Tuning in to the International Consumer Electronics Show This Week

Chris Versace

Chris Versace is a financial columnist and equity analyst with more than 20 years of experience in the investment industry.

Last Friday’s edition of USA Today ran a very interesting article for those of us investors who utilize PowerTrends to identify well-positioned companies to invest in for the weeks, months and years ahead. More specifically, I’m talking about the feature on the home of the future that mixes intelligent devices, ongoing breakthroughs in robotics, cloud computing and other whiz-bang technology that could usher in a new phase in wired home living. While some of this may sound a little farfetched, on the eve of the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we have to remember that a number of home-related innovations already are in the market place.

Both Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) have unveiled solutions designed to manage either homes or a variety of gadgets inside the home. More specifically, Microsoft’s HomeOS intends to stitch together set-top boxes, game consoles, wireless routers, home-automation devices, tablets, smartphones and security cameras so data and files can be shared and synced in a secure setting. By comparison, Google’s Android@Home service looks to manage electric devices in the home, such as thermostats and lights, from an Android-powered smartphone or device.

While that situation may sound a little out there, already in the market place is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which lets you use your smartphone to change the temperature — even if you’re not home. With roughly 821 million smart devices — smartphones and tablets — estimated to have been sold last year and 1.2 billion expected to be sold in 2013, according to Gartner, odds are there will be more than a few apps to help control various things in the your home during the next few years. Talk about another aspect to consider for my Always On, Always Connected PowerTrend.

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This week, I’ll be tuning into the flurry of announcements that will be generated at the International CES trade show. Aside from company and product specific news items, the trade show has a number of high-profile keynote speakers including Dr. Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm (QCOM) and Lowell McAdam, chairman and CEO of Verizon (VZ). Per my recent PowerTalk with Consumer Electronics Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro, key areas to watch at this year’s show include UltraHD TV, mobile health and automotive.

Talking with Gary Martin, Executive Director of Communications Strategy at GM

This week’s PowerTalk interview is with Greg Martin from General Motors (GM). Greg’s an executive director of Communications Strategy and News Operations as well as an easy person to talk to. He reminds us that while the auto industry may appear simple, there are many layers to it from manufacturing the cars, competing with Ford, Chrysler and others to dealing with car dealerships and the consumer.

We also talk about the rebound in auto demand, the auto bailout and issues that caused the company to be called Government Motors; how the company has remade itself over the last few years and what lies ahead given a significant portfolio overhaul and several new technologies. It’s a nice follow up to my talk with Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association because Greg confirmed that auto and consumer electronics will be a big deal at the upcoming consumer electronics show. He even mentioned that GM is working with Apple (AAPL) and its Siri voice interface. Click here to listen.

Prepping for 4Q 2012 Results

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In the coming days, we once again will enter the gauntlet known as corporate earnings season. As tends to be the case, a number of companies issue their view on the coming 12 months when they publish their 4Q results. With that in mind, I’ll be sharing a list of key reporting data and tidbits of those results, as well as those for competitors and customers for our PowerTrend holdings during the next few weeks. As I have learned from my many years serving institutional investors, there is much information and a fair amount of insight to be had by matching up forecasts and other prognostications among industry competitors, their suppliers and customers.

To read my e-letter from last week, please click here. I also invite you to comment about my column in the space provided below.

Here’s a more in-depth look at what economic data and corporate earnings are on tap for this week:

Tuesday, Jan. 8

Consumer Credit (November)

International Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Alcoa Inc. (AA)

Acuity Brands (AYI)

Global Payments (GPN)

Monsanto Co. (MON)


Wednesday, Jan. 9

MBA Mortgage Index (Weekly)

International CES

Greenbrier Companies (GBX)

Helen of Troy (HELE)


Thursday, Jan. 10

Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims (Weekly)

International CES

PriceSmart, Inc. (PSMT)


Friday, Jan. 11

Trade Balance (November)

Import/Export Prices (December)

Treasury Budget (December)

International CES

Wells Fargo & Company (WFC)


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