🥊 Salesforce is unstoppable

Salesforce is the new normal | Costco: no longer exclusive |

Hi Reader, here's what you need to know for May 31st in 3:07 minutes.

🏖 We’re getting some much-needed R&R on Monday, and we hope you will be too. If anyone gets lost in all the fun, we’ll meet you back here on 2nd June. Cool?

Today's big stories

  1. Salesforce’s earnings surged past analysts’ expectations late last week, with demand for its cloud software as strong as ever
  2. Markets have steered clear of a crash so far, so here's what to expect next – Read Now
  3. Costco reported strong quarterly results, the latest of the big-box retailers to do so

Unstoppable ‘Force

Unstoppable ‘Force

What’s Going On Here?

Salesforce’s earnings punched past analysts’ expectations late last week, with demand for its cloud software looking as strong as ever.  

What Does This Mean?

Companies around the world continue to clamor for cloud-based software solutions, even as many of the planet’s economies reopen in some shape or form. So much so, in fact, that cloud specialist Salesforce says its clients aren’t just the most optimistic they’ve been since the start of the pandemic right now – they’ve also restarted large-scale investment in software upgrades.

Many of the company’s clients expect at least some of their workers to remain remote indefinitely, with sales calls via teleconference also likely to continue being a thing. And that’s making Salesforce feel good about the future: it upped its sales estimates for the remainder of the year ahead of what analysts had penciled in. The company’s share price proved to be far from an immovable object as a result: investors initially sent Salesforce’s stock 6% higher on Friday.

Why Should I Care?

The bigger picture: No cloud cuckoo land.
Cloud computing appears to be here to stay: the pandemic, after all, has forcibly removed any lingering reluctance companies had regarding the movement of mission-critical work online. Leading research firm Gartner now expects global cloud computing revenues to increase 23% this year. That’s up from its forecast of 18% growth just a few months back – and more than double the rate at which the industry expanded in 2020 (tweet this).

For markets: Salesforce on sale?
Despite the positive outlook and Friday’s bump, Salesforce’s stock still hasn’t risen as much as the broader US stock market this year. Analysts at investment bank Morgan Stanley reckon now’s a good time to buy in: the thinking is that a leading firm in a sector that’s expected to see consistently strong demand over the coming years won’t stay cheap for long.

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2. Analyst Take

Markets Have Mostly Stuck To The Script This Year. So What Happens Next? 

As May comes to an end and the typically quieter summer period starts, it’s a good time to take stock of markets’ movements so far this year – and look at where we go from here.

An economic rollercoaster has slowly leveled out, and the consensus expectation of slow but steady growth for stocks, with some rotation from growth sectors to value sectors, has been proved broadly correct.

January’s biggest pessimists have meanwhile been confounded, with only crypto markets suffering any serious selloff – and even then remaining well in the green for the year.

But as US economic surprises threaten to trend negative once again, the recovery phase could give way to a new and uncertain period for markets.

And that’s today’s Insight: how inflation data is likely to be key for the rest of 2021, dictating how hard central banks can keep pumping in support for the economy – and for your investments.

Read or listen to the Insight here

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What’s Going On Here?

Membership-based discount retailer Costco became the latest big-box retailer to report strong quarterly results at the end of last week – but that’s hardly an exclusive society right now.

What Does This Mean?

It could be down to government stimulus checks or simply pent-up post-lockdown demand: either way, people are getting out and splashing their cash. Costco’s profit came in 16% ahead of analysts’ forecasts – the fifth time earnings have beaten estimates in the past six quarters. Still, that outperformance is nothing unusual: Walmart and Target also reported similarly strong results over the past couple of weeks. Investors’ expectations were therefore high – which may be why Costco’s share price actually fell on Friday.

Why Should I Care?

For markets: Rising prices are a headache for retailers. 
In spite of strong consumer demand, the rising prices of goods and services – i.e. inflation – is causing concern among retail analysts. As inflation increases, so too do costs for the likes of Costco. If a company can’t pass these on quickly enough to consumers via higher product prices, then the higher costs will eat into its profit margin. And seeing as margins for consumer retail companies are already razor-thin compared to most other industries, that could be the difference between making money and losing it.

The bigger picture: Discount retailers do well out of wealth inequality. 
About half of all large US retail chain store opening announcements so far this year have come from discounters Dollar General and Dollar Tree (which also owns Family Dollar). This rapid expansion may be partly due to the country’s growing wealth inequality pushing more Americans towards cut-price shopping. But such stores are also better positioned to withstand ecommerce competition: discounters mostly sell food and daily essentials where delivery probably isn’t worth waiting for. Whatever the reason, more stores could translate into greater future profits for discount retailers.

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💬 Quote of the day

“Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards.”

– Lois McMaster Bujold (an American speculative fiction writer)
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With cryptocurrency going mainstream, the opportunities will soon become endless. Find out How To Buy Coffee And Cars With Crypto at our Wednesday event with Benjamin Whitby, a crypto compliance and regulatory specialist.

🇨🇳 How To Profit From Chinese Innovation: 5pm UK time, June 1st
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🎯 On our radar

  1. It’s all about the renderporn. Inside the strange, soothing world of digital interiors.
  2. Bring on the Blue Hawaiis. How the blue drink went from ridiculous to cool.
  3. Britney, Janet, Paris, and Christina. 2000s pop culture was all bubblegum and misogyny.
  4. Oslo to Stockholm… via blimp. The short-haul airship helping to reduce airline industry emissions.
  5. Diamonds are forever. So long as they’re man-made.
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