Winners and Losers: Google's Chromecast is a Hit; Hasbro Looks Like a Has-Been
Google (GOOG) -- Winner
The world's leading search engine may be finally winning the battle for the living room. Years after its Google TV initiative proved too costly and woefully incomplete, Google is back with Chromecast. The $35 device turns even the dumbest of modern televisions into a smart TV.
The tiny Chromecast plugs into the back of a TV, establishing a wireless connection that can stream almost anything playing on a supported smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Even webpages can pop up on the big screen. At a time when most streaming devices cost more than twice as much, it isn't a surprise to see Chromecast selling briskly this week. How briskly? Apparently, so fast that Google had to end its offer to give buyers three months of free Netflix (NFLX) service with the devices -- after just one day. That's a $24 bonus with your $35 gadget; you do the math.
Hasbro (HAS) -- Loser
Toy makers stumbled last week, and Hasbro didn't make things any better this week when it announced its quarterly results. Among the news: Its segment covering toys for boys suffered a 35 percent drop.
Hasbro isn't taking this lying down. It also announced an aggreement to expand a deal for Marvel and Lucasfilm licensed properties on Monday. However, for now we have another toy maker coming up short, a clear sign the new generation of children may not be as enamored of traditional playthings.
Jamba (JMBA) -- Winner
Jamba Juice has tried countless promotions over the years, but it will introduce a new customer loyalty program during the first quarter of next year that holds a lot of promise. My Fruitful Rewards will track the shopping habits of individual customers, offering up personalized treats along the way. It certainly beats the recent promotion, in which folks needed to collect stamps to get a free smoothie. Everybody wins. Customers get rewarded with free menu items and access to new promotional items. Jamba gets to know its individual customers a lot better.
3-D Printing -- Losers
3-D printing has been a popular growth industry since last year. Shares of 3D Systems (DDD) and Stratasys (SSYS) more than doubled last year, and a couple of related IPOs have done exceptionally well this year.
3-D printing isn't perfect. The printers are slow and expensive. However, at least the industry didn't have any perceived medical risks beyond inciting laughter at some of the things that can be crafted with one of these high-tech machines. Yes, this is just one study, but perception is everything on Wall Street.
Facebook (FB) -- Winner
Shares of Facebook hit fresh 52-week highs this week after posting blowout quarterly results. Mobile ads now make up 41 percent of the social networking website operator's revenue. Remember when skeptics were arguing that Facebook couldn't make money on smaller screens? Well, Facebook has rolled out new ad products that are turning smartphone from a challenge into an opportunity. The stock soared nearly 30 percent on Thursday alone after the strong report.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Jamba. The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems, Facebook, Google, Hasbro, and Stratasys. The Motley Fool owns shares of 3D Systems, Facebook, Google, Hasbro, and Stratasys and has the following options: short January 2014 $36 calls on 3D Systems and short January 2014 $20 puts on 3D Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.