February 26, 2020

Today's Topics

Your midweek chart-fix:

  • Have audiences broken up with romantic comedies for good?
  • The coronavirus is hitting Europe, which stocks are investors selling as a result?
  • Cheerleading gets a bad rap, is it actually that dangerous?
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If you were starting a film studio in 1999 you'd be forgiven for thinking that the romantic comedy was going to stick around forever. Films like Notting Hill, 10 Things I Hate About You and She's All That were melting hearts... and making a fortune while they were at it.

The noughties however have been less kind to the genre. Data from The Numbers reveals that in 2019, just 1% of all North American box office receipts were for romantic comedy movies. In fact, the only rom-com made in the last 5 years that's broken $100m at the domestic box office was Crazy Rich Asians. The next most recent? You have to go all the way back to 2009 when Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock terrorised each other in The Proposal.

Why the rom-com break-up?

1) Dating culture is just different now. With so many couples meeting online, the anchor of most rom-coms, the "meet-cute", just doesn't relate as well anymore. Some stellar flirting over text messages doesn't make for amazing cinema.

2) Comedies have been getting raunchier. The comedy part of the innocent rom-com is struggling to compete with raunchier R-rated comedies like Deadpool or Bridesmaids.

3) Superheroes. Movie studios -- and Disney in particular -- realised just how much mileage was in superheroes. If you loved the first 22 Marvel movies you're probably going to go see #23, instead of a random romantic comedy you've never heard of.

4) Streaming. Netflix has changed the game here, making 30+ original romantic movies. That means you don't need to leave your house to get that warm fuzzy feeling, you can watch it on Netflix while on your phone. Easier and cheaper.

Until recently European stock markets had broadly shrugged off the threat of coronavirus. That all changed at the start of this week when Italy announced they had identified an outbreak -- which has now spread to over 300 confirmed cases.

Which sectors are being hit hardest?

Hotel operators, cruise lines and airlines have all been hit hard, with the European travel & leisure sector now down 8% in 2020. Tourism to China has already ground to a halt, and now the same seems possible across Europe. That said, the EU currently has "no plans" to suspend the free movement of travel within the EU.

Other, non-tourist exposed sectors are being hit hard as well, such as the auto industry (-14%), because of how much they sell to China. Volkswagen Group for example sells 38% of its cars in China (2018). In a similar vein, many luxury stocks are also down double-digits, again because of their sales exposure to China, where demand is likely to evaporate for at least the foreseeable future.

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Anyone who has watched the Netflix documentary Cheer may have left the room thinking that cheerleading was one of the most dangerous activities you can engage in. For us, that was absolutely our takeaway, and so of course we had to dig out the data to see if that was true.

Just how bad is cheerleading?

Measuring just how dangerous a sport is isn't easy. Do you count a sprained ankle the same as a bruised rib? What about a broken leg? Is that worse or better than tearing your ACL? A solution to that problem is to use one standard measure. Concussions work well because they are (relatively) well-reported, but also relatively common.

Data compiled by fivethirtyeight.com reveals that actually cheerleading is one of the safer high school sports (at least in terms of concussions). Lacrosse is far more dangerous, as is basketball, soccer and -- unsurprisingly -- American Football.

What's really interesting about cheerleading though is that it's the only sport that is reportedly more dangerous to practice, than it is to compete in. For most of the other sports the concussion rate is somewhere between 4-7x higher in competition than it is in practice.

For cheerleading that's not the case, possibly because cheerleaders may not have all of the best safety equipment (mats etc.) when practicing, but the routines are exactly the same, and by definition, they haven't perfected them yet.

More Data

1) George Hood, a 62-year-old man from the US, has broken the world record for the longest time held in the plank position, lasting an incredible 8 hours and 15 minutes.

2) The price of Gold has hit $1650/oz -- it's highest value for almost 7 years -- as investors seek safe-haven assets.

3) You could be owed up to €600 if you've had a flight delayed or cancelled from/within/to the EU. If you have, check out Compensair. They do all the work for your claim, working with 150+ airlines to get an average compensation of €450 for their clients.**

What do you call seismic activity on a planet that isn't Earth? Until now, we didn't really need to think of a name, but a recent study has found evidence of 174 seismic events on Mars. So, 174 marsquakes?

5) Warren Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway owns 5.6% of Apple -- worth around $70bn. But, he himself has never owned an iPhone, until now.

6) Disney CEO Bob Iger has announced he is retiring after 15 years, effective immediately. Incredibly, Iger was only Disney's 6th CEO... for a company founded nearly 100 years ago (1923).

**This is a sponsored snack, we may be compensated if you do claim.

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