Winners & Losers

A scorecard of ups and downs.

A Tesla sports car. (Photo by Kevin Parry/WireImage)

?Tesla Motors
Automobile

Investor interest in Tesla Motors took off on March 31 after a Wall Street analyst suggested that the electric carmaker could eventually force Detroit to add another garage bay to its Big Three clubhouse. Calling the company “America’s fourth automaker,” Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jones noted that Tesla, based in Palo Alto, Calif., recently acquired the ability to mass-produce vehicles after taking control of a former GM-Toyota factory that can churn out 500,000 units per year. “This factory,” he said, “demonstrates Tesla’s intention and capability to produce a far higher level of volume than that currently anticipated by the market.” Jones upgraded his market rating of Tesla to Overweight from Equal-weight, saying its share price could eventually hit US$70. The company’s stock, which jumped 14% to US$28 after the upgrade, debuted at US$17 last June, when Tesla conducted the first U.S. automaking IPO since Ford went public in 1956. Tesla, which is not yet profitable, currently sells a limited number of electric roadsters at a cost of more than US$100,000 each, though it plans to introduce a lower-priced $50,0000 Model S electric car next year.

?Mad Men fans
Entertainment

While Mad Men viewers will have to wait until early 2012 for the show’s return, creator Matt Weiner has agreed at last to helm three more seasons. The deal, which is rumoured to be worth $30 million, won’t see any cuts to the show’s cast.

?Shoppers Drug Mart
Retail

After fighting unsuccessfully to reverse generic drug laws last year, and the sudden resignation of its CEO, Shoppers Drug Mart has suffered a 17% drop in “brand value,” to $2.6 billion, according to a study conducted by researcher Interbrand. While Canada’s biggest drugstore still holds Canada’s top-valued retail name, competition from pharmacies at Loblaw Cos. and Wal-mart Canada will continue to be a challenge.

?U of Waterloo
Education

The University of Waterloo recently received a $1-million donation from former student Ted Livingston, the 23-year-old founder of Kik Interactive, creator of a popular social-messaging service for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry users. Kik Messenger has been very successful since its launch and gained three million registrants between November 2010 and January of this year—a rate of three new users per second.

?Radian6
Technology

The Fredericton tech firm has agreed to be acquired by U.S.-based cloud-computing company Salesforce.com for US$276 million in cash and US$50 million in stock. Founded in 2006, Radian6 allows companies to monitor sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, a natural fit for Salesforce.com’s customer-relationship management products. Radian6 said the company will keep its Maritime offices and employees.

?Portugal
Finance

The debt-plagued country’s government resigned after opposition parties failed to pass much-needed austerity measures, increasing the likelihood of a bailout. Ratings agency Fitch knocked Portugal’s debt down to one notch above Junk status.

?Visa/MasterCard
Credit

The two credit card giants are the subject of a proposed class-action lawsuit, along with the country’s largest banks. The suit alleges the companies are involved in a price-fixing scheme that forces merchants to fork over billions of dollars in transaction fees. It comes on the heels of a crackdown by the Competition Bureau over restrictive practices imposed on merchants by credit card companies.

?Pricewaterhouse
Finance

Britain’s House of Lords delivered a stinging assessment of the role “disconcertingly complacent” auditing firms played in the financial crisis. Although the rest of the “Big Four” (Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG) were also tarred and feathered, PricewaterhouseCoopers was singled out for abysmal work auditing Northern Rock, a failed bank whose business model the Lords deemed hazardous.

?Mood Media
Entertainment

Muzak, the iconic U.S. company that essentially invented background music, is now Canadian owned. Toronto-based rival Mood Media scooped up the troubled firm, which emerged from bankruptcy protection last year, for US$345 million, giving it an important foothold in the U.S. market.

?Google
Technology

For the time being at least, Google’s dream of archiving the world’s books remains just that. Citing concerns about giving Google “a significant advantage over competitors,” a New York federal judge shot down a settlement that would permit Google to make millions of books accessible online—the latest setback in the Internet behemoth’s six-year-long legal battle over its digital library.

?Lighthouses
Transportation

Canada’s 50 remaining lighthouse keepers are no longer facing imminent extinction. After a two-year-long push by the Coast Guard to phase out the last of the lighthouse keepers prompted public outcry, the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans scrapped the plan.

?Polar
Technology

Whatever the future holds for Research In Motion, this Toronto-based app design house is benefiting from the BlackBerry maker’s determination to catch up to Apple and Google. Polar, whose smartphone app clients have included Condé Nast and CBS Sports, has inked a deal with RIM to develop more than 100 exclusive apps for RIM’s new PlayBook tablet computer, which launches April 19.

?Jack Dorsey
Technology

The inventor of Twitter, who was replaced as its CEO in 2008, is returning to the wildly popular microblogging site as its product chief. Dorsey has said his goal at Twitter, which has grown to roughly 175 million users, is to make it appeal to an even wider audience.

?NHL
Sports

The National Hockey League’s recent troubles have generated plenty of headlines, but a worse fate may be in the offing. A report by Fox News Latino suggests that Major League Soccer’s attendance and TV ratings are surging, and that it may soon eclipse the NHL among North America’s Big Four pro sports leagues—thanks in part to the U.S.’s booming Hispanic population.