Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2016
Here’s our annual high-level comparison of Amazon vs. Walmart.
From a growth perspective, Amazon wiped the floor with Walmart. AMZN added $18 billion in revenue for a 20.2% growth rate, while WMT shrank by $(3.5) billion or (0.7%).  WMT’s revenue was negatively affected by currency exchange rates moving against it, but even adjusting for that WMT’s revenue wasn’t in the realm of AMZN
From a GAAP earnings perspective, WMT maintains its lead, although that is diminishing. WMT’s GAAP operating margin was 5.0%, which was a 0.6 PPT improvement, while AMZN delivered 2.1% operating margin. However, AMZN’s margin improved a whopping 1.9 PPT.
WMT’s net income still dwarfs AMZN at $14.7 billion vs. $0.6 billion. But again, the change is informative: as WMT launched programs for higher associate pay and stronger e-commerce capability, its net income fell by 10.2% or $1.7 billion. Conversely, AMZN increased income by $0.8 billion from a prior year loss. While this is an annual comparison, I’d be…

Tax Inversions

A savvy businessman once told me “it’s important to know what problem you are trying to solve”.
Let’s ignore for the moment whether or not Treasury or the IRS had the power to change the rules on so-called tax inversions without Congressional action. (The power they said they didn’t have only a few months ago.)
Rather, let’s focus on what problem we are trying to solve. That is, why is the greatest country on earth chasing companies away? Shouldn’t the U.S. be the place that companies want to locate their headquarters?
Imagine this: the U.S. legal structure and tax regime was so attractive that Mercedes, Toyota, Astra Zeneca, Samsung, Total, Singapore Air, Banco Santander, Petrobras, Fujitsu, Nokia, SAP, Audi, Tata Group, Lenovo, Pirelli, Deutsche Bank, Honda, LG, Hyundai, Roche, Credit Suisse, Four Seasons, Siemens, Phillips, Bridgestone, Anglo-America, DeBeers, Volkswagen, Canon,  L’OrĂ©al, Swatch, Armani, LVMH, Toshiba, H&M, Mahindra, Aldi, Kubota, Onex, Ducati, Pemex, Saudi-Ara…

The Acceleration of Asset Lite Business Models

The number of asset lite businesses is steadily increasing, as is the breadth of industries effected.  I first noticed them in the 1970’s, when Baron Hilton sold several flagship Hilton hotels while retaining management contracts that entitled Hilton Corporation to a share of revenue and earnings. Over the next two decades, Marriott Corp copied and then perfected the hotel management agreement business approach, coupling a Marriott franchise with a management agreement for any one of a growing stable of brands (Fairfield Inns, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inns, J.W. Marriott, etc. etc.), enabling absentee investor/owners.  It turns out, however, that asset lite business structures date back much earlier.
Franchises and Dealers Early versions of asset lite businesses include franchise and dealer organizations. Soft drink and beer distributors, auto dealers and tire and repair franchises date to the early nineteen hundreds, as manufacturers needed mass distribution. The dealers furn…

On An Alternative Theory of Income Inequality

Why is there growing earnings gap between the highest earners and the rest of the U.S. workforce? While a number of hypotheses have been advanced, I think many miss important developments. In my view, the following culprits have materially affected the wages, salaries and income of the lowest ranks. Both governmental and cultural destruction of the family. I’m not going to dwell on this, but, statistically, the fastest path to poverty is to be a single mom. Want to not be poor? Finish high school and get married before getting pregnant. Harsh perhaps, but statistically unarguable.The Federal Reserve continues to oppress lower earners. For most folks, building wealth starts with home ownership. Replacing rent payments with mortgage payments generally results in owning an asset (home). In some markets, that asset appreciates. When my wife and I were apartment dwellers, we saved for a home down payment. Our savings earned interest. Now, I won’t say that the interest was huge, but it was …