Where’s Starman? 👨🚀
Remember Starman, the Tesla driving mannequin that Elon Musk and SpaceX spectacularly launched into space back in 2018? Turns out that he and his trusty Roadster are currently about 377 million kilometres from Earth, which is definitely the furthest an EV has travelled on one charge. Starman’s orbit will take him as far as Mars, and SpaceX hopes real humans are the next cab off the rank.
The company’s developed a phenomenal 120m tall rocket capable of orbital refilling to take us there, creatively called Starship (not Rockety McRocketface). Last week Musk said he hopes for test launch approval by around March, so watch this… space. The sales pitch to Mars? The trip will be ‘cramped, dangerous, difficult, very hard work and you might die’, says Musk. Where do we sign up?! 😰
In the meantime, the space race to Mars is firing on all boosters. 🚀 Rocket Lab (RKLB) is finalising designs to manufacture and launch two interplanetary spacecraft, which will set off on an 11-month cruise to Mars as part of NASA’s ESCAPADE mission. There, they’ll help to recon the planet’s magnetosphere – the magnetised area of space around the planet. The target launch date is 2024, just a year after the reboot of Futurama. It’s just one of the many big projects Rocket Lab has been fueling up for recently, buying three separate companies that produce systems and hardware that support the Kiwi-founded company’s mighty missions.
In a #humblebrag move of galactic proportions, NASA reckons their rover on Mars that’s been collecting samples and taking snaps makes the perfect love note to send your valentine. But what NASA really needs to focus on is a way to get those samples back to Earth. Which is why last week, the space agency awarded aerospace and defence contractor Lockheed Martin (LMT) with apotential US$194 million contract to design a rocket to bring their Martian bits ‘n’ pieces back from Mars no earlier than 2026. It might just take a little more Perseverance. 👽
Our love of investing app-tivity 😍
Have 20 and 30-somethings swapped streaming services for a new app-tivity? 📱 According to last year’s CNBC’s Invest in You survey, it appears so. Armed with a US$1.4K stimulus package, despite warnings not to, half of 18-34 year old investors put last year’s government payout into investments - some using apps like Robinhood (HOOD), Webull, TD Ameritrade and Fidelity. This, despite more than a quarter of investors surveyed only having been in a relationship with investing since the pandemic began - when Covid stay-at-home orders saw investing app use surge and more than 10 million new brokerage accounts opened in 2020.
But after last year’s trading frenzy, is the retail investing love affair over? 💔 Some say there are signs that yes, US share market retail investors’ highly charged romance with tech stocks is over - indicated by far fewer tech stocks bought than is typical - and that meme stocks are now fading into the history book of passing fancies. Others say no, adding that new investors are embracing the decades-long investment strategy of buying the dip. Awww.
Yet despite Hollywood A-Listers including Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Reece Witherspoon sharing their love of crypto (without disclosing their gains when people buy into it), turbulent cryptocurrencies came off their record 2021 highs this January. Perhaps highlighting the fickleness of flighty sell-offs, crypto futures like Coinbase (COIN) are already trading up 14.2% following their Kiwi summer dip. Here on the edge of the world, US market volatility might have turned portfolios into a sea of red, but it hasn’t incited the great Kiwi sell-off in investing platforms - maybe we’ve been too busy fishing on the kayak? 🎣
But not everyone’s feeling the love. Hiding in plain sight, crypto’s Bonnie and Clyde, aka ‘Razzlekhan’ and ‘Dutch’, have been arrested for alleged money laundering, with US$3.6 billion of cryptocurrency seized, believed to be connected to the 2016 Bitfinex hack. Maybe the Crocodile of Wall Street’s love song to hackers was a tad premature? 😬
Can’t buy me love 🎵
With trillions of dollars lining pockets, big companies have been swiping right more than ever before looking for love. 💕 According to Morgan Stanley, 2021 was a record year for merger and acquisition (M&A) activity as lonely companies scrambled to choo choo choose a partner. Sealing the deal with another company can quickly accelerate growth or help to gain a strategic edge. But M&A love between big companies could become increasingly taboo in the US as Uncle Sam tries to keep love at first sight companies apart. The Biden administration has vowed to crack down on big mergers by signing an Executive Order to promote competition and keep prices down for consumers.
Nvidia (NVDA) has already lost an Arm due to significant regulatory pressure, announcing last week they were dropping their US$40 billion deal to acquire UK chip designer Arm. 🦾 Arm’s designs are used in 95% of the world’s smartphones, and regulators were anything but happy to let the marriage be consummated in case Nvidia tried to prevent other companies from using Arm’s chip designs. Many Nvidia investors were already betting the two giants wouldn’t reach the altar, with Nvidia’s share price even lifting slightly on the news.
It won’t be enough to dull the attraction for some companies though, with plenty of big deals still on the cards. Microsoft’s (MSFT) proposed takeover of Activision Blizzard (ATVI) will be one to watch if it faces an antitrust review. While it’s been reported that both Amazon and Nike could be trying to slide into Peloton’s DMs. 👀
Fortunately the stars have aligned for Advanced Micro Devices’ (AMD) US$35 billion acquisition of programmable chip maker Xilinx (XLNX), which has reportedly been given a formal blessing. While just last week, love was in the air between ultra-low-cost airlines Spirit Airlines (SAVE) and Frontier Airlines (ULCC), who have announced a US$6.6 billion merger.