🤖 Amazon’s home robot

Monday, October 4, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures
2040: Your avo toast is ready [onurdongel/E+ via GettyImages]

2040: Your avo toast is ready onurdongel/E+ via GettyImages

Last Week’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
34,326 (-1.36%)
S&P 500
4,357 (-2.21%)
Nasdaq
14,567 (-3.20%)
Bitcoin
$48,187 (12.48%)

Hey Snackers,

We hope your week is starting off better than this guy’s: A “missing” man in Turkey accidentally joined a search party looking for him. Classic case of the Mondays.

Stocks plunged last week, closing out September with their worst monthly performance since March 2020. The tech-filled Nasdaq index dropped more than 3%. Driving the sell-off: inflation, supply-chain crunches, and Delta worries.

BOT

1. Smart Home: Amazon unveils a home robot in a bid for the connected future

Same name as the Jetsons’ dog... Except it has a tablet for a head. Amazon rolled out new home gadgets at its hardware event last week, including a smart thermostat and a wall-mounted echo. The most interesting drop: a $1K Alexa-powered robot named Astro. Picture a 10-inch tablet on wheels. Control it like a metal dog, with voice commands or through an app.

  • Multitask queen: Astro follows you around while you video-chat on its tablet, and plays music and shows as you do laundry.
  • Host with the most: Astro transports stuff around the house in its storage compartment. Just don't ask it to take the La Croix upstairs (it can't climb).
  • Better than a bulldog: Astro patrols your home while you're on vacay, and can scope out areas where movement is detected.

Connection, still loading... Amazon will offer a limited number of Astros starting later this year. So far the reviews have been underwhelming: Amazon developers reportedly claim it's "terrible" and will "throw itself down" stairs. Still, Amazon has been building its suite of connected-home products, from Echo speakers and tablets to Amazon-branded TVs, and now robots. The goal: plant its flag in the connected home.

  • Today we have smart speakers like Amazon's Alexa and Google's Home Mini, along with thermostats, security cameras, and light dimmers. And let's not forget iRobot's Roomba.
  • Tomorrow we could have showers that turn on at your preferred temp when your alarm rings, health sensors that order Advil when they detect a fever, and AI bots that whip up spaghetti while you drive home.
  • The smart-home market is projected to grow from $84.5B this year to $139B by 2026. And 63M American homes will qualify as smart by 2022.
THE TAKEAWAY

The smart future could unlock smart profits… The smarter homes become, the more connected hardware they’ll need to power them. That’s an opportunity for companies like Amazon to not only sell new hardware like Astro but also boost subscriptions and e-comm sales. Think: A smart fridge that automatically restocks groceries via Prime. But IoT is still early. Plus, all that connectedness requires tons of data on your home life. That could turn off some consumers.

Zoom Out

Shots fired... United Airlines said it would fire nearly 600 US-based employees who failed to comply with its vaccine mandate. Meanwhile, chicken giant Tyson is requiring all 120K of its US workers to be vaxxed by November 1. It offered a $200 vax bonus and says 91% of its workforce has already gotten the shot. Last month, President Biden signed an exec order requiring companies with 100+ workers to ensure employees are vaxxed or submit them to weekly Covid tests. Expect corporate pressure to keep intensifying.

Flated shopping spree... Consumer spending, aka the biggest driver of US economic growth, jumped 0.8% in August after falling in July. Personal incomes ticked up thanks to wage gains and $300/month child tax credits. Splurging suggests economic recovery is ramping up heading into the holidays. Also ramping up: inflation. Prices popped 3.6% in August from last year, eating into households' buying power. Adjusting for inflation, August spending rose only 0.4%.

Events

Kim Crawford wine, chilled... Booze giant Constellation Brands owns grocery go-tos like Robert Mondavi wine, Svedka vodka, and Corona Hard Seltzer. Constellation benefited during the pandemic, when bar and restaurant closures had us couch-sipping hard seltzers and quarantinis. From March to December 2020, US liquor store sales hit $42B — up 20% from the same period in 2019. But sales have slowed this year as home-sipping declines. We’ll see if that has continued when Constellation reports earnings Wednesday.

The blowout is back… Helen of Troy, whose brand portfolio includes Hydro Flask, Vick’s, and Dry Bar hair products, reports earnings Thursday. Helen owns or licenses trademarks for a variety of household, beauty, and health products. Sales jumped 29% last quarter, driven by growth in beauty as salons reopened and “going out” life picked up. But Helen still has regulatory issues to iron out, and it lowered its sales forecast for the rest of the year.

ICYMI
  • Roof: The debt ceiling, explained: Why Congress’ fight over borrowing could tank the US economy — and its reputation.
  • Ad-icted: TikTok became one of few social networks to hit 1B+ users. It may have been cloned by Insta, Snap, and YouTube — but it’s not owned.
  • Vision: Direct-to-consumer glasses pioneer Warby Parker is worth $5B after directly listing its shares on the market. But customer love doesn’t always mean profit.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • Live: The Stoic strategy of turning suffering into strength — and bad luck into good.
  • Drive: America's best-selling vehicles, state by state. Pickup trucks are thriving.
  • Work: Why everybody's hiring but nobody's getting hired.
  • Wake: Becoming a morning person is possible and doesn't have to be hard.

Snacks Daily Podcast

“That’s right... We said pill.”

Merck stock popped 8% Friday after the pharma giant said its Covid pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half.

Tune in to our snackable 15-minute pod for more.

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Snack Fact of the Day

On Friday the USPS slowed its three-day delivery standard to slash costs — nearly 40% of first-class mail will see slower delivery than in the 1970s.

This Week

  • Monday: Earnings expected from Duckhorn Portfolio
  • Tuesday: Earnings expected from PepsiCo
  • Wednesday: Earnings expected from Constellation Brands and Levi Strauss
  • Thursday: Weekly jobless claims. Earnings expected from Helen of Troy, Conagra, Lamb Weston, and Tilray
  • Friday: September unemployment rate

Authors of this Snacks own shares of: Amazon and Google

ID: 1860021