After Amazon made a shocking announcement about its acquisition of Whole Foods, Inc., analysts speculated about what comes next. Now we know. Amazon has filed trademarks for the meal kit delivery niche, and looks poised to dominate its new market. How big a bump can it be for Jeff Bezos and co? How bad are things looking for Blue Apron?
How Will Amazon’s Move Affect Blue Apron?
The meal kit market is currently valued at $2.2 billion. That’s without Amazon’s influence. Now, the world’s largest online retailer is set to enter the market, and traders can expect that market to explode.
Blue Apron just launched its IPO, and got off to a shaky start. And things are about to get worse for the current industry leader. Fortunately for Blue Apron, they’ve got a little time before Amazon can go toe to toe with them. But is it enough time for Blue Apron to set up any kind of competitive advantage?
While Blue Apron might have a reputation as the industry leader, and even a fair head start, Amazon is one of the most highly regarded and trusted retailers in the world. And on top of that, Amazon has more money than Blue Apron. A LOT more money. And those funds can go straight to marketing and offering free trials to new users.
But Amazon’s BIGGEST advantage is its user base.
While no one knows exactly how many Amazon Prime Members the company has, revenue from Prime subscriptions in 2016 was reported at $6.4 Billion. Which, if you look at each subscriber paying the yearly $99 subscription cost, comes out to about 65 million Amazon Prime subscribers who already know, trust, and pay Amazon.
Blue Apron just can’t compete with that.
Market research suggests about 5 percent of U.S. households currently use meal kit services, despite their growing popularity. Part of the reason for such a low number has been the expensive cost of the kits. However, given Amazon’s penchant for low prices and high service, that’s expected to change, with more people joining the trend through Amazon’s low costs.
Watch the news from Investors’ Business Daily about Blue Apron’s plunge as Amazon eyes meal kit deliveries:
Expect shares of Blue Apron Holdings, inc. (APRN), which tumbled more than 10 percent on the news, to continue DOWN, while shares of Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), which spiked on the news, will continue UP.
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Why You Should Consider Filing For Social Security At Age 62
Earlier this week we discussed four common regrets that retirees have when they look back at their golden years. One of the most common regrets was filing for Social Security benefits at 62, the earliest possible age. According to the Social Security Administration, about 1 out of 3 people apply for benefits at that age.
The regret is that if they had waited longer to file for their benefits, their monthly check would be much larger. For example, by delaying filing for Social Security until age 70, your monthly benefits can be as much as 75% larger than someone who filed at age 62. That’s because benefits grow by a guaranteed 5% to 8% each year that you delay your claim.
But there are always two sides to a coin. Today we wanted to discuss the benefits of filing for Social Security as soon as possible. With this, you can decide which approach you believe will benefit you the most.
The Case For Filing Social Security Early
The earliest you can file for Social Security benefits is age 62, but each month you file before reaching your full retirement age (FRA) cuts your monthly benefit amount. As an example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you start your claim at age 62, your monthly check will be reduced by approximately 30%.
Despite the reduced monthly benefit that comes with filing early, tens of millions of Americans make that decision every year. And it boils down to one line:
We have no idea what the future holds.
The financial benefits of waiting until age 70 to claim Social Security make complete sense. But we don’t know how long we will live, so we don’t know if the trade-off is worth it. If we knew we would live a long, healthy life until age 100, we would all delay filing until age 70 and reap the maximum reward.
But if you decided to wait until age 70 to claim, and unfortunately passed away before that, you would have foregone all the retirement income from age 62 on.
Waiting to file is a gamble, but so is giving up guaranteed monthly income starting at age 62.
Deciding when to claim your benefits requires serious thought and shouldn’t be a hastily made decision. And we aren’t saying that filing Social Security immediately at 62 or waiting until age 70 is the right choice. Every situation is different. If you are still healthy and working, waiting a few years passed 62 to claim but not all the way to 70 might be a good compromise. You’ll get a larger check than had you claimed right away, and your regular working income can make up for some of the reduced benefit amount since you didn’t wait until age 70.
The most important thing, whether you file at 62 or 70, is to find enjoyment in your golden years.
Mnuchin: Next Stimulus Coming By End of Month, No More Extra Unemployment Money
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the next stimulus bill will be much more targeted than previous bills. He also said the goal is to get the next bill approved between July 20 and the end of this month. That time is when Congress will return from their holiday break and before they leave for August recess.
On Broad Stimulus Measures
It appears the White House will not support the type of broad stimulus measures of the previous bills. Instead, it will focus on direct payments to Americans. In an interview with CNBC yesterday, Mnuchin said “we do support another round” of stimulus checks to individuals. This mirrors the $1,200 payments that the government sent out as part of the $2 trillion rescue legislation passed in March.
Mnuchin didn’t mention whether he supported the idea of a $40,000 income cap to receive a check that has been floated by GOP lawmakers. The income cap for the first stimulus check was $75,000. He did say that he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He also mentioned the “level and criteria” for checks would be discussed when lawmakers return to Washington.
Any new stimulus bill would likely not include proposals from the Democrats that include hazard pay for essential workers. It likely won’t include a longer extension of strengthened unemployment benefits, mortgage and rent relief, and support for state and local governments, too.
Mnuchin reiterated that the White House isn’t in favor of more relief money for states and municipalities to make up for lost revenue. Some state and local governments are considering trimming essential services as costs balloon and revenues drop. He said the administration does not want to “bail out” states that were “mismanaged” before the virus hit.
On Unemployment Benefits
Another critical topic the lawmakers will tackle the end of the enhanced unemployment benefits on July 30. They will do so when they return to Washington D.C.
Mnuchin said the White House has no interest in extending the enhanced benefits any further. Instead, he said it wants to change how they pay benefits. He did not give details. However, he did hint that unemployed workers shouldn’t be able to earn more money compared to full-time employees
“You can assume that it will be no more than 100%” of a worker’s usual pay, Mnuchin said. This echoes many Republicans who argue the additional benefits are preventing some from returning to work. These workers do this so that they make more at home than they would at their jobs.
While Mnuchin says the White House isn’t in favor of extending unemployment benefits, it is extending the Paycheck Protection Program that provides loans for small businesses. Earlier this week the Trump administration released a list of companies that received loans from the government. With that, backlash ensued as numerous businesses tied to wealthy individuals were found to have requested funds. Of the $130 billion remaining in the program, Mnuchin said he wants new relief to be “much, much more targeted” than past rounds of funding.
Kudlow: Economy Doing Great, Second Shutdown ‘Really Big Mistake’
White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow says that the country is squarely in the middle of the “v-shaped” recovery that everyone had hoped for, and despite reports of coronavirus hotspots popping up, shutting down the economy for a second time would make the “solution worse than the disease.”
Kudlow spoke on “Fox and Friends” yesterday and said that the White House is monitoring the jump in new coronavirus cases in states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, but added that as a country we now know what works to stop the spread, and just need to work together.
“We know the right mitigation, which has worked, and if we use that wholeheartedly and respect each other, I think we’ll get out of this pretty well and it will not stop the V-shaped recovery.”
On A Second Shutdown
He added that a second shut down would be a “really big mistake.”
“Another shutdown, in itself is controversial,” and would “do more harm than good,” said Kudlow before adding, “It would harm everyone. Not just businesses — the V-shaped recovery would give way. It would harm kids, we saw numbers on depression, drinking and so on… that solution would be worse than the disease.”
Kudlow highlighted the job growth in the last two months, and pointed out that jobs are being added back so quickly, workers are now quitting jobs to search for new, higher-paying ones.
He said there existed a “tremendous burst of jobs in May and June” and “tremendous record hiring rates. People are starting to quit their jobs again, which is extraordinary, in order to shop around for better jobs and wages.”
All those workers looking for jobs should bring down the unemployment rate to as low as 7% iby the end of the year, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard.
That would be quite a rollercoaster ride for the job market, which has swung from a 50-year low unemployment rate of 3.5% earlier this year, to a post-WWII high of 14.7% in April.
U.S. Economy Doing “Very Well”
Appearing on “Closing Bell” yesterday, Bullard said “I think we’re tracking very well right now. Seems to me like by the end of the year you can get down certainly to single digits, probably even below 8%, maybe 7% by the end of the year.”
A surge in new cases could slow the re-hiring of workers across the country, but Bullard believes that wearing a mask will become standard and that will help bring back jobs and boost the economy.
“If we get to that situation, we’ll have the disease under control,” he said. “What I like about that scenario is it does not rely on a vaccine coming or a therapeutic coming. We can use simple, easy technology that we have today, get a good situation, get most of the production back to normal.”
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