The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 29,000 briefly today setting a new high, before pulling back slightly to finish the day just below this new threshold. Much of the momentum that carried markets higher into the end of last year have continued this year. To some degree, investors have become accustomed to heightened levels of uncertainty, as demonstrated by the shrugging off a potential increase in tensions with Iran. Some may say investors have become complacent. Others may harken back to Alan Greenspan’s 1996 proclamation of irrational exuberance. I’d, however, like to think of this period as, “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For now, let’s just enjoy the moment and recognize that the market may have a little more gas left in its tank.
Without much economic data to talk about, let’s make this week’s focus center on company news.
- P&G announced several new initiatives at CES this week that caught our attention. Its focus has turned to technology as it looks to transform everyday consumer experiences. Among the new products it showcased including an Oral-B iO (next-gen toothbrush), Lumi by Pampers (connected care system), the Charmin RollBot (robot delivery), AIRIA (home fragrance system via smart delivery), Opte Precision Skincare System (handheld inkjet printer for hyper-pigmentation corrections), and The Heated Razor by GilletteLabs (hot razor tech).
- IBM reported its quantum computing service now tops more than 100 clients. That’s up from 40 a year ago, with customers including Delta, Daimler, JPMorgan, and Anthem, as well as industries ranging from energy to electronics. I’m just hope Delta isn’t looking for a way to further shrink the size of the current plane seat. Am I right?
- Citigroup is pushing to hire 2,500 coders this year according to Bloomberg. Specifically, these coding positions are in its trading and investment banking divisions. While some of the computer programmers will be hired in the United States, the company is also looking in London, Shanghai, Toronto, Dublin, Tel Aviv, and Pune and Chennai in India.
- Starbucks, having had success with other alternative milk options, now turns to a new alternative. It will introduce oat milk to 1,300 cafes in the Midwest. With a sweet flavor and texture that froths like cow’s milk, oat milk has won over consumers and baristas alike. In fact, oat milk sales have skyrocketed 636% in the 52 weeks ended October 26, according to Nielsen.
- Qualcomm announced a new car-to-cloud service that helps car companies connect their cars to their cloud for updates and gathering analytics. It also is rolling out a self-driving platform that it touts as an open and autonomous driving solution with enabled vehicles entering production in 2023. The world of self-driving cars is coming closer to fruition with each passing quarter.
- Sony shocked the world at CES when it unveiled a prototype electric car concept. It appears Sony has partnered with several companies including Bosch, Continental, Blackberry, Nvidia, and Qualcomm, among others. Rumor has it that Sony doesn’t want to compete as a manufacturer, but instead hopes to partner with other car companies to help perfect self-driving technologies.
And in closing, last week I talked about a stellar job opportunity as the head of the Canadian Central Bank. I understand that might have been disappointing for some since it required the applicant to be a Canadian citizen. However, this week I bring you a job opportunity a little closer to home. Right here in the Midwest, Taco Bell will try paying some managers $100,000 a year. It seems wage inflation might be hitting the fast food industry especially hard. The company says, “it is exploring new ways to invest in our people, enhance morale, and boost recruitment and retention.” I’d say that might be one way to do it. For those of you looking for a greener pasture, good luck with your interview. Now you know.
Bruce J. Mason, MBA