Stifel Bits

October 4, 2023

The Appetizer

“Are you kidding me. A #Phillies fan tried to come into game tonight with what they said was a ‘service animal.’ An alligator!”

  • A tweet from Howard Eskin, a sports anchor and radio personality after an emotional support alligator was denied entrance to a Phillies-Pirates game.

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

  • 4.77%: The S&P 500 decline in September, lowering the year-to-date return to 13.0%.
  • 237: The number of smartphone notifications that teenagers receive on a typical day.
  • 179 billion: The number of views of TikTok videos tagged #BookTok. BookTok influencers drive sales and generate buzz for books that they recommend, which is transforming the publishing industry.
  • 2 hours, 11 minutes, and 53 seconds: The new women’s marathon world record, set by Ethiopia’s Tigst Assefa at the Berlin Marathon.
  • 249: The MLB batting average for left-handed batters, up from .239 in 2022. Many attribute this to the elimination of the defensive “shift” rule.

Dig In
Wake Me Up When September Ends

September sure lived up to its reputation as the worst month of the year for the stock market; the S&P 500 was down 4.8% last month after finishing at -9.2% in September 2022 and -4.7% in September 2021.

So what caused last month’s decline? There’s a number of reasons, but many of them can be traced back to the pandemic and the Federal Reserve (Fed)’s response.

We all know the Fed has raised rates to bring inflation down. Investors are now looking ahead and trying to figure out when rates will start to come down. Many are starting to believe that we are in a new regime and that interest rates will be higher for longer. This is typically bad news for stock valuations.

Another reason? The consumer may be starting to feel some pain from higher rates, and that may slow the economy. Excess savings from the pandemic of almost $2 trillion have been spent down with only $0.2 trillion remaining, student loan payments are resuming, and interest costs on about $1 trillion of credit card debt are increasing.

Check out our recent Sight|Lines for a deeper dive on this topic.

Weekly Specials

Despite lagging in homeownership and earnings compared to older generations, millennials are stashing away more cash for their golden years. Why? Well, automatic enrollment has become the default in many 401(k) plans, benefitting millennials more than baby boomers and Gen X, many of whom delayed contributing. Lower-income workers are still struggling, and student loans are their kryptonite.

Jimmy Kimmel is back – along with the production of your favorite talk shows! The 146-day Hollywood strike finally wrapped up, thanks to some lengthy negotiations with the studios. Writers will be paid more with better hours. Actors, on the other hand, are still trying to cut their own deal with studios and streaming services.

“Don’t Brush and Drive” warns a dentist in Georgia who proudly holds the title for the world’s largest toothpaste collection, boasting a staggering 2,037 tubes. And just when you thought dental hygiene couldn’t get more exciting, some of his wildest flavors include whisky, bourbon, and wasabi. He has been collecting since 2001 and well, he just finds his hobby “fun!”

We all know of beloved voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri, enabling us to interact with our devices through spoken words. Now ChatGPT will be joining the conversation! In other words, ChatGPT can talk! The chatting bot is being rolled out to all ChatGPT subscribers so, soon enough, you will have the ability to access it too!

Corporate Lunch

Lego said it won’t use recycled plastic for bricks after it found the material didn’t reduce carbon emissions like it had hoped. They could use wood, but Lincoln Logs might have something to say about that.

Apple introduced an alternative to leather phone cases with “subtle luster and a soft, suede-like feel.” Consumers and reviewers don’t seem to be impressed … for now.

McDonalds is raising royalty fees for new franchised restaurants for the first time in almost 30 years.

Just four months after announcing that the Weinermobile was changing its name to the Frankmobile, Oscar Mayer is bringing back the original name.

Delta Air Lines announced drastic changes to its SkyMiles program and lounge access policy and met the same fate as the Starbucks and Dunkin’ rewards changes. The CEO said they “probably went too far” and promised modifications.

Marriott is dropping the mainsail and going full speed ahead on improving their cruise offerings. They plan to expand from three superyachts to as many as 10.

H&M warned that deferred layering due to an abnormally warm start to autumn is going to lead to lower revenue.

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