April 24, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! As if Hollywood needed any more reasons not to come up with original movie ideas... the Super Mario Bros. Movie has smashed through $800m at the global box office, making it the biggest movie this year.

  • uRobot: How are Americans feeling about the impact of AI?
  • Margin care: Consumer giant Procter & Gamble is navigating inflation with ease.
  • Beyond saving: Bed Bath & Beyond has filed for bankruptcy.
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AI'll be fine

Whether it’s art, music, code, photos or text, hardly a day goes by without a new piece of AI technology making the news, leaving us all to wonder what the world will look like in 5, 10 or 20 years time.

A report by Goldman Sachs suggested that AI could replace ~300mfull-time jobs, and OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, says that as many as 80% of US workers could see at least some of their tasks taken over by large-language models. So, how do workers themselves feel about this new world of AI?


A recent Pew Research survey of over 11,000 US adults revealed that a strong majority of respondents (62%) believe that AI will have a major impact on workers generally over the next 20 years. However, only 28% of those surveyed believed that AI would have a major impact on them personally, with 35% expecting only a minor impact to themselves.

Overall, more of the respondents expect AI to be a negative. Some 32% believe that AI will be more harmful than helpful to workers generally — again more than the 15% who think they themselves will be personally affected in a negative way.

Interestingly, this survey was conducted in December 2022, only a month after the launch of ChatGPT-3 — before Microsoft's AI-powered Bing, Google's chatbot Bard, and OpenAI's even more advanced model, GPT-4, were released.

Margin care

Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble reported strong quarterly earnings and revenue growth on Friday, beating Wall Street expectations and raising its outlook for the rest of 2023, sending shares up 3% in Friday's trading.

From a PR perspective, the company behind leading brands like Tide, Pampers, Febreeze, Tampax and Crest, has almost had too good a quarter — leading to accusations of “greedflation”. Sales volume for the quarter fell, but hiking prices 10% on average helped the company's overall sales still rise 4%.

Master of all

Since its humble beginnings in 1837, Procter & Gamble has grown into a consumer giant. The company now owns more than 65 brands, meaning that if you’ve washed your hands, cleaned the dishes, done the laundry, or brushed your teeth today, there’s a decent chance that you’ve used at least one P&G product.

While some product lines have come and gone over the years — the company’s successful entry into the food & drinks market is now all but over — P&G’s core divisions are still in good shape. Across every single division, P&G boasts healthy profit margins. Its Fabric & Home Care division is its largest by sales, hauling in ~$21 billion in the 9 months to the end of March, while Grooming and Beauty make the highest margins, nearing 30% each.

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Throwing in the towel

Once a staple of retail outlets across the country, Bed Bath & Beyond is finally calling it quits, as the company announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection yesterday.

The news comes as no real surprise. The retailer needed loans to survive the holiday season and had to line up a series of last-minute deals to try and stave off its demise. These efforts ultimately came to no avail, as the company was crushed by falling sales, mounting losses and a pile of liabilities worth some $5.2 billion.

Reddit to the (almost) rescue

Last August, Bed Bath & Beyond execs found themselves with a new type of shareholder — traders from Reddit’s now infamous forum r/wallstreetbets.

Their collective interest in BBBY sent shares soaring nearly 400% between the end of July and mid-August of 2022 — firmly placing Bed Bath & Beyond in the basket of bonafide meme stocks, along with AMC Entertainment, Blackberry and GameStop.

But a (temporarily) soaring share price never helped the company address its core issues. Years of dealmaking had loaded Bed Bath & Beyond with debt, and under-investment in its online offering saw the company lose customers to Target, Walmart and — of course — Amazon. The pandemic didn’t help, but what appears to have been the final nail in the coffin was a sharp pivot to private label products in a bid to cut costs — a gamble that failed to work as customers missed the well-known brands in stores.

The company’s 360 Bed Bath & Beyond stores will remain open, for now, as large scale sales and restructuring efforts get underway.

More Data

• In plane sight: Canadian police are investigating a $15 million gold heist that took place at Toronto airport last Monday.

• More people are going hands-free when messaging — 30% of respondents in a recent YouGov poll say they communicate via voice note “weekly, daily or multiple times a day”.

• US import prices fell 4.6% year-over-year in March, the biggest decline since May 2020.


• Charting the religious chasm between the US public and Congress.

• The rise of the 300lb player in the NFL.

• Ahead of King Charles’s upcoming coronation, what do modern Brits think of the monarchy and its future?

Off the charts: America's housing market continues to cool, but which of the lines in the below chart represents the correct trajectory? [Options and answers below].

Answer A

Answer B

Answer C

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