Self-driving car that's cute KITT meme big

You Can’t Hide Your Lidar Eyes

And Tesla’s (Nasdaq: TSLA) smile is a thin disguise. I thought by now Elon Musk would have realized there ain’t no way to hide your lidar eyes…

Come on, Mr. Great Stuff … you know everyone hates The Eagles!

Listen, man, just because you’ve had a bad night is no reason to hate The Eagles … or something. I’m not “The Dude,” I just play one online.

Anyway, we have two tidbits of news on Tesla today, and both involve the company’s plans for Autopilot and Full Self-Driving.

First up, Tesla announced that it is officially ditching radar technology in favor of “Tesla Vision.” The change affects all new Model 3 and Model Y vehicles produced in the U.S.

While clearly not as cool as WandaVision, Tesla Vision relies solely on video cameras for collision detection and object awareness around the vehicle.

Tesla unveiled its public version of Tesla Vision a few months ago with a beta test for its new Full Self-Driving software. At the time, Musk said the new software would “blow your mind.”

And yet, that mind-blowing software has a few exceptions … a couple of provisos … few quid pro quos…

For instance, Tesla’s Autosteer feature will be limited to a max speed of 75 mph and require a longer following distance. Furthermore, Smart Summon and Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance could be disabled altogether … at least upon launch.

Now, those features won’t be disabled forever. As usual, Tesla plans to provide over-the-air updates to all eligible vehicles to restore features and capability as the technology progresses.

I don’t know about you, but handling car software the way Electronic Arts handles video games makes me more than a bit nervous. What’s next, microtransactions in my car?

If you would like to turn left, please pay $5.99 now for the “Turn Left” DLC.

No, thank you.

I’m clearly joking … or am I? Anywho, Musk is a firm believer that the only things capable of independent driving right now are human beings, and they use their eyes to drive. Well … most of us, anyway.

With cameras in place, the only thing left to perfect is the neural network that powers automated driving. Tesla believes it is close to a solution on that front.

Now, the other tidbit is an interesting one indeed. On May 24, Tesla was spotted testing Luminar Technologies’ (Nasdaq: LAZR) lidar sensors for self-driving. Lidar operates similarly to radar, but instead of bouncing radio waves off of surrounding objects, lidar bounces lasers.

What makes this a particularly curious test is that in April 2019, Elon Musk famously said: “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed.”

I guess all the heat coming down on Tesla’s self-driving tech has finally changed Musk’s mind … or maybe the pressure is just enough for the company to start looking for better alternatives to its current radar tech.

Regardless, these insights into the future of Tesla’s self-driving tech didn’t have much of an impact on TSLA shares today. The stock finished flat, as a clear lack of enthusiasm failed to push the shares far from $600 — a price point that’s beginning to act like a magnet for TSLA.

Clearly, it will take more than fancy cameras and promises of better self-driving tech to revitalize the shares right now.

Editor’s Note: “Solar-on-Demand” Set to Power $16 Trillion Energy Revolution

This new technology is being hailed as a game-changer. It allows solar power plants to absorb much more energy during the day and pump it back out whenever it’s needed … even hours after the sun’s gone down.

In short, it makes solar power work “on demand.” And now, the world’s billionaires are scrambling to get in on it. Elon Musk, for example, expects Tesla will eventually make as much money from this technology as it does from its car business.

The company my colleague Ted Bauman expects to lead it — the one that makes this “on-demand” solar technology — is yet to hit the headlines.

Click here to learn more.

Great Stuff's Quick & Dirty

Live & Let Amazon

It’s official: Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) has signed an agreement to buy MGM Studios for $8.5 billion. That’s at the low end of the $8.5 billion to $9 billion range Great Stuff reported yesterday, and honestly, that’s a freaking steal!

Watch out Disney+ (NYSE: DIS) and Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) … Amazon Prime TV is getting serious. Now, if they’d only do something (anything!) about that horrible Prime TV interface. Amazon has the Bond license — let Q take a look at it! At least then, it’d have lasers or rocket launchers or something cool.

Lightning Crashes

Ford double down on EVs Lightning McMeme

It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford (NYSE: F) slowin’ down to take a look at me…OK, it’s not a girl … it’s CEO Jim Farley. And it’s not a flatbed Ford … it’s an F-150 Lightning. OK, none of that was right at all. I just can’t get The Eagles outta my head today. Help!

Ford rallied roughly 8% today after Farley announced the truckmeister boosted its clean energy investment plans by $8 billion, vowing that 40% of Ford’s fleet would be electric by 2030. That’s $30 billion total that Ford is spending on electric vehicles (EV) in the near term, for those keeping track at home.

Farley added: “This is our biggest opportunity for growth and value creation since Henry Ford started to scale the Model T, and we’re grabbing it with both hands.”

Woah there, Farley. No need to get handsy. Let’s just see how the Ford F-150 Lightning works out for you first. Then we’ll talk about holding hands.

Dick’s Be Ballin’

I think Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) just answered the question: “Will people buy outdoorsy stuff again after the pandemic?” That answer was a resounding: “YES!”

The company tripled earnings expectations with its first-quarter report. Earnings came in at $3.79 per share, compared to Wall Street’s target of $1.12 per share. Revenue surged to $2.92 billion, also beating expectations.

According to Dick’s, the return of kids’ sports provided more juice than Jose Canseco. With same-store sales skyrocketing 115% and e-commerce growing 14%, I think that’s a fair assessment. DKS shares soared more than 15% on the news.

Urban Revolution

Triple plays were, apparently, all the rage today. Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN) followed Dick’s lead by reporting first-quarter earnings of $0.54 per share, more than tripling Wall Street’s target of $0.17 per share. Revenue jumped 57.6% to $927.4 million, which also topped the consensus estimate.

What’s more, same-store sales rose 51%, beating expectations for a 38.4% gain. Do these analysts even try anymore?

Anyway, JPMorgan Analyst Mathew Boss was so impressed, he raised his rating from underweight to neutral and his price target from $30 to $38.

Still no word on whether Keith Urban gets outfitted for outfits at Urban Outfitters. Just sayin’.

Just Not That Intuit

IRS rep just wanted to say hello slow meme

I don’t know about you … but there has been nothing “turbo” about my tax returns this year. It’s four weeks and counting now. IRS … get your heinies in gear!

All the tax confusion has been beneficial for Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU), however. The maker of TurboTax, QuickBooks and Credit Karma reported a 35% jump in earnings and a 39% rise in revenue.

For you numbers guys and gals out there, that’s $6.07 per share and $4.17 billion in revenue.

While that may sound good, Wall Street expected more. Both figures missed the consensus estimates of $6.47 per share and $4.41 billion in revenue.

Normally, this would be bad news for INTU investors. However, Intuit raised its full-year 2021 guidance citing “a great tax season growing our share of total tax returns and executing our strategy.”

Once again, I have to ask: What are analysts actually looking at when setting expectations? This is the third time in just this issue of Great Stuff where they’ve been horribly off the mark.

INTU struggled to make headway today — presumably due to overzealous analysts. That said, the stock is trading near all-time highs and still managed to eke out a fractional gain on the day.

Great Stuff Reader Feedback

Welcome to poll day, Great Ones! Today’s the day where you get to sound off on some of the market’s hottest topics and biggest debates. Are you ready, kids?

Please tell me you’re not doing the SpongeBob thing again…

Don’t be silly — that’s for Thursdays. Today, let’s first look at last week’s poll, where we asked: “How hard did the crypto collapse hurt you?”

As it turns out, most of you weren’t worried at all. Classic “hodlers.”

Some 68% of you channeled Monty Python’s black knight, saying the crypto collapse was “just a flesh wound!”

Another 24% of you avoided the crash completely by … checks notes … just avoiding cryptos altogether. Interesting… So, no crypto holdings at all? Hmmm, seems like a missed investment opportunity if you ask me.

Finally, about 8% of you got my anime joke — kudos to you! — thought the third choice was funny, or are now dead because of the bitcoin debacle. I sincerely hope you’re all still doing well (and not, you know, dead or anything).

It’s probably not much consolation to those newbies in the crypto market, but bitcoin has come roaring back more than 16% from its post-crash lows. Old investors know the score. This is just how the bitcoin bounces. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Anywho … we’re gonna cross the streams with today’s poll!

I, for one, am glad Amazon finally came to its senses … stopped ridin’ fences so long and took its streaming opportunity seriously. But … what about live sports? One of these nights, somebody — anybody — has to wake up and really revolutionize live-sport streaming.

Who’s it going to be? Giants like the ‘Zon trying to live in the streaming fast lane? Or the new kid in town — Fubo?

Take a second to click below and let me know:

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Remember, if you’re ready to ramble up a storm, drop me a line right here. I’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, here’s where you can check out some more Greatness:

Until next time, stay Great!

Joseph Hargett

Editor, Great Stuff