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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Intel, Microsoft, Alibaba, Amazon and Advanced Micro Devices

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – January 11, 2018 – announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Intel (INTC - Free Report) , Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) , Alibaba (BABA - Free Report) , Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD - Free Report) .

Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Tech Stock Roundup: Intel, Microsoft and More

Intel’s chip flaws, Microsoft’s Avere purchase and the U.S. blocking MoneyGram’s sale to Alibaba’s Ant Financial were the top stories from last week. Here are the details- 

Intel Chip Flaw

Media reports from last week shed light on a number of security issues with chips that put most smartphones, laptops, PCs, servers and other computing devices at risk. The two bugs/flaws could allow programs to steal data including passwords stored in a password manager or browser, personal photos, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents.

The first one, called Meltdown, affects only Intel processors and Intel is already providing software and firmware updates for 90% of devices that could slow down your machine somewhat, but would be mostly imperceptible for most users, according to the company. For tasks that aggregate data (like databases) or jobs that involve moving repeatedly between the storage and the processor, the patch can slow down the process by up to 30%. In addition to Intel, cloud vendors such as Amazon have already issued patches for this one.

The second one, called Spectre, is much harder to fix and affects Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and ARM-powered devices, so practically every single machine.

There appears to be some dispute about whether AMD chips are susceptible to the vulnerabilities or not. Of the three ways a system could be attacked, AMD says its CPU microarchitecture leaves it fully immune to the first, yields "a near zero risk" to another and while being vulnerable to the third method, software/OS updates that have "negligible performance impact" should fix the issue. A Google blog post stated the vulnerabilities "affect many CPUs, including those from AMD, ARM and Intel."

Investors are, however, punishing Intel shares while boosting AMD, so they probably expect AMD to pick up some of the data center share it’s been targeting for so long. NVIDIA shares also rose possibly for similar reasons, although Intel’s CPUs don’t do exactly the same job as its GPUs.

Microsoft Buys Avere

Avere Systems, the network file systems (NFS) and server message block (SMB) file storage provider for Windows and Linux clients running in the cloud, hybrid and on-premises environments with customers like Sony Pictures Imageworks, the Library of Congress, John Hopkins University and Teradyne, has been acquired by Microsoft.

Avere’s file system and caching technologies speed access to compute and storage resources in hybrid environments, which could therefore help the number two provider of cloud services in its battle with market leader Amazon AWS and number three, Google Cloud. Microsoft has said that Avere technology will help it run "the largest, most complex high-performance workloads" in Azure.

The purchase price isn’t known yet, but the company has raised $97 million from Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Tenaya Capital, Western Digital Technologies and Google over the years. In fact, one advantage that Microsoft is likely looking for is Google’s removal from the scene so it is unable to influence the company or integrate it into its cloud. Instead, Avere CEO and President Ron Bianchini has said that Avere’s technology will be tightly integrated into Azure.

Alibaba’s Ant Financial Can’t Buy Moneygram

The U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has blocked money transfer company Moneygram’s sale to Alibaba’s sister company Ant Financial. The rationale for the deal is obvious: Moneygram has approximately 350,000 remittance locations in more than 200 countries that would have helped Ant’s Alipay make inroads into several international markets including the U.S.

But the U.S. government has taken a hard stand on trade relations with China and in this case, cited uncertainty about the security of private information of U.S. citizens to block the deal. Moneygram and Ant Financial have therefore agreed to work collaboratively in remittance and digital payments based on separate commercial agreements in key international markets such as China, India, the Philippines, other Asian markets, as well as the U.S.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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