Yum! Brands (YUM) -- Winner
The new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos are here.
Yum! Brands' Taco Bell officially introduced the Cool Ranch-flavored shells on Thursday, and it actually gave the company's Twitter and Facebook followers a heads start by letting them know the new tacos were available in some stores on Wednesday for those willing to ask.
The first Doritos Locos Taco has been a smart menu addition for Taco Bell. After the fast-food chain introduced the original Nacho Cheese-flavored shells last year it sold 100 million tacos in 10 weeks.
Even if the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco doesn't generate the same level of buzz and blockbuster sales as last year's rollout, the move should keep Taco Bell's store-level comps growing.
Dell (DELL) -- Loser
The $24.2 billion deal to take Dell private may be falling apart. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a vocal stake in the struggling PC maker, and he's got a doozy of Plan B.
Icahn feels that Dell should hold out for a better price, and if that doesn't materialize that it should still reject the buyout offer. He thinks that Dell should reward investors with a $16 billion dividend. Dell doesn't have that kind of money, so it would mean taking on new debt to make the beefy payout possible.
Dell is not in a good position to take on debt. PC sales have been slipping for two years, and Dell's been unable to make a dent in the smartphone and tablet markets that have been cannibalizing desktops and laptops. A leveraged Dell will be a gutted Dell that will ultimately falter. Icahn's had plenty of smart ideas before, but this isn't one of them.
Facebook (FB) -- Winner
The leading social networking website is going for another makeover.
Facebook introduced a redesigned news feed at a media event on Thursday that will roll out to the site's 1 billion-plus active users in the coming days.
However, the reason why the cleaner redesign gets the winning nod this week is that it's a move that will probably be appreciated by users who typically get vocal in their displeasure whenever Facebook tweaks their time lines, walls, and news feeds. Facebook continues to grow in popularity, but it can never get too cocky. On the monetization front, it goes without saying that advertisers will probably be willing to spend more to get noticed now that images are larger.
DirecTV (DTV) -- Loser
Can you imagine DirecTV without the NFL Sunday Ticket? The country's largest cable television company is already starting to plan for that possibility.
DirecTV's CFO spoke at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference this week about the matter of renewing the deal that grants DirecTV exclusive access to every single regular season football game.
The current contract expires in 2015, and DirecTV knows the NFL is going to want a lot of money to renew it. Well, the CFO claims that DirecTV intends to explore its options, which may include saving money by going for a non-exclusive deal that would open up the package to every cable and satellite television provider -- or possibly not renewing the package at all.
Really? Isn't one of the biggest reasons that customers put up with satellite's shortcomings because they want access to NFL Sunday Ticket? The NFL is going to want a lot of money, but DirecTV better pay up.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) -- Winner
Tea for two is sometimes twice as much as you need.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is striking a partnership with Unilever (UL) to put out Lipton hot and iced teas as single servings for Keurig brewers. The Lipton teas will hit the market this summer for Green Mountain's K-Cup and Vue Keurig brewing systems. They are brewed hot, but some flavor varieties will be part of Green Mountain's "Brew Over Ice" beverages that can be served cold over ice.
It's a win-win as Green Mountain benefits from the validation of Lipton's brand and Unilever stands to rake in incremental revenue through a new distribution channel.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Unilever. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.
Photo Credit: Taco Bell