Winners and Losers of the Week: iPhones and Elops and Kindles, Oh My!
Amazon.com (AMZN) -- Winner
The leading online retailer introduced the new generation of its Kindle Fire tablets this week. The Kindle Fire HDX offer several enhanced features, but the real winning move by Amazon is that it's lowering the price of the Kindle Fire HD to $139.
Amazon can afford to sell its tablets near cost, thanks to its ecosystem of digital books, music, movies, and games that allows it to cash in later. Pricing the perfectly acceptable 7-inch tablet at $139 -- well below last holiday season's price of $199 -- should make it one of the hottest purchases this shopping season.
Nokia (NOK) -- Loser
There has been some public rumbling about the $25 million bonus that Nokia's now departing CEO Stephen Elop will be receiving on the way out. Even though the Finnish cell phone pioneer saw its value crater under Elop's watch, his contract guarantees the big payout under terms of the sale of its handset business.
There's an uproar in Finland, even though Microsoft (MSFT) will actually be covering most of the bonus when it buys Nokia's devices and services unit, and Elop's services along with it. However, as a matter of corporate pride, Nokia has reportedly been pleading for Elop to accept a smaller bonus for his work in devaluing the company to the point where the best it could do was to slice off its juiciest segment and sell it to his former employer. (Yes, Elop was a Microsoft exec before becoming the first American to run Nokia.)
Things got hairy on Wednesday when Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported that Elop is insisting on the bonus because he's in the process of getting a divorce and he believes that his wife won't accept a reduction.
Apple (AAPL) -- Winner
Apple wowed the market by selling 9 million iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s devices during their first weekend on the market. That's not as amazing as it sounds. Apple sold 7 million iPhone 5 smartphones in the first weekend of availability last year in the countries that got the new iPhones a week ago today. Apple's figure also counts what we can assume were a few million cheaper iPhone 5c's, though those didn't exactly fly off the shelves.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%However, the real reason to call Apple a winner is because in the first five days iOS 7 was available, 200 million devices were upgraded to it. Just 100 million devices were upgraded to iOS 6 five days after it became available last year. Apple may not be perfect, but it must be doing something right if that many users are rushing to update their gadgetry to its next system.
J.C. Penney (JCP) -- Loser
The department store chain continues to struggle. Shares hit a new low on Thursday, and then Penney's made things worse by announcing that it would execute a secondary stock offering.
Selling at least 84 million new shares will provide J.C. Penney with some well-needed liquidity, but there's nothing worthy of praise when a company is printing new shares when the stock's at a 52-week low.
Target (TGT) -- Winner
Target is the latest player to throw its hat into the ring of digital video.
The cheap chic retailer is offering 30,000 movies and TV shows that can stream as rentals or be downloaded as purchases. Video services that offer individual titles haven't been as popular as Netflix's (NFLX) visual buffet, but you can't blame Target for trying.
In a clever move, Target is offering 10 free movies just for signing up and registering a credit card on the account. The freebies must be from a pool of 25 older movies including "Rudy" and "Mars Attacks," but getting viewers to set up the account for usage and charging will make it easier to win them over as paying customers in the future.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Apple, and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Apple, Microsoft, and Netflix. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.