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jerryking : margins   14

The High Cost of Raising Prices - WSJ
By Andy Kessler
July 30, 2017

The more prices rise, the more customers bolt. It’s like running up a down escalator and never getting to the top. With the stock market hitting highs just about every day, investors need to be wary of companies that raise prices to make their numbers. These stocks make for spectacular sell-offs on even the slightest earnings miss......I had a friend who worked at General Electric for decades. He told me that in strategy sessions with his management, Jack Welch would constantly berate them, saying, “Any idiot can raise prices.” Except he used a stronger word than idiot to coax them into squeezing out costs, adding features, improving services and generally delighting customers. Contrast this with Berkshire Hathaway . Vice Chairman Charlie Munger found that with See’s Candies “we could raise prices 10% a year and no one cared. Learning that changed Berkshire.” .........There’s a long list of price bumpers. Walk down any supermarket aisle. Kellogg’s prices constantly snap, crackle and mostly pop. Procter & Gamble toothpaste sizes shrink faster than my cavity count, always less for the same price. Now private-equity firms are circling P&G. Same for Nestlé . Expect rising beer and liquor prices soon....Empires are lost on rising prices. Until recently, rather than innovate in mobile or cloud computing, Microsoft kept raising the price of its Windows operating system to computer manufacturers. Tablets and phones ate their lunch. Fees rose at eBay until Amazon took its growth away. .........Increasing prices attracts others to attack your market. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos warns: “Your margin is my opportunity.”....Competition solves much of this problem. Investors love protected businesses, but eventually relentless price increases kill them all. Consumers are the kangaroo at the bar in the old cartoon: The bartender says, “Say, we don’t get a lot of kangaroos in here.” The kangaroo replies, “No, and with these prices, I can see why!” Call me a kangaroo, but I prefer to invest in companies that lower prices and offer more.
Andy_Kessler  pricing  price_hikes  drawbacks  margins  Charlie_Munger  CPG  shareholder_activism  P&G  Nestlé  Kellogg  Jack_Welch  GE  large_companies  cost-cutting  Amazon  Jeff_Bezos  staying_hungry  delighting_customers  high-cost 
july 2017 by jerryking
Conglomerates Didn’t Die. They Look Like Amazon. - The New York Times
Andrew Ross Sorkin
DEALBOOK JUNE 19, 2017

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods re-opens the debate about conglomerates which supposed to be dead, a relic of a bygone era of corporate America as investors supposedly want smaller, nimbler, more focused companies......Amazon is just one of several digital-economy conglomerates. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is another. Facebook is quickly becoming a conglomerate, too...... today’s tech-enabled conglomerates, are spending, and often losing, tens of billions of dollars annually on all sorts of projects and acquisitions that may or may not turn out to be successful. But investors are seemingly willing to give these new behemoths a free pass in the name of growth and innovation — until they aren’t.

If there is any lesson from the last breed of industrial conglomerates, it is that there is a natural life cycle to most of them....When it comes to Amazon (or Alphabet, or any of the new conglomerates), the question is whether there is something fundamentally different about these businesses given their grounding in digital information — especially as they expand into complex brick-and-mortar operations like upscale supermarkets.

In an age of big data and artificial intelligence, are businesses that look disparate really similar? And can one company’s leadership really oversee so many different businesses? When does it become too big to manage?...a recent article in the Yale Law Journal made a compelling case that Amazon has built perhaps the ultimate economic mousetrap — one impervious to the natural life cycle of a conglomerate, but one that might ultimately prove to be anticompetitive.

The author, Lina M. Khan, a Yale Law student who has written about antitrust law and competition policy, argued that Amazon had created a “platform market” and can use its size and scale to subsidize its entrance into new businesses through predatory pricing.....The economics of platform markets create incentives for a company to pursue growth over profits,.....Amazon’s role as both a distributor and cloud provider for many of its competitors gives it an unfair advantage. “This dual role also enables a platform to exploit information collected on companies using its services to undermine them as competitors,”.....Jeff Bezos, is clear. The man who is assembling the 21st century’s most fearsome new conglomerate once explained his view of competition this way: “Your margin is my opportunity.”
conglomerates  Andrew_Sorkin  Jeff_Bezos  Amazon  GE  Jeff_Immelt  unfair_advantages  Whole_Foods  Silicon_Valley  digital_economy  Alphabet  Facebook  lessons_learned  Yale  Charles_Munger  antitrust  competition  Berkshire_Hathaway  platforms  predatory_practices  diversification  FTC  margins  staying_hungry  life_cycle  Lina_Khan  competition_policy 
june 2017 by jerryking
Auction houses embracing digital technology to sell to the new global rich
SEPTEMBER 18, 2014 by: John Dizard.

....The auction houses have been under pressure to adapt to this changing universe. While the most visible aspect of the houses’ digital revolution may be their online auctions, the most essential is in the systematising and networking of their customer, market and lot information. Without that, the auctioneers would lose control of their ability to charge gross margins in the mid-teens as intermediaries of the $30bn global art auction market....Within the quasi-duopoly of Christie’s and Sotheby’s at the top of the auction world, Christie’s has now moved to implement what it calls its “digital strategy”....Christie’s now has James Map (as in founder James Christie), a sort of private internal social network that allows specialists, client service staff, support staff and executives to see what is known about a client and his tastes. Past auction records, relatives’ purchases and sales, statistical inferences on how likely clients are to move from buying an expensive watch online to participating in a high-end evening sale – it all can be in the mix.

The idea, Murphy explains, was “to create an internal app that spiders into our database of information and brings up on our internal [screen] environment lots of connectivity. This is faster and better than the email chains [that it replaced].”....This summer, Sotheby’s announced a partnership with eBay, the online auction giant. While the details of the partnership are still being developed, it is understood eBay will distribute live Sotheby’s auctions to its global audience of 150m buyers.

Ken Citron, Christie’s head of IT

The digital strategy is also making it easier to take part in auctions. Even with all the unseen know-your-customer checks now required by financial supervisory agencies, it has become much faster and easier to register as an auction house client. About half now do so online.

But while the online revolution may have left some auction houses behind, for others it is generating new business. Auction houses used to regard the sale of smaller, cheaper objects from, for example, estate liquidations as an annoying loss-leader business that just wasted their specialists’ time. Now, however, many are making money selling objects for $2,000-$3,000; it’s just a matter of cutting transaction costs. “We have a new app with which you can take a picture, push a button, and it goes to a specialist, with a description. Then the specialist can decide if it might fit into an auction,” says Citron.
auctions  Sotheby's  Christie's  data  art  collectors  high_net_worth  partnerships  eBay  duopolies  digital_strategies  CRM  IT  margins  intermediaries  internal_systems  loss_leaders  transaction_costs  cost-cutting  know_your_customer  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  estate_planning  liquidity_events  online_auctions  digital_revolution 
november 2016 by jerryking
Got Growth? - Forbes
Lynn J. Cook
5/12/2003

While a gallon jug of white milk delivers single-digit gross margins, single-serve bottles of flavored milks and coffee drinks gross 45% to 55%. So Dean has been doing licensing deals with the likes of Hershey’s, Folgers and Land O’Lakes to market milkshakes to teenagers, mocha lattes to folks in their 20s and 30s and lactose-free milk to minorities (70% of Hispanics, 80% of African-Americans and 90% of Asians are lactose-intolerant)....Marketing, however, is not his forte. Engles is a market consolidator, spending most of the past decade eliminating his competition by buying it up.
soybeans  Dean_Foods  dairy  licensing  consolidation  food  growth  roll_ups  single-serve  high-margin  gross_margins  margins 
december 2013 by jerryking
WHOLESALE The real squeezed middle?
From dealing with ongoing margin pressure in a low growth environment, to dealing with higher customer expectations,
and mounting concerns about the black market, the challenges facing wholesalers are considerable. However, the picture is not all gloom. Opportunities still exist for operators able to supply goods in line with changing industry trends, while maintaining a low cost base. Increasingly this will be through supply chain integration and enhanced service levels. But, ultimately winners will be wholesalers that can effectively reinvent themselves by developing new
hooks into their customers.

Demand is highly influenced by end user trends. However, wholesalers only have limited ability to respond quickly.

The ability to source and alter stock in line with changing trends is vital, especially in terms of broadening of the
product range.

Wholesale is generally a high volume low margin industry with operating margins of only 1-2%.

Margins are constantly being squeezed. Bargaining power in many consumer goods markets has been weakened by
powerful manufacturers and dominant retailers.
responding to end-user trends
margin pressure

Most wholesalers now offer a range of new added value services. White label provision and web integration
increasingly common

Service level agreements increasingly tight

Symbol groups have become more popular across the grocery sector, with increased investment in own-label
development. In other sectors branding has never been more important.

The introduction of tightly-managed production techniques has resulted in greater sophistication in distribution
chains

Wholesalers are now expected to have systems in place to run goods direct from production plant to end-users

Disruption in overseas supply chains caused by ‘growing pains’ in emerging markets is becoming increasingly
common.
enhanCed serviCe levels supplY Chain integration

The black and grey markets, and fraud in general is on the increase. Alcohol duty fraud is a particular concern

Sourcing from correct brand owners is becoming more difficult. Fines for the possession of fraudulent stock are
becoming more severe.
fruits  vegetables  wholesalers  challenges  problems  margins  supply_chains  fresh_produce  OPMA  slow_growth  black_markets  low_growth  customer_expectations 
october 2013 by jerryking
Making it in the new industrial revolution
Aug. 29, 2012 | The Financial Times | by Luke Johnson.
Two new books make this point: first, the Financial Times's Peter Marsh in his excellent book The New Industrial Revolution ; and second, Chris Anderson, of The Long Tail fame, in his new title, Makers . They argue that mass production is giving way to customisation, combined with localism, and the emergence of "micro-multinationals".

Digital manufacturing employs computers and a process called stereolithography to make products using layers of either powdered or molten plastic or metal, in what is described as "additive manufacturing". ...whether it is Apple iPhones or Rolls-Royce Trent aero engines, the real profit is not made in the basic assembly of goods. The margins are in servicing, brands, design and after-sales.

Manufacturing contributes to an economy in many ways. As Andrew Liveris, chief executive of Dow Chemical, argues in his book Make It In America , it creates more added value pro rata than other activities, and is much more likely to generate exports to help offset trade deficits. Moreover, research and development tends to take place alongside manufacturing centres, which foster clusters of sub-contractors. It is no coincidence that Germany, Europe's manufacturing powerhouse, has weathered the credit crisis so well compared to other EU nations.

Since the downturn started, many politicians in the developed world have insisted that societies move away from financial capitalism and back towards the real business of making things. If this policy is to succeed, it cannot be the usual formula of enticing global public companies to build multibillion-dollar plants. It must be about education, entrepreneurship and exploiting new equipment on a more bespoke scale. Incremental jobs in manufacturing can come from new, niche entrants using innovations in technology to help make them more of a match for the big incumbents.
manufacturers  Luke_Johnson  3-D  books  DIY  microproducers  Industrial_Revolution  developed_countries  margins  services  brands  design  after-sales_service  Apple  Rolls-Royce  developing_countries 
august 2012 by jerryking
Finding a New Niche May Offer Better Chance at Fat Margins - WSJ.com
May 13, 2003 | WSJ | By JEFF BAILEY | Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
These days, with information and capital zipping around at warp speed, a business or industry with fat margins essentially has a target painted on its back.

And yet, plenty of small and midsize companies in less-than-glamorous industries manage, some year after year, to post enviable margins. Some have patents or other intellectual property that protect them from competition. Others have invested large sums in plant and equipment to acquire economies of scale that scare off new market entrants. Some defend themselves by knitting together extensive sales-and-distribution networks that would take years to replicate.
patents  intellectual_property  entrepreneur  business_models  dealerships  automotive_industry  barcodes  medical_devices  hospitals  niches  unglamorous  differentiation  proprietary  small_business  mid-market  barriers_to_entry  economies_of_scale  margins  warp_speed  defensive_tactics  distribution_channels 
may 2012 by jerryking
iPhone 4S unleashes more creative destruction | Considered View | Breakingviews
04 October 2011 | By Robert Cyran.

Apple has an astonishing ability to casually unleash creative destruction. Its latest iPhone, the 4S, offers faster data-processing and downloads, as well as voice-powered software. This may not have lived up to the most feverish expectations of investors: Apple shares fell while the market rallied. But it will do more than enough to create headaches for companies ranging from Research In Motion to American Greetings.

Smartphones started by devouring the personal digital assistant, as any former Palm Pilot aficionado can testify. They terrorized the market for fixed-line phones, which are now in sharp decline. Apple’s newest gadget shows just how hungry smartphone makers, and Apple in particular, are to eat rivals’ lunches.

The new iPhone’s camera offers sharply better video. That will further hurt sales of digital still and video cameras. Its software allows easy and free texting to other Apple devices. That’s bad news for telephone operators, who make fat margins on such services. Instant messaging has also been the killer app for BlackBerry users.
Apple  iPhone  creative_destruction  smartphones  wireline  margins  staying_hungry  RIM  BlackBerry  blindsided  voice_assistants  voice_interfaces  text_messages  free  investors'_expectations  bad_news 
october 2011 by jerryking
A good PR consultant is worth paying for: The Entrepreneur
08 Dec 2010 | FT| Luke. Johnson. Having owned PR firms, I
know it can be an attractive investment. Clients are on contracts with
monthly retainers, so no feast & famine of advertising campaigns.
Expenses are staff & premises. A consumer PR agency should generate
20 % net profit margins on revenue; a financial PR agency 30 %.

PR is one of the few segments of the marketing services industry that
has benefited from the digital revolution. Most participants, including
advertising agencies, media buying shops and design houses, have
suffered, as spend on traditional media such as TV and press has been
squeezed....The growing importance of PR in business and society is
exemplified by the power of kings of the trade such as Alan Parker at
Brunswick and Roland Rudd at Finsbury. Both have incredible connections
in the City, Wall Street, industry & politics. The sector has moved
on from spin to embrace communications with investors, regulators,
politicians and other discreet audiences.
Luke_Johnson  public_relations  ProQuest  mass_media  Finsbury  Wall_Street  professional_service_firms  margins  Communicating_&_Connecting  investors  regulators  politicians  financial_communications  digital_revolution 
august 2011 by jerryking
BlueCat Networks' Michael Hyatt swims against the tide - The Globe and Mail
May. 20, 2011 | Special to Globe and Mail Update | by DIANE
JERMYN. Where there’s mystery, there’s margin. If you build a product
that has enough mystery, there’s a lot of margin to it. And if you’ve
developed something in technology that solves big problems for big
companies, they’re going to give you big, big cheques.
BlueCat  Michael_Hyatt  entrepreneur  problem_solving  contrarians  problems  margins  large_companies 
may 2011 by jerryking
Bottom lines are under pressure
Jun 14, 2004 / Plant. : Vol. 63, Iss. 7; pg. 46, 1 pgs /
Jayson Myers. Accelerated innovation also brings tremendous challenges.
It's shortening product life cycles and creating new and more demanding
customer expectations. More than 25,000 new consumer products were
launched in the North American market last year. Some manufacturers are
facing a market window of only a few months before the competition steps
in or customer requirements change. For example, the life cycle of
electronic components is about 18 months.
ProQuest  Canadian  manufacturers  innovation  margins  product_launches  market_windows  accelerated_lifecycles  customer_expectations 
november 2010 by jerryking
Google's Banker
May 3, 2004 | Fortune | By Adam Lashinsky.... Valentine also
took a different approach on making investments: He bet on the
racetrack, not the jockey. "... you build great companies by finding
monster markets that are in transition, and you find the people later,"
says Valentine...."But in Moritz, Valentine saw a resemblance to another
precocious go-getter he had observed at close range: Steve Jobs.
"They're both incredibly aggressive questioners," says Valentine. "And
our business is all about figuring out which questions are relevant in
making a decision, because the people who are starting a company (i.e. the founders) don't
have a clue what the answers are."... Valentine's principles: only
targeting businesses with fat margins; avoid capital-intensive
businesses; take measured steps; never underestimate the difficulty of
changing consumer behavior; don't begin a rollout until you're sure the
recipe is working; avoid any business Wall Street is prepared to throw
hundreds of millions of dollars at.
behavioral_change  capital-intensity  consumer_behavior  disequilibriums  Don_Valentine  founders  large_markets  margins  Michael_Moritz  precociousness  questions  rollouts  rules_of_the_game  Sequoia  Steve_Jobs  vc  venture_capital  Wall_Street 
october 2009 by jerryking

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