🕷️ An Etsy Bitsy Problem

Plus, why bulls are betting on the owner of Outback Steakhouse.

Happy Sunday to everyone on The Street.

ICYMI: We publish interesting thoughts on the real estate space in The Last Cast Letter every month. Thursday we outlined how American Boomers deciding to age in place is creating ripple effects for locals in places like Lisbon and Barcelona.

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Equity markets continued their positive momentum, marking another week of gains since the rally began at the end of October 2023, buoyed by diminishing economic concerns.

The Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, the Personal Consumption Expenditure price index, fell as expected in January, allaying fears of a fresh acceleration.

The Nasdaq 100, as tracked by the Invesco QQQ Trust QQQ, soared past the 18,300 mark to achieve an unprecedented high. The S&P 500, as monitored through the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY, surged above 5,100 points, also hitting record highs.

The majority of S&P 500 companies reported their quarterly results: 73% exceeded earnings-per-share expectations and 64% beat revenue projections.

Bitcoin BTC/USD once again captured the market’s spotlight by surpassing $60,000, marking its strongest performing week since March 2023.

New York Community Bancorp NYCB faced a new turmoil as it disclosed a “material weakness” in its internal controls related to loan review processes, compounded by the departure of its CEO. On Friday, the company’s shares dropped over 20%.

Elon Musk sued Sam Altman and OpenAI for allegedly shifting their focus to profit generation for Microsoft Corp. betraying their foundational mission. This lawsuit claimed that the partnership with Microsoft has led OpenAI away from its initial commitment to open-source development in the field of Artificial General Intelligence.

Bitcoin ETFs saw record inflows of $676.8 million in a day, driven by top funds like iShares Bitcoin Trust. Morgan Stanley is also considering joining the trend, highlighting Bitcoin’s growing acceptance and investor confidence in the cryptocurrency market.

February saw a $40 billion investment in 10 ETFs. This significant capital allocation spans equities, Treasury bonds, and Bitcoin.

Ray Dalio isn’t expecting a stock market bubble, citing the U.S. market’s mid-range status per key indicators. The billionaire investor noted high valuations in Magnificent Seven but stops short of calling it a bubble, while warning that a downturn is possible if artificial intelligence advances fall short of expectations.

Goldman Sachs removed Apple Inc. from its ‘conviction list' but maintained a ‘Buy' rating on the stock. Post-iPhone 15 and Vision Pro releases, and amidst reports of Apple abandoning its electric vehicle project, the firm sees stronger opportunities elsewhere, reflecting in a slight dip in Apple’s share price.


Economic Data

  • Monday: Philadelphia Fed President Tom Harker speaks

  • Tuesday: Factory orders, ISM services, Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr speaks, Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr speaks.

  • Wednesday: ADP employment, Fed Chair Jerome Powell testifies to Congress, U.S. wholesale inventories, Job openings, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly speaks, Federal Reserve Beige Book, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari speaks

  • Thursday: Initial jobless claims, US productivity, Fed Chair Jerome Powell testifies to Congress, US Trade Balance, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester speaks, Consumer Credit

  • Friday: New York Fed President John Williams speaks, US Nonfarm Payrolls, U.S. unemployment rate, US hourly wages, Hourly wages year over year.


  • Monday: Blackberry, Redhill Biopharma

  • Tuesday: Ross, Target

  • Wednesday: Campbell Soup

  • Thursday: Broadcom, Costco Wholesale, Kroger

  • Friday: Buckle, Citizens

This Restaurant Stock Is Ready to Sizzle

Prime Cut

Bloomin’ Brands Inc (BLMN) has underperformed over the last twelve months, gaining just 4% while the S&P 500 has jumped over 25%.

The restaurant company, best known for owning Outback Steakhouse, has been struggling to keep up with competitors. But Barron’s thinks it’s ready to turn a corner.

Barron’s highlights new marketing and an attractive valuation as the main reasons investors should add the stock to their plate.

No Rules, Just Right

The company’s management team is committed to ramping up marketing. In a fourth-quarter earnings call, executives announced a $20 million increase in marketing spending for 2024. 

Traffic at Outbacks in the US fell over 4% last year. Competitor Brinker International (EAT), owner of Chili’s, saw traffic dip about 1% over the same time.

Bloomin’ is taking a page out of Texas Roadhouse’s (TXRH) book by finding ways to speed up service. The restaurant group has been adding new ovens and hand-held devices for waiters to turn tables faster.

The Perfect Cut

Bloomin’ Brands management team is eyeing cost savings to appease investors’ appetites. Executives are pushing a $50 million plan to reduce spending. 

Barron’s believes slashing costs will free up more capital for buying back shares. Bloomin’ has announced a $350 million authorization to purchase shares in the future.

If the company can truly lower spending while driving more traffic, it might be worth it for investors to nibble on the stock.

Where do you stand on Bloomin’ Brands stock?

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An Etsy Bitsy Problem

Rising Competitor Might Impact US Retailers

Temu has made itself at home in America. The online marketplace began operating in the US in the fall of 2022. It recently got the attention of American audiences with ads during the Super Bowl. 

The Chinese marketplace is owned by Pinduoduo (PDD), a Chinese stock that has gained over 37% in the last 12 months. 

Wall Street thinks online retailers in the US might have reasons to worry.

Fierce Competition

Analysts believe two US companies could be affected: Etsy (ETSY) and Wayfair (W). 

A Bernstein analyst notes that Etsy mainly sells lower-priced unbranded items. Temu has similar offerings shipped at similar speeds, making it a direct competitor. 

Wayfair markets itself as a low-cost furniture and home decor platform. Temu plans to open up its marketplace to US sellers and competition might get tighter.

Not a Good Time

Temu’s grand entrance comes at a tough time for Etsy and Wayfair. In the past 3 years, Etsy and Wayfair shares have declined 67% and 82%, respectively. The companies have also both announced major layoffs. 

However, the Street isn’t calling the fight quite yet.

Temu faces risks of its own. Research shows that Americans buying products on Temu aren’t always coming back for more. US lawmakers could also raise regulatory issues over the Chinese company selling cheap goods.

Even with these possible threats to Temu, Etsy and Wayfair need to bulk up or they’ll get knocked out.

Which stock will have the best return in 2024?

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Maybe Zoom Isn’t Doomed

Falling From Grace

At the onset of the pandemic, Zoom (ZM) was one of the hottest stocks on the market. These days, the company is experiencing floundering revenue growth. It’s currently the slowest-growing cloud software company that generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue. 

As the popularity of remote work has dwindled, so has the outlook on the company. But The Wall Street Journal sees a possibility for investors amidst Zoom’s gloomy outlook.

Beating Expectations

Zoom’s stock price is down around 7% over the last 6 months. At the same time, the Nasdaq Emerging Cloud Index is up around 16%, indicating that Zoom is well behind its competitors. 

Zoom sure has its hands full when it comes to competition. Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) both provide videoconferencing embedded within their suites. 

But there’s a bright side. Shares of Zoom increased over 10% in after-hours trading following Monday's quarterly earnings report. Both adjusted operating income and billings beat expectations. The company also announced a $1.5 billion share buyback plan.

Finding Its Footing

Zoom expects revenue of $4.6 billion this fiscal year, representing 2% growth.

Cash flow and earnings have allowed Zoom to accumulate an impressive $7 billion in cash and equivalents. This will fund the buyback. Analysts believe it could also be used for acquisitions should the opportunity arise. 

Zoom may not be the stock it once was, but analysts are starting to believe that it’s finding a place in the post-pandemic world.

Are you bullish or bearish on Zoom (ZM) over the next 12 months?

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Last Week's Poll Results

DBRG currently trades at around $20 per share. Where will it trade at the end of the year?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 Below $20

🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ Between $20-$22

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ Between $22-25

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ Over $25

Which stock are you most optimistic about?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 AbbVie (ABBV)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ Acadia Healthcare (ACHC)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ Talkspace (TALK)

Are you bullish or bearish on L3Harris over the next 12 months?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 Bullish

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ Bearish

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