2040: Your avo toast is ready onurdongel/E+ via GettyImages
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
“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.
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Authors of this Snacks own shares of: Amazon and Google