Trade War Episode II: Tariffing tequila and canoes

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures

"Do you know how expensive China just made this helmet?"

Dow Jones
25,325 (-2.38%)
S&P 500
2,812 (-2.41%)
7,647 (-3.41%)
$8,091 (+14.85%)
10-Yr US Treasury

Hey Snackers,

She started it.

Just after Friday's fresh US tariffs kicked China under the table, China pinched back. Now investors are pulling the car over — The Dow plummeted 617 points for its worst day in four months on trade war family drama.

1. Peloton claims first fitness victim: Flywheel

Yanked a hammy... Flywheel, the 40-studio spinning chain launched by a SoulCycle founder, is walking out of the class — it's been taken over by its biggest investor/lender. And the new boss is looking to make 2 moves pronto:

  • Try selling (again): Flywheel stuck a $350M price tag on itself last year, but no one bought.
  • Switch products: Instead of studios you schlep to, sweat it out in the living room with their at-home stationary bike.

Coincidence?... Nope. Peloton pioneered the tech-enabled at-home bike in 2012. Since then, it's stolen customer butts from major gym chains through extreme convenience. First, it's suing Flywheel for copying its home spin bike. Second, it's planning to IPO this year at an $8B valuation. Here are the 3 keys to Peloton's soul:

  1. Hardware: A $2K bike that's just small enough to fit in a closet, but big enough to humble-brag visitors with. Over 400K have been sold, featuring instructors who yell/guide you via the mounted screen.
  2. Software: Thousands of live and on-demand streaming spin videos are available so you can tap it back for a 30-minute hip-hop ride anytime.
  3. Subscription: Once you've bought the bike, you're on the hook for $39/month to access those class videos.

Peloton is the Apple of sweating... Just as your iPhone generates $$ for Apple via services (think Apple Music), digital content drives the value of Peloton's bikes. Without the virtual class subscription, it's just hardware. So Peloton instructors are "treated like pro athletes" to produce better classes, while the new Peloton app offers yoga/lifting/walking videos for $19/month. Content is calorie-crushing king.


"No, you hang up"... (but with geopolitical tension instead of puppy love). One business day after President Trump hiked tariffs on Chinese-made imports from 10% to 25%, China announced higher tariffs on $60B in USA-made goods starting June 1st. That dropped stocks the moment Monday's markets opened.

"Americans' entire shopping cart will get more expensive"... Straight talk from a Walmart/Target lobbyist. Since Friday, half of Chinese imports have a 25% tariff — The other half is full of goodies you're probably wearing/touching/tapping right now (electronics, t-shirts, Silly Puddy). Here's what's surprisingly hit on both sides:

  • The next $300B of US tariffs on China: Purebred horses, 122 different kinds of footwear, coffee makers. Our highlight from the super-detailed list: "Footwear w/outer soles & uppers of rubber or plastics, nesoi, n/cov. ankle, nesoi, valued o/$6.50 but n/o $12/pair."
  • The next $60B of Chinese ones on the US: Honey, salted beef, "fine and coarse rice," tequila, gin, bricks, watches, chalk, canoes, and 5,000 more things.
  • Fun fact: Both China and the US are tariff-ing shoes made by the other. But it doesn't cancel out.

Hold your breath until June 28/29... President Trump meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 Summit in Japan. Trump said he could decide not to impose those new tariffs if they agree to something. But markets are bracing for the full-blown, tit-for-tat, back-and-forth trade war we're in. The impact of each tariff is higher prices and less profit.


Lance Armstrong would be impressed... According to a lawsuit filed in federal court by 44 state prosecutors, Teva Pharmaceuticals is a criminal mastermind. The allegation: It corralled 19 other drug firms to keep generic drug prices high — 1,000% higher than they could/should be. That's anti-competitive, illegal, and just wrong. So it dropped Teva stock 15%.

That's a lot of attorneys general... Here are a couple things we noticed from this lawsuit:

  • It's a shore thing: More than half of the 20 companies are based in New Jersey.
  • And it's a TV thing: President Trump just enacted new rules that require drug ads on TV to display the price if the medication costs more than $35/month.

One thing Americans aren't polarized on... Drug prices. Successful lobbying and divisive politics allowed pharma firms to raise prices on life-or-death drugs for years. Now a Republican President, over a dozen Democratic presidential candidates, and 44 state prosecutors want it to stop. Investors have already left the stadium. This game's over.

What else we’re Snackin’
  • Mystery: Bitcoin jumped 50% in May alone. Here are 5 theories why...
  • Fresh: Impossible Foods (the Beyond Meat rival) raises $300M from celeb-vestors Serena Williams, Trevor Noah, Katy Perry, and Jay-Z
  • Up'd: Big Tobacco is OK with raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 nationwide
  • Out: Bed Bath & Beyond's CEO is stepping down on pressure from investors
  • Teamwork: Bleacher Report is going "all in" on sports gambling
  • Robo-ing: Amazon introduces packing machines at dozens of fulfillment centers: 1 robot replaces 12 workers
Snacks Daily Podcast

Today's 15-minute Snacks Daily pod:

  • The Supreme Court just ruled that you have the right to sue Apple for monopolizing the App Store
  • Our "Unsexy Companies of the Day": They're usually pretty boring, but they went up yesterday while other stocks went (really, really) down

Disclosure: An author of this Snacks owns Bitcoin and shares of Beyond Meat.

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