Stifel Bits

April 5, 2023

The Appetizer

“I think it would be interesting to try to surf until I’m 100.”

  • Seiichi Sano, who at 89 years young, is recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest male to surf. Sano started surfing at 80, showing that it is never too late to learn a new skill!

Now, on to the numbers. Drum roll, please …

  • 15.9%: The percentage of people who tip at quick-service restaurants, down from 16.4% last year.
  • $450,000: How much it costs for one person to travel to space via Virgin Galactic.
  • ~50%: The percentage of U.S. workers that hold a side job or have some other form of extra income.
  • 80%: The percentage of wood chips in a new toilet model from Woodio, dubbed the world’s first wooden flush toilet.
  • $160,000: The estimated value of a gold-containing piece of rock that an Australian man found using a budget-priced metal detector.
  • $65 million: The income (including endorsements) that Los Angeles Angels player Shohei Ohtani is expected to earn in 2023, making him the highest-paid player in baseball.
  • $27,000: The fine per game that a French professional soccer team must pay because its 30-year old manager/head coach does not hold a professional coaching certification.
  • 71%: The percentage of kitchen and bath remodelers and contractors reporting canceled and postponed projects in fourth quarter 2022, up from 46% in first quarter 2022.

Dig In
Mr. Roboto

In our 2023 Outlook, we talked about how shifting workforce demographics could put the spotlight on automation and robotics to help increase productivity, mitigate costs, and fill labor gaps. After recently covering what applications like ChatGPT can (and can’t!) do, let’s look at robots … they’re everywhere.

While the likes of Wall-E, R2-D2, and the Terminator remain the stuff of science fiction, you’d be hard-pressed to find many aspects of modern life not affected by robots. They help harvest crops, assemble automobiles, take inventory, and ensure your online orders arrive at the right place.

It’s not going to stop there. Advances in sensor technology, artificial intelligence, and connectivity have already led to better machines, and many companies continue the quest for a robot that can handle fluid situations like a human.

So, are the robots coming for your job? It’s complicated. A recent study found that industrial robots – intended to replace human workers – have actually complemented the human workforce, likely increasing productivity while also creating new jobs for humans to do.

In some cases, though, the machines can’t compete just yet … just ask the 61 robot servers that Chili’s fired.

Weekly Specials

Who’da thunk it? Miami, San Diego State, and Florida Atlantic were in the Final Four.

Well, at least one person put their stimulus check to good use: A Texas woman used $1,200 in 2021 to kickstart a small business that’s expected to pull in $1 million this year. How’d she do it? Teaching others the old-fashioned cash stuffing budget.

2022 was a banner year for renewable energy sources: For the first time, more electricity was produced in the U.S. from renewables (21%) than by coal (20%). Growth in wind and solar power drove the increase, accounting for 14% of all electricity produced.

The annual Girl Scout cookie sale is designed to raise money and teach scouts about entrepreneurship. This year’s new offering, Raspberry Rally, gave scouts a hard lesson in customer service when demand greatly exceeded supply. That stinks, but hopefully they learned a lot!

Remember all the hype about NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and the Metaverse last year? Companies are now saying “meh” as Disney and Microsoft have recently shut down their metaverse projects, and Facebook parent Meta has shifted its focus to AI.

Naps are great for a quick recharge, but they don’t replace the sleep lost to late-night doomscrolling. The sleep quality is the key, and naps typically just don’t reach the deeper, more restorative levels. That said, a nap sounds pretty great.

Corporate Lunch

Starbucks’s new CEO, Laxman Narasimhan, wants to work in stores as a barista once a month.

Bank of America will sponsor The Boston Marathon starting in 2024, making it the title sponsor of two out of six World Marathon Majors.

Disney plans to announce the first of three rounds of layoffs this week, with final notices to come before summer.

Crocs saw its annual sales increase 200% since 2019 – becoming the coronavirus lockdown’s best friend. I got a pair of all white Crocs, so fresh.

Ford is expecting to lose $3 billion on its EV business this year. Having to recall 49,000 electric Mustangs probably didn’t help.

Jack Daniel’s is suing – in the U.S. Supreme Court – a dog toy company that allegedly copied its iconic bottle. I don’t see the resemblance.

Kellogg’s and Little Debbie teamed up to make a Swiss Roll cereal. This story sent me down a rabbit hole. Turns out they had previously released Cosmic Brownie and Nutty Buddy cereals.

drawing of a table setting

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