Scamming The Rich | The Daily Peel | 1/5/22

Market Snapshot

Well the Dow Jones hit an all-time high today, but it was too bad the other, more tech-focused indices couldn't join. On a day where treasury yields broadly rose, sectors like tech and healthcare sold off. As a result, the Dow gained 0.59% while the S&P slumped a mere 0.06% and the Nasdaq sold off 1.33%

Let's get into it.


Macro Monkey Says

Joe Biden's Meat - Apparent non-vegan and President of the United States Joe Biden has big beef with Big Meat. Among the myriad of antitrust related issues plaguing corporate America, the on-goings in the meat industry are some of the most politically sensitive on account of their proximity to everyday life for the average U.S. consumer. As a result, it's no surprise the White House wants to round up the herd.

An estimated 85% of the national meatpacking industry is controlled by four players; Tyson Foods, JBS, Seaboard, and Marfig. Like other U.S. industries including cell phone carriers, bond rating agencies, and of course, consumer technology, this smells like oligopoly. Biden stated "Capitalism without competition isn't capitalism. It's exploitation." And, looking at the prices of your favorite meats in the grocery store, he might be onto something. Overall grocery prices have seen a 6.4% runup in prices since last year, with poultry, egg, and other meat prices alone rising 12.8%, double the overall growth. At the same time, some reports claim prices paid to ranchers and farmers for these meats have fallen. 

Obviously, Joey B has said this is the result of exploitations, but Big Meat calls it something different. "Labor shortages" were the crutch industry execs leaned on to explain higher prices, claiming the administration was trying to paint the meatpackers as greedy and corrupt when they're really just understaffed. Still, not much in terms of big news came out of all this show and dance from either side. Joey B's administration is doling out cash here and there to smaller producers to try and help them compete, but no major antitrust action has been put in place yet. C'mon Lina Khan, where you at?

A Martini, Not Shaken, nor Stirred - People cope with challenges in a plethora of different ways. Some have meditation, some seek professional help, and others have alcohol. With this in mind, it's no surprise alcohol sales across the U.S. jumped during the pandemic, but what Americans were drinking might be.

For starters, beer sales dropped. This is understandable as a beer is best had where it can be shot-gunned and degeneracy can ensue, not trapped in your parent's basement. Distilleries, on the other hand, had some of their best sales ever. Hard drinks were popping off in an also understandable way, as you might need more than a beer to get through the 11th loaf of sourdough your mom made. But within the distiller category, one drink seems to be taking the place of White Claw and other seltzers as the drink of the year.

Premade, ready to drink cocktail sales more than doubled in 2021. That's right, canned margaritas and martinis alike were all the rage for the non-mixologist crowd. This presents an interesting trend for adult beverage companies and what exactly gets their customers excited to sip. With 27% of Americans now listing hard liquor as their most often consumed drink, a jump from 18% the year prior, simultaneously with beer falling from 46% to 39%, industry dynamics are flip-flopping all over the place. 

Not to worry, however, as we won't have to wait too long for answers. Later this week, we'll have reports from boots on the ground as Constellation Brands releases their latest earnings. 



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What's Ripe

Ford ($F) - Run with it, or run from it. When it comes to EVs, Ford is solidly with the trend. Shares burst 11.7% yesterday on news that the company plans to double production of the highly anticipated electric F-150 truck. Investors are excited, and not only because this truck has been the top selling vehicle in the U.S. for 40 years, but because it is widely expected to hit the market before Tesla's Cybertruck, carving out market share with first mover advantage.

Further, U.S. vehicle sale data for last year just came in and it was, in a word, great. GM popped 7.5% as well despite being dethroned by Toyota as the top selling car brand in the U.S., the first time GM hasn't held that trophy since 1931. Toyota jumped a nice 6.9% on the news. 

J.P. Morgan ($JPM) - J.P. Morgan announced yesterday that it believes stocks can continue to rally for longer than we might think. Well, apparently investors think $JPM shares can continue to rally as well, closing the day up 3.8%. While there wasn't any massively good news, market dynamics such as a climbing 10yr treasury yield indicate this uptick is likely a result of further investor positioning for rate hikes and inflation.


What's Rotten

Advanced Micro Devices ($AMD) - AMD woke up yesterday all excited to present their 2022 product line to investors only to get slapped in the face and fall 3.9%. CEO Dr. Lisa Su announced several "new products that deliver leadership productivity, content creation, and gaming experiences" hoping to get Wall Street jazzed. Obviously, that backfired. Investors likely weren't thrilled to see that AMD plans to compete head on with Intel and, more importantly, Nvidia in business and gaming chips, the specialties of those two companies. May the games begin.

Pinduoduo ($PDD) - The burning of U.S. listed Chinese tech stocks wasn't just a 2021 phenomenon either. Among the bunch, none were hit harder yesterday than ag-tech e-commerce firm Pinduoduo, falling 11.2%. The Nasdaq listed ADR plummeted on a report out of China indicating the CCP's plan to focus on and actively promote advanced technology companies like AI, EVs, and manufacturing over consumer facing internet names…like Pinduoduo.

Thought Banana:

When the Rich Get Scammed - Silicon Valley was in mourning yesterday as a former one-of-their-own was officially convicted of several felony charges for doing basically what startup founders do on Twitter all day long. Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of the now deceased firm Theranos, has been charged with 4 counts of criminal fraud including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Her day of reckoning comes during a time in which overpromising and under-delivering has become the norm in the cash-drowned world of VC and startups.

For recap, Holmes dropped out of Stanford at 19 years old to found what many saw as one of the most revolutionary healthtech companies of our time. Claiming to be able to screen for hundreds of diseases from a single drop of blood, Holmes raised over $900mm and took Theranos to a valuation of $9bn while drawing a lot of media attention and Steve Jobs comparisons (mostly just because she dressed exactly like him).

Of course, Theranos failed miserably. After the WSJ put them on blast in 2015-16 for not actually being able to do what they claimed to do, the firm puttered around for a bit and ultimately collapsed in 2018. While fraud is definitely not cool, Holmes' case brings about questions in the startup world over where exactly the thin line is that falls between hyping up your company and blatantly lying. I wouldn't be surprised if other failed or soon-to-fail startup founders are getting nervous out there now wondering if they could be next.

Wise Investor Says

"A mistake is not something to be determined after the fact, but in light of the information available until that point." - Nassim Taleb 


Happy Investing,

Patrick & The Daily Peel Team

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