💊 CVS faces “Pharmageddon”

Thursday, November 2, 2023 by Snacks
After a line longer than a CVS receipt (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

After a line longer than a CVS receipt (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

After a line longer than a CVS receipt (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

After a line longer than a CVS receipt (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

Yesterday’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
33,275 (+0.67%)
S&P 500
4,238 (+1.05%)
13,061 (+1.64%)
$35,403 (+2.16%)

Hey Snackers,

A major chef’s table is coming to the city of blackjack tables: star chefs including Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mario Carbone will create signature menus to be served during the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix this month. For $11.2K, ticket holders can enjoy those hot meals while watching hot wheels.

Stocks rallied to kick off November after Fed Chair Powell kept interest rates steady for a second straight time, fueling investors’ optimism that hikes may be over for the year.


1. Stretched thin, CVS and Walgreens workers walk out of pharmacies

Unfilled prescriptions… Organizers are calling this week’s pharmacy walkouts “Pharmageddon” after estimating that thousands of workers clocked out from Monday to Wednesday. CVS and Walgreens pharmacists across the US walked off the job as protests that started in September gained momentum.

  • Not about $$: Pharmacy workers aren’t demanding bigger checks. Instead, they want their employers to hire more staff and change policies that make them rush.

  • Heavy workload: One store manager said their pharmacy fills 450 prescriptions in a typical day (around half have to be counted out pill-by-pill) and administers 45 vaccinations per shift.

  • Patient problem: Nearly three-quarters of US pharmacists say they don’t have enough time to safely do their jobs. That can lead to harmful errors, like mixing up prescriptions.

Bitter pill… The pandemic worsened an existing nationwide shortage of healthcare workers, who suddenly had a new vax to jab everyone with. Now, pharmacy workers say their responsibilities are even more overwhelming as struggling chains shutter hundreds of stores, leaving customers to fill their prescriptions at fewer counters. Rite Aid filed for bankruptcy last month, while Walgreens’ credit rating was recently downgraded to one step above “junk” on debt concerns. Meanwhile, CVS reported expectation-beating growth yesterday partly thanks to its health insurance biz Aetna and recent acquisitions of healthcare providers Oak Street Health and Signify Health.


Pharmacy wastelands could spread… CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid plan to close 1.5K stores, and the scale-back is leaving more swaths of the US underserved. Meanwhile, the remaining stores have to cope with long lines of new customers. While some people are turning to mail-order services like Amazon Pharmacy and Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs, these alts could exacerbate closures of physical pharmacies.


2. Racing to make the App Store for cars, automakers find themselves in a software pileup

Hitting the open code… As cars become smarter and more connected, automakers are speeding to build what they hope will become an industry standard software foundation. This month, GM took a cue from Apple’s playbook and released open source APIs to allow outside developers to build apps for its cars (picture: the App Store, but for Chevys). The goal: ramp up monetizable auto software.

  • Not playing: In March, GM said that its future EVs won’t support phone mirroring systems like Apple CarPlay, instead defaulting to GM’s upcoming system dubbed Ultifi.

  • Revving up: GM’s targeting up to $25B in annual software revenue by 2030, up from about $2B currently. Rivals like Ford and Stellantis also have big plans for in-car tech… and any associated subscription fees.

  • Computers on wheels: Future dashboards could feature apps like TikTok or smart home functions like turning on the house A/C from the highway. Sony and Honda’s joint EV venture, Afeela, even features PlayStation 5 remote play.

Mount Fuji-sized ambitions… As EV demand cools, automakers are shifting focus to software features that can be put in cars quickly while easing off the gas on long-term moonshots. In 2021, Toyota created its own tech startup with lofty plans like building a city for testing futuristic products at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Now, the startup has a new CEO and the city still isn’t open. Volkswagen is reportedly planning to lay off 2K software unit workers after delays to car launches.


Going it alone ain’t easy… Computers are hard enough when they don’t go 120mph. GM wants its APIs to become the industry standard, meaning its apps could also work in rivals’ cars. While GM’s rivals also want to set the standard, collaboration on one system could help carmakers lower costs and compete with techier rivals like Tesla and Apple — the latter of which has long been rumored to be building a car.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • Swipe: Match shares neared a record low after the Tinder and Hinge parent forecast slower revenue growth. Match says singles are spending less on subscriptions as inflation weighs on swipe budgets.

  • OOO: WeWork could reportedly file for bankruptcy as soon as next week. The former coworking darling’s stock has lost nearly 98% of its value since 2019 as the commercial real-estate market suffers.

  • Poke: Biopharma giant GSK raised its profit outlook again thanks to “outstanding” US demand for its recently released Arexvy, the world’s first vaccine for RSV. The respiratory virus annually infects 64M people worldwide.

  • Skip: Netflix shares rose after news that its $7/month ad tier hit 15M subs (up 3X from May). Netflix has been raising Premium prices while trying to boost subs for its ad tier (ad plans tend to have better margins).

  • KenTacoHut: KFC parent Yum Brands topped profit estimates, but fell short on sales. Yum’s Taco Bell and KFC chains outperformed, but Pizza Hut’s same-store sales fell flat in the US (#ZaFatigue).

Snack Fact of the Day

Europe’s richest millennial is the heir to Red Bull


  • Earnings expected from Apple, Block, Cigna, Cloudflare, Coinbase, ConocoPhillips, Crocs, DraftKings, Dropbox, Expedia, Ferrari, Gannett, Hyatt, Live Nation, Marriott International, Moderna, Molson Coors, Palantir, Papa John’s, Redfin, Shake Shack, Shell, Shopify, Starbucks, Subaru, Sweetgreen, Wendy’s, and Yelp

Authors of this Snacks own shares of: Amazon, Apple, Block, CVS, GM, Match, Moderna, Shopify, Starbucks, Tesla, and Yum! Brands

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