Netflix Soars, Gold Glitters, Data Plans Get Stingy, and Other Market News of the Week


This may have been a holiday-shortened trading week, but there were plenty of financial nuggets that kept stocks moving. Let's go over some of the items that shaped this abridged week in the markets.

Just Say "Si" to Streaming: Shares of Netflix (NFLX) hit an all-time high this week after the popular video service revealed ambitious expansion plans. Netflix will be rolling out a DVD-less service in 43 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean later this year.

Analysts figured that either Brazil or the United Kingdom would be Netflix's next streaming market after last year's successful foray into Canada, but nabbing an entire territory? That's a plot twist that even M. Night Shyamalan didn't see coming.

Can You Cap Me Now? Not Good: The days of unlimited data have come to an end at a Verizon Wireless store near you.

Wednesday was the last day for new customers to buy a Verizon smartphone with unmetered data. Verizon Wireless switched to selling only tiered pricing plans that are saddled with overage charges Thursday.

Verizon Wireless -- a joint venture between Verizon (VZ) and Vodafone (VOD) -- isn't breaking new ground here. AT&T (T) stopped offering unlimited data plans last year. Existing customers with unlimited data plans will be able to keep their mobile smorgasbords, even as they upgrade to new devices. The move should help keep data hogs close, but it's going to be a harder sell to woo new smartphone customers.

Be Positive: There will be no more public vein-tapping for Immucor (BLUD), as the maker of blood screening equipment agreed to be acquired for nearly $2 billion by a private-equity firm.

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TPG Capital's all-cash offer of $27 a share is a 30% premium to where Immucor's stock closed heading into the holiday weekend. The stock has been trading just below the $27 mark throughout the week, so investors don't seem to be banking on a bidding war or a need for TPG Capital to break the blood bank in order to up the ante.

Gold's Mettle: All that glitters isn't gold, but the yellow stuff certainly had a glittery week.

A rally in gold futures sent prices of the shiny metal skyward, as a better than $30 pop for an ounce of gold sent the benchmark past $1,500 on Tuesday. It was gold's biggest spurt in eight months. Nor was it a fluke: Gold tacked on another $12 and change on Wednesday before a flattish performance Thursday.

Now would probably be a good time for me to melt down my vinyl record collection. What's that? There's no gold in golden oldies? Oh well. You can't blame a record collector for trying.

Phoning It In: Trend tracker comScore put out fresh data on smartphone popularity this week, and it shows that once again, Google's (GOOG) Android OS and Apple's (AAPL) iPhone are gaining market share at the expense of everybody else.

ComScore compared the average market share for the leading smartphone operating systems during the three months ending in May to the previous three-month period.

February 2011

May 2011







Research In Motion









Source: comScore.

Apple's iOS and Android now combine for 64.7% of the market. It was just a 58.2% slice three months earlier. With two platforms now making up nearly two-thirds of the domestic market -- and the next three platforms all losing market share -- it's going to be hard for any company to stand up to Google or Apple.

More Than Meets the High: Transformers: Dark of the Moon was huge for Viacom's (VIA) Paramount over the holiday weekend, scoring this year's largest theatrical opening to date. However, the action flick was even bigger for IMAX (IMAX).

IMAX showings generated $23.1 million in ticket sales worldwide, setting a new global record for the super-sized exhibitor platform.

The movie isn't generating rave reviews from the media. A mere 37% of the film critics tracked by Rotten Tomatoes liked the big-budget movie. However, popcorn-munching audiences always have the last word -- especially if they happen to be sitting in front of me.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares in Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple.

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