🥤 Starbucks’ reusable push

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |
Single-use plastic cups at a garbage dump outside Jakarta, Indonesia [John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images]

Single-use plastic cups at a garbage dump outside Jakarta, Indonesia [John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images]

Single-use plastic cups at a garbage dump outside Jakarta, Indonesia [John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images]

Single-use plastic cups at a garbage dump outside Jakarta, Indonesia [John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images]

Yesterday’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
33,544 (+1.82%)
S&P 500
4,262 (+2.14%)
12,949 (+2.92%)
$39,721 (+0.27%)

Hey Snackers,

Transitory, we hardly knew ye. The Fed’s likely to hike interest rates by a quarter point today, the first in what’s expected to be several rate hikes this year to blunt rising inflation. Stocks jumped, while oil fell further below $100.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Zelensky is set to address Congress (virtually) today, while President Biden plans to fly to Brussels next week to meet with NATO and EU officials as the war continues.


1. Starbucks is phasing out its ubiquitous cups, in a sustainability push that’ll test consumer habits

BYOM… Time to dust off that old college mug before your next coffee run. Starbucks plans to phase out its signature paper and plastic cups over the next three years in a renewed effort to get customers to embrace reusables. Starbs goes through 7B disposable cups a year — which account for nearly a quarter of its global waste. Now the coffee giant is experimenting with ways to fix its garbage problem, while catering to eco-friendly investors:

  • Borrow-a-cup: One option would have customers paying a deposit to use a Starbs reusable tumbler or mug (they’ll have to bring it back when they’re done).
  • Bring-a-cup: Starbs is reviving the option for customers to use their personal mugs after a pandemic pause, and will expand it to drive-thru and mobile orders. Those now make up a combined 70% of US sales.

Frictionless frappuccinos… Starbucks has struggled to get people to change their daily rituals. In 2008, it pledged to have a quarter of customers drinking out of reusable cups by 2015 (didn’t happen). Now Starbs figures the best chance of success is a push that has minimal impact on people’s routines. For drive-thru, it could mean baristas pouring premade drinks at the window. Don’t like walking around with a mocha-stained tumbler? Cup-washing stations — like those bartenders use — are coming to some stores.


Starbs is putting skin in the sustainability game… Nearly all corporate sustainability initiatives fail. But Starbucks is investing real capital to try to make reusable cups stick. How much it costs is TBD. Starbs shares rose on its cup-cutting announcement, and ahead of today’s shareholder meeting. But they’re still down 30% in the past year as the latte icon contends with supply snags, rising costs, and labor issues.


Grab the popcorn… There’s a plot twist in AMC’s stock saga. The struggling theater chain has bought a 22% stake in a gold mine for $28M. FYI, the Nevada mine, Hycroft, went public through a SPAC in 2020 after financial trouble and bankruptcy. AMC stock rose 6%, and the Nevada mine, Hycroft, jumped 19% yesterday on news of the odd-coupling:

  • Making its case: AMC’s CEO compared Hycroft to AMC last year, saying the deal would help Hycroft solve its “severe and immediate liquidity issue.”
  • Staying viral: AMC’s “bold diversification move” (CEO’s words) could be a push to capture investor interest now that shares have nearly fallen to pre-2021 levels.

Roller coasters… Last year, AMC shares popped 12X and GameStop shares spiked 7X thanks partly to an influx of retail investors. Both companies used their juiced-up market caps to raise cash.

  • Step 1: Go to the market. AMC and GameStop each raised $1.6B+ via at-the-market (ATM) offerings last year. ATM offerings have become popular with some companies like Tesla and Hertz because they let them issue shares at (high) market prices, not (potentially lower) prices negotiated by institutional investors.
  • Step 2: Go shopping. AMC and GameStop have used that $$ to pay debts, invest in new crypto products, and — now — buy a gold mine.

AMC’s already converted some buzz into cash… Now it’s using that cash in even more experimental ways — e.g., acting kind of like a holding company. But it’s a long way from AMC’s core biz: movies, getting people to buy popcorn, and see them again. As for Hycroft, the mine’s looking to raise $500M through an ATM offering. TBD if that’ll work.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • Stink: Researchers studying US sewage for signs of Covid are warning that cases are going back up after a post-Omicron lull. Sewage scanning has become a helpful (if messy) leading indicator of outbreaks.
  • Withdraw: Sarah Bloom Raskin pulled her nomination to be the Fed’s top banking regulator. Sen. Joe Manchin had signaled his opposition over Raskin’s views on climate change.
  • Globetrot: Ticket sales for domestic flights hit $6.6B last month as travel demand soared to pre-pandemic levels. Summer’s looking good for the airlines, but sky-high jet-fuel prices could scramble vacays.
  • Pump: Saudi Arabia is talking to China about pricing some oil sales in yuan. The Saudis have traded oil exclusively in USD since 1974, but the US-Saudi relationship has been unraveling.
  • Soar: Tesla hiked the prices of its entire EV lineup for the second time this month after Elon said inflation was hitting both Tesla and SpaceX. The cheapest Tesla, the Model 3, now starts at $47K.

Snack Fact of the Day

During last year’s NCAA tourney, UConn women's star Paige Bueckers had nearly 1M Instagram followers — more than the starters on the final four men's teams combined


  • Fed’s interest-rate decision
  • Earnings expected from: Pinduoduo, Cintas, MillerKnoll, Williams-Sonoma, and Lands' End

Authors of this Snacks own: shares of Starbucks, and Tesla

ID: 2082247