29 July 2020

1) The fast food mega-giant McDonald’s is reporting a bigger than expected drop in global restaurant sales across the world. This is a result of the pandemic restricting sales of their drive thru and delivery operations, and in some cases shutting restaurants down completely. With second quarter sales down by 30%, McDonald’s is facing a bumpy and expensive recovery. The franchise chain has 39,000 restaurants worldwide, of which 96% are now open, verses 75% at the start of the second quarter. Store sales were down 39% in April but by June was down only 12%. Net income is down by 68% for $483.8 million dollars. McDonald’s is permanently closing 200 locations in the U.S. amid those losses, more than half located in Walmart stores.

2) The Federal Reserve has announced that its lending programs will be extended until the end of the year. This indicates the feds don’t think the U.S. economy is weathering the pandemic storm very well and needs continued help. The program lends to small and medium sized businesses and was due to expire at the end of September. Continuing the program will provide a critical backstop to help the economy recover. This Thursday will bring the first look at the second quarter gross domestic product, which is the broadest measure of the economy, but it’s expected to show an ailing economy.

3) For the second time, the renowned gun maker Remington Arms is filing for bankruptcy. This is the second time in two years that Remington has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Chronic low sales is blamed for Remington’s decline, despite the overall increase in sales of guns in America because of the pandemic. One by one, American gun manufactures have succumb to imports. Remington reports assets of $100 million dollars compared to $500 million dollars in liabilities.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 JUL 20:

Dow 26,379.28 down 205.49
Nasdaq 10,402.09 down 134.17
S&P 500 3,218.44 down 20.97

10 Year Yield: down at 0.58%

Oil: down at $41.07

22 January 2020

1) The massive internet retailer Amazon has just been granted a patent for robots that drop off bunches of items on delivery routes. The robot has storage compartments where the customer comes out to the sidewalk, taps in the required security code on their smartphones that opens the door to a compartment so the person can get his package. The robot addresses the last mile or final fifty feet of package deliver. Such a robot also address the problem of porch pirates.

2) The mortgage companies seem to be reverting back to their old ways that triggered the financial crisis in 2008. This is the practice of giving large loans with small down payments to those with low FICO scores. FICO scores as low as 640 are getting mortgages of up to $2 million dollars, scores which were considered sub-prime prior to the 2008 economic near collapse.

3) The stock markets have pulled back from record high levels after the Center for Disease Control announced the first case of conronavirus in America. The highly contagious disease was discovered in a traveler coming from China. Particularly hit were stocks in casino and hotel companies, as well as airline companies and other companies involved with international travel. The Asian markets have also suffered a sudden drop which is blamed on the spreading virus.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 JAN 20:

Dow              29,196.04    down    152.06
Nasdaq          9,370.81    down      18.14
S&P 500         3,320.79    down        8.83

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.77%

Oil:    down   at    $58.37

30 October 2019

1) Humana, the health insurance giant, is laying off more than 800 people. These layoffs are from its operations in several states, their intent is to trim payroll by 2%, starting this week. Humana is taking a series of measures in 2020 aimed at improving productivity and position the company for long term sustainable success. This need to cut expenses is driven by the anticipated $1 billion dollar non-deductible health insurance fee or HIF, which Humana must pay in 2020.

2) The retail mammoth Amazon is making further inroads into the grocery retailing business by offering free delivery of groceries to its Prime members. These will include services like Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market using time portals of one and two hour delivery windows. Fresh grocery delivery service is expanding into new cities. This new delivery strategy is expected to circumvent other retailers such as Walmart.

3) The ride sharing company Lyft is introducing Lyft Pink, a monthly membership for riders that gives a 15% discount as well as other perks. Unlike previous discount programs which only applied for a certain number of rides, this discount will have no limits. While Lyft Pink will launch later this year, you can sign up for the service now.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 OCT 19:

Dow              27,071.42    down    19.30
Nasdaq           8,276.85    down    49.14
S&P 500          3,036.89    down      2.53

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.84%

Oil:    down   at    $55.52

31 August 2019

1) Disney announced it has sold its stake in the YES Network to investors including Amazon for 347 million dollars. The YES Network airs the Yankees games as well as other local sports and specialty content, and was one of the assets the Department of Justice required Disney to sell. It’s unknown what Amazon’s role in this acquisition will be.

2) The traditional shipping companies UPS and FedEx are now being challenged by Amazon’s emerging shipping empire as exemplified by its recent breakup with FedEx. As its consumer business has expanded, Amazon has built a network of suburban warehouses package and sorting centers feeding a fleet of delivery vehicles. This is turning it from a customer delivery service to a rival. In expanding with new service centers, Amazon is gobbling up failed malls. This expansion is driven in part by its rapidly expanding Prime membership, now with 100 million subscriptions in the US, with Amazon now delivering over half of its own orders.

3) Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, the equivalent of Amazon.com, predicts that by 2030 computers and artificial intelligence will not only shrink the number of jobs by as much as 40%, but also reduce the number of work hours available to the remaining workers. This is just one more prediction of near term technology displacement coming in the next ten to twenty-five years that have recently been made public.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 AUG 19:

Dow              26,403.28         up    41.03
Nasdaq           7,962.88    down    10.51
S&P 500          2,926.46         up      1.88

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.51%

Oil:    up   at    $55.16