"Team veggie wraps at Taco Bell post-game"

January 11, 2019
Dow Jones: 24,002 (+0.51%)
S&P 500: 2,597 (+0.45%)
Nasdaq: 6,986 (+0.42%)
Bitcoin: $3,610 (-9.94%)
10-Year Treasury: 2.726%

Pluto was still a planet. Google bought YouTube. And you had to be in college to access Facebook.

Such was life the last time things started a year this well. The market's best New Year's win streak since 2006 kept its mojo going through Thursday.

1. Taco Bell's testing a vegan menu

Your spring break beach body needs enchiladas... and Taco Bell wants to help. It's testing out new 100% vegetarian and vegan menus at some locations, featuring cow-approved tacos, crunch wraps, and some kind of tostado burrito.

New New Year's resolution: More churros... Taco Bell strategically timed up the anti-meat menu. Customers demand healthy for January's "lose-19-in-2019" weight goals. For the inventor of the "Beefy Nacho Loaded Griller Burrito," a plant-based menu gets them in the store (even if cheese is in its DNA).

The Takeaway: "Reducetarian" is the avocado toast... Taco Bell isn't focused on your mozzarella-hating Vermont aunt. The vegan menu is an outstretched hand to "flexetarians" -- Americans reducing their meat eating, not eliminating it. That group's growing faster than full-time vegetarians. Taco Bell craves them.

2. Ford totals its awkward "Chariot" shuttle van

“The City of Tomorrow”... That was the Ford CEO's super originally titled keynote at 2018's Consumer Electronics Show (CES). He framed Ford as an urban mobility beast. But that was last year. Ford shares just slipped because now it's closing down its biggest urban star -- Chariot:

  • It's a ride-hail van that acts like a bus
  • Chariot slowly hauled itself into 5 US cities + London.
  • It felt like a $65M textbook -- It taught Ford something, it didn’t get opened much, and now it’s been tossed to never be read again

"Mobility" & "Micro-transit" are easy rebrands... They're harder strategies. Transportation in cities should be “micro”: aka agile, smart, connected to the web, and within 1 block of a Starbucks. Chariot fit that formula, but failed. Ford needs better with its bike share program and e-scooter startup it just bought (Spin).

The Takeaway: Pickup trucks are Ford's sugar daddies... They make over 100% of Ford’s profits, while succulent-sized small cars and its Euro division lose $$ (now Ford's cutting jobs there). “Ford Smart Mobility” was supposed to be its 2nd core division for the future, but it's got problems in the present.

3. Target vs. Macy's: A tale of two Christmases

Tarjay's on the good list... A surge in holiday shoppers powered Target sales up 5.7% over the holidays. Even better: More shoppers spent more per checkout. Too lazy to get out of your car? Curbside pickup sales jumped 60%. Despite all that goodness, Target shares slipped 3%.

Blame Macy's... Sales there actually fell 1% from the same period last year, dropping the stock 18% Thursday. That's even though consumer spending has been living its best life. Malls keep struggling, and investors worry that may drag down Macy's retail cousins like Target.

The Takeaway: Retail's not dying -- Bad retail's dying... (we've said it a million times). Old school malls are physically and emotionally empty inside, but some retailers are thinking creatively enough to beat that trend. They're the not-bad retail. Here's how Target's one of them:

  • City Stores: It's launched smaller-format urban locations, since our generation can't afford the cars needed to hit the suburb ones
  • Smart Partnerships: It's teamed up with direct-to-consumer brands like Harry's razors and Quip toothbrushes to get their "only online" goods in offline Target stores
  • Curbside: See above ⬆️⬆️ (just stay in your car. Don't. Move.) 

What else we're 'Snacking

  • Clean: Starbucks adds needle disposals to its bathrooms
  • Fashion: American Eagle tests out fancy cool interactive fitting rooms
  • Marketing: Oracle snags the naming rights to the San Francisco Giants stadium
  • Suit: Alphabet sued by shareholders for covering up its sexual misconducts
  • Ads: Amazon just launched free, ad-supported TV

'SnackFact of the Day

The market's got 99 problems and losing money due to its "Amygdala Hijack" is one: 1 small structure in the brain (the amygdala) is responsible for an intense fear of losing money

Submitted by Mountain Brook High School (Birmingham, AL)
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