Finimize - 👋 Target snubs inflation

America loves Target | But Zoom hates offices |

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Today's big stories

  1. Target reported better-than-expected earnings
  2. There’s one key reason Warren Buffett is sticking with Berkshire Hathaway’s Apple holdings through thick and thin – Read Now
  3. Zoom reported slowing growth as workers swap video calls for boardrooms

Strategic Thinking

Strategic Thinking

What’s Going On Here?

Target reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings on Tuesday, as the US big-box retailer shows that it pays to plan three steps ahead.

What Does This Mean?

Target did all it could last quarter to mitigate the effect of supply shortages, buying $2 billion more in backroom stock than it normally would ahead of the holiday season. And that foresight paid off handsomely: customers made 8% more trips to Target’s stores and website last quarter than the same time in 2020, helping push overall profit up by a better-than-expected 12%. That growth’s arguably all the more impressive considering what the tail-end of 2020 looked like: the US was awash with cash after the government doled out stimulus checks to keep Americans afloat. Add in the fact that Target forecasted better-than-expected revenue growth for this year, and investors didn’t need much convincing: they sent the retailer’s shares up 13%.

Why Should I Care?

The bigger picture: Spend money to make money.
Trouble is, Target’s costs are due for a growth spurt too. The company announced earlier this week that it’s upping hourly wages, in hopes of better competing for workers in a competitive labor market. In fact, it reckons it'll spend $300 million more this year on salaries and healthcare benefits alone, which – on top of already high supply chain costs – could end up dragging on the retailer’s profit margins (tweet this).

Zooming out: Inflation isn’t all that.
This is just another sign that the retail sector as a whole is in rude health. Walmart posted a robust set of earnings last month, and US department store Kohl’s – which is expecting the introduction of customer-favorite brands like Calvin Klein to help boost sales – gave a better-than-expected revenue outlook for the year on Tuesday. All these strong results suggest consumer demand is actually holding up pretty well – all the more surprising considering how fast prices are rising right now.

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Analyst Take

Why Warren Buffett Is A Big Fan Of Apple

Why Warren Buffett Is A Big Fan Of Apple
Photo of Carl Hazeley

Carl Hazeley, Analyst

What’s Going On Here?

When Warren Buffett speaks, investors listen – and Warren Buffett has just spoken.

In his annual shareholder letter, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO drew attention to his company’s “giants”: four investments that “account for a very large chunk of Berkshire’s value”.

Three of those are an insurer, a railroad firm, and an energy company.

But the fourth is Apple – a company Buffett’s been enamored with for years, even though its sky-high valuation is arguably at odds with its potential profit growth.

So that’s today’s Insight: why Buffett’s sticking with the iPhone-maker through thick and thin, and whether you should too.

Read or listen to the Insight here


Crypto killed the Super Bowl star

Snoop Dogg was great, sure. And those LA Rams, what a team.

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Suit Up

Suit Up

What’s Going On Here?

Zoom announced a bleak outlook for 2022 earlier this week, just as demand for acceptable office attire boomed among the teleconferencing company’s customers.

What Does This Mean?

Office workers might’ve gotten used to only showing their torsos on a 3x3 inch video chat window, but that changed last quarter when the Great Office Return began in earnest. This is the moment Zoom’s been dreading, and with good reason: the number of business customers with 10-plus employees fell last quarter from the one before. And since big business customers are a key driver of revenue, that could be why Zoom’s total sales came in just 21% higher last quarter than the same time the previous year – a huge drop from the previous quarter’s 35%. The company topped it all off with a weaker-than-expected revenue outlook for both this quarter and 2022 as a whole, and its shares cratered 13%.

Why Should I Care?

For markets: If in doubt, bribery.
Investors have been worried about Zoom’s future for a while now, making the case – clearly a pretty accurate one – that growth would slow dramatically when offices started opening up again. That might be why its stock price has now fallen over 75% from its peak in October 2020. Still, Zoom is trying to put their minds at ease: the company announced plans to buy back $1 billion worth of its own shares, which will reduce the supply of those in circulation and should increase the price of those left over.

The bigger picture: Zoom’s branching out.
Zoom had planned to offset some of this slowdown in growth by buying customer support software provider Five9 last year, but the deal fell through. So now it’s going it alone, launching its own rival online customer support center platform last week. That could be a wise move: the so-called “global contact center software” market is predicted to be worth $150 billion by 2030 – up from $24 billion last year.

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💬 Quote of the day

“I decided I can’t pay a person to rewind time, so I may as well get over it.”

– Serena Williams (an American professional tennis player)
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