tesla's post earnings gains. The sell-off has been a windfall for Tesla short-sellers, who have made more than $1.3 billion.

The big profits seen by the short-sellers come much to the chagrin of Musk, who told The New York Times in an interview published Friday that he was gearing up for "months of extreme torture" from those betting against his stock.

Also weighing on Tesla's stock price in early trading Monday was a price-target cut from JPMorgan. The bank's analyst Ryan Brinkman slashed his target by more than 35% to $195 a share, citing the fact that funding was not actually secured when Musk indicated it had been.

"The revelation the Saudi fund is subsequently asking Tesla for details of how the company would be taken private suggests to us that any deal is potentially far from even being formally proposed," Brinkman told clients in a note Monday, Bloomberg reported.

Wall Street now has an average target of $331 for Tesla, according to Bloomberg, 26% below Musk's $420 target for taking the company private.

Tesla stock price private

SEE ALSO: Wall Street analysts were blown away by the Tesla Model 3's 'next-gen, military-grade' tech — and say that's why the base model will never turn a profit

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12. Walmart's new feature has its e-commerce business growing faster than Amazon's (WMT)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

walmart employee produce

  • Walmart's Click & Collect feature has its e-commerce growing faster than Amazon's.
  • Click & Collect is driving loyalty and more visits to Walmart stores.
  • Walmart's comparable grocery sales, its largest category, grew impressively in the second quarter.
  • Watch Walmart's trade in real-time here.

Walmart's e-commerce business is growing faster than Amazon's thanks to a big boost from its Click & Collect feature, which allows customers to order online and pick up in store without delivery fee.

"C&C is clearly driving loyalty and greater frequency to Walmart stores," Simeon Gutman, Morgan Stanley's analyst wrote in a note sent out to clients on Monday.

"Walmart's Click & Collect service is now available in 1,800 stores, up 100% from a year ago. Based on our checks, a Supercenter can handle 90 pickups per day, with some capable of 120. The feedback from stores and customers has been consistently positive."

Walmart is also providing improvements on Click & Collect services based on customer's feedback such as helping loading grocery items into consumers' cars and adding lockers that will hold larger items like flat screen televisions.

By Gutman's calculation,Walmart's second-quarter Click & Collect growth was 20-22%, or about half of the 40% total e-commerce growth it saw. By comparison, Amazon’s global Gross Merchandise Volume growth was 19%.

Walmart's comparable grocery sales, its largest category, grew 4.5% in the quarter ended in June, compared with the grocery retail sales growth of 3.3%. Given that Walmart already had a 20% to 25% market share in grocery, this impressive share gain suggests that Walmart is growing sales in both stores and online, and is gaining new customers, Gutman said.

He warned, however, that Click & Collect could be a double edged sword as it's accretive to sales but dilutive to margin. And also, in the context of the investment narrative for Walmart, which is a burgeoning e-commerce business, chasing Amazon and sporting a multiple well in excess of its growth, 20% core sale growth could be viewed as disappointing.

Gutman has a $98 price target and "equal-weight" rating. Walmart shares are little changed this year.

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13. Tesla's website is down (TSLA)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

elon musk tesla spacex boring

Tesla's website was down for some users on Monday morning. Some users also reported that the company's app was also not working.

According to isitdownrightnow.com, the company's website server was not responding. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some users took to Twitter to complain about the outage.

SEE ALSO: JPMorgan walks back its enthusiasm for Tesla's go-private bid, says 'funding appears to not have been secured' (TSLA)

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14. JPMorgan walks back its enthusiasm for Tesla's go-private bid, says 'funding appears to not have been secured' (TSLA)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

elon musk spacex

  • JPMorgan has walked back some of its previous excitement about Tesla's bid to go private.
  • The bank cut its price target to $195 — 35% below its current level — after realizing no funding had actually been secured.
  • "Such process appears much less developed than we had earlier presumed," the bank told clients Monday.
  • Shares of Tesla sank to a three-month low, following the price cut, but have since reversed into positive territory.
  • Follow Tesla's stock price in real-time here.

JPMorgan has cut its price target for Tesla by 36% to $195 a share as questions continue to surround the electric-car maker's bid to go private.

"We are reverting to valuing Tesla shares on the basis of fundamentals alone, which entails a $113 reduction in our price target back to the $195 level where it stood prior to our August 8 note in which we newly weighted 50% in our valuation analysis a go private scenario for which funding was at that time said to have been secured to take the company private at $420 per share," analyst Ryan Brinkman wrote in a note to clients out Monday.

In a blog post six days after his "funding secured" tweet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained that the announcement came after a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund — which is reportedly in talks with a Tesla competitor, Lucid Motors. Those talks, according to Musk, left him feeling confident the kingdom would invest even more than its current 3% to 5% stake, helping him take the company private.

The disparities between Musk's tweet and his explanation have sparked at least one subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US's top stock regulator, a handful of class-action lawsuits from investors, and doubt among sell-side analysts.

"Tesla does appear to be exploring a going private transaction, but we now believe that such a process appears much less developed than we had earlier presumed," Brinkman wrote.

"Mr. Musk has announced the hiring of financial and legal advisors in support of exploring a going private transaction (this appears to have been done after the August 7 announcement), and has stated conversations with the Saudi fund continue and also that he is having discussions with a number of other investors."

Tesla’s board has formed a special, three-person committee to explore the proposal to leave public stock exchanges, while the firm has tapped Goldman Sachs for banking services on the transaction. Goldman’s research analyst David Tamberrino has since suspended coverage of Tesla.

"This to us suggests a going private transaction is clearly possible, which could potentially provide upside risk to the shares, but that such a process appears much less developed than we had earlier presumed," Brinkman said.

Tesla shares have plunged by more than 18% over the past week, hitting a three-month low, as the SEC’s investigation and a New York Times interview with Musk weighed on investors' minds.

Tesla

SEE ALSO: Wall Street analysts were blown away by the Tesla Model 3's 'next-gen, military-grade' tech — and say that's why the base model will never turn a profit

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15. Amazon is reportedly planning to take on TiVo with a device for recording live TV (TIVO, AMZN)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

jeff bezos amazon

  • Amazon is working on a device that records live TV, Bloomberg reports.
  • It's a move that would directly challenge TiVo, the company at the forefront of the DVR industry. Amazon's DVR would reportedly allow users to stream recorded TV to their smartphones, and would also have physical storage for playback from the device.

In a move that would directly challenge TiVo's hold on the DVR industry, Amazon is reportedly working on a device capable of recording live TV, Bloomberg reports.

The device, nicknamed "Frank" internally, is designed to work with existing Amazon Fire TV devices, and would include both physical storage and streaming capabilities for playback on smartphones, according to the report. The news comes from a person "familiar with the plans," Bloomberg said, and the DVR project has not been confirmed by Amazon, and could still change significantly.

DVR as a technology is certainly nothing new, but it's a sign that Amazon is continuing its efforts to spread throughout the modern household and grow its video streaming efforts.

Bloomberg reports TiVo's share fell 10 percent on Friday following the news of the rumored Amazon DVR.

The news comes from a person "familiar with the plans," Bloomberg said, and the DVR project has not been confirmed by Amazon.

Read the full Bloomberg report here.

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16. Pepsi is making a $3.2 billion bet on an unconventional sparkling-water brand as Americans ditch soda (PEP)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

Making SodaStream Selzter

  • PepsiCo is acquiring SodaStream for $3.2 billion, the company announced on Monday.
  • SodaStream is a company that sells machines that carbonate water, as well as syrups used to flavor the resulting beverages.
  • The deal comes at a time when Americans are moving away from drinking traditional, sugary sodas.

PepsiCo is making a $3.2 billion bet on sparkling water.

On Monday, the snack-and-beverage giant announced plans to purchase sparkling-water brand SodaStream for $3.2 billion. Unlike most beverage brands owned by PepsiCo, however, SodaStream sells machines that carbonate water as well as syrups that can be added to create different beverages, including flavored water, sodas, and energy drinks.

The deal marks yet another step in PepsiCo's journey to diversify its portfolio as it moves away from its identity as a soda giant. By 2016, less than 25% of PepsiCo's sales were from soda, thanks in large part to soon-to-be-former CEO Indra Nooyi's emphasis on more nutritious products.

One of the areas that PepsiCo has invested in is bottled water.

In late 2016, PepsiCo launched LIFEWTR, kicking off the debut of the premium brand with a commercial at the 2017 Super Bowl — an unprecedented launch for a bottled-water brand. Earlier in 2018, the beverage giant launched bubly, a sparkling-water brand that Credit Suisse estimates could exceed $100 million in retail sales in 2018.

bubly

The growing emphasis on bottled water is in line with what shoppers are demanding. Sales of Pepsi declined 4.5% by volume in the United States in 2017, according to Beverage Digest's annual report. Meanwhile, PepsiCo-owned water brand Aquafina increased 2.6% by volume.

SodaStream represents a different type of opportunity in the sparkling-water business, as the brand sells carbonating machines and related products instead of cans or bottles.

"SodaStream allows consumers to customize their own beverages to create not only flavors — but potentially sugar levels — to suit their needs, helping PepsiCo better meet consumer's needs for products which are not only healthier but do not compromise on taste," Melanie Felgate, a senior consumer insights analyst at data and analytics company GlobalData, said in a note on Monday.

"Furthermore as the environmental burden of plastic waste comes to the fore, the concept can also tackle this by reducing reliance on plastic bottles," Felgate continued. "This is likely to attract the 35% of consumers globally surveyed by GlobalData in Q3 2018 who claim they would buy more of specific types of products if they were 'packaged without any plastic at all.'"

SEE ALSO: Pepsi is buying SodaStream for $3.2 billion

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17. It looks like 'Y2K all over again' for stocks as evidence of an imminent crash continues to pile upПн., 20 авг.[−]

Year 2000 millennium Y2K New Year's Eve Times Square

  • Today's market is facing a growing number of alarming comparisons to the dot-com era.
  • The most recent observation, from Leuthold Group, relates to the jagged, uninspiring recovery by US stocks since their 11% correction earlier this year.
  • Other bearish parallels — specifically those relating to valuation — tie into arguments raised by the reputed market bear John Hussman, who sees a 67% stock-market drop brewing.

As stock-market valuations have swelled to within striking distance of all-time highs, many experts have been hesitant to compare the situation to the tech bubble.

Not Leuthold Group.

In fact, to those at the Minneapolis-based firm, the comparisons keep piling up.

Leuthold's latest observation comes from recent research, titled "Y2K All Over Again?" The report assesses the S&P 500's difficult and erratic recovery from its 11% correction suffered in February. It notes that the choppy, six-month rebound since then has eerily mirrored the five-month upswing that followed the equity meltdown of March-April 2000. ...

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SEE ALSO: The legendary investor who predicted the past 2 bubbles breaks down how the 9-year bull market will end

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18. The marijuana industry is gripped by a deal frenzy, and PwC says some of the biggest players are guilty of moving in 'too many directions at once'Пн., 20 авг.[−]

marijuana

  • Major Canadian marijuana cultivators, or LPs, are on a dealmaking binge.
  • All that excitement around the industry will create winners and losers, a new report from PwC predicts.
  • The winners, according to the accounting and consulting firm, will have "laser-focused" strategies looking at long-term growth.

The cannabis sector is booming.

Major Canadian marijuana cultivators, known as licensed producers, have pursued a flurry of deals as excitement around Canada's legal marijuana market ramps up.

Earlier this week, Constellation Brands, the beer-and-liquor giant behind Corona, poured close to $4 billion into Canopy Growth, the largest publicly traded licensed producer. In May, Aurora — another of Canada's large so-called LPs — bought a smaller rival, Medreleaf, in a $2.3 billion stock deal, just days after the company closed a $1 billion cash-and-stock acquisition of CanniMed Therapeutics. That's amid a wave of smaller mergers and acquisitions in the sector.

Though investors are excited about the prospects of cannabis legalization, the accounting giant PwC is flashing warning signs, saying the "deal mania" in the cannabis sector will create some winners — but many more losers.

The winners will be the firms that are "laser-focused" on long-term growth, PwC said in its recently published " Cannabis in Canada" series.

Flowering marijuana plants are pictured at the Canopy Growth Corporation facility in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, January 4, 2018.  Picture taken January 4, 2018.  REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Don't chase 'opportunistic events'

PwC said investor fervor had led LPs to "move in too many directions at once" by boosting the production of marijuana, investing in export markets with ambiguous regulation, and developing new consumer-focused brands for products in which there may not yet be a clear market.

For example, Canadian LPs are rushing to create products like edibles, beverages, and vaporizer oils, though most Canadian provinces have said those products won't be allowed until the middle of 2019 at the earliest.

"To succeed in this rapidly evolving industry, companies will need to grasp the realities of the marketplace and quickly enact a focused, disciplined plan of attack," PwC said.

Canadian LPs are all seeking to have the first-mover advantage when new export markets open up. But as governments around the world debate the merits of legal marijuana, it's likely that some LPs will find themselves ramping up production to meet a demand that doesn't yet exist — both in Canada and in export markets — causing prices to drop across the board as both Canadian provinces and other countries deliberate how to implement legalized marijuana.

"The risk here is that too many Canadian LPs are trying to become global corporations before they have established sustainable domestic businesses, opening the door to complications down the road," PwC said.

On top of that, investors are more closely scrutinizing the financials of publicly traded LPs as valuations soar. Once legalization begins in Canada, consumers will have a range of options, and will likely gravitate toward brands they trust.

"Investors will show little patience for companies that cannot differentiate themselves to win in a crowded market," PwC said.

To win the market, PwC said LPs should chart a plan to grow sustainability over three to five years, rather than targeting "opportunistic events" that could give the stock price a quick boost.

"Significant investment has been made in cannabis companies and in order to move away from aspiration and into reality, companies must now combine a coherent strategy built upon conscious, well-articulated decisions with flawless execution," PwC said.

SEE ALSO: Beer giants like Heineken and Constellation Brands are duking it out in the billion-dollar market for marijuana-infused drinks

DON'T MISS: A $2.3 billion merger has created the world’s largest marijuana company — and it’s a sign of a dealmaking boom in the sector

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19. One of the biggest Nintendo bulls on Wall Street says shares could soar 80% even if Switch sales are flatПн., 20 авг.[−]

Nintendo Switch (Japan sales)

  • One of Wall Street's most bullish Nintendo analysts raises his forecast for the video-game maker's stock price.
  • Jefferies analyst Atul Goyal believes operating profits of Nintendo could triple in three years.
  • Nintendo will launch mobile-game Dragalia Lost, Switch Online and 1P Switch games soon and gain China market share.
  • Watch Nintendo trade in real-time here.

Jefferies, one of the biggest Nintendo bulls on Wall Street, says shares of the Japanese game maker could soar 80% — even if Switch sales are flat.

"We like Nintendo as, we believe, it offers the best earnings growth at the cheapest valuations in the sector," Atul Goyal and his colleague Chengyao Zhang, analysts from Jefferies, said in a note sent out to clients on Monday.

Even with a conservative estimate for flat Switch sales, the duo says operating profits could triple in three years. "In 1Q, operating profits grew c. 90% year over year despite no major game launches and no hardware growth," they said. "We believe Switch hardware sales can grow c.10-12% year over year for the next 3-4 years."

They added: "We conservatively assume that hardware will not grow, yet growing installed base is set to ensure software sales growth and, hence, profit growth.We expect more bundled software this year and a price cut as well as new variants next year."

The Jefferies analysts also believe digital downloads, digital-in-game-spending, and digital subscriptions should see margin expansion as mobile-game Dragalia Lost, Switch Online, and 1P Switch games will soon be launched and enter the Chinese market.

Goyal and Zhang maintained a "buy" rating and raised their target price to ¥65,100 — 80% above where shares are currently trading.

In late July, Nintendo reported first-quarter sales of 168.2 billion yen and a net profit of 30.6 billion yen ($274.9 million), beating Wall Street expectations.

Nintendo shares were down 11% this year.

Nintendo

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20. Here's the latest hint that Apple will launch new Apple Watch models next month (AAPL)Пн., 20 авг.[−]

Apple Watch

  • Apple usually launches new Apple Watch models in September.
  • A regulatory filing from the Eurasian Economic Commission names six new model numbers.
  • Rumors suggest the new Apple Watch could have a larger screen, better battery life, and new health features.

A new government filing from the Eurasian Economic Commission suggests that Apple is preparing six new Apple Watch models for launch in the near future.

The filings are required for encrypted devices sold in several Eastern European countries, including Russia.

The filings, via MacRumors and Consomac, don't reveal many details aside from new model numbers: A1977, A1978, A1975, A1976, A2007, and A2008.

Rumors suggest that Apple is working on new Apple Watch models with larger screens, better health sensors, and longer battery life.

Apple has not changed the physical design of the Apple Watch since the device first went on sale in 2015. This seems likely to be the year in which Apple launches an updated design if the Apple Watch models end up having a larger screen as rumored.

Apple has revealed new iPhones in September every year since 2012. The past two years it has also launched new Apple Watch models at its annual event.

Apple observers are speculating that Apple will hold an iPhone launch event early in September, possibly September 12, though a date has not yet been publicly announced.

The Eurasian filings basically confirm that Apple is planning to launch new Apple Watch models next month. Similar filings from the same regulatory commission have surfaced in the weeks before new iPads and iPhones have launched.

SEE ALSO: You might be paying for iPhone app subscriptions you're not using — here's how to cancel them

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