Week's Winners and Losers: Twitter Shops, KLM Flops
Twitter (TWTR) -- Winner
The social media giant has a new way to monetize its booming traffic. Reports surfaced earlier this week of Twitter testing out "Buy Now" buttons that merchants can incorporate in tweets to help facilitate e-commerce. The graphical buttons weren't active when they were spotted, but it should give Twitter another way to cash in on its users beyond wedging sponsored tweets into feeds.
Some companies have wondered if there is any need to pay social media companies for exposure when they can do it themselves, but the "Buy Now" button is something that's far more seamless at a time when folks are hesitant to click on any shortened link.
Twitter stock has been trading closer to its low than its high since going public last year. This should help turn things around.
KLM -- Loser
The World Cup often brings out the best in us, but it also sometimes brings out the worst. The social media folks at Netherlands' Royal Dutch Airlines -- or KLM for short -- got carried away when their team defeated Mexico on a late questionable call.
KLM took to Twitter, posting "Adios Amigos! #NEDMEX" along with a photo featuring a Departures sign with a caricature of a mustachioed man wearing a sombrero. The airline deleted the tweet once the outrage at the racially insensitive gloat began percolating, but nothing every truly dies in cyberspace. The tweet is out there for all to see. And seethe.
Netflix (NFLX) -- Winner
Shares of Netflix hit an all-time high this week, fueled initially by an analyst upgrade. Goldman Sachs is boosting its rating -- from Neutral to Buy -- with a $560 price target that suggests more gains are on the way.
Goldman Sachs based its bullish thesis largely on Netflix's expansion overseas. Netflix is pushing deeper into Europe this year, and more markets are on the way. Netflix is currently operating at a loss internationally, but that should change as it scales its operations.
Facebook (FB) -- Loser
With more than 1.2 billion users, Facebook is the ultimate fishbowl. Now it seems as if users are being observed more than your garden variety goldfish.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Facebook may have gone too far as the basis of a study recently published in an academic journal that looks at how users react to positive or negative items in their News Feed. University researchers and a Facebook data scientist manipulated the news feed of a 689,003 users to give it a positive or a negative spin. They then analyzed if it would make them happy or sad based on their own status updates.
The study itself took place in a single week more than two years ago, and the article itself was published several weeks ago. However, the Internet got a hold of it this past weekend, and it's been the firestorm that one might expect. The terms of service that folks sign off on to use Facebook includes the disclaimer that the leading social networking site may conduct research for internal operations, but this seems to stretch that freedom. The news feed that users rely on was curated to toy with their emotions. Individual reactions were tracked, and even though none of the findings are reportedly tied to individuals it's creepy to say the least.
Kroger (KR) -- Winner
The grocery giant is getting some online retailing skin on the cheap. Kroger announced that it's paying $280 million to acquire Vitacost.com (VITC), a growing yet profitless Web-based retailer of vitamins and beauty products.
Despite the red ink, Vitacost's revenue is expected to grow 11 percent to $426 million this year. Kroger should be able to expand the Internet retailer's reach, pushing it closer to profitability.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook, Netflix and Twitter. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and Netflix. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.