The major indexes moved higher once again on encouraging earnings news and the prospects of tax cuts. The Dow gained 143 points, with 24 of its 30 components advancing, five declining, and one unchanged; the S&P 500 Index rose 12 points; and the Nasdaq added 30. Advancers led decliners by more than three to two on the NYSE and four to three on the Nasdaq. The prices of Treasuries weakened. Gold futures fell $10.10 to close at $1,225.80 an ounce, and the price of crude oil slipped 93 cents to settle at $52.93 a barrel.
In earnings news:
- Restaurant Brands International LP, the parent of Burger King and Tim Horton’s restaurants, reported fourth-quarter earnings that rose to $118.4 million from $51.7 million in the same period a year ago. Revenue rose to $1.11 billion from $1.06 billion. Shares (QSP) of Restaurant Brands stock added 4.7%.
- Payment-processing firm First Data Corp. swung to a profit last quarter, but revenue fell more than expected as the company grappled with currency headwinds. Net income rose to $251 million from a net loss of $1.16 billion in the year-prior period, which included costs to repay debt and one-time expenses related to its initial public offering of about $1.3 billion. Total expenses fell 14% in large part due to substantially lower selling, general, and administrative costs. The value of First Data’s shares (FDC) increased 1.9%.
In other business news:
- Sanofi S.A. agreed to sell to smaller, local rival Ipsen S.A. a portfolio of five drugs distributed in Europe for 83 million euros ($88 million). The European Commission required Sanofi to sell certain assets before exchanging its animal-health business for most of the consumer health-care unit of Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, a privately-held German company. Shares (SAN) of Sanofi were 0.3% higher, and Ipsen shares (IPN) rose 0.7 %.
- Lear Corp. boosted its quarterly cash dividend by 67% to 50 cents a share. The new dividend is payable March 23 to shareholders of record on March 3. The automotive seating supplier said it increased its share buyback program to $1 billion from the $341 million it had remaining at the end of 2016. Shares (LEA) of Lear stock gained 1.7%.
- Allergan PLC will acquire body-contouring company Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc., which has a cooling technology approved for fat reduction. Allergan believes this is a $4 billion market opportunity worldwide and growing. The deal is expected to close in the second half of this year. Allergan’s shares (AGN) added 0.2%, and shares (ZLTQ) of Zeltiq Aesthetics were up 13.2 %.
General Motors Co. launched a $1,500-per-month on-demand concierge subscription service for Cadillac cars and SUVs in New York last month. BOOK by Cadillac GM and Cadillac will maintain a small fleet of Cadillac cars and Escalade SUVs to serve clients for the initial phase of the luxury service, which company executives hope will attract first-time drivers of GM’s luxury models. The automaker plans to expand the program to major cities in the U.S.
Vehicles will be delivered and picked up on demand to customers upon request by using a smart-phone app. Service membership will be month-to-month, cancellable on 30-days notice. Members will be able to shift to different vehicles up to 18 times per year.
While a car subscription is relatively new, the idea of delivering a box of products by subscription every month is a growing business with more than five years of experience to document its appeal. Here are some other things that you might not have considered subscribing to but, if you can afford a car subscription, why not, right?
- Phone cases from Phone Case of the Month. Only 200 of each assures a measure of exclusivity.
- Dog treats from Bark Box filled with treats and toys, customized to size and allergies.
- Global spices from Raw Spice Bar include spices from around the world with recipe ideas.
- SketchBox sends five to six pieces of premium art supplies each month with art and information.
While right now only one company is delivering a car, 10,000 companies sell product box subscriptions, according to CBS News. Entrepreneurs like the business model which promises a predictable workload and a steady revenue stream. Subscribers tend to like the discount they may be receiving and the element of surprise.
It is not just entrepreneurs; big brands are also getting in on the action. Disney, Target, and Sephora, a cosmetics retailer, have launched subscription services. Amazon launched a STEM Club last month that targets young students with educational toys delivered each month. It is a learn-through-play approach based on the idea that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math-related jobs) are the future.
A future economy grounded in STEM jobs may indeed be the nation’s direction, but for someone with a new product or even an older one with a new angle (remember the razor-blades-through-the-mail phenomenon), the future may be creating a subscription service to deliver the next must-have item to the front doors of customers.