We’ve spent a good amount of time in the last year discussing the second order effects of autonomous cars. But, clearly Google is thinking ahead. This week Waymo LLC, the driverless-car unit of Alphabet Inc., partnered with an insurance-tech startup called Trovto nail down the mechanics of “micro-duration” insurance for riders. This would be “usage-based” insurances, covering riders for very discreet periods of time and very particular use cases. Risk could be assessed based on the duration of the ride (and, presumably, the trajectory?). This could be a game changer as far as insurance revenues go. Choice quote: “As much as 80% of the premiums paid to car insurers are at risk of disappearing in coming decades if autonomous vehicles make driving safer and prompt big changes in car ownership.” Yikes.
Some movement within FTI Capital Advisors. In other news, there is an entity called FTI Capital Advisors.
LeEco is a sinking ship - in the US at least.
Looks like the Skip Barber Racing School had to step on the breaks to park in bankruptcy court. No, we're not proud of this joke...not at all. Our eyes are set on the beach, dudes.
How Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook make their money - broken down in chart form.
- Athleisure. Start the funeral dirge. Under Armour reported dreadful numbers and guided poorly, citing the Sports Authority bankruptcy as a reason for decreased exposure to product. Then S&P kicked UA while it was down, downgrading its corporate credit rating from investment grade to high yield. It's not a restructuring candidate with double-digit growth but its results don't bode well for retailers, generally. Good thing J.Crew is NOW starting to focus on athleisure.
- Avaya. Doing a little damage control.
- Cumulus Media. What the public is learning.
- Europe. Some expect a bigger year for restructuring in 2017.
- Private Equity. Some doubts about portfolio quality.
- Solar. The technology continues to take hold and grab share but there'll be a lot of carnage along the way. Meanwhile, Exxon got pummeled, noting over $2b in writedowns.
- Retail. As distressed investors and bankruptcy professionals lick their chops over the possibilities with rue21, True Religion, Claire's Stores, J.Crew and others, "fast fashion" gets a second look as a culprit in the demise of retail (adding to the typical Amazon narrative). Still, even H&M and Uniqlo have announced intentions to scale back growth plans and/or close stores in the US.
- More Retail. The Finish Line Inc. announced its sale of Jack Rabbit Sports this week (66 locations) for undisclosed terms. "Undisclosed terms" = GU gels and a jock-strap. Peter J. Soloman served as financial advisor. The quote, "The acquisition eases fears that the chain would face liquidation with no strategic buyers for the business"...basically sums up specialty retail. Reasons for the company's struggles are particular to specialty running stores, including, notably a marked decline in marathon participation. It's just not that easy to take a selfie while running 26.2.
- Morer Retail - Canada. Once high-flying e-commerce startup Shoes.comcapitulates under the weight of multiple lawsuits, thwarting an IPO. In addition to shutting down the e-comm channels, the Vancouver-based company will shut down two brick-and-mortar locations - effectively flushing $45mm of PE down the toilet. Still, that URL seems like it would fetch some value...
- Fast Forward: Walmart is looking to disrupt Amazon while Amazon is looking to disrupt Alphabet and Facebook. And UPS. In other words, Amazon is after EVERYONE.
- Rewind I: Usually we reserve "rewind" for topics we've discussed in previous weeks but we're making an exception here: apparently HMV still exists in Canada. Or did. What a major blast to the past. What were they selling, exactly, 8-tracks?
- Rewind II: Payless Shoes. 4400 stores? Wow. Apropos, retail now the sector with the most distressed debt. In other retail news worth a rewind, Sports Direct is reportedly in talks to acquire Eastern Outfitters, the parent company of Bob's Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports from Versa Capital Management out of bankruptcy. If those names sound familiar, it's because Versa literally just bought them in bankruptcy last year in the Vestis Group case. So, add this to the growing list of Chapter 22 cases.
- Rewind III: Given our revelation last week of the connection between Puerto Rico-Dentons-New Gingrich, its intriguing that Greenberg Traurig is distancing itself from another Trump supporter.
- Chart of the Week: Sometimes to disrupt the incumbents, you have to bleed cash like nobody's business...