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Thanks for the interesting read Charlie. My first thought is that Tesco has been around for almost 100 years and has been through many fluctuations in currency over that time. I would hope that they have taken advantage of that experience to inform product adjustments and supplier negotiations this time around. I would also think that of the various industries to be affected by currency fluctuations, food retail would be one of the safer places to be. Consider for example the impact to auto retailers or department stores where purchases are more discretionary and there is likely to be an even greater proportion of imported goods. Finally, I suspect that the greatest risk to Tesco is around other impacts of Brexit (as opposed to exchange rate implications). The potential for tariffs and issues accessing the labor market could be even greater challenges for Tesco in the years ahead.

Thanks for an interesting read. There are two elements of this that lead me to believe the impact on natural gas pipelines is likely to be less than for other types of industries. The first is that the political rhetoric surrounds job losses to Mexico. That issue is not as relevant to pipelines as it is to manufacturing for example. It’s not necessarily worse for U.S. jobs to build a pipeline to Mexico vs. a pipeline within the U.S. The argument could be made, however, that if tariffs were instituted in the U.S. they would likely be instituted in Mexico and that could impact natural gas entering the country. Natural gas is a commodity product, however, and it seems to me more damaging to Mexico to increase the cost of it to its citizens and businesses, especially if natural gas tends to be imported to the country. Given these two elements of natural gas trade, I suspect natural gas would be safer than other industries in a renegotiation of a trade agreement.

My first reaction to this is can we engineer almond trees that require less water. One gallon of water per nut seems extraordinary. Potentially even more stark — online sources suggest it takes over 900 gallons of water to make one gallon of almond milk. [1] Indigo has in fact engineered cotton seeds that require less water. [2] One challenge with engineering almond seeds, however, may be the growing time. The author mentions that almond trees require years to grow before they can harvest. It may therefore take a substantial amount of time to do the testing required to determine whether certain probiotics help almond trees grow with less water. From Indigo’s perspective it may also be less of an attractive business given once the tree have been planted there is no need to buy more seeds. Genetic options would be worth exploring as well. In the meantime, it’s great to see Blue Diamond being proactive about educating farmers on water optimization.

[1] Benji Jerew, “Is Milk a Problem for the Environment,” The Green Optimist, September 8, 2014., accessed November 2017.

[2] Alex Brokaw, “New probiotic seeds grow crops that require less water to survive,” The Verge, July 21, 2016., accessed November 2017.

Thanks for the great read Anna. One option not considered here is a sale of the business. As of today, Vail Resorts is trading near all time highs. If climate change represents an existential threat to the company, management may want to think through this option. The stats you cited on percentage of resorts able to be open by December 15th over time is particularly concerning. A partial measure would be to consider adjusting the portfolio towards properties with stronger non-skiing options by selling resorts with limited non-ski value and acquiring resorts with greater non-ski value.

I think your question of whether there are non-water alternatives for man-made snow is interesting. I also wonder if they are working on engineering snow that but can perform better in a warmer environment. Technological solutions like these would seem to me the best protection against climate change, but I wonder how feasible they are and how much the sport (and interest in the sport) would be impacted.

On November 30, 2017, Ben commented on Checking Out Should Feel Like You’re Stealing :

Thanks Mel for an interesting read. Amazon is all about making its customers lives easier and I see this as a natural extension into retail. While e-commerce growth has been tremendous, your point that only 12.6% of retail purchases are done online suggests that disrupting the retail industry also requires an offline strategy. Some categories in particular (e.g. groceries) generate an even higher proportion of their sales at brick and mortar retail (one explanation for Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods). [1] Whether this checkout process ultimately becomes the new standard in retail is a question of the quality and cost of the technology. If the technology quality is truly seamless, revenue could be enhanced by driving more traffic and conversion in store; however a single bad experience or PR event could easily change a consumer’s calculus. I suspect the pursuit of technological perfection is why it is taking them so long. Cost is also a question. The economics of the technology have to ultimately make sense. Elements of that equation would include the cost of the technology (in and out of store), savings generated by requiring less staff, and the incremental revenue benefit. Of course if they are ultimately able to drive revenue and cost savings the technology will sustainable and value enhancing to both customers and retailers — thus causing disruption. Whether this is possible of course remains to be seen.

[1] Frank Newport and Megan Brenan, “So Far, American Grocery Shoppers Buck Online Shopping Trend,” Gallup News, August 8, 2017., accessed November 2017.

Thanks for the interesting read Daniel. I was particularly impressed with the $155m online sales figures for Sotheby’s, that’s a meaningful number in e-commerce. I think democratizing the art auction is a step in the right direction for the industry and I’m glad to see it seems to be working. While online sales is a clear impact of digitalization I am skeptical that blockchain will hurt Sotheby’s relevance for a few reasons. First, regardless of the blockchain, I believe people spending meaningful dollars on art purchases will want independent verification of the physical work and trust associated with a qualified auction house. Second, this is a marketplace where finding buyers and sellers is non-trivial. One of the major value adds of Sotheby’s is maintaining relationships on both sides and marketing to both sides in order to bring people together for the highest likelihood of a transaction. Third, art is a very unique market in which the middleman plays a role not just in the marketplace but in the intrinsic value of the property. Choosing which artists to market and support is part of what makes the works of those artists valuable and cannot be easily replaced. Finally, in addition to bringing together buyers and sellers, Sotheby’s provides other means of facilitating the marketplace, such as providing guarantees to both buyers and sellers. [1]

[1] Josh Spero, “Auction houses: art market on the block,” Financial Times, February 18, 2016., accessed November 2017.