Perfectly Cooked

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Market Scorecard

US stocks were smoking hot yesterday, with the Nasdaq powering to a 2% higher close, its best daily move since the middle of March. This was a delayed reaction to two positive inflation reads, as the US producer price index for last month also came in weaker-than-expected. Now, finally, optimism is spreading that the Fed will get back in its box.

In company news, Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL ) fell 1.1% after posting a loss but saying summer flight bookings are off the charts. Elsewhere, Harley-Davidson's CFO, Gina Goetter is leaving to become CFO at toymaker Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS ), and Harley-Davidson's (NYSE: HOG ) share price decelerated by 1.7%. The biggest gainer in the S&P 500 was SolarEdge Technologies, a company that makes power electronics, rising 7.7% after positive analyst comments from HSBC.

In summary, the JSE All-share closed up 0.93%, the S&P 500 rose 1.33%, and the Nasdaq gained 1.99%. Very nice.

One Thing, From Paul

Friday advice time again, yes! New subscribers this week will soon note that this is a regular feature. I was reminded of a line from comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who said he didn't care about spending "quality time" with family and friends, because he thought that "garbage time" was better.

It's hard to plan ahead, and easy to get distracted. Time is short, so just try to be present and live in the moment. All time spent with people that you love is worthwhile, and often the magic happens when you are just doing everyday stuff together.

Here's the line from one of Seinfeld's stand-up routines: "Special days? Nah. Every day, every minute, can be special. All time with your kids, all time with anyone you love, is created equal. Eating cereal together can be wonderful. Blowing off school for a fun day together can be wonderful, but so can the twenty-minute drive in traffic to school. So can taking out the trash or waiting in the McDonald's drive-through".

Byron's Beats

There are many different leadership styles, all of which can be effective. Tim Cook is almost the polar opposite of what Steve Jobs was, which is why there were so many doubters when he took over as Apple CEO. As it turns out, he was the perfect man for the job taking the helm at a time where Apple needed his calm, collected leadership with a focus on operational excellence.

GQ just posted a brilliant profile of Tim Cook. It goes through his early years, daily routine, life at the office, how he relaxes and many other interesting things you did not know about the leader of the biggest business in the world. If you are a Vestact client you will own Apple shares (NASDAQ: AAPL ), so read this now or save it for the weekend.

Michael's Musings

De La Rue (LON: DLAR ), a company that makes banknotes, was in the news on Wednesday as its share price dropped over 20%. The 202-year old British company warned that demand for banknotes has fallen to a two-decade low. Interestingly, De La Rue provides currency solutions to over half the central banks and issuing authorities around the world.

Globally, cash made up 16% of point-of-sales transaction value in 2022, down from 27% in 2018, and is expected to drop further to 10% in 2026. This is all very good news for Visa (NYSE: V ).

Bright's Banter

Quiet luxury is a new trend taking social media and fashion discourse by storm. Move over flashy logos and in-your-face items. Clothing brand Zegna is riding this wave to success, thanks in part to their clothes being worn on HBO's smash hit show "Succession".

Ermenegildo Zegna Group, the parent company of Zegna and Thom Browne (and soon Tom Ford's fashion business), announced a return to profitability in 2022. Sales have been given a boost by the resurgence of tailoring and strong demand at the top end of the fashion market.

Despite Covid-19 disruptions in China and the risk of a spending slowdown in the West due to high inflation and slower growth, revenue still managed to rise 16% to EUR1.5 billion last year.

If you exclude the Chinese market, where lockdowns put a dampener on things, revenues were up a staggering 42%. Profits for the year also saw a dramatic turnaround, hitting EUR65 million in 2022 compared to a EUR128 million loss in the previous year.

So what's next for this newly profitable menswear giant? According to chairman Gildo Zegna, the brand is well-positioned to outperform even with an expected slowdown in the luxury market. They aim to focus on "quiet luxury" and maintain peerless quality and craftsmanship.

Zegna seems to be hitting all the right notes with consumers looking for an understated approach to high-end fashion.

Signing Off

Asian markets are looking dandy this morning, with share indices rallying across the board. Japan, mainland China, Hong Kong and South Korea are all higher, putting the Asia-Pacific index on course for its highest close since February.

US banks kick off US earnings season later today, with JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM ), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ), Citigroup (NYSE: C ), and BlackRock (NYSE: BLK ) on the starting line. We do not expect too many surprises.

US equity futures are currently slightly lower. The Rand is trading at R18.01 to the US Dollar, as the latter has given up recent gains.

It's Friday already, after this short working week. If you live here in South Africa this is what lies ahead: a 5-day week next, then a 3-day week (effectively), followed by a 4-day week. Not too bad hey?

On this day in 1912 the Titanic hit an iceberg at 23h40 off the coast of Newfoundland, and sank. We hope you enjoy smoother sailing today, and make it safely to the weekend.

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