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Weight Watchers stock to rally thanks to influencers

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J.P. Morgan added Weight Watchers to the firm’s list of “overweight” stocks, saying the weight loss company is poised for “outsized” growth as it looks to add more big-name celebrities through its partnership with Oprah Winfrey.

“Management stabilized the trajectory … by revamping its points program, significantly improving the mobile platform, and recruiting pivotal social media influencers,” J.P. Morgan analyst Christina Brathwaite wrote in a note.

“Winfrey is and will continue to be a key advertising partner [as the company expands] by broadening its social media influencer base,” Brathwaite said, adding that Weight Watchers this year signed record producer DJ Khaled, chef Eric Greenspan, comedian Kevin Smith and singer Hélène Ségara as influencers.

Shares of Weight Watchers rose more than 5 percent in early trading Tuesday. The stock was up 96 percent in the past year through Monday’s close at $86.90. J. P. Morgan’s price target of $105 a share is 21 percent higher than that closing price.

Partnering with Winfrey was one of “three key events” in 2015 that “helped stabilize sales” in 2016, Brathwaite wrote. Combined with the other two key events – overhauling its points program and the new WW mobile application – Weight Watchers is now heading steadily toward is annual revenue target of over $2 billion by 2020, according to Brathwaite.

Winfrey, who owns about 8 percent of Weight Watchers’ stock and is on the board of directors, signed a promotional deal that lasts until October 2020. Her role as a Weight Watchers spokeswoman is a critical asset “for the company given her marketing clout in the U.S.,” Brathwaite wrote.

J.P. Morgan said it believes the company benefits from “Winfrey’s wide network of influential senior leaders across companies in the U.S.”

The company reaches members as they follow the progress of celebrity endorsers who are going through weight loss and health improvement programs. It aims to increase engagement with specific demographics through the steady sharing of information on social media “rather than traditional weight loss ads” depicting before and after pictures, Brathwaite wrote.

It also has been trying to expand beyond a distinct customer demographic, as the average member is dominantly female, white and about 50 years old. Instead of marketing specifically toward men, Brathwaite wrote that J.P Morgan believes that Weight Watchers’ rebranding as “WW” showcases the company “as a lifestyle brand,” while the addition of male influencers like Khaled and Greenspan will also help increase male membership.



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Tech shares come roaring back, led by Netflix and Amazon

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Technology stocks moved sharply higher Friday, after a two-day slaughter saw the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index fall briefly into correction territory, down 10 percent from its recent highs.

Technology Select SPDR Fund, which tracks the S&P 500 technology sector, rose 3 percent in trading. Tech stocks were led by Netflix and Amazon, up 5.8 percent and 4 percent, respectively, while chipmakers AMD and Nvidia both rose more than 4 percent. Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet and Twitter shares were rose 2 percent or more.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 270 points in a rebound Friday.

Netflix and Microsoft were boosted by upgrades from Wall Street analysts who said the sell-off had gone far enough. Amazon was one of the stocks CNBC’s Jim Cramer said he was adding as part of his broader view that a market turnaround was due on Friday.

Tech stocks got clobbered during a sell-off across stock markets this week, amid concerns over rising interest rates, escalating trade tensions and tighter monetary policy. The past two days saw Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet all in correction territory after taking big hits this week.

On Thursday, the Nasdaq became the first major U.S. stock market benchmark to dip into a correction, falling as low as 7,274 in intraday trading — a drop over 10 percent from the most recent 52-week trading high of 8,133.30. A correction on Wall Street is defined as down more than 10 percent from its high.

Amazon is one of the top names to buy in this environment, according to Cramer. Although shares of Amazon trade at $1,776 a share, Cramer said he doesn’t know “when you buy Amazon other than when it’s down big and people are really scared.”



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Tencent Music to postpone its IPO until November due to global market selloff: WSJ, citing sources

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The logos of QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are seen on the screen of an iPhone on June 12, 2018 in Paris, France. QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are the three streaming Chinese music services owned by Tencent. 

Chesnot | Getty Images

The logos of QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are seen on the screen of an iPhone on June 12, 2018 in Paris, France. QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo are the three streaming Chinese music services owned by Tencent. 

Tencent Music Entertainment Group will postpone its highly anticipated initial public offering because of the recent sell-off, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday citing people familiar with the deal.

The Journal reported that the company met with its underwriters this week, but sources said Tencent Music ultimately decided to push its debut back amid concerns that the sell-off would affect its pricing.

Stocks fell sharply Thursday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing more than 500 points lower, bringing its two-day losses to more than 1,300 points. Investors dumped equities around the globe amid concerns about rapidly rising interest rates, a possible global economic slowdown and overly ambitious tech valuations. The Nasdaq on Thursday became the first major benchmark to fall into correction territory.

Sources told the Journal that Tencent Music was originally set to kick off its roadshow next week and begin trading the following week. The Journal reported that the division now plans to wait until November.

The music arm of Chinese tech giant Tencent owns the four largest music apps in China and counts industry competitor Spotify as a backer. According to a prospectus filed earlier this month, Tencent Music plans on raising as much as $1 billion in what could be the largest U.S. IPO by a Chinese company since Alibaba raised over $20 billion in 2014.

Parent company Tencent owns 58 percent of the music division, while recently public Spotify owns 9 percent of shares.

Tencent did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Read the full report in The Wall Street Journal.

— CNBC’s Sara Salinas, Fred Imbert and Michael Sheetz contributed to this report.



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Sears has been liquidating outside of bankruptcy for years 

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In this Nov. 17, 2004 file photo, Kmart chairman Edward Lampert listens during a news conference to announce the merger of Kmart and Sears in New York.

Gregory Bull | AP

In this Nov. 17, 2004 file photo, Kmart chairman Edward Lampert listens during a news conference to announce the merger of Kmart and Sears in New York.

When Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert merged Sears and Kmart in 2005, he believed that combining two fading giants would create a fortified competitor to stand up against new rivals like Walmart. But the deal was unable to stem the decline.

Over the past decade, Sears has had just one quarter of positive same-store sales. Unable to rely on the Sears’ business to pay the bills, Lampert instead sold or spun off many of its most valuable stores and brands. A thinning cash flow has left little money to reinvest in the company itself, letting it become more irrelevant as new competitors like Amazon rise.

In effect, Lampert liquidated Sears outside of a formal bankruptcy proceeding. But now, as Sears is staring down the real threat of bankruptcy, those moves may come back to haunt it.

Sears is asking lenders for money to support it in bankruptcy, but it has little to offer them by way of collateral or reassurance. That dearth makes it harder to avoid full-out liquidation, though not impossible, whether that comes before or after filing for protection, people familiar with the ongoing talks say.



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