Stifel Bits

May 24, 2023

The Appetizer

“The laptop class is living in la-la land.”

  • Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk on remote work

Shameless plug: If you want to dive deeper into the abyss of financial knowledge, take a delightful detour to

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

  • $3.53: The current national average for a gallon of gas, ~$1 cheaper than a year ago.
  • 74 days: The record that a professor just set for longest time living under water without depressurization. He intends to get to 100 days, studying the effects of extreme pressure on the human body over long periods.
  • 31 years old: The age of the world’s oldest dog, Bobi, who recently celebrated his birthday. Bobi is a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, a Portuguese breed.
  • 6.4%: The rise in the cost of pet services (including grooming) in April from a year ago. Contrast this with a 5.3% rise for human haircuts.
  • 100: The number of hours that a Nigerian chef cooked nonstop, surpassing the previous world record.
  • $12.4 million: The minimum net worth needed to join Monaco’s richest 1%, the highest in the world, according to research from Knight Frank. The U.S. figure is $5.1 million.

Dig In
S&P 500 Earnings

With first quarter earnings season in the ninth inning, 78% of the reporting S&P 500 companies have outperformed expectations. That beats the 10-year average of 73%. But hold your horses, there’s a twist:

Normally, at least over the past five years, when companies beat their earnings expectations, their stocks jumped an average of 1%. But this quarter we’re seeing a meager 0.3% bump, on average. And brace yourselves, because stocks falling short are getting a rough 4.1% price drop compared to the -2.2% five-year average.

So what’s the deal?

Well, it seems like expectations were so low that beating them became as predictable as a Monday morning coffee craving. And when companies disappointed, they were treated like a soggy sandwich. Ouch!

But fear not! There’s a silver lining. Estimates for the second half of the year are looking up, and fewer companies are grumbling about inflation. So, while markets may still have issues to work through, we’re watching for signs of balance as the year progresses.

Weekly Specials

  • The average price for a new vehicle reached $48,000 in April, up 24% compared to pre-pandemic levels, and used car prices are up 40%. Yikes! As a result, many drivers are holding onto their cars for longer: The average car on the road is now 12.5 years old.
  • Sometimes even inflation has silver linings: The IRS announced the largest ever contribution limit increase for health savings accounts last week. Individuals can contribute up to $3,850 this year, and families up to $7,750. Next year, with a $550 contribution bump and their ability to contribute an additional $1,000 apiece, couples age 55 and over could contribute more than $10,000. Wow!
  • If you’ve noticed a lot more Liams and Olivias in your life recently, you’re not wrong. The Social Security Administration recently released its annual baby names report, and Liam and Olivia topped the lists again. Liam extended its run as the top boys’ name to six years, while Olivia topped the girls’ list for the fourth year in a row.
  • There’s a joke here somewhere … why did the chicken cross the road? How many people does it take to catch a chicken? Take your pick. Subway services in Mexico City temporarily shut down when a chicken got loose on the tracks. It took several attempts, but workers finally were able to keep the bird from getting to the other side.

Corporate Lunch

  • Game on! The European Commission approved Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
  • Americans are putting down the hammers and paintbrushes, for now. Home Depot warned that annual sales will fall for the first time since 2009.
  • Western Alliance says deposits have grown by more than $2 billion since the quarter’s end.
  • Kraft Heinz unveiled a customizable sauce dispenser with more than 200 condiment combos for restaurants. Ever wanted to mix ranch and ketchup?
  • Use it or lose it. Google said it will begin deleting inactive accounts starting in December; just enough time to guess all of your passwords.
  • Alibaba’s e-commerce division will make “huge” investments in its Taobao shopping app. And guess what, it is going to launch, you guessed it, AI-powered tools.
  • ServiceNow unveils new generative AI features (surprise surprise) in partnership with Microsoft.
  • Target cited theft as a $500 million headwind to profit in 2023. Their new slogan is “Put that down.”
  • Ford is recalling 310,000 trucks to fix their driver’s side front air bags.
drawing of a table setting

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