Stock Take 22/02/2021

Jay-Z is popping more champagne

Jay-Z and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE will be joining forces in the champagne producing and selling the business, cementing the alliance between the world of hip-hop and luxury as the Covid 19 pandemic plummets sales of sparkling wine at festive occasions worldwide.

LVMH, the world’s largest champagne producer, has taken a 50 per cent stake in Armand de Brignac, the high-end champagne brand owned by rapper and mogul Jay-Z. The brand is one of the youngest in the famous sparkling wine region and is known for its metal bottles that cost hundreds of dollars each.

The investment aims to market Armand de Brignac through LVMH’s global distribution networks while leveraging the conglomerate’s vast resources in the Champagne wine country. Champagne, a luxury commodity, is struggling at the moment: weddings, soirees and other occasions to pop corks are cancelled. Sales of sparkling wine have fallen by around 20 per cent in the past year. 

The partnership expresses how European luxury brands are incorporating recording artists and hip-hop culture to appeal to a younger, more diverse customer base. Together with Rihanna, LVMH launched the Fenty Beauty cosmetics line. The rapper Gucci Mane and the luxury brand of the same name, the Italian fashion house Gucci, collaborated on a collection. And Dior, a brand from the house of LVMH, has used rapper A$AP Rocky as a model for several menswear collections. So-called streetwear has become a staple of luxury fashion.

Jay-Z expects to collaborate with LVMH on other projects in the future. The appeal of luxury for rappers, he said, comes from the desire to party after surviving the despair of the inner city.

“When you put yourself in the shoes of the people who come from these neighbourhoods, you can understand why someone who – after five of their six friends pass away – would want to celebrate life,” Jay-Z said. “We connect with things that are well done and things that survive.”

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Porsche tightens savings programme

The VW subsidiary Porsche AG is tightening its savings programme. “Over the next five years, we are now planning to save a total of around ten billion euros. Originally it had been six billion euros,” CEO Oliver Blume told “Automobilwoche”. A decision on Bugatti and Rimac will be made within the group in the first half of the year, he added. The subsidiary Skoda wants to achieve more growth by entering the market in emerging countries like Egypt. “10,000 sales a year are too few for a country with 100 million inhabitants. We could increase that tenfold in the medium term,” Skoda boss Thomas Schäfer told “Automobilwoche”. Besides, Schäfer announced another electric car.

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Apple overtakes Samsung

Thanks to the new 5G-capable iPhone 12, Apple has rebounded to become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer for the first time in four years, according to data from market researchers Gartner. In the fourth quarter, the US company overtook South Korean rival Samsung with a market share of 20.8 per cent, which came in at just 16.2 per cent, Gartner reported on Monday. A year earlier, Samsung was just ahead with 17.3 per cent compared to 17.1 per cent. Demand for devices for the new 5G mobile standard helped the 2020 industry cushion the slump in sales in the final spurt. According to Gartner, 384.6 million smartphones were sold worldwide between October and December, 5.4 per cent fewer than a year earlier.

For the year as a whole, sales to end-users slumped 12.5 per cent to just under 1.35 billion. Samsung maintained its leading position with a total market share of 18.8 per cent but had to also accept a drop in sales of 14.6 per cent. With an increase of 3.3 per cent, Apple was the only winner among the top five worldwide, alongside the Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi, and with a market share of 14.8 per cent overtook its Chinese rival Huawei, which sold almost a quarter fewer smartphones and only had a total market share of 13.5 per cent. Huawei’s access to apps from Google had been made more difficult due to US sanctions.

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For the current year, Gartner market researcher Anshul Gupta is more confident: “Growing demand for affordable 5G smartphones outside China will drive up sales in 2021.” On the NASDAQ, Apple shares lost over 2 per cent to $126.98 in the wake of the general negative sentiment.

Royal Caribbean pleases investors despite mega-loss

The Corona pandemic caused huge losses for the cruise company Royal Caribbean last year, but hopes of a turnaround are rising.

In 2020, Royal Caribbean was in the red by a total of 5.8 billion dollars, with a net loss of 1.4 billion in the final quarter. “This crisis is the most difficult in the history of our company,” the tourism giant admitted in Miami on Monday. Revenues fell by around 80 per cent to 2.2 billion dollars in 2020.

Nevertheless, the annual report was well received on the stock exchange, with the share price rising by 12.18 per cent at times to 88.47 dollars in US trading on the NYSE. This is because confidence in an end to the crisis is growing. The number of new bookings had already risen sharply since the beginning of the year, and there had been quite a lot of pent-up demand during the pandemic, the management explained in a conference call after the presentation of the financial statements.

Oscar Health aims to raise $1 billion in IPO

Oscar Health, the health insurance start-up co-founded by Google parent Alphabet, could be valued at $6.7 billion in its IPO. The goal is to raise up to 1.05 billion US dollars, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The company, founded in 2012, allows patients to schedule doctor’s appointments, view lab results, have video conversations and reorder prescriptions – via an app or the web platform. Oscar Health now has almost 530,000 members. Last year, the company made a loss of nearly 407 million dollars.

One of the founders is Josh Kushner, the brother of former US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law. The Corona crisis has accelerated the digitalisation of healthcare.

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