Posts tagged with "CNBC"

Christie’s launches ‘Department X’ as collectible sneakers and street-wear boom

September 29, 2022

Famed auction house Christie’s is launching a new department to capitalize on the booming market for collectible sneakers, streetwear, and sports history, reports CNBC.

On Monday, September 26, Christie’s announced the launch of its Department X—which will give Air Jordans and Supreme Skateboard Decks their own category, alongside Impressionist & Modern Art and Old Masters. The move is the latest sign that a wave of younger collectors is redefining the collectibles world.

“When looking at the auction world and the way collectors are evolving and the new collectors coming into the marketplace, we felt this is a strong a robust marketplace,” said Caitlin Donovan, Christie’s head of Handbags, Streetwear and Sneakers, who will head Department X. “It’s only going to get stronger and that’s why we felt it was time to dive headfirst into this new market.”

Department X will sell rare collectibles across music, fashion, art, and sports history—but sneakers and streetwear will be among its biggest categories. It will hold online auctions, with live previews in New York, and private selling exhibitions throughout the year.

Sneakers and sports collectibles have exploded in popularity and value in recent years. In June, Christie’s held a “Six Rings − Legacy of the GOAT” sale dedicated to basketball legend Michael Jordan’s career, with sales nearing $1.5 million.

And top competitor Sotheby’s Auction House this month sold Jordan’s “Last Dance” jersey—from his 1998 NBA Finals Game 1—for $10.1 million, setting a new record for sports memorabilia.

A collection of 200 pairs of Louis Vuitton and Nike Air Force 1 sneakers designed by the late designer Virgil Abloh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this year for $25 million. That was more than eight times the estimate—with one pair selling for $350,000.

According to CNBC, Sotheby’s launched its streetwear category in December, with most of the buyers between 20 and 40 years old and 80% of bidders new to the auction house.

As part of its Department X launch, Christie’s will hold a private-sale exhibit titled “Ye Walks,” celebrating two pairs of Kanye West’s sneaker designs. The Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype was the first West designed with Nike. The Nike Donda West Air Jordan VI was created in memory of West’s mother.

Hats, shirts, skate decks and even pinball machines from Supreme also have continued to soar in price. In 2020, Christie’s offered a collection of 253 Supreme t-shirts for $2 million.

Donovan says that younger collectors gravitate to the images and culture they grew up with. Street wear, rare sneakers, and memorabilia tied to sports icons are likely to grow in value as younger collectors gain wealth.

“We go for what tugs at our own past experiences and heart strings,” she said. “So for these collectors in their 30s and 40s, it’s a celebration of their culture.”

Some collectors say six-figure sneakers and t-shirts are a product of a speculative bubble, but Donovan said the rise of so-called “hype-wear” is likely to endure despite falling stocks and recession fears.

Research contact: @CNBC

Amazon schedules a second Prime Day sale for October 11-12

September 27, 2022

Amazon is hosting another Prime Day-like deal bonanza next month—marking the first time it will hold two such events in the same year, reports NBC News.

The company announced on Monday, September 26, that the event, which it’s calling the Prime Early Access Sale, will take place October 11-12. The event is only open to members of Amazon’s Prime subscription program and will feature “hundreds of thousands” of holiday deals, said Jamil Ghani, vice president of Prime, in an interview.

CNBC previously reported that Amazon began contacting sellers about the event in June.

Prime Day, which started in 2015, is typically held once a year during the summer. But Amazon tweaked the timing of the event in 2020 and 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic strained its operations. The company also has experimented with other discount events, such as an apparel sale, a pet-focused event and a fall beauty event.

Ghani declined to say whether Amazon plans to host more than one sales event for Prime members moving forward. By setting a deal event for October, Amazon is playing into a trend that’s gained momentum in recent years. Major retailers have started announcing promotions well ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, in large part because more sales are moving online.

The new sales event could help jumpstart holiday shopping for Amazon as the company stares down slowing e-commerce sales and a host of economic challenges—including a potential recession, soaring inflation, rising interest rates and the excess expansion it undertook during the pandemic.

Holiday sales are expected to grow from last year, but much of the increase will likely be driven by higher prices, according to a Bain & Co. forecast. Shoppers will likely be on the hunt for discounts more than usual as their wallets feel the strain.

“These days, it’s not lost on you or me that folks are trying to make their dollar stretch,” Ghani said.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Starbucks unveils ‘reinvention plan’

September 22, 2022

Starbucks outlined a reinvention plan on Tuesday, September 20, that includes expanding its loyalty program and speeding up operations at its cafes, in part with new coffee-making equipment and automation, reports CNBC.

On the call with analysts, outgoing Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said the coffee giant is projecting double-digit growth for revenue and earnings per share as it implements the new strategy.

The company is planning to build roughly 2,000 new U.S. stores between fiscal 2023 and 2025, accelerating its development strategy. By the end of fiscal 2025, it plans to have 45,000 locations worldwide.

The changes are intended to address how Starbucks’ business has transformed in recent years. Its menu has expanded, and cold coffee drinks that often include add-ons now account for 60% of orders year-round. Rather than going to the counter, more customers are going through the drive-thru or using its mobile app.

As business continues to morph and increase, in its fiscal 2023, Starbucks plans to invest roughly $450 million to upgrade its cafes with new equipment that will simplify operations and speed up service.

With its new cold beverage system, for example, baristas will no longer have to scoop ice, pour milk from a gallon jug, or bend down for whipped cream when making drinks. The new system uses dispensers and cuts down the time to create a Mocha Frappuccino from 86 seconds to 35 seconds. It’s been tested in a store, and a second test is planned for January after making improvements based on feedback.

Starbucks also is streamlining its process for making cold brew coffee, which is now a $1.2 billion business for the company. The current process requires more than 20 hours of brewing, with more than 20 steps. The new process automatically grinds and presses the coffee beans and reduces waste by 15%.

And instead of having baristas batch brew hot coffee every half hour, a machine that grinds and brews a single cup in 30 seconds will roll out next year. Even as cold drinks take over, the company sees 15 million customers every month who order brewed coffee.

Food preparation is also changing. Items like Starbucks’ premade sandwiches and egg bites will now be batch cooked and placed in packaging that retains humidity.

Automated ordering will roll out as well in U.S. stores in the next few years, according to Culver. The company said the shift toward automation is meant to give employees more time to interact with customers and relieve them of the more mundane parts of the job.

A quarter of Starbucks transactions now come from mobile app orders, driven by the company’s loyalty program. The U.S. version of by Starbucks Rewards had 27.4 million active members as of July 3, and they accounted for more than half of the company’s orders.

To keep growing its base of loyal customers, Starbucks has extended its loyalty program technology to licensed cafes, which include locations in airports and retailers like Barnes & Noble. Roughly 20% of its roughly 7,000 U.S. licensed stores are using the technology already.

Additionally, Starbucks will link its rewards program to outside loyalty programs, like those for airlines and retailers. Consumers will be able to earn “stars” by shopping elsewhere or turn their rewards points into airline miles.

Chief Marketing Officer Brady Brewer said the company will announce the first U.S.-based partnership in October.

This autumn also marks the start date for incoming CEO Laxman Narasimhan. He’ll join the company in October and learn more about its operations before officially taking the reins from Schultz in April.

Narasimhan made a brief, surprise appearance during the investor day, speaking about his upbringing, his love for writing poetry and what drew him to Starbucks. He told investors that he uses the name “Laks” when ordering coffee from Starbucks to avoid misspellings.

In addition to store operations, the changes are being calculated to “de-stress” harried baristas. Starbucks Chief Technology Officer Deb Hall Lefevre said the company is working on an app for baristas that will let them manage their schedules and pay, as well as foster two-way communication with the company and help with career growth.

The upcoming changes for U.S. baristas is just “phase one” of a multiyear plan, according to Starbucks management. The company also is looking to improve the experiences of baristas overseas—as well as for the employees who harvest its coffee beans, work in its supply chain, and provide customer support.

Research contact: @CNBC

Gatorade debuts its first-ever caffeinated energy drink, Fast Twitch

September 6, 2022

PepsiCo’s Gatorade is entering the energy drink category with its first caffeinated beverage, called Fast Twitch. Each 12-ounce bottle contains 200 milligrams of caffeine, electrolytes, and B vitamins, reports Food Dive.

The beverage, which was developed along with the NFL and sports performance experts, contains no sugar or carbonation and comes in some of the same flavors as Gatorade. Fast Twitch will start appearing on the sidelines of NFL games in the coming weeks and hit store shelves starting in February.

PepsiCo’s Gatorade has become a juggernaut brand with annual sales topping $6 billion and control of more than 70% of the sports drink market by focusing on hydration. But with competitors like Coca-Cola’s BodyArmor surging in popularity, the market staple is looking for new avenues of growth and differentiation.

For PepsiCo, Fast Twitch not only allows the snack and beverage company to double down on the popular energy drink space but also participate in more parts of an individual’s workout.

Caffeine is a natural diuretic that removes salt and water from the body. While Fast Twitch has caffeine to boost energy, it is designed to be consumed before drinking a hydrating beverage during a workoutPepsiCo told CNBC.

Unlike other pre-workout drinks loaded with sugar that many consumers are avoiding, Fast Twitch omits the sweetener. It also bypasses the use of carbonation and artificial ingredients that have deterred many consumers from trying energy drinks in the past.

“We’ve spent decades studying the best athletes in the world, and what we’ve learned is there hasn’t been an athletic energy solution they can trust that is designed for them to start fast and ignite their performance,” Anuj Bhasin, vice president of marketing and general manager for Gatorade Brands, said in a statement.

Research contact: @FoodDive

‘Lawyers are giggling’: Attorneys scratch their heads at Trump’s ‘very strange’ DOJ lawsuit

Augusst 24, 2022

On Monday, August 22, former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit demanding the return of documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago—arguing that the feds did not have sufficient reason for the raid, even though they found 300 classified documents at Trump’s home, according to The New York Times.

Indeed, Salon reports, the FBI recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago in three batches over the last eight months, according to the report. Trump only turned over 150 of the documents to the National Archives in January, prompting the Justice Department to investigate whether he withheld some materials.

boxes included documents from the CIA, National Security Agency, and FBI across a “variety of topics of national security interest,” according to the report.

Trump rifled through the boxes of documents late last year as officials were attempting to recover them, sources told the outlet. Surveillance footage obtained by the DOJ also showed people “moving boxes … and in some cases, appearing to change the containers some documents were held in,” according to the report. Trump resisted demands to return the documents, describing them as “mine,” sources told the Times.

Earlier this year, Trump attorney Christina Bobb signed a declaration that all classified material had been returned, which ultimately led to the FBI’s unprecedented raid on Trump’s residence to recover documents that he withheld after the first three recovery attempts.

Andrew Weissmann, a former federal prosecutor who served on special counsel Bob Mueller’s team, called the report “incredibly damning” for Trump, noting that the report suggests the former president personally reviewed the documents to decide what to return.

“If you are a prosecutor, you really look for evidence of what the former president did personally,” he told MSNBC. “If the DOJ either knows about or is soon to interview those people who were sources for The New York Times, they’re going to have a substantial criminal case.”

Despite the mounting evidence that Trump’s actions may have run afoul of federal laws governing classified materials and document preservation, Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday arguing that the feds have “failed to legitimize its historic decision” to raid his home.

The lawsuit called for a court to appoint a special master, a third party who is typically a former judge, to review whether some materials may be protected by attorney-client privilege or other guidelines. The lawsuit seeks the return of documents the FBI seized in the raid.

“This Mar-a-Lago Break-In, Search, and Seizure was illegal and unconstitutional, and we are taking all actions necessary to get the documents back, which we would have given to them without the necessity of the despicable raid of my home, so that I can give them to the National Archives until they are required for the future Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Museum,” Trump said in a statement on Monday.

The lawsuit argues that the raid was politically motivated, claiming that Trump is the “clear frontrunner” in the 2024 election “should he decide to run.”

The lawsuit accuses the feds of violating Trump’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and asks that the court block “further review of seized material” until they are reviewed by a special master.

The DOJ said it would file a response in court.

“The August 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause,” DOJ spokesperson Anthony Coley told CNBC.

Research contact: @Salon

American Airlines agrees to buy 20 supersonic planes from Boom

August 17, 2022

American Airlines has agreed to purchase 20 supersonic Overture planes from Boom Supersonic, reports CNBC.

The deal is the second firm order in the last two years for Denver-based Boom—which still is years from building its first commercial airplane. United Airlines made a commitment last year to buy 15 Overture jets.

“Passengers want flights that are faster, more convenient, more sustainable and that’s what Overture delivers,” Boom CEO Blake Scholl told CNBC. “Flight times can be as little as half as what we have today, and that works great in networks like American, where we can fly Miami to London in less than five hours.”

Boom says the Overture jet will fly as fast as Mach 1.7, or 1,304 mph, dramatically cutting trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flight times. For example, a flight from Seattle to Tokyo, which typically takes just over 10 hours, could be completed in six hours in an Overture, according to Boom.

“Supersonic travel will be an important part of our ability to deliver for our customers,” American’s CFO Derek Kerr, said in a statement announcing the order. American is paying Boom an undisclosed amount as a nonrefundable deposit.

The airline also has the option to purchase another 40 Overtures in the future.

Boom says its supersonic planes will carry 65 to 80 passenger while flying on sustainable aviation fuel offering lower emissions.

Still, Overture is years away from becoming a reality. Boom will build the jet at a new manufacturing plant in North Carolina and expects to roll out the first model in 2025, with the first flight in 2026.

If the flight tests and certification process goes as scheduled, Boom says the Overture will enter commercial service by the end of the decade.

Research contact: @CNBC

Beyond Meat stock falls following conclusion of the McDonald’s McPlant test

August  1, 2022

Shares of  Beyond Meat—the Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes—fell 6% in morning trading on Thursday, July 28, after J.P. Morgan revealed that  McDonald’s  had ended its U.S. test of the McPlant burger, which uses Beyond’s meatless patties, reports CNBC.

The fast-food giant confirmed to CNBC on Thursday that the McPlant test had concluded as planned. Neither McDonald’s nor Beyond Meat has announced any plans for additional testing or a nationwide launch.

 Indeed, Beyond’s stock has fallen 53% this year—dragging its market value down to $2.06 billion. Wall Street has become skeptical about the company’s long-term growth opportunities as grocery sales lag.

 Moreover, buzzy partnerships with restaurant giants like Pizza Hut owner Yum Brands and McDonald’s haven’t progressed to many permanent nationwide menu offerings yet.

 McDonald’s first tested the meat-free burger in eight restaurants in the United States in November to try to get an idea of how the menu item would impact its kitchens. In mid-February, it rolled the McPlant out to roughly 600 locations to learn more about consumer demand for the menu item.

 Analyst research reported lackluster demand for the Beyond burger. BTIG analyst Peter Saleh wrote in a June note that franchisees told him that McPlant sales were disappointing, coming in at or below the low end of projections.

 J.P. Morgan analyst Ken Goldman wrote in his note on Thursday that some McDonald’s restaurant employees told him that the burger didn’t sell well enough, potentially putting a nationwide launch in jeopardy.

“Consensus contemplates 21% growth for BYND’s total top line this year, followed by another 25% next year. These rates will not be easy to hit, in our view, without [McDonald’s] in the United States,” Goldman wrote.

 McDonald’s and Beyond  announced a three-year partnership in early 2021. The burger chain already has started selling McPlant burgers in some international markets, including Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. 

 In May, Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said that the McPlant is selling well in the U.K. and Austria.

 Beyond is expected to report its second-quarter earnings after the bell on August 4.

 Research contact: @CNBC

Lowe’s expands into the Metaverse with a tool to help customers visualize home projects

June 22, 2022

It seems like every company is getting into the Metaverse—a collective virtual shared space including the sum of all virtual worlds and the Internet—these days. And Lowe’s doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to use it to help builders imagine projects, reports CNBC.

But unlike other retailers, which chose a particular virtual platform or game, such as Fortnite or Roblox, Lowe’s’ Metaverse assets—including free downloads of 500 product assets, including items such as chairs—are available on its own hub.

“It’s all emerging, and it’s all up for exploration,” Lowe’s EVP and Chief Brand and Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg told CNBC in an exclusive interview. The retailer decided not to choose one Metaverse platform, but rather “a kind of an agnostic and kind of democratized approach,” she said.

While other brands have found immediate ways to make money in the Metaverse, even on an experimental basis, Thalberg said “this isn’t about immediately jumping in and trying to make an event or immediately commoditizing it.”

Rather, she told CNBC, “Our goal really is to take this new frontier and help people use their imaginations and help them make their virtual spaces as exciting and inspirational and enjoyable as their real-world spaces. And that’s the only benefit we seek to obtain at this point.”

At least that’s the only stated benefit. As the first major home improvement retailer to enter the Metaverse and make its applicable assets available for free, no doubt a key goal is watching consumer behavior to eventually capitalize on the opportunity that might exist. The assets are based on real products the company currently sells online and in its stores. 

Seemantini Godbole, Lowe’s EVP and chief information officer, told CNBC in an exclusive interview the retailer is applying many of the principles it currently uses for shoppers for this metaverse project.

“What we have noticed in our current mediums like Lowes.com and in our stores … people like to experiment and while they’re shopping and getting inspired they like to put things together in the virtual world before they start their project,” she said. “It’s the same idea for the Metaverse. That you want them to experiment, feel and understand how it’s going to look before they start the project in the real world.”

Godbole said many of these Metaverse assets had already been created as 3D digital versions of physical products available for purchase, to help online shoppers visualize the real-life dimensions and features. Lowe’s is already using virtual and augmented reality technology to allow shoppers to design an entire kitchen online or map their home’s floor plan using their smartphone as examples.

“There is just a huge appetite from our customers to use emerging technology” like the VR and AR tools Godbole said. “We are applying some of those lessons in the Metaverse.”

Right now, Lowe’s isn’t offering a physical good with the purchase of a virtual one, or any link back to its website from any Metaverse platforms, Godbole said. But that could change.

“In the future, we could absolutely think about, how do all these different things link, and make sure that [Metaverse users] are able to shop these items on Lowe’s dot com or in our stores,” she said.

Thalberg acknowledged that the typical metaverse participant “skews really young,” likely younger than the typical Lowe’s shopper or homeowner today.

“But if you look at kids who’ve used platforms like Minecraft and Roblox, a lot of what they do there, is fascinatingly enough, build and design. This idea of being able to build and decorate and design and improve is kind of core to how these spaces are emerging,” she said. “And so if we catch them young, that’s great, but we see a real utility too, as we look to a huge wave of millennial new homeowners who aren’t afraid of technology.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Ukraine moves closer to joining the EU

June 20, 2022

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has proposed that Ukraine become a membership candidate to join the bloc—the first step on a long road to EU membership, reports CNBC.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday, June 17, that Ukraine should be welcomed by Europe.

The invitation comes shortly after some of the most powerful EU leaders traveled to Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv in a show of solidarity with the war-ravaged country.

Serhiy Haidai, the head of Luhansk’s Regional Administration, says the number of Russian bombings in Ukraine is “rising daily.” Russian forces are continuing to launch ground assaults on the strategically important Donbas city of Severodonetsk in an attempt to establish control.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Ukraine’s membership in the European Union requires Russia’s attention. “The possible entry of Ukraine into the EU requires increased attention of the Russian Federation in connection with the discovery of defense affiliation,” he said, according to a Russian agency Interfax report, translated by NBC News.

“The decision to give Ukraine the status of a candidate for EU membership requires increased attention of Moscow,” Peskov said, according to the Russian agency RIA.

Peskov’s comments followed a meeting between European leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

Research contact: @CNBC

Facebook parent Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down

June 3, 2022

Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down from her role as Chief Operating Officer at Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, reports CNBC.

Sandberg joined Facebook in early 2008 as the No. 2 to Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and helped turn Facebook into an advertising juggernaut—and one of the most powerful companies in the tech industry, with a market cap that topped $1 trillion at one point.

Javier Olivan, the company’s chief growth officer, will take over as COO this fall. Sandberg, who informed Zuckerberg of her decision this past weekend, will continue to serve on Meta’s board of directors.

“Over the next few months, Mark and I will transition my direct reports,” Sandberg said in a lengthy Facebook post discussing stepping down. Meta is also planning an internal reorganization to go along with the change, Zuckerberg said.

“Looking forward, I don’t plan to replace Sheryl’s role in our existing structure. I’m not sure that would be possible since she’s a superstar who defined the COO role in her own unique way,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

“But even if it were possible, I think Meta has reached the point where it makes sense for our product and business groups to be more closely integrated, rather than having all the business and operations functions organized separately from our products,” he said.

Meta has come under fire in recent years for its massive influence, its lack of success in stopping the spread of misinformation and harmful material, and its acquisitions of one-time rivals like Instagram and WhatsApp. Zuckerberg and other execs have been forced to testify before Congress multiple times in the last three years, although Sandberg has largely escaped that spotlight. The company currently faces an antitrust lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission and could see scrutiny from other agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission after a whistleblower filed a complaint about its efforts to combat hate on its platform.

Speaking with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, Sandberg said the decision to step down will allow her to focus more on her philanthropic work. The move is not because of the company’s regulatory overhang or its current advertising slowdown, she said.

Prior to Facebook, Sandberg served in the Treasury Department of the Clinton Administration; then joined Google in 2001 and helped grow its advertising business.

Research contact: @CNBC