Lights out

MARKETS

  • Brexit: Today, the EU may decide to grant the U.K. a Brexit extension until Jan. 31, 2020, reports the FT. The current Brexit deadline is Thursday.
  • Q3 earnings: About 145 S&P companies will report earnings this week, including Apple, Alphabet, and Facebook.

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SPACE

When You Wish Upon a Stock

Picture
Today, many of you can fulfill your childhood dream of becoming an astronaut…

...'s extremely minor source of funding. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is set to become the first commercial space tourism company to go public. It'll trade under the ticker "SPCE" on the New York Stock Exchange.

How we got here

Forget the sappy "gazing at the stars" part, let's talk about the financial engineering.

  • In July, venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya said his publicly listed firm Social Capital Hedosophia would take a 49% stake in Virgin Galactic. The deal won shareholder approval last Wednesday.
  • That merger allows Virgin Galactic to directly list shares and avoid costly underwriting fees.
  • The combined company is valued at roughly $1.5 billion.

"We are confident that VG is light-years ahead of the competition," Palihapitiya said.

It's light-years ahead of something

In August, Virgin Galactic opened Spaceport America, its futuristic launch site in rural New Mexico. From there, it expects to send wealthy explorers to the edge of space, give them a glimpse of Earth's curvature, and bring them home with an enviable amount of Insta ammo.

So far, the company's sold over 600 tickets for about $250,000 apiece.

Zoom out: The extent of demand for Virgin Galactic's services will be a question mark. Space travel is expensive, complex, and dangerous. A Virgin test flight in 2014 crashed, killing a co-pilot and seriously injuring the other.

  • There's also competition from space tourism ventures led by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, perhaps the two people you least want to compete with.

Looking ahead...Virgin Galactic's listing is a big moment for space travel. But its sister brands are also making big moves here on Earth, writes Bloomberg. The airline Virgin Atlantic is expanding into India, Virgin Hotels is more than doubling its size, and the new Virgin Voyages cruise line will begin sea trials next year.

LUXURY

LVMH Gets Down on One Knee for Tiffany

The French luxury group behind brands like Louis Vuitton and Givenchy submitted a takeover proposal to the NYC-based jeweler earlier this month, per multiple reports. It'd be LVMH's biggest-ever acquisition.

Let's unwrap

LVMH is a $215 billion luxury powerhouse with a stake in everything from fashion to alcohol to hotels. Despite the trade war and turmoil in Hong Kong (which accounts for 6% of sales), things are as smooth as a Dom Pérignon Vintage 1961: LVMH reported a surprise 11% sales bump in Q3.

There's always room for improvement. Watches and jewelry is its slowest growing segment, and LVMH wants to boost its presence in the U.S., its second-largest market.

So about this $12B U.S. jeweler

Tiffany's been feeling less robin egg, more stormy blue.

  • It struggled to stay ahead of consumer trends, while tariffs with China and the Hong Kong protests have also taken a bite.
  • And benefitting from a lower sales tax at home, Chinese customers are curbing their spending abroad. Tiffany is responding with more stores on mainland China.

Looking ahead...Tiffany's reviewing the offer, but both companies are tight-lipped for now.

UTILITY

California Experiences Historic Blackout

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This a screenshot from PG&E's Outage Center yesterday at noon, showing where power has been shut off across northern California. The utility has cut power to more than 2.5 million people in the largest blackout to prevent wildfires in California history.

The high winds that provoked the outages are expected to die down Monday, but restoring power could take a few more days after that.

Meanwhile, nearly 200,000 people were ordered to leave their homes as the Kincade Fire continues to burn in northern California's wine country.

TECH

Google Search Is Like a Toddler

It understands words and small phrases, but often thinks you want to take a train from O'Hare instead of to it. In the coming weeks, that's going to change.

On Friday, Google said it's rolling out the biggest upgrade to its search engine in years. It's adding capabilities in natural language processing and machine learning (a subcategory of artificial intelligence) to help make sense of users' questions and deliver the most relevant results.

  • The new software helps Google understand prepositional phrases, context, and small nuances in language. Ready for Kindergarten.

This matters because…

15% of daily queries are ones Google hasn't seen before. And tools like smart assistants are making conversational queries the norm.

Users, all you'll notice is better search results. Businesses, there may be some changes.

  • Google execs said they don't know if the upgrade applies to ad sales, which are pegged to search.

Bottom line: There's a $70 billion industry built around gaming the algorithm to land on Google's front page. This change could make companies' on-page SEO (how they precisely use keywords) more important, according to experts. Because if you don't make the front page, you're SOL.

ADVERTISING

Nats Broadcasts Become Political Battleground

Does watching the World Series feel a little too much like watching Meet the Press? Might be the commercials.

In the first two games between the Nationals and the Astros, more ads were aired for advocacy and corporate social responsibility than any other ad category, per Advertising Analytics data cited by Axios's Sara Fischer.

  • Instead of "dilly dilly" beer ads, we're seeing dozens of spots from manufacturing conglomerate 3M (drilly drilly?).
  • Companies including Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM are pushing messages of economic growth and conservation.

More traditional sports advertisers-auto, entertainment, cable/phone/internet, and food & bev-rounded out the top five ad categories.

Why this is happening: Well, even the D.C. elite like baseball teams (it polls well). And the team they're most likely to root for-and watch on TV-is the Nats. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for brands to reach Washington decision makers in a casual environment," Fischer writes.

CALENDAR

The Week Ahead

Strong contender for the most packed week of 2019.

Monday: International trade in goods and services; Bill Gates turns 64; earnings (Alphabet, AT&T, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Spotify, Beyond Meat)

Tuesday: Fed meeting starts; National Cat Day; new Business Casual episode; earnings (Pfizer, Merck, BP, GM, Shopify, MasterCard, AMD, Electronic Arts, Grubhub)

Wednesday: Fed announcement; Q3 GDP; Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg testifies in D.C. before House lawmakers; potential Game 7 of World Series; earnings (GE, Lyft, Etsy, Sony, Facebook, Apple, Starbucks, Yum Brands)

Thursday: Halloween; Brexit deadline; earnings (Altria, Pinterest, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sanofi, Royal Dutch Shell, Estee Lauder, Kraft Heinz)

Friday: First day of November; Apple TV Plus launch; jobs report; earnings (Berkshire Hathaway, Alibaba, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, AIG); "I said what at last night's Halloween party?" Day

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, died during a raid by U.S. forces on Saturday.
  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company was "genuinely struggling" with how to deal with employee discontent, per a video obtained by the WaPo.
  • A flight attendant filed a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines, alleging pilots were streaming video from a camera hidden in a plane's bathroom during a 2017 flight.
  • The cardigan Kurt Cobain wore during Nirvana's performance on MTV's "Unplugged" sold for $334,000, the most anyone's paid for a sweater at auction.

CHOOSE THE BIGGER NUMBER

Today we're going to test your awareness of Halloween-related searches on Google.

  1. Searches for couples costumes: Lilo and Stitch / Cosmo and Wanda
  2. Searches for "How to make Halloween…": costumes / cookies
  3. More popular question: What day is Halloween? / What should I be for Halloween?
  4. Search interest: dog costumes / cat costumes

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Breakroom Answers


CHOOSE THE BIGGER NUMBER ANSWERS
1. More people searched for a Lilo and Stitch couples costume than Cosmo and Wanda.
2. More people searched for "How to make Halloween cookies" in the past week than "How to make Halloween costumes."
3. "What day is Halloween?" was a more popular question than "What should I be for Halloween?"
4. Dog costumes are more popular on Google search than cat costumes

Comments (1)

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