My precioussss (metals)

December 17, 2018

For the first time in 16 years, a new element has surpassed gold as the most valuable metal, and the winner is… palladium?
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Not all that glitters is gold: The most precious metal in the world is… palladium?

The price of palladium, a precious metal most commonly used in the exhaust systems of cars, is now higher than its more popular precious metal cousins, gold and platinum.

After years doing the dirty work behind the scenes, the misunderstood metal is finally outshining its peers — but it’s likely that its luster won’t last.

WTF is palladium?

Palladium is a ‘noble metal’ (resistant to corrosion) that is created as a byproduct of mining other metals (like platinum, gold, and nickel). For decades, gold miners thought the silvery substance that formed in the sides of mine shafts was a worthless nuisance. 

But the chemical properties of palladium are unusual: When palladium reacts with car exhaust, it converts harmful carbon monoxide into less-harmful carbon monoxide.

So, when the US first started mandating tailpipe emissions standards in the ’70s, the market for palladium began to grow. Today, 80% of the world’s palladium is used to make catalytic converters.

Higher emissions standards mean higher palladium demand

Thanks to increasing global car emissions standards that require carmakers to produce cleaner cars, demand for palladium has increased for 8 straight years. 

Recent labor problems in South African mines have led to a decreased palladium supply, causing palladium prices to increase more than 50% in just 4 months, despite dull prices of other precious metals.

At the end of 2018, palladium demand is expected to outstrip supply by 1.2m ounces. Last week, the largest palladium producer in the world announced that it will invest $12B in palladium mining over the next 5 years to prevent further shortages.

An exhaust(ed) market

Palladium prices are likely to stay higher than gold and platinum for the near future. 

That said, nothing palladium can stay: Since palladium’s price is tied to demand for gas-guzzling cars, the rise of electric cars will cause palladium prices to fall eventually. 

Gold is the winning metal for a reason: It has enduring industrial, financial, and aesthetic applications that make it valuable (even during economic slumps). But before gold reclaims its rightful place on the podium, palladium will get its chance to shine.

The other precious metal
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Merck agrees to acquire animal health tech company, Antelliq, for $3.7B

On Friday, Merck agreed to buy Antelliq Group, a French supplier of animal identification, tracking and monitoring solutions, from BC Partners for around $3.7B.

Reuters reports that Merck will take on Antelliq’s $1.3B debt, which it plans to repay after the deal closes (expected in Q2 of 2019). 

Antell me about Antelliq…

The company brought in over $406m in sales in the year ending Sept. 30.

Their bread and butter? Technology that helps veterinarians, farmers, and pet owners do things like manage livestock and predict health issues in critters before it’s too late.

According to Merck, Antelliq will be a separately owned and operated subsidiary within its animal health division, which raked in $3.8B in sales last year.

2018: the year of animal healthcare

This past year wasn’t just the year of the dog, but also of animals all across the estimated $26B animal health and $70B pet product industries.

This year, VCs threw $579m into pet tech startups as of November — including Pfizer’s former animal health business, Zoetis, which did $5.3B in revenue last year, and acquired fellow animal diagnostics company, Abaxis, in June.

   @ Me Anything
Wes Schlagenhauf, News Writer at The Hustle

People love their animals more than they love themselves. Until robot pets hit the mainstream, I’m betting the animal healthcare market will keep going up and to the right.
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» Barking up the right tree

General Electric is spinning off a separate digital company to keep the lights on

General Electric announced that it will now operate its digital business as a stand-alone software company.

After losing 60% of its stock value this year, GE is doubling down on its software services in an effort to turn around its fortunes — an approach that has barely kept the lights on in the past.

The internet is hard

GE’s decision to embrace the digital world is not new: In 2015, GE announced its plan to become a “top 10 software company by 2020.” 

But, after spending billions of dollars in acquisitions and hiring, GE remains far from its goal. Since it began its digital push, GE has churned through 3 separate CEOs, and many of its strategic plans have fallen through. 

GE is selling the majority stake in ServiceMax (the digital services startup GE acquired for $915m in 2016) after it failed to help get GE’s ‘internet of things’ business off the ground.

Starting over… with a startup

GE hopes that the separation will help the smaller digital company focus on “core verticals” and attract tech workers who are accustomed to equity packages at small startups.

Based on previous performance, GE expects its new business to do $1.2B in annual revenue. After last week’s announcement, GE’s stock rose more than 7%… or $0.78. Brutal.

» Give me digital or give me death

Pokémon GOOOO-ing for the gold: Niantic is trying to catch a $200m funding round

Pokémon GO creator, Niantic, is raising a $200m Series C at a $3.9B valuation.

According to WSJ, if successful, the round would bring the company’s total funding to $400m, with VC firm IVP leading the charge, along with activity from strategic investors like Samsung and aXiomatic Gaming.

Investors are betting users still ‘gotta catch ’em all’

The San Francisco-based AR platform builder started within Google in 2010 and became its own entity in 2015. 

In 2016, Niantic’s Pokémon Go became an instant success and has remained steady, earning $2B since its 2016 release (mostly through in-app purchases).

The game was once the leader on Apple Inc.’s app store charts (and still remains in the top 200 most-downloaded US apps), but, according to App Annie Inc., Pokémon Go’s download rates have begun to decelerate. 

Nothing a little black magic can’t fix

As Confucius once said, “Never bring a Pokémon to do a Wizard’s job.”

Not true, but, the company does have an upcoming Harry Potter mobile-game in the works. Along with continued success of Pokémon Go,  investors are hoping Niantic can wave its magic wand and turn another franchise behemoth into a massive mobile phenom.

» Team Hufflepuff

UPDATE: Robinhood backs down on its checking and savings account promise

That was quick. Turns out Robinhood’s too-good-to-be-true-sounding no-fee, 3% interest checking and savings accounts was exactly that.

On Thursday we wrote about Robinhood’s checking and savings accounts, which it promised would be protected by the SIPC. But, on Friday, the SIPC said it was all news to them, and frankly is not down to back the product.

After the mess, the founders acknowledged in a blog post there may have been some “confusion” and said they will rebrand the service. In the meantime as they put in the blog, “stay tuned for updates.”

» Caught red handed

‘Tis the season for giving… yourself a sweet slice of real estate

Because the best gift is one that keeps on giving. 

Listen, aside from engaging in heated debates with your crazy Uncle and spiking the eggnog, the holiday season is also a great time to take a good hard look at your financial standing. 

Call it an HPC: a Holiday Portfolio Cleanse. A chance to take a fresh look at your investments and, more importantly, discover what might be missing. 

Real diversification, real returns, Real Estate

If your investment strategy is missing real estate, you might as well keep your money under a mattress.

Long story short, private equity holdings (like real estate) have outperformed public markets for the last 20 years. Now, Fundrise — a premier real estate investing platform — wants to let you in on the action. 

For only $500, you gain access to real estate opportunities across the nation, a state-of-the-art portfolio dashboard, real-time updates, and assets with historical annualized returns of 8.7-12.4%. That’s a mix that will add some cheer to anyone’s holiday season. 

Open your portfolio today with a few clicks, then pour another ‘nog and light up a yule log, you deserve it.

“Yes, I do” →

The finer print: If legal terms and disclaimers are your jam, call this Fundrise page jelly.

monday morning review

Well, folks, we made it

It’s our last week of emails for 2018. In the past 12 months, we’ve sent 298 emails, hosted 15 events nationwide, reached over 1 million daily subscribers, and consumed at least that many cups of coffee. Not bad for a team of 22.

It’s not often you get to work with a team of such talented, funny, and kind individuals — and it’s not often those people have a chance to impact a community as ambitious and inspiring as all of you.

So, thank you all for an amazing year. It’s been quite a ride. Onwards and upwards.

Lindsey Quinn, Managing Editor of The Hustle

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