From a fallen dot-com darling scoring a rare hat trick to a discount retailer discounting its headcount, here’s a rundown of the week’s smartest moves and biggest blunders in the business world.
CBS (CBS) — Winner
David Letterman is leaving his late-night talk show next year, and CBS allowed only a week to pass between that announcement and naming his replacement. Stephen Colbert will take over “The Late Show.”
It may seem like a gutsy call. Colbert’s satirical skewering of political conservatives is polarizing, even if his talk show persona is unlikely to embrace the character that made him a Comedy Central late-night star. It’s still an attention-grabbing announcement and one that should benefit CBS as well as its sister company and Comedy Central parent Viacom (VIA).
Time Warner (TWX) — Loser
“Game of Thrones” kicked off its highly anticipated fourth season on Time Warner’s (TWX) HBO on Sunday, but it wasn’t just the show’s power-hungry characters that were out for blood. Online users were incensed to find an outage on HBO Go preventing them from watching the premiere for several hours.
HBO Go has been a major component of the premium movie channel’s success in recent years, included at no additional cost with HBO subscriptions to justify the platform’s high cost relative to Netflix (NFLX) and other growing streaming video services. Subscribers expect reliability when they’re paying up for a premium service, and they just didn’t get it.
A big reason why this outage is making news — as HBO Go subscribers had to stay off social media to avoid spoilers — is because there was a similar disruption last month during HBO’s “True Detective.”
Yelp (YELP) — Winner
Yelp may not be very popular with its investors, nor with some irate merchants, but it got some love from Wall Street this week. Three analyst firms — Oppenheimer, SunTrust and CRT Capital — upgraded Yelp shares on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, respectively.
The bad news is that it’s not as if Yelp’s fundamentals improved dramatically this week. The upgrades were all based on valuation since the stock had shed 35 percent of its value in recent weeks as part of a broader selloff in tech stocks.
Family Dollar (FDO) — Loser
Even low prices aren’t enough to woo shoppers these days. Family Dollar posted a soft report for the holiday quarter with comparable store sales declining 3.6 percent for the period.
As a deep discounter, it feels as if the solution is to dive even deeper into its markdowns. It’s cutting prices on 1,000 basic items. In order to swing those lower prices, it’s going to have to cut costs, which it’s doing by closing 370 underperforming stores. It isn’t easy being cheap these days.
Amazon.com (AMZN) — Winner
The rich keep getting richer — and bigger — in the realm of online retail. Amazon.com is buying comiXology, the company behind the leading digital marketplace for comic books and graphic novels.
Terms of the deal weren’t announced on Thursday afternoon, but Amazon’s going to improve its already-potent digital offerings. Last summer, comiXology said it moved 8 million digital issues a month — which rivals the country’s entire print comic book market. Amazon will make this work. It has superhero powers.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Netflix and Yelp. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and Netflix. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.