Everything You Need To Know About The Markets Today

Everything You Need To Know About The Markets Today

Markets in Asia struggled today to get any traction following yesterday’s lackluster markets in the US and the weakening data coming out of Europe. The European equity markets are mostly in the green (albeit only slightly) with the exception of the FTSE 100 which is slightly down as of mid-day trading.

The beleaguered Hong Kong stock exchange got a shot in the arm today as the initial public offering of AB InBev’s Asia Pacific business – Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Ltd (1876.HK) – raised $5 billion, the second largest IPO of the year behind Uber’s (UBER) $8.1 billion in May. The company had initially looked to raise closer to $10 billion two months ago but was forced to put the IPO on hold after investors balked at the price. That seems to be a growing trend these days.

Major events for the day will be… READ MORE HERE

Starbucks taps kombucha to pivot from sugary drinks and recapture consumers

Starbucks taps kombucha to pivot from sugary drinks and recapture consumers

First Cold Brew and now kombucha is being added to the beverage fold at Starbucks as it, much like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, are contending with the increasing consumer preference for healthier beverages, snacks, and food. In other words, less sugar as evidenced by the consumer wane for high calorie, high margin Frappucinos, and sugar soda as well as diet soda. While kombucha is a growing market, it’s not quite as mainstream as the Frappuccino was, which likely means it is part of larger salvo to be had by Starbucks as it looks to reposition its beverage portfolio to meet consumer tastes. Never an easy feat, and one that probably means trial and error.

 

Starbucks is brewing up some kombucha.The coffee chain announced it’s going to sell its own line of the trendy fermented tea. Starbucks (SBUX) is offering six flavors of kombucha under its Evolution juice brand and said the drinks have started shipping to stores in select cities.

Why kombucha? The cold-pressed drink is hot right now because of its probiotic punch and zingy flavor. Sales of the fermented tea totaled $1.2 billion last year, skyrocketing nearly 40%. Starbucks says “consumer interest” also spiked the same amount in 2017.

Tapping into the booming drink could help Starbucks reverse its fortunes. Recently installed CEO Kevin Johnson said customers have soured on sugary drinks, like the Frappucino, and he wants the brand to sell more healthy drinks. Evolution’s kombucha is low in calories and has 3 to 7 grams of sugar depending on the flavor.

Source: Starbucks’ new menu item: Kombucha

Coca-Cola: turning free water machine into a cash stream?

Coca-Cola: turning free water machine into a cash stream?

As part of our Clean Living investment theme, we’ve seen case volumes of not only sugary beverages but also those laced with artificial sweeteners come under pressure as consumers shift to healthier alternatives, including a variety of waters both still and sparkling. Existing soda giants, such as Coca-Cola have been expanding their beverage offering in recent years adding a water, teas, sports drinks and even milk to their global line up, but those still come in a can or plastic bottle.

Looking to more fully embrace the shift to Clean Living and potentially shun plastic bottle, Coke is sampling what it is calling Dasani Free that lets a consumer use their own reusable water bottle for free water or pay for added bubbles and flavors, but NO sweeteners or other ingredients are available. That sure does sound like Coke looking to pivot from its legacy business but it’s not as extreme as the move made by Cott Corp. when it sold its entire soda business.

This is a twist on its Coke Free-Style Machine, but it marks a huge shift in mentality for the company. Perhaps one day we may wind up calling reusable water bottles something like reusable beverage bottles… it could happen, look how the war on straws is forcing change, and yet all those plastic cold cups at Starbucks still remain…just saying.

 

The world’s largest soda maker is testing a fountain that lets people fill reusable water bottles with free, filtered water — but also offers the option of paying to add bubbles and fruity flavors. It’s an example of how the maker of Fanta, Sprite and Powerade is searching for new ways to make money as Americans cut back on traditional sodas.

For now, Coca-Cola is testing just one “Dasani Purefill” machine on the campus of Georgia Tech, across the street from its headquarters in Atlanta. It says it plans to expand the test on a rolling basis this fall to 20 machines on campuses in 15 states, though it did not specify locations.

The concept: You can have filtered water for free, or swipe a credit card to add bubbles or flavor for 5 cents an ounce, plus a 15-cent transaction fee. So filling a 20-ounce bottle with bubbles and flavor would cost $1.15.

You can’t get sweeteners and other ingredients.

The idea hitches a trend that has no sales potential for Coke (reusable water bottles) to one that does (sparkling, flavored water such as La Croix). If it catches on, it would help Coca-Cola squeeze money out of an increasingly popular habit that could otherwise hurt its business.

Source: Coke hopes to turn free water machine into a cash stream

 Our Clean Living theme hitting Frappuccino sales at Starbucks

 Our Clean Living theme hitting Frappuccino sales at Starbucks

The war on sugar has hit companies like Hershey Foods (HSY), forcing it to pivot its snacking M&A strategy to better meet shifting consumer preferences for healthy, natural and organic snacks.

We’ve seen a prononced shift for waters and seltzers that is driving companies like National Beverage Corp. (FIZZ), home of LaCroix, and Cott Corp. (COT), a now pure play company on water, coffee, tea and filtration, as consumers increasingly reach less frequently for sugary sodas or ones that have artificial sweeteners.

In other words, Hershey, Coca-Cola (KO), PepsiCo (PEP) are contending with the headwind associated with our Clean Living investing theme, while National Beverage and Cott are rising the tailwind.

Now we are seeing consumers balk at the sugar laden Frappuccino that has become a staple at Starbucks (SBUX) complete with seasonal specialites. While this is the latest thorn in the side of Starbucks, it has the potential to not only hit it on the profit line but also force an accelerated re-think on its beverage and even its food offerings.

 

Frappuccino sales are struggling, and concerns about how much sugar the slushy drinks contain may be among the reasons.Starbucks says sales from the drinks that mix coffee, ice, syrup and milk are down 3 percent from a year ago, and is blaming the “health and wellness” trend for the dip.”These are oftentimes more indulgent beverages — higher in sugar, higher in calories,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said during a presentation to investors Tuesday.

A 16-ounce Cupcake Creme Frappuccino has 400 calories and 63 grams of sugar. A Triple Mocha Frappuccino has 390 calories and 51 grams of sugar. That’s with 2 percent milk and whipped cream.

Peter Saleh, restaurant analyst for BTIG, notes that interest in healthy eating isn’t new: “It’s not something that popped up out of nowhere.”

Another problem may simply be “people not wanting to consume full-price Frappuccinos…” A medium Frappuccino costs between $4 and $5. Exactly how many calories the drinks deliver varies.

Source: Starbucks claims Frappuccino sales down due to ‘health and wellness’ trend | Fox News

When $4 coffee is no longer enough, Starbucks brings out the Reserve

When $4 coffee is no longer enough, Starbucks brings out the Reserve

People used to think we were crazy for paying $3-$4 for a cup of Starbucks coffee, but it soon became what we call an Affordable Luxury/Guilty Pleasure. Now in order to perk up growth and recapture some of the company’s early magic it intends to roll out both a Reserve line and Reserve coffee bars. Hopefully, the fancy brewing techniques and upscale environment soften the blow of what is likely to be high-end coffee prices. If it’s more bitter tasting coffee (you know what we’re talking about — coffee, not the espresso based drinks), we’ll continue to go to Pete’s Coffee & Tea and Blue Bottle when we’re in Manhattan

 

Starbucks, which was instrumental in shifting U.S. consumers to higher-quality coffee and espresso-based drinks, will have Reserve coffee “bars” in up to 1,000 Starbucks cafes by the end of 2017 in a bid to one day dominate the so-called “third wave” coffee movement.

Over time, Starbucks expects to open as many as 1,000 cafes that exclusively sell Reserve coffees, Schultz said. Starbucks opened its first Reserve coffee roastery and tasting room in Seattle in late 2014. It roasts limited-supply Reserve coffees that sell for up to $50 per 8-ounce package. Roastery baristas prepare coffee using a variety of uncommon methods, such as siphon brewing, which was popularized by Blue Bottle and other super-premium cafe operators.

Source: Starbucks plans new ‘Reserve’ targets in super-premium battle | Reuters

Falling grocery prices help explain weak restaurant results 

Falling grocery prices help explain weak restaurant results 

Cash-strapped consumers are feeling some extra change in their pockets following continued price declines at “food-at-home” prices over the last several months. Leave it to the government to come up with such a mouthful of a term. This lower cost alternative to eating out helps explain the horrible restaurant traffic and sales results over the last few months. With minimum wage pressures and healthcare costs, it’s hard to see restaurants ranging from McDonald’s (MCD) to any of Darden’s (DRI) restaurant chains cutting actual prices as it would mean sacrificing margins. Talk about a tough pickle!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food-at-home prices declined by 1.6 percent overall during the month, compared with a 1.3 percent decrease in June — the seventh sequential decline over the last nine months, the Bureau said.

Over the last 12 months, the food-at-home index has decreased by 1.6 percent, with indexes for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs falling 5.6 percent over that span. The dairy and related products index fell 3.1 percent, and the indexes for cereals and bakery products, and for nonalcoholic beverages, also declined. Those figures have increased pressure on restaurant chains at a time when many are facing margin pressure because of higher labor costs.

As the price gap between food at home and food away from home has widened into a gulf this year, restaurant industry same-store sales have taken a hit. Restaurant traffic fell 3.9 percent in July, according to Black Box Intelligence. And restaurant industry same-store sales slowed by nearly 2 percentage points in the second quarter, according to Nation’s Restaurant News research.

Source: Grocery prices drop, widening gap with restaurant prices