Bad weather, good reads

Stormy weather in Istanbul gave me more time to read in the weekend. Below are the summary of the remains of the week in my notebook:

> Foodservice Recovery in the US

With its defensive characterics in staples, food distribution also benefits from growth in relatively discretionery segments.

Restaurants -%60 of the overall foodservice=$600Bn– proved to be more resilient than we thought during the pandemic: Only 11% were permenantly closed and the industry fully recovered pre-COVID level sales in 2021. Although its growth in 2022 has been entirely price-driven, greater productivity per unit is encouraging.

Point to note: Independent restaurants are 4x profitable for foodservice companies than overall restaurants channel on the back of higher penetration of private label, higher service levels and dynamic pricing.

Retail ($71Bn) is expected to be fastest growing part of the market with 7-8% growth p.a.

Travel & Leisure represents $63Bn part of the market and still down 40% vs 2019 levels! The segment is expected to grow around 3-4% p.a for the next decade.

Healthcare ($31Bn) is highly resilient and captured all of the pandemic sales losses.

Education ($34Bn) is another resilient part of the market that fully recovered to 2019 levels and expected to grow by 2-3% p.a. for the next decade.

Looking at the valuation of major players, current levels (9,5x-13,0x EV/EBITDA) are much lower than pre-pandemic levels (16,0x-21,0x) and considering M&A track-record of the major players (CYY, USFD, PFGC) looks reasonable.

> Fast-growing Apple Pay adoption is threathening PayPal

As per #Salesforce eComm data covering 1.5bn shoppers globally, global eComm has fallen 2% in November 22. UK & Ireland eComm are weakest in Europe, followed by Germany and France.

Interestingly, Apple Pay grew 59% (makes up 6% of US eComm) in November in the US while PayPal (15% of US eComm) adoption has fallen 8% yoy.

Unpleasent take for PayPal shareholders: Extremely benefited from pandemic era surge of eComm, PayPal shall possibly continue to face strong competition from Apple Pay in the next years.

> Electric Smelter Furnaces’ (ESF) advance in steelmaking

Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) is put forward as main tool for decarbonisation of steel making in Europe. Problem is that it requires high grade iron ore pellets which is rare in the proven reserves (c.3%). A solid alternative could be ESF which is tried in the pilot applications across Europe by #thyssenkrupp and #tatasteel.

ESF uses same converter (no certification changes), cheaper electrodes, creates much more slag and use a wide array of iron ore feedstock.

If ESF proves to be a preferred way to decarbonise, met coal demand deceleration could gain further monentum. Met coal producers are possibly very good examples of #valuetrap in the market.

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