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SoFi Daily News: Friday July 17



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A new airline partnership, a look at the canned tuna market, and new funding for Thrasio, Auth0, and Medly Pharmacy

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SoFi Daily News


JUL 16, 2020

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JetBlue and American Airlines Join Forces
Weathering the Coronavirus Storm
American Airlines (AAL) and JetBlue (JBLU) have created an alliance, which the two companies hope will help them through the pandemic.

Domestic leisure travel slowed dramatically when the pandemic set in. Though there were signs of recovery in late May, flight booking numbers have fallen again as COVID-19 cases rise. Bookings for international and business travel ground to a halt as well and have not recovered since.

Airlines have parked planes and cut tens of thousands of jobs. Analysts expect that domestic air carriers will lose $23 billion in 2020, and the airline industry will be about 25% smaller in 2021 than it was before the pandemic.

A Combined Effort
Every airline is working to think of creative solutions for survival. American Airlines and JetBlue believe that by combining their unique strengths, they will be able to come out ahead of competitors like Delta Air Lines (DAL) and other carriers.

American and JetBlue are making plans to connect their loyalty programs and to help each other with marketing. A main goal of the program is to achieve dominance in the Northeast, specifically Boston and New York. JetBlue has a large, loyal customer base in the Northeast. American has added more flights than most other carriers since air travel hit record lows in April. The airlines hope that combining these two advantages will help them come out ahead.

New Routes and Strategies
The proposed alliance is subject to regulatory approval. If it takes effect, the partners would be the biggest air carrier in New York by number of outgoing flights.

American also plans to roll out new international routes, thanks to a larger customer base through the partnership with JetBlue. JetBlue will also add its own transatlantic routes. Additionally, JetBlue aims to expand its presence at Newark Liberty International Airport, where United Airlines (UAL) currently leads and plans to add more flights to and from LA. Airlines will likely continue to face turbulence for some time. Investors will be watching carefully to see if JetBlue and American’s partnership helps them come out ahead of their competitors.


Demand for Canned Tuna Stays Strong

Sales Hit Record Highs
For decades, canned tuna producers struggled with declining sales and a consumer base that thought of their products as old-fashioned. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and sales of canned tuna went through the roof. Analysts say this trend is likely to continue for some time.

Bumble Bee Foods reported that sales of canned and pouched tuna rose 100% between mid-March and early April. Costco (COST) placed limits on how much tuna people could buy when panic-purchasing began. This was not just a temporary surge in sales. Canned tuna has continued to fly off shelves since the pandemic began.

Due to supply chain constraints, producers are having a difficult time keeping up with the demand increase. Retailers have been able to keep tuna prices stable so far, but wholesale tuna prices have spiked 41% since last year. This contrasts with trends in other wholesale seafood markets, where prices are dropping sharply due to restaurant closures.

The Canned Tuna Supply Chain
The tuna supply chain is long and complicated. About 40% of commercial tuna is caught in the western and central Pacific Ocean near very small countries like Tuvalu and Kiribati. Then, the fish is processed on Pacific islands, or in Asia or South America. Often, it then makes its way to a third country to be canned before reaching its final destination in a grocery store.

Though it has been a successful year for tuna fishing, border issues related to the pandemic have caused bottlenecks in the supply chain. Demand for tuna shows little sign of slowing down, and producers are working to streamline their processes.

More Than Just Panic Buying
Analysts have been surprised by the longevity of the canned tuna boom since the pandemic began. Many believe that this trend is here to stay, at least for a while. Joerg Ayrle, the CFO of Thai Union (TU:TB) which owns the tuna brand Chicken of the Sea explained, “People are asking, is this pantry-loading? Is this consumption? I would say, every pantry-loading leads to higher consumption. People are not just leaving that in their pantry. They are consuming it.”

Tuna is one of the cheapest protein sources available, costing as little as $1 per 5-ounce can. People may keep consuming tuna, not just because it lasts long and is a good way to avoid frequent trips to the store, but because it is cost-effective.


Friday Fundings: Thrasio, Auth0, and Medly Pharmacy

Thrasio Raises $260 Million in Series C
Thrasio, a company which acquires Amazon third-party private-label businesses, has raised $260 million in a Series C funding round. The company now has a valuation of $1 billion. The rapidly-changing consumer products industry is worth $13 trillion. Legacy brands are losing their competitive advantage as online sales boom, and Thrasio sees an opportunity for huge growth. It has acquired almost 60 Amazon businesses in total. 17 of those purchases happened over the past quarter.

This round of funding, led by Advent International, was the fourth major investment in Thrasio over the past year. Thrasio also became the fastest-profitable US company to achieve unicorn status.

Auth0 Raises $120 Million in Series F
Auth0, an identity verification platform, raised $120 million in a Series F round. Its valuation is now at $1.92 billion. The round was led by Salesforce Ventures, with participation from DTCP, Bessemer Venture Partners, and others.

Last year, Auth0 saw 70% year-over-year growth, and has projected at least 50% growth this year. It currently has about 10,000 paying users and 20,000 people using the free version of its platform. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a boom in online operations. Companies are doing more business through websites and apps than ever before. All of these platforms need identity verification, which has led to increased demand for Auth0’s services.

Medly Pharmacy Raises $100 Million in Series B
Medly Pharmacy is a digital pharmacy that offers free same-day prescription delivery. It was founded in 2017 in New York. The startup just completed a $100 million Series B funding round, co-led by Volition Capital and Greycroft.

Over the past three years, Medly has gained business from 15,000 providers and 50,000 patients. It has delivered over 500,000 prescriptions. Analysts expect that the global e-pharmacy market will be worth $107.5 billion in five years, and Medly is well-positioned to capitalize on that growth.


Not-So-Breaking News

  • DraftKings (DKNG), a sports betting company, will now offer betting opportunities for lacrosse through a new partnership with the Premier Lacrosse League. The league is hosting a two-week quarantined tournament in Utah, beginning on July 25.

  • In its latest high-profile podcast deal, Spotify (SPOT) announced it will add an exclusive podcast by Michelle Obama to its offerings. Spotify’s CEO shared that podcast consumption on the platform has gone up by triple digits as it continues to expand its library.

  • California Resources Corp, (CRC) the largest oil driller in California, has filed for bankruptcy and plans to transfer ownership to lenders. Oil prices are hovering close to $40 per barrel, making it difficult for companies to support debt they took on when prices were higher.

  • Domino’s Pizza (DPZ) announced that its same-store quarterly sales were up 16%. The company’s quarterly revenue hit $920 million—about $9 million higher than expected.

  • China’s economy expanded by 3.2% during the second quarter of the year, compared to a year ago. The country’s GDP decreased by 6.8% during the year’s first quarter, the first quarterly decline since the records began in 1992.

  • Marriage can change your financial wellness, for better or for worse. Find out the financial risks of marriage and get some tips for how to handle this transition on the SoFi Blog.

Financial Planner Tip of the Day
“Curious about crypto? Since cryptocurrencies are volatile and involve a high degree of risk, it can be a good idea to do some research. SoFi’s Guide to Crypto has some great educational articles to help get you started.”
– Brian Walsh, CFP® at SoFi

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