The Hottest Tech Stories Investors Must Know from the Week

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to this week’s top tech industry business headlines:

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Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC): Current price $93.82

On Sunday, the number-two domestic cable company reported that intermittent technical problems have been preventing some customers from using its home-phone service. Spokesman Bobby Amirshahi said in an e-mail that over 800,000 customers were potentially affected, and that, “There’s a technical issue preventing a limited number of our home phone customers from placing or receiving calls on an intermittent basis. Our engineers are working on the problem to restore service as quickly as possible.”

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TWC

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT): Current Price $28.83

Gartner predicts that PCs will lose consumer market share during the next five years, while they are weakened by a skyrocketing tablet field that might add six new devices for every laptop or desktop the PC industry loses. Beyond that, the research firm expects over 270 million units to be shipped in 2013, marking a steep 20.4 percent decline from last year’s disappointing 341 million. These projections could herald a major realignment to the tech world’s hierarchy, with Microsoft particularly on track to lose ground.

If it is accurate, a supposed roadmap for Microsoft’s coming ‘Gemini’ wave of Office updates indicates that Microsoft’s Office for iOS and Android, as well as Outlook for Windows RT, could be farther away than many had expected. A source to Zdnet seems what appears to be a real road map for Gemini, which starts off with “Gemini wave 1.0,” which includes the “Blue” Metro-Style/Windows Store complements to the core set of Office products, namely, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Zdnet also says that these four apps will be more touch-centric and will work on Windows 8 and Windows RT, and will supplement, not replace, the desktop/Win32 versions of these apps that already exist. These applications will be available to customers by October, according to the purported road map.

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MSFT

Vodafone Group (NASDAQ:VOD): Current price $29.40

The Department of Telecommunications of India has directed Vodafone Group’s local division and Idea Cellular to cease third-generation services by Monday in a number of service areas that do not hold bandwidth, said Fox Business. The department also imposed a fine of $100.3 million on Vodafone India and 3 billion rupees on Idea Cellular, according to an official who wished to remain anonymous. Vodafone India will have to shut down its 3-gigabyte services in 11 service areas and Idea Cellular in 10.

In order to bring 4-gigabyte services to Australia, Vodafone has announced that it will finally introduce its own LTE in June. The majority of the network will center around Sydney and Perth, and the citizens of Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Newcastle, Wollongong, and the Gold Coast can expect “some coverage” for the present. The firm has not reported what it will do about charging for the new services, but current Vodafone customers with LTE-capable handsets, can expect that the devices will be activated alongside the national launch.

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VOD

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Facebook (NASDAQ:FB): Current price $27.40

CNNMoney reported that Facebook is permitting certain of its users in almost 40 countries access to a trial service that will charge them a fee for sending direct, personal messages to persons outside their network, meaning that if one been trying to get in touch with a favorite celebrity or a secret crush in the office who does not know his or her name, Facebook could be able to assist. The social media giant has been testing the pay-to-message concept for a while now the United States. The price for sending a direct Facebook message will vary due to several different factors, which include the popularity of the person one is attempting to contact and how many other messages are sent to them.

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FB

Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN): Current price $6.55

On Tuesday, Groupon announced the appointment of Sri Viswanath as its senior vice president of engineering and operation; in that capacity he will report to interim Chief Executive Eric Lefkofsky, who commented, “We are extremely excited to add someone of Sri’s reputation, talent and vision.”  Technology is at the center of our mission to surprise and delight consumers every day with unbeatable deals when they are out and about. Sri’s addition will help us further cement Groupon as a daily destination for consumers across the world.” Viswanath joins Groupon from VMWare (NYSE:VMW), where he served as vice president for research and development for mobile computing.

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL): Current price $429.80

Canaccord Genuity reports that Apple’s iPhone sales have surpassed some estimates in the fiscal second quarter in the midst of strong demand for older models, prompting the research firm to elevate its projection by 7.2 percent to 37 million units. Analyst Michael Walkley at Canaccord wrote that for the fiscal third quarter ending in June, Apple will likely sell 27 million iPhones, up from a prior projection of 25 million, and that the average price for the iPhone probably dropped to $601 in the second quarter, which ended in March, because more users than anticipated bought the reduced-cost iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 handsets. The iPhone is Apple’s number-one selling product, comprising over half of total revenue.

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG): Current price $789.96

Two years ago, Google announced that it would bring Google Fiber to Kansas City to demonstrate what is possible with super-fast Internet access, and since November homes there have been connecting with gigabit Internet 100 times faster than today’s average broadband performance. On Tuesday, Mayor Lee Leffingwell of Austin said that his city is becoming a Google Fiber city. The company said on its Google Fiber blog that “it’s a mecca for creativity and entrepreneurialism, with thriving artistic and tech communities, as well as the University of Texas and its new medical research hospital. We’re sure these folks will do amazing things with gigabit access, and we feel very privileged to have been welcomed to their community.”

On Wednesday afternoon Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, jointly reported plans to create an investment syndicate to provide seed money to start ups that are developing products around Google’s Glass and what it described as the “Glass ecosystem.” General partner at Andreessen Horowitz Marc Andreessen, described the “thesis” represented by Google Glass as truly transformational, and commented that ”instead of having a phone in your pocket or a tablet in your briefcase, why not have the Internet in your field of vision when you want it — and why not feed the Internet with live video and audio that matches what you see and hear at any time?”

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GOOG

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Synacor (NASDAQ:SYNC): Closing price $3.04

Synacor reported Wednesday the continued momentum of Cloud ID Social Login, which is a crucial offering of its Cloud Identity Management platform. Midcontinent is among the first service providers to offer their subscribers Social Login as a method to simultaneously authenticate for TV Everywhere content when logging in on Facebook, Twitter, or Google. Synacor is a supplier of next-gen startpages, TV Everywhere solutions and cloud-based Identity Management services across multiple devices for cable, satellite, telecom, and consumer electronics companies.

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SYNC

Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA): Closing price $3.41

Bloomberg reports that Zynga was sued by a shareholder following its executives being permitted to sell stock early for over $200 million, while sales by lower level employees and outsiders were disallowed. The former Zynga product manager Wendy Lee contended that after a December 16, 2011, initial public offering, most all shareholders, including all officers and directors, were blocked from selling shares for 165 days. However, that “lockup” was waived the following March for some executives, who sold in excess of 40 million shares in a secondary offering, according to Lee in a Delaware Chancery Court complaint made public Monday in Wilmington.

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Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) shares moved up sharply on Wednesday subsequent to the 86Research analyst Ming Zhao upgrading the stock from Hold to Buy, noting that the negatives are already embedded and any incremental positive data should boosts the shares. Beyond that, Zhao sees an upside of between 30 and 35 percent, and downside of only 10 percent from this point, saying that even in a bear case scenario, Baidu can earn $6 per share in 2014.

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BIDU

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BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY): Current price $13.63

Analyst Kulbinder Garcha at Credit Suisse reiterated an Underperform on the shares of BlackBerry and a $10 price target, writing that the firm’s 10-K filing implies lower gross margin on the recently released Z10 handset than the Street imagines, according to Barron’s. BlackBerry’s fiscal fourth quarter report featured lower-than-anticipated revenue but higher-than-expected profit per share, which some analysts credited to higher average selling prices for the Z10 and thus a higher gross margin. Garcia thinks that the improvement from third to fourth quarter in gross margin was partly a result of a lowering in amortization by BlackBerry thanks to a change in accounting.

Shares slid around 8 percent on Thursday, while analysts wondered if the handset maker’s turnaround plan would be successful in the brutally competitive smartphone market. The discounting of the Z10, its recent handset meant to rival the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Samsung’s (SSNLF) Galaxy line, has also raised eyebrow, according to one trader, said Reuters. BlackBerry debuted its latest handsets based on its much delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system in January, but they began selling in the United States only in March. Investors have not been convinced about the firm’s prospects of regaining its lost glory and regaining market share in the domestic market, leading the stock to shed a quarter of its value since hitting a 52-week high in January.

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AT&T (NYSE:T): Current price $38.60

Six additional AT&T markets now have access to its 4-gigabyte LTE network, bringing its aggregate to 182, said the carrier, according to CNET. At the same time, seven current AT&T markets have secured expanded LTE coverage. The firm also revealed plans to bring the super-fast wireless connection to 77 additional markets by the end of summer. AT&T is hurrying to catch up to the market leader Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), which offers LTE in almost 500 markets and intends to finalize up its deployment by the middle of this year.

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Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC): Closing price $21.68

Chip analyst Doug Freedman at RBC Capital reiterates his Sector Perform on Intel shares along with a $24 price target, as he studies the short list of candidates to replace Chief Executive Paul Otellini when he steps down in May, which is comprised mainly of names culled from media speculation. Freedman says that “Currently, the lack of CEO succession is a huge issue for our investment thesis,” calling it the firm’s “most important decision Intel has made since 300mm. We need to have a firm grasp on the direction the new CEO is targeting before we are able to offer conviction for large scale investment.”

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INTC

International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE:IBM): Closing price $211.38

On Thursday, IBM laid out its Flash storage plan, along with a $1 billion investment in research and development, and a series of systems that will utilize solid state drives. This step places the corporation in line to push Flash into the data centers. Developments, such as big data, are driving Flash storage mainstream in the enterprise since companies need to access so-called hot data, which is information that needs to be used in real time. Storage players Fusion-io (NYSE:FIO), EMC, NetApp, and others have also formulated Flash storage strategies.

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IBM

NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA): Closing price $13.09

The firm reported Thursday that it will return $1 billion in the current fiscal year to shareholders in the form of stock repurchases and dividend payments, including $100 million in stock being repurchased this quarter. The steps will bring to $1.2 billion the total capital returned to shareholders since NVIDIA announced its quarterly dividend program in November 2012. The corporation had previously disclosed the return of $200 million in capital to shareholders since November, including $100 million in shares repurchased in its fiscal fourth quarter ended January 27, 2013, and $100 million in dividends paid in the current and previous quarters.

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NVDA

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Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN): Current price $272.98

GeekWire reports that Amazon’s Quidsi division has unveiled Look.com, a new site created to sell children’s apparel and footwear. The move marks the most recent step by Quidsi into the arena of family and home-oriented oriented products, including Wag.com pet products, Casa.com home products, and Diapers.com baby products. Look.com is selling an range of 40,000 products, segmented by age and gender. The new site might have implications for another e-commerce provider, Zulily, which model differs from Look.com because it sells its merchandise via flash sales, one-time sales in which items are heavily discounted.

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United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX): Current price $95.61

On Thursday, United Technologies said that it has completed production to install F117 engine deliveries for the United States Air Force, representing over 20 years of “successfully powering the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.” UTC will now shift its energy to building only “spare F117 engines” to replace the ones that wear out on USAF’s Globemasters, and additional F117s to equip any Globemasters that The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), which builds the plane can to sell to customers overseas.

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Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA): Current price $17.58

The firm repositions itself to address the changing video game landscape; less than a month after Chief Executive John Riccitiello announced his resignation, Electronic Arts has confirmed a fresh round of layoffs to Gamasutra, while a close source said that they occurred on Thursday morning. The number of staff impacted was not confirmed by EA, but caused a rumble in the Montreal development community, especially when a separate Montreal-based source, citing direct contacts with EA Montreal developers, reported that between 200 and 250 people were sacked, and all in-development projects have been shut down.

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