Stifel Bits

May 10, 2023

The Appetizer

“I am obviously very happy with the outcome of the case, and it looks like I’m not having to retire from my day job after all.”

  • Singer Ed Sheeran after winning a copyright infringement case.

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

  • 23%: The percentage of jobs that will be disrupted in the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum.
  • 13%: The percentage of eighth graders who met proficiency standards for U.S. history, meaning they can explain major themes, periods, events, people, ideas, and turning points in the country’s history.
  • 32 million: The number of passengers passing through New York City-area airports in the first quarter of 2023, setting a new record. The figure is roughly 1 million more than in the same period in 2019.
  • June 1: The earliest date that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. could default on its debt. Stifel’s Brian Gardner recently wrote a piece on this topic.
  • $1 billion: The global ticket sales of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. It is the 10th animated movie to cross the $1 billion dollar mark and remains in the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Dig In
Precision Agriculture

Most of us are fortunate: If we’re hungry, we just open the refrigerator or run to the store to find something to eat. As one of our long-term investment themes, we’re watching two trends that could threaten that security in the coming years.

First is farmland. Only 11% of earth’s landmass provides ideal conditions for farming, and that number could fall to 7.5% if current land redevelopment rates continue for the next 20 years.

Demographics is the second. Projections show the world’s population growing past 9 billion by 2050, with food demand increasing somewhere between 59% and 98%.

So, you see the problem. One potential solution is doing more with less.

Precision farming uses technology to optimize crop yields and minimize waste. It involves giving crops exactly the right amount of water and fertilizer based on hyperlocal conditions within individual fields. The method benefits farmers by reducing waste and could potentially increase yields by 70%.

What’s the catch? While tech advances – such as GPS – have made precision farming more effective in recent years, it costs more than many small and mid-sized farms can afford. However, as further advances drive down costs, the method may offer a viable option to keep pace with growing demand.

Weekly Specials

Uber released its lost and found report, and … wow. From phones to dogs to fake blood (who forgets fake blood?), people leave behind all kinds of weird stuff. Pro tip: the most forgetful time is 11 p.m.

Over in England, the Blackpool Zoo is hiring “Seagull Deterrents” to stop seagulls from stealing food from animals and visitors. Applicants must be friendly, outgoing, flexible, and comfortable wearing bird costumes. Other benefits include great arm workouts.

Move over noisy neighbors and shoddy Wi-Fi connections, there’s a new hotel annoyance to deal with: the EV charger hog. As more people drive electric vehicles, guests are struggling with proper charging etiquette. Want to be a good neighbor? Have the front desk text you when your car’s finished charging.

The Federal Reserve raised rates again last week to a range between 5% and 5.25%, a 16-year high. Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that the central bank may be ready for a pause, but if the economy shows stronger growth than expected, the job market remains hot, and inflation fails to cool, it’s prepared to go even higher.

Move over King Charles, there’s a new coronation in town. Patch, a two-year-old English bulldog was crowned the winner of Drake University’s Beautiful Bulldog contest. As the winner of the contest, the pooch will be the official university mascot and representative for the next year.

Corporate Lunch

AI is giving us all a little too much to think about – looks like the robots are plotting against us.

The “Godfather of AI” left Google after a decade with the company to warn society of the technology he’s touted; this is where the movie begins folks.

Homework-help company Chegg said customer growth may slow because of ChatGPT. The stock price fell lower than their textbook prices.

IBM said it will pause hiring for jobs that AI could do.

Amazon’s Alexa is getting a makeover with more ChatGPT-like AI features. If she could make sure our pantry is always stocked, that would be great.

JPMorgan Chase took over First Republic after the biggest U.S. bank failure since 2008. Nothing funny about that one, moving on.

Subway is hoping that a $5 billion debt plan will seal the deal on a $10 billion sale.

Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants beefed up its portfolio by buying Ruth’s Chris Steak House for $715 million. Welcome to the family.

Ford is cutting the price of its electric Mustang Mach-E by thousands of dollars; let’s see how Tesla responds.

drawing of a table setting

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