AAPL - Apple Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real-time price. Currency in USD
+3.22 (+1.34%)
At close: 4:00PM EDT

244.11 +0.93 (0.38%)
After hours: 7:59PM EDT

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Previous close239.96
Bid244.00 x 800
Ask244.11 x 1200
Day's range241.22 - 243.22
52-week range142.00 - 243.22
Avg. volume28,327,658
Market cap1.099T
Beta (3Y monthly)1.10
PE ratio (TTM)20.65
EPS (TTM)11.78
Earnings date30 Oct 2019
Forward dividend & yield3.08 (1.28%)
Ex-dividend date2019-08-09
1y target est232.50
Trade prices are not sourced from all markets
  • Bloomberg

    Microsoft Sales, Profit Top Estimates on Cloud; Azure Slows

    (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp.’s sales and profit got a boost from demand for Azure cloud-computing programs and internet-based versions of Office productivity software, lifting results above analysts’ expectations.Profit in the first quarter, which ended Sept. 30, rose to $10.7 billion, or $1.38 a share, compared with the $1.24 per-share average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose 14% to $33.1 billion, the Redmond, Washington-based company said Wednesday in a statement, better than the $32.2 billion average prediction.Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella has spent the past five years building up Microsoft’s cloud business, which lets customers avoid having to buy and run their own hardware and applications. Revenue from Azure cloud services rose 59% in the recent period, slowing from a 64% gain in the previous period and 73% for the quarter before that. As that growth decelerates, the company is working to improve margins and rack up a steady stream of large deals for Azure, which competes with Amazon.com Inc.’s web-services division. Sales of the subscription-based Office 365 for corporate customers, Microsoft’s other major cloud business, jumped 25%.“They’ve made the migration from core enterprise software to this cloud focus,” said Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Co. “You look at cloud, at expanding margins, at the corporate move to Windows 10, and at least the PC market was better than expected in the quarter.”Microsoft shares were little changed in extended trading following the report, after closing at $137.24 in regular New York trading. The stock gained 3.8% in the quarter, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 1.2%.The company’s shares have jumped this year on optimism about the cloud business. The stock is also being helped by some investors’ belief that Microsoft is a safer bet as U.S. and European regulators sharpen their scrutiny of other large technology firms, including Google, Amazon and Facebook Inc. Microsoft’s market capitalization rose above $1 trillion briefly in April and returned to that level in June. Apple Inc. overtook Microsoft as the most valuable publicly traded U.S. company earlier this month.In the latest period, Microsoft said commercial cloud revenue rose 36% to $11.6 billion. Margins widened by 4 points to 66%, “driven by material improvement in Azure gross margin,” the company said in a slide deck posted on its website. Microsoft doesn’t break out Azure revenue separately or comment on whether that business is profitable.Commercial cloud profitability will continue to improve in the coming quarter and the current fiscal year, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said in an interview. Still, over time, as the lower-margin Azure becomes a larger piece of that business, “you will see more pressure on that number,” she said.The company will keep spending to construct data centers to keep up with strong customer interest in Azure, she said. “With the type of demand signal we have, we will continue to build.”Hood told analysts on a conference call that the company expects another strong quarter in the period that ends Dec. 31. Here are her forecasts:Intelligent Cloud sales, made up of Azure and server software, will be as much as $11.45 billion, Hood said, above the $11.2 billion estimate compiled by Bloomberg. Productivity unit sales, mainly Office software, will range from $11.3 billion to $11.5 billion, in line with estimates of $11.4 billion. Sales from More Personal Computing, including Windows, Surface and gaming revenue, will fall short of the $13.4 billion Bloomberg estimate and will range between $12.6 billion and $13 billion, Hood said.Keith Weiss, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, expects commercial cloud sales of $48 billion for the 12 months that end June 30, rising to $79 billion in fiscal 2022. He also expects continued improvement in margins as increasing use of Microsoft’s cloud data centers allows the company to run the services more efficiently.“They’re doing a good job with the move to the cloud,” Synovus’s Morgan said. “Of all the old smokestack tech companies -- you look at IBM, you look at Oracle -- of all those companies, Microsoft is the one that has done a really good job.”Sales of Windows to PC makers rose 9%. Surface revenue declined 4%, in part because the company introduced new models for the holiday season after the end of the first quarter. LinkedIn revenue grew 25% and gaming revenue fell 7%.Microsoft still gets more than 15% of its sales from Windows, and that business remains heavily dependent on the cycle of companies replacing PCs. In the September quarter, global shipments of personal computers increased 1.1%, Gartner said earlier this month, fueled by businesses upgrading to the latest Windows operating system. Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7, which was released in 2009, in January, meaning companies need to upgrade to Windows 10 if they want to continue to receive updates and service on their systems.The older software’s expiration is also helping boost sales of the company’s Microsoft 365 bundle, which includes Windows and Office cloud software such as Word, Excel and Teams, Microsoft’s rival to Slack Technologies Inc.’s product.(Updates with forecast in 10th paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected the day of the week in the second paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at dbass2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Ted Cruz: China is 'most significant' geopolitical threat to US
    Yahoo Finance

    Ted Cruz: China is 'most significant' geopolitical threat to US

    The Texas senator called out businesses 'desperate to make a buck' in China by forgoing fundamental values.

  • Does Netflix Have Two More Reasons to Worry?
    Market Realist

    Does Netflix Have Two More Reasons to Worry?

    The road for Netflix is getting rockier by the day. As it prepares for the imminent streaming wars, it's been caught off guard by a new development.

  • US-China Trade War: There’s No Miracle Deal
    Market Realist

    US-China Trade War: There’s No Miracle Deal

    A partial US-China trade deal has helped lift the market sentiment, but some of the more contentious issues between the two countries remain unresolved.

  • Adobe (ADBE) Gears Up to Launch Illustrator App for iPad

    Adobe (ADBE) Gears Up to Launch Illustrator App for iPad

    Adobe (ADBE) plans to launch an iPad version of Illustrator as the next major project after Photoshop.

  • S&P 500 and Dow Get Cold Feet Near Record Highs
    Market Realist

    S&P 500 and Dow Get Cold Feet Near Record Highs

    The S&P; 500 is just 1% away from its all-time high, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is 2% away from its all-time high.

  • Can Q3 Earnings Bring Back the Allure for FAANG ETFs?

    Can Q3 Earnings Bring Back the Allure for FAANG ETFs?

    Better-than-expected earnings releases could bring back the shine of the FAANG stocks.

  • Apple (AAPL) Expected to Beat Earnings Estimates: Should You Buy?

    Apple (AAPL) Expected to Beat Earnings Estimates: Should You Buy?

    Apple (AAPL) possesses the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.

  • Apple Gets Street-High Target at Morgan Stanley on TV+ Boost

    Apple Gets Street-High Target at Morgan Stanley on TV+ Boost

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc., which this week saw its shares touch a record high, just earned a new Street-high price target.Morgan Stanley raised its target to $289 a share from $247 a share, the highest among analysts tracked by Bloomberg and implying 20% upside from Tuesday’s closing price. The bank cited Apple’s upcoming TV+ release next month, contrasting with other brokers who have been less positive about the service.“The market view is that with the launch of TV+, Apple is entering a new, more capital intensive market with a low probability of generating a positive return,” analysts including Katy Huberty wrote in a note to clients. “We disagree, and see Apple TV+ boosting services revenue growth by two points in FY20, adding one point, on average, to Apple EPS in FY21 and beyond,” they wrote.Apple shares rose 1% to $242.45 at 9:30 a.m. New York time., setting a new intraday record.Morgan Stanley’s comments come after a report from Goldman Sachs last month, in which analyst Rod Hall cut his price target on concern that an aggressive pricing strategy for TV+ could trim earnings. Apple said the service won’t have a material impact.Apple recruited stars including Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey and Samuel L. Jackson for TV+ original productions and may spend as much as $2 billion by the end of fiscal 2020 if it rolls out two shows a month after launch, according to Morgan Stanley estimates. The service can become a $9 billion-dollar-a-year revenue business with 136 million paid subscribers by 2025, the bank said.Morgan Stanley’s price target hike was also driven by a forecast for better iPhone growth as replacement cycles peak and 5G drives device upgrades. Bullish expectations for the iPhone 11 from other analysts propelled the stock to record levels earlier this week. The previous Street-high target was $280, set Monday by Raymond James. The average price target among analysts surveyed by Bloomberg is $228, up $7 since the start of October. Bernstein also raised its target Wednesday, to $225 from $205.Apple became the most-shorted U.S. stock as of Sept. 20 as Tesla Inc. saw an increase in short covering, according to financial analytics firm S3 Partners. It’s largely a function of Apple’s growing size, as short interest is valued at $10.5 billion but accounts for just 1.1% of available shares, S3 said.(Adds shares in fourth paragraph, recent target hikes in seventh paragraph and short interest in eighth.)\--With assistance from James Cone, Catherine Larkin and Ryan Vlastelica.To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Easton in London at jeaston7@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Beth Mellor at bmellor@bloomberg.net, Jon MenonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Apple Pay Becomes Top In-Store Mobile Payment Service: EMarketer

    Apple Pay Becomes Top In-Store Mobile Payment Service: EMarketer

    (Bloomberg) -- Following fits and starts, Apple Pay has become the top mobile payment method at brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S., according to research firm EMarketer.Apple Inc.’s payment service will have 30.3 million users in the U.S. this year, compared with 25.2 million for the Starbucks payment app, EMarketer estimated.Starbucks Corp. had been the leader, with innovative features that spurred adoption of mobile rewards and order-ahead services. But the coffee chain also let customers connect their Apple Pay accounts to the Starbucks app -- a move that other retailers followed. That increased the use of Apple Pay, EMarketer analyst Yory Wurmser said.Upgraded retail point-of-sale systems have also made it easier to check out using Apple Pay by tapping iPhones on the pay terminals in stores.“I don’t think Starbucks has done anything wrong, they are still growing at a healthy clip,” Wurmser said. “The acceptance of Apple Pay has just gotten more wide spread.”In July, Apple said that Apple Pay was completing 1 billion transactions a month in 47 markets -- twice the volume from a year earlier. Adoption has been slower in the U.S., partly due to shoppers being used to swiping credit cards.To encourage the switch from plastic, the company has integrated Apple Pay with other services that consumers use regularly, such as Portland’s transit system.Total spending at brick-and-mortar retailers via mobile payments will approach $100 billion in the U.S. this year, and is on track to pass $220 billion by 2023, EMarketer estimated.“There’s growing acceptance of the idea of mobile payments, and the people who already use mobile payments are using them much more often,” Wurmser said. “The transaction volume is increasing much more quickly.”To contact the reporter on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Apple offers Japan Display more support with shorter payment periods: source

    Apple offers Japan Display more support with shorter payment periods: source

    Apple Inc will further help out Japan Display Inc by shortening payment periods, a source familiar with the matter said, as the panel supplier seeks to stabilize its finances. CEO Minoru Kikuoka, who took the helm in September, told reporters on Wednesday that concerns about an immediate cash shortfall had been allayed but did not mention Apple by name. The measures are separate from a deal worth at least 50 billion yen ($470 million) that Japan Display is seeking to clinch this month, having had to scramble after Chinese investment firm Harvest suddenly pulled out of a bailout plan.

  • Apple offers Japan Display more support with shorter payment periods - source

    Apple offers Japan Display more support with shorter payment periods - source

    Apple Inc will further help out Japan Display Inc by shortening payment periods, a source familiar with the matter said, as the panel supplier seeks to stabilise its finances. CEO Minoru Kikuoka, who took the helm in September, told reporters on Wednesday that concerns about an immediate cash shortfall had been allayed but did not mention Apple by name. The measures are separate from a deal worth at least 50 billion yen ($470 million) that Japan Display is seeking to clinch this month, having had to scramble after Chinese investment firm Harvest suddenly pulled out of a bailout plan.

  • Apple Watch Series 5 review: the king of smartwatches
    The Guardian

    Apple Watch Series 5 review: the king of smartwatches

    Always-on screen completes the package kicking competitors to the curb and becoming a top reason to buy an iPhone. When Apple launched its smartwatch in 2015 to a lukewarm reception, some critics claimed it would never take off like the iPod or iPhone. But sales of the Apple Watch quickly eclipsed every other smartwatch and with wearable technology sales soaring it is expected this year to outsell all of the Swiss watchmakers combined. The latest Apple Watch Series 5 iteration, though still pricey at £399 and up, looks likely to continue the firm’s domination of the smartwatch market and deservedly so. If you are unfamiliar with Apple’s smartwatches, they only work if you also have an Apple iPhone 6S or newer connecting to the smartphone via Bluetooth. It’s a genius link-up that ties buyers into the Apple ecosphere, while adding an important alternative revenue stream as people hold onto their phones. But that doesn’t take away from the extraordinary qualities of this watch. The Series 5 builds on last year’s larger-screen redesign of the Apple Watch, making one small but important change: the screen now stays on all the time. It’s a feature every other smartwatch has had for years and is important for actually telling the time, which is absolutely essential for something to have a permanent place on my wrist. Until now Apple Watch owners had to either tap the face or do an elaborate wrist rotation gesture to get the screen to light up – and it never worked when I really needed it to, such as when running for a train. Now you can see the time at a glance at any time or angle. The rest of the Apple Watch has always been top notch. Equipped with the right strap – if you haven’t tried the Sport Loop or one of its many clones you absolutely must – the Apple Watch is the most comfortable timepiece I’ve had the pleasure of strapping to my wrist, beating some of the very best the Swiss watchmakers have to offer. It’s neither heavy nor light, and hides the heart rate sensor in a curved lump on its belly comfortably sitting atop your wrist. It fits easily under shirt cuffs, which some larger smartwatches don’t. It’s water resistant to depths of 50m, which means you’ll likely never have to worry about it when you take a dip in the pool. The screen is bright and crisp, clearly visible in all circumstances. I’ve never been a massive fan of the rectangular shape, preferring my watches to be of the circular variety, but the Series 5 has won me round over the last month. Apple still leads the way on haptics – the little vibrations and taps the watch makes to let you know something has happened. I loved them with the original in 2015, and they’re still miles better than anything else on the market five generations later. Victim of its own success One thing you might not appreciate until you strap one to your wrist is that there are so many of them out there in the wild, all looking the same. I’m not one to conform to any particular fashion or club, so I often get that twinge of embarrassment you feel when you walk into a room and spot someone wearing the same shirt or dress. It’s made a little better with the Series 5 now you can have the screen on all the time and pick a slightly different face, but by putting one on you instantly become one of the Apple Watch people. Apple provides loads of watch faces, which are all infinitely tweakable in colour, with many having dial customisation. Then there’s a sizeable collection of widgets for things like timers, the weather, activity and others called “complications”. But I’ve found there’s always something not quite perfect about each face that I can’t change. I love the new Numerals Duo face, but I wish it could have the date on it too. I really like the Meridian analogue face too, but wish it had an option for numerals not just ticks. I also find the round analogue faces hard to read at a glance even on the 44mm Series 5 because they’re just bit too small. I’m being picky here, but that’s the thing about something you wear – if it’s not quite how you want it you’re going to notice it and be annoyed by it over and over. Apps and things Of course the Apple Watch does more than just tell the time. Notifications are a high point. A little tap on the wrist and you know something has happened. Most you can interact with in some way. All of Apple’s apps work well, of course, but so do third-party apps. The Nest and Ring apps show photos of events from cameras for instance. Messaging apps including Signal and WhatsApp can be marked as read or replied to straight from your wrist. You can dictate what you want to Siri, draw out letters one at a time or send canned responses or emojis. Most Apple Watch apps aren’t up to much, but one that bucks the trend is the Spotify app, which gives you full control of playback on your iPhone from your wrist, including volume control using the digital crown. But it can’t store music offline unlike the Apple Music app. Apple Pay and Siri Apple Pay on your wrist is great too. Double press the big side button to bring up the card and then just put it near the reader as you would a phone or contactless credit card. Siri is great when it works, but can be hamstrung by poor network conditions. “Hey, Siri” works fine, but activates fairly often when I don’t want it to, ditto for raising your wrist to speak to Siri. I deactivated both features and didn’t miss them. Setting timers, reminders, alarms and other bits via Siri work great, but things start to fall apart with more complex tasks or questions. It’s the same on an iPhone, more or less. There’s no Google Maps app on the Apple Watch, which is disappointing. Apple Maps is getting better, but it’s really not that great in the UK. Citymapper offers an Apple Watch app, which is certainly better for getting around London and other major cities. Health Apple has slowly turned its smartwatch into one of the best multipurpose fitness trackers available. You name it, the Apple Watch can track or record it, apart from one glaring omission: sleep. The workout app has modes to track a huge list of activities and sports, from your usual running, walking, hiking, cycling and swimming to yoga, tai chi, dance, football, badminton, hockey, table tennis and even fishing. The Apple Watch automatically looks out for some workouts too. I get a notification to track an outdoor walk twice a day on my commute, which I found annoying enough to turn the feature off. For running the Apple Watch is surprisingly good, tracking everything a mid-range dedicated Garmin running watch would, including performance stats such as VO2 Max. It’s got a long enough battery life with everything going to track a marathon, but I certainly feel it more as a lump on my wrist than my go-to Garmin Forerunner 235. There’s a dedicated Strava app for the Apple Watch if that’s your jam. Day-to-day health tracking is solid. The heart rate sensor measures your beats per minute throughout the day, logging it upwards of 12 times an hour or on-demand for you to view in the newly revitalised health app on your phone. But it can also notify you of abnormal heart rates, which are typically high when you’re not doing anything. You can also manually take an electrocardiogram (ECG) by placing your finger on the crown for 30 seconds or so. The apps shows you the waveform in real time and notifies you if your heart beat looks irregular. Other daily activity tracking takes the form of Apple’s activity rings: move in calories, exercise in minutes and stand in hours, complete with nags to stand up each hour if you haven’t already. Steps and distance are also recorded, along with flights of stairs climbed, and you get awards if you beat your goals. Exporting your activity is fairly restricted, but as all the data is stored in Apple Health you can connect to third-party apps. Included too are menstrual cycle tracking and fall detection. New for the Series 5 is the noise app, which monitors environmental noise and warns you if you’re in conditions that could damage your health. It also measures headphone volume on the iPhone, which may be just as useful for those listening to music too loudly. Battery life Battery life was the key worry for the Apple Watch with an always-on screen. Thankfully, I can report in day-to-day usage I was left with no less than 40% battery at the end of a day. It won’t manage two 7am till 11pm days, but it won’t fail you if you go for a run during the day or similar. An 18-minute, 4km run with GPS, heart rate monitoring, pace alerts and the screen always on consumed only 3% battery so marathons should be no bother. Observations The default app view is still the old honeycomb matrix of apps, which is hard to use, but can be switched to an easier and faster simple list with a hard press Taking calls on your wrist is novel and works amazingly well, but embarrassing when people stare at you in public (which is similar to attempting to talk to Siri) 4G is only useful if you happen to go out without your phone, so you can stay in touch seeing notifications, receiving messages and calls, or using maps if you’re lost Price The Apple Watch Series 5 comes in two sizes, various different materials and models with the option of 4G. The aluminium or Nike versions are available with or without 4G. The 40mm costs £399 or £499 with 4G. The 44mm costs £429 or £529 with 4G. All other Apple Watch versions support 4G. The stainless steel model costs £699 (40mm) or £749 (44mm), while the titanium Edition starts at £799, the ceramic Edition starts at £1,299 and the Hermes starts at £1,249. For comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 starts at £269, the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch starts at £279, the Huawei Watch GT 2 costs £200 and the Fitbit Versa 2 starts at £200. Verdict Since its second generation the Apple Watch has been the best smartwatch for the iPhone. But for the Series 5 that’s changed. It’s not just the best smartwatch for the iPhone. The Apple Watch is now a solid reason to buy an iPhone in the first place. The screen being on all the time that was the last piece in the Apple Watch puzzle. What started out as a bit of a let down in 2015 has since been refined, sped up and had meaningful features added to it that make it far more than the sum of its parts. After five generations Apple has finally nailed it, but that’s not to say the Series 5 is perfect. It would be great to have sleep tracking to close the circle on health tracking. It would be better if it lasted at least two days so you could go on a weekend away without bringing the charger. I wish there was a circular version too for variety, and it would be better for everyone if they didn’t all look the same like some sort of clone army. Strap one of these to your wrist and you become part of a tribe: the Apple Watch wearers. Then there’s the price. At £399 and up the Apple Watch Series 5 is in no way cheap. The Series 3 is still on sale from £199, but doesn’t do it for me with that mostly-off screen. With the competition mostly coming in at under £300 the Series 5 has Apple’s typical premium – but it’s a premium anyone considering an Apple Watch has already paid for their iPhone. Simply put, the Apple Watch Series 5 is the best smartwatch you can buy right now. You might just need to also buy an iPhone to get it. Pros: excellent haptics, always-on screen, ECG, great health tracking, great activity tracking, solid running watch, 50m water resistance, all-day battery life, offline music, loads of watch faces, quick-swap straps, comfortable, Apple Pay Cons: expensive, only works with an iPhone, no sleep tracking, too popular Other reviews iPhone 11 review: an iPhone XR with a better camera iPhone 11 Pro review: the best small phone available iPhone 11 Pro Max review: salvaged by epic battery life Sony WF-1000XM3 review: updated noise-cancelling earbuds sound great Libratone Track Air+ review: the noise-cancelling AirPods Apple won’t give you Bose Frames review: smart audio sunglasses are a blast Best true wireless earbuds 2019: AirPods, Samsung, Jabra, Beats and Anker compared and ranked

  • Hong Kong Police Already Have AI Tech That Can Recognize Faces

    Hong Kong Police Already Have AI Tech That Can Recognize Faces

    (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong law enforcement authorities have access to artificial intelligence software that can match faces from any video footage to police databases, but it’s unclear if it’s being used to quell months-long pro-democracy protests, according to people familiar with the matter.Police have been able to use the technology from Sydney-based iOmniscient for at least three years, and engineers from the company have trained dozens of officers on how to use it, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The software can scan footage including from closed-circuit television to automatically match faces and license plates to a police database and pick out suspects in a crowd.In addition to tracking criminals, iOminiscient’s artificial intelligence can be used for everything from finding lost children to managing traffic. In one training session that took place after the protests began in June, the people said, officers asked how to automatically identify license plate numbers using dashboard cameras.Questions over the use of facial recognition technology have loomed over the protests, stoking fears that Hong Kong is moving closer to a mainland-style surveillance state. Demonstrators have worn masks, destroyed CCTV cameras, torn down so-called smart lampposts and used umbrellas to hide acts of vandalism. Authorities in turn used an emergency law this month for the first time in more than half a century to ban face masks, a move that triggered increased violence.“Hong Kong people are afraid of being captured by the CCTV cameras,” said Bonnie Leung, a district councilor and a former leader of the Civil Human Rights Front, which has organized some of the biggest protests in the past few months. “Why are people still wearing face masks? Because of the police surveillance.”While Hong Kong’s government has disclosed some ways it uses facial recognition technology, Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s administration and the police haven’t publicly confirmed whether they are using it to monitor the protests. Patrick Nip, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, said in June that no government department had procured or developed automated facial recognition-CCTV systems or applied the technology in CCTV systems.Nip’s office referred all questions on facial recognition technology to the police, which didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.iOmniscient declined to comment on whether Hong Kong’s police use its facial recognition technology. The company said that its technology also has the capability to keep identities anonymous for such uses as crowd control. Its systems are used in more than 50 countries and only a small portion of overall revenue comes from Hong Kong, where business opportunities are relatively limited given privacy concerns and fewer cameras compared with other cities, according to the firm.Under Hong Kong’s privacy laws, which are more stringent than the mainland, members of the public must be informed if they’re subject to surveillance. If authorities are matching faces or names to identity markers, that would fall under the privacy ordinance, according to Stuart Hargreaves, a law professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong who researches surveillance and privacy issues. However, police can claim an exemption if the data is being used to detect or prevent crime.“Is the ‘facial recognition’ simply the police combing through video footage for ‘known individuals,’ or is there some kind of automated AI system at play?” Hargreaves said. “The truth is we simply do not know.”The world’s five most-watched cities are all in China, with the top city of Chongqing having about 168 cameras per 1,000 people, according to estimates by Comparitech. By comparison, Hong Kong’s 50,000 CCTVs are one-tenth the number in London and not enough to put it in the top 20 most-watched cities.Hong Kong authorities have tried to appease concerns by pointing out that there is no in-built facial recognition in recently installed smart lampposts or in CCTV cameras at China government offices. Still, the technology has been used in the city for more than a decade, including at the airport and Shenzhen border for immigration control.Next year a new electronic identity system is scheduled to come into effect in which as many as 100 public services will make use of biometric authentication, including facial recognition, eye scans, and finger and voice prints. A unit of Ping An Insurance Group Co., whose shareholders include the Shenzhen government, is responsible for the design, implementation and support of the core system, as well as facial recognition and imaging processing, according to a government statement in April.Some Chinese companies recently blacklisted by the U.S. over human rights concerns in the far west region of Xinjiang have their tech in Hong Kong. Face scan technology from AI startup Yitu Technology will be among the options that staff can choose to access the headquarters of the government’s electrical and mechanical services department, according to a June statement on the three-month trial project. Yitu didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. cameras with facial recognition capabilities are installed outside of buildings including the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, though the facial recognition function hasn’t been turned on, according to responses from government agencies to lawmaker Charles Mok. The department told him it sent footage from its cameras to police seven times since the protests began.“The whole thing is: do you trust the government with your data?” said Mok, who has been in the information technology industry for more than 20 years. “That’s the problem, if there’s a whole breakdown of trust.”A Hikvision spokesperson said its products are sold through third parties, so it cannot confirm camera locations or whether a specific function is turned on. The group opposes the U.S. sanctions and is working to address concerns, recently retaining former U.S. Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper to advise on human rights and compliance.On Hong Kong’s streets, riot police have sought to avoid the cameras even while arresting more than 2,000 protesters, including nearly 100 people for violating the mask ban. They’ve used flashlights to disrupt media coverage, and some officers removed ID numbers and donned masks to hide their identities for fear that they could become victims of personal attacks online, known as doxxing. Apple Inc. recently pulled a live mapping app used by protesters to track some police deployments including of water cannons.Hong Kong protesters have continued distributing masks at rallies, telling demonstrators to take one “if you aren’t feeling well” to take advantage of exemptions in the law.At least one Hong Kong company, TickTack Technology, pulled out of the smart lamppost program after protesters tore one down and found a Bluetooth Beacon the company used to signal its location to devices including smartphones. Demonstrators then doxxed some of the group’s founders.“We prefer to be low-profile till things cool down,” a TickTack spokesman said by email.Hong Kong’s Innovation and Technology Bureau said in a statement that it “deeply regrets” that a local enterprise was cowed into stopping the supply of its technology, calling it a “serious blow” to local innovation. The government has denied that the lampposts have facial recognition capabilities.Hong Kong’s colleges are also involved in facial recognition. Tang Xiaoou, a professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Information Engineering, is a founder of SenseTime, the world’s most valuable artificial intelligence startup.The developer of facial recognition was among eight Chinese companies blacklisted by the U.S. over Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has implemented a massive program of surveillance and re-education camps to monitor the local mostly Muslim population. The company said it sees its technology as a “global force for good” and is disappointed with the U.S. sanctions, and will work to address any concerns.Sensetime said its focus in the city is on education and it does not have any contracts with the Hong Kong government. The group published Hong Kong’s first textbook on artificial intelligence for secondary schools.Banks including HSBC Holdings Plc allow clients to open accounts with selfies under guidelines of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which is also considering allowing face scans for ATMs. Customs guidelines allow firms to use face scans for security.The current protests may dampen enthusiasm for greater use of facial recognition. As demonstrations have become more violent and intense over the weeks, the number of masks has grown -- including, more recently, those of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Guy Fawkes mask associated with the Anonymous movement.“The government is just trying to take away our rights,” Angus, a 22-year-old student wearing a surgical mask and black clothes, said on the day Lam announced the ban. “They’re just the tool of the Chinese government. We don’t want to be China.”(Updates with Hikvision comment.)To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Schmidt in Hong Kong at bschmidt16@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net, Adam Majendie, Chris KayFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Reuters - UK Focus

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  • Netflix Sells $2.2 Billion of Junk Bonds to Fund More Content

    Netflix Sells $2.2 Billion of Junk Bonds to Fund More Content

    (Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc. sold around $2.2 billion of bonds in the U.S. and Europe as it continues to bolster its original content in the face of expanding competition.Investors bought $1 billion of dollar-denominated bonds and 1.1 billion of euro bonds ($1.2 billion) from the TV streaming company, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Netflix had said Monday it would sell about $2 billion of debt with the proceeds being used for general corporate purposes, including content purchases and production as well as potential acquisitions, according to a statement.The dollar-denominated 10.5-year bonds, which can’t be bought back, will yield 4.875%, down from around 5.125%, according to a person with knowledge of the price talk. The euro notes, which have the same maturity, will pay 3.625%, after initially discussing around 3.875%, the person said, asking not to be identified as the details are private.Netflix issued debt after reporting earnings that beat analyst estimates and saw overseas growth that helped sooth investors’ concerns about a slowdown at home. The company burned through $551 million of cash in the third quarter and is “slowly” moving toward becoming free cash flow positive, Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said in a letter to shareholders last week. In the meantime, Netflix will continue to tap the high-yield market for its investment needs, he said.The Los Gatos, California-based company reiterated expectations to burn through $3.5 billion in cash this year as the war for content heats up. It’s been raising prices -- often at the expense of subscriber gains -- in some of its largest territories, trying to shift toward profitability as streaming service competition mounts from companies such as Walt Disney Co., AT&T Inc. and Apple Inc.Netflix has historically relied on the high-yield bond market to finance its growth, typically issuing debt following its first- and third-quarter earnings in April and October, respectively. Its debt load, including operating lease liabilities, has steadily grown to around $13.5 billion since first tapping the market in 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Netflix has become one of the largest issuers in the U.S. junk-bond market. Its dollar bonds may have a market value in the $10 billion to $10.5 billion area, placing Netflix as the 11th largest borrower in the benchmark Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate High Yield Bond Index, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.What Bloomberg Intelligence Says“Netflix may issue new junk bonds for several more years as proceeds from debt sales fuel not only free-cash-flow deficits, but also repayment of bond principal. While Netflix may not produce free cash flow until 2023, it must address a $500 million bond principal in 2021 and another $700 million in early 2022.”\--Stephen Flynn, corporate credit analystClick here to view the research reportThe company last borrowed $2.24 billion of junk bonds in April, and said that it would reduce its reliance on debt financing at the time. CEO Hastings walked back that language in a July letter to shareholders, saying Netflix planned to still use the high-yield market to fund content investments.Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and Wells Fargo & Co. managed the bond sale, the data show.\--With assistance from Rizal Tupaz, Laura Benitez and Gowri Gurumurthy.To contact the reporters on this story: Molly Smith in New York at msmith604@bloomberg.net;Elizabeth Rembert in New York at erembert@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Nikolaj Gammeltoft at ngammeltoft@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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