>>> Why trash hauler Republic Services thinks the U.S. is going green despite the politics: ‘To be environmentally sustainable, it’s got to be economically sustainable’
by Phil Wahba
September 8, 2023
Jon Vander Ark doesn't mind anyone calling the company he leads, Republic Services, a garbage company. After all, founded in 1996, the company made its name hauling trash and still makes 5 million collections a day. But Vander Ark, CEO since 2021 and a 13-year veteran of Republic Services, has been working to modernize its business model to go after the higher-growth, higher-profit recycling market.
"I've seen us go from a garbage company to a waste company to a waste and recycling company to now an environmental services and sustainability company," says Vander Ark.
Last year, Republic managed 8 million tons of recyclable items, and extracted 2.4 million tons of materials that can have a second life. This strategy has boosted its stock in the last two years and given the company a market cap of $45 billion. What's more, under Vander Ark, Republic has gone after the fast-growing environmental services and consulting business, making a number of acquisitions. Vander Ark's moves raised revenue 20% last year to almost $14 billion.
The CEO says the way for Republic to thrive in this hyper-politicized environment around climate change is to simply be pragmatic about the focus on cost savings and revenue potential as Americans recycle more. For instance, Republic now has a fast-growing business recovering plastic consumer packaging for circularity, a term that refers to components being constantly re-used. It takes thrown away plastics and recycles them to produce high-quality plastic used by consumer packaged goods companies. "We think about circularity and de-carbonization as two fundamental mega-trends," says Vander Ark.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
Fortune: How do we in the U.S. become a less wasteful society? And if we manage to do that, is that bad for business?
It would not hurt business. In fact it helps. We're already seeing that in terms of shrinking solid waste on a per capita basis. Typically a market grows with population, but solid waste is shrinking because we're diverting more and recycling is growing faster to make up the difference. Our aspiration is to accelerate that trend. So we look at every ton that goes into a landfill and challenge ourselves and ask, "How could we take that out and create value with it?" I pay for something to go to a landfill. But if I can recycle it, I get value for it on the other end.
When you look at how far along many European countries are in recycling in contrast to how much Americans throw out as trash, it's tempting to see Americans as lazy. Can recycling really become part of our culture?
We're certainly behind the Europeans. They're a very source-separated environment and things are very clearly separated for plastic, aluminum, glass and paper. That's how the U.S. was originally and recycling rates didn't really move for a period of time. When it did take off is when we moved to single stream, which is to put everything in one big container, which made it easier for people to recycle. But that has complications. You have some people who don't care and they're still putting garbage in and contaminating that load. And then you have at the other end, the wishful recycler who wants that greasy pizza box to be recycled so badly, but it can't be.
It seems like a lot of packaging is wasteful and impedes recycling. What can be done?
Take plastic packaging. Not all plastics are recyclable. So take a clamshell that is used for your take-out chicken rotisserie. It was made with post-consumer recycled content (material made from the items that consumers recycle every day such as aluminum, cardboard boxes, paper, and plastic bottles). But that shell itself is not going to be recycled, it's going to the landfill. So part of the opportunity is to design for recyclability upfront.
What do you make of the current pushback against ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards for publicly traded companies? Could this hurt your business, or does this ESG emphasis march forward?
"ESG" needs to be unpacked. It's like a pig, a chicken and duck that get lumped together. All different, but all worthy topics. The "E" part of this is here to stay. We think about circularity and de-carbonization as two fundamental mega-trends that whatever the political sentiment, companies are investing billions of dollars in. There's a global consensus there and we see those as tailwinds for our business.
Another CEO recently told me that you can get consumers on board with green initiatives more easily if one doesn't mention climate change, and by emphasizing reducing waste and saving money. Do you agree?
We're not running away from climate change. We get that the world is heating up and humans are a factor in that and we don't hide from that. I would say this: if something's going to be environmentally sustainable, it's got to be economically sustainable. So we don't do things as science projects or for charity. It's our business and we're going to make money and grow.
You have a goal that by 2030, half of your new garbage and recycling trucks will be electric vehicles. That's ambitious but what stops you from going even faster?
Just like a passenger car, if you retrofit a diesel truck, you add too much weight with the batteries and so it becomes economically inefficient. But when you design it from scratch, you take enough weight out so it can run a full 10.5-hour day and 125 miles without having to stop, so you don't lose productivity.
Do you ever get offended by someone calling Republic Services a garbage company despite all the push you've made into recycling and environmental services?
We're not offended by that because people get too easily offended. That's what we called ourselves a decade ago and I've seen us go from a garbage company to a waste company to a waste and recycling company to now an environmental services and sustainability company. And as that's evolved, so has our mindset. We still have landfills and they are going to be with us for a long time, so we don't run from that. But we're way bigger and way more than that now.
>>> Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS)
5-Year Average Dividend Growth: 24.2%
Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 40
Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS) is an American business services company that provides a wide range of products and services related to corporate uniforms, workplace safety, and facility services. In the past five years, the company has raised its dividends by 24.2% on average and maintains a 40-year streak of consistent dividend growth. The company's current quarterly dividend stands at $1.35 per share which offers a dividend yield of 1.08%, as of September 11.
Of the 910 hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey at the end of Q2 2023, 40 funds owned stakes in Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ:CTAS), up from 39 in the previous quarter. The overall value of these stakes is over $1.36 billion. Among these hedge funds, Impax Asset Management was the company's largest stakeholder in Q2.
Accenture - >>> In-house lawyers buy into need for change
by Yasmin Lambert
September 22, 2023
Accenture legal team wins FT award for its work on taking risks with confidence
Over the past year, the in-house legal team at Accenture has rolled out a programme to improve how the consulting firm contracts with many of its clients that number in excess of 9,000 and include government departments and hundreds of the largest companies in the world.
In doing so, team members have changed how they think about risk and their purpose within the business. “Time kills deals,” explains Christina Demetriades, Accenture’s European general counsel.
“Of course, we have to be stewards of the business,” she adds. “But our role is to help our clients be successful and, in that way, help Accenture be successful.”
In any business transformation, changing how people think and behave is difficult. And changing the mindset of lawyers has its own particular challenges. “Ultimately, clients only ever buy services from [Accenture] because they want a project to succeed,” says Demetriades. But “as lawyers and legal professionals generally, we like to see the downsides”.
The FT Innovative Lawyers 2023 in-house legal teams listed in the table have advised their businesses on complex billion-dollar deals — such as the spinout of Haleon from GSK in the largest London listing in more than a decade — helped launch new products, and enabled acquisitions and rapid growth. Others have made operational changes, introduced new technologies, and trained their people in generative AI and sustainability. All are bringing in new ways to engage their teams.
Top 10 in-house legal teams
* Winner of the FT Innovative Lawyers 2023 award for ‘Innovative in-house legal team in Europe’. Other organisations are listed alphabetically
Accenture is the winner of the award for most innovative legal team in Europe for 2023. Its programme to adopt a more client-centred approach to contracting includes bold ideas and has delivered results after its first year.
At Accenture, a ‘buddy’ system provides team members someone to check their thinking with.
Boldness came when the contracting team moved from creating a perfect or “watertight” contract before handing it over to the business for approval to, instead, making pragmatic decisions themselves about the impact and likelihood of risks. The starting point was ensuring that those dealing with contracts felt empowered to take decisions to improve revenue growth, and were not driven by fear of being blamed if something went wrong.
Approval steps were cut out where not essential and a “buddy” system was introduced that provides team members someone to check their thinking with, other than the line manager.
“We then went to the data to see what we could learn about what really goes wrong,” says Demetriades. “And then we [could] look at where we’re spending our time in the contracting process and ask: ‘Are we spending time on the things that actually matter?’”
The GSK legal team features in the top 10 list for leading the spin-off of the company’s consumer healthcare business as Haleon in 2022, and for new approaches to managing contracting. Lawyers worked for three years on hundreds of complex agreements in more than 70 countries to complete the largest demerger in Europe for 20 years.
The people that stayed with GSK?.?.?. were effectively employees of a new company, with a new purpose, strategy and culture
James Ford, GSK
However, GSK’s general counsel James Ford points out that the remaining part of the company also needed a reinvention. “The people that stayed with GSK after the separation from Haleon were effectively employees of a new company, with a new purpose, strategy and culture,” he notes.
For the GSK legal team, this meant recasting itself to support a smaller, more focused pharmaceutical business.
The team established a new global contracting centre in Bangalore, India, and used AI to review and redesign its contract templates. The business now handles more than half its legal contracts without needing support from the legal team.
Iberdrola, the Spanish energy company, has reinvented itself in the 20 years since its general counsel, Santiago Martínez Garrido, has been there.
But the past two years have seen a further acceleration in its ambition to become a world-leading investor in renewable energy, with plans to plough €47bn into areas such as renewables and energy networks between 2023 and the end of 2025.
The legal team has invested in its own operations and expertise to support the business. The company has launched a legal innovation centre and academy that trains lawyers and business colleagues on a range of topics, including legal technology, legal operations, sustainability and innovation.
“We don’t consider the transformation process within the legal services as a one-off,” says Martínez Garrido. “It should be a continued process in order to be aware of and ready for the transformation of the company?.?.?.?and the transformation of technology.”
While Accenture, GSK and Iberdrola are trying to shift culture and develop new skills within teams that number in the hundreds, at the other end of the size spectrum, Octopus Energy also makes the top ten list.
With a central legal team of just four lawyers, general counsel Amanda Gerrity supports the fast-growing business — now the UK’s third-largest energy retailer — with “a mentality where everyone is pragmatic, efficient and does a bit of everything”. And yet the team is unlikely to grow significantly, she says, as AI tools take care of more and more of the work.
>>> Cintas -- provides companies with uniforms, garments, first aid and safety products, and other ancillary business services. Despite its incredible 39-year run of dividend increases, Cintas has grown its dividend by 24% annually since 2018 and still has a slim payout ratio of 35%.
With 1 million of the 16 million North American businesses as clients, the company is a market leader with over 11,000 distribution routes in a highly fragmented industry. Capitalizing on its larger size amid this fragmented market, Cintas has been a masterful serial acquirer, leading to a total return of over 77,000% since its initial public offering (IPO) in 1983.
Over this time, the company has averaged an ROIC of 14%, steadily increasing to 21% over the last few years. This high and rising ROIC highlights Cintas' ability to successfully integrate acquisitions and generate outsize profits over the longer term.
The company's track record of growth in an industry less susceptible to behemoths like Amazon, along with its leadership position, make it a brilliant holding for investors looking for stability. However, the stock trades at a premium valuation of 39 times earnings, so investors may want to build a position on short-term dips using dollar-cost averaging (DCA).
>>> Thomson Reuters to buy digital content management company Imagen
June 28, 2023
(Reuters) - Thomson Reuters will buy Imagen, a digital content asset management company, for an undisclosed price, to expand its agency business to new customers, the news and information company said on Wednesday.
Britain-based Imagen, which owns the Screenocean video distribution platform, operates digital content libraries for sports, media and business companies including Premier League soccer and Major League Baseball.
Imagen will become a part of the Reuters News division.
The acquisition is part of a plan to serve more clients as they expand their streaming video businesses. "Our belief is that our agency business needs to evolve to be a tech-enabled content delivery (business)," Reuters President Paul Bascobert said in an interview.
"With the addition of Imagen, clients will have the ability to seamlessly add media asset management services to store, manipulate, permission, distribute and monetize all their visual content," Bascobert added in a prepared statement.
Reuters currently serves agency clients through Reuters Connect, which is a business-to-business content marketplace that licenses Reuters text, images and videos as well as news and content from more than 70 other providers that include the BBC, USA Today and China's CCTV.
The deal is the second announced this week. On Monday, Thomson Reuters said it agreed to buy Casetext, a California-based AI company that helps legal professionals conduct research, analysis and prepare documents using generative AI, for $650 million.
Thomson Reuters has said it has earmarked $10 billion for acquisitions and about $100 million per year in investments in AI capabilities.
Cintas - >>> Cintas has grown sales and adjusted earnings per share (EPS) in 51 of the last 53 years by providing its 1 million business customers with uniforms, restroom supplies, first aid and safety equipment, safety training, and fire extinguishers.
As wildly unexciting as this sounds, Cintas stock rose 1,000% over the last decade.
Powering this incredible performance is the company's ROIC of 21%, 16th best of the 69 industrial stocks in the S&P 500. Operating in a highly fragmented niche, Cintas uses a strategy of making tuck-in acquisitions to complement its organic growth in the mid to high single digits, delivering results that might be hard to believe.
Across the last decade, the company's sales, net income, and dividends grew annually by 7%, 20%, and 26%, respectively. Cintas has a payout ratio of only 35%, showing that it should easily be able to continue increasing its dividend (currently yielding 1%), just as it has since 1983.
Although the company trades at a premium P/E of 35, it only counts 6% of the total businesses in North America as customers, leaving a massive runway for growth.
Opportunistic investors might want to take advantage of any short-term dips in the share price to build a position in this operations-crucial business over time.
Copart - >>> Copart earns incredible profits. The company's operating margin in the first half of its fiscal 2023 was almost 37% -- extremely high. However, despite plenty of cash, management has never paid a dividend in its nearly 30 years as a public company, and it hasn't repurchased any shares since 2019. This is because it believes it can put its cash to better use.
During its fiscal 2022, which ended in July 2022, Copart acquired around 1,200 new acres of land for storing vehicles for its auctions. According to management, the company owns more than 90% of its 16,000 acres, allowing it to execute its plans without taking a third-party landlord into consideration.
Adding new vehicle yards and expanding existing ones helps Copart increase its competitive advantage in the resilient vehicle-auction space. The company's primary customers are insurance companies looking to get rid of loads of damaged vehicles at maximum prices. By having more than 200 locations, and still growing, Copart can handle their heavy volumes. And it has a large base of buyers, pushing bids higher to the satisfaction of insurance companies.
Vehicles can be damaged in accidents or during natural disasters, and these unfortunate events don't take time off during recessions. This isn't to say that Copart's financial results are completely unaffected by macro-economic conditions -- results right now are being affected by abnormally high used car prices. However, this industry always has demand, and Copart is one of the biggest players in the space.
A sensible choice
I don't know when a recession will strike next. But they're regular economic occurrences. That's why having some more recession-proof stocks like Tractor Supply and Copart in your portfolio could make a lot of sense.
However, if I had to pick just one to buy today, I'd choose Tractor Supply over Copart. Trading at around 30 times its earnings, Copart trades at a more expensive valuation than its 10-year average, as the chart below shows. By contrast, Tractor Supply trades in line with its average.
Chart showing Tractor Supply's PE ratio lower than Copart's since 2018.
This suggests that Copart might be a little overvalued right now, and I don't think I'm alone in that belief. Copart's management seems to agree. Consider that management is authorized to repurchase over 81 million shares whenever it sees fit. But it hasn't done so in over three years.
Therefore, for the more value-conscious investor, I'd wait with Copart's management on the sidelines for a better price, whereas Tractor Supply stock appears to already be trading at a fair price today.
CoStar Group (CSGP) - >>> Washington, D.C.-based CoStar Group (NASDAQ:CSGP) is a diversified real estate services company.
Best known for its public-facing platforms such as ApartmentFinder.com, LoopNet and BizBuySell, the company also provides information and analysis services to the commercial real estate industry.
Sure, given the current situation with commercial real estate, I admit it may seem odd to consider CSGP stock one of the best growth stocks to buy. After all, isn’t commercial real estate facing numerous headwinds right now? Yes, but given its subscription-based revenue model, and the strong need for its services, CoStar could stay resilient, despite the near-term weakness in the industry.
Long-term, with its deep economic moat and other advantages, the company has a strong chance of continuing to grow at an above-average pace. This will enable B-rated CSGP to sustain its high valuation (51.6 times earnings) and climb up to higher prices.
>>> Instacart is an American company that operates a grocery delivery and pick-up service in the United States and Canada. The company offers its services via a website and mobile app. The service allows customers to order groceries from participating retailers with the shopping being done by a personal shopper.
Instacart was founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Apoorva Mehta, a former Amazon.com employee. Apoorva was born in India and moved with his family to Canada in 2000. He studied engineering at the University of Waterloo and graduated in 2008. He was a participant in Y Combinator's Summer 2012 batch, which eventually led to the creation of Instacart. In 2013, Mehta was included on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Apoorva previously worked at BlackBerry, Qualcomm, and then Amazon as a supply chain engineer, where he developed fulfillment systems to move packages from Amazon's warehouses to customers' homes. He left Amazon in 2010 to attempt to start his own business. Before founding Instacart, Apoorva had tried to start at least 20 other services. He tried building an ad network for social gaming companies, and developing a social network specifically for lawyers, among other start-ups.
Instacart originally launched in San Francisco. By April 2015, the firm had about 200 employees. It introduced a new policy around June allowing some shoppers to choose to be part-time employees, starting with Chicago and Boston and extending its offer to shoppers in Atlanta, Miami, and Washington, D.C. the following month.
In September 2016, the company announced an expansion to its zone on the north side of Chicago. In October 2016, it announced the expansion of coverage areas in Orange County, California, and Minneapolis. In November 2016, the company changed its policy and removed the option to leave a gratuity in exchange for a service fee that would be used to pay workers instead. Backlash against the policy from customers and some shoppers forced the company to reinstate the option only weeks later with modifications that placed the tip under the service fee section on a separate page.
In March 2017, Instacart agreed to pay $4.6 million to settle a class action settlement stemming from the alleged misclassification of its personal shoppers as independent contractors. The suit, filed in March 2015, alleged 18 violations, including improper tip pooling and failure to reimburse workers for business expenses. The same year, Instacart raised $400 million in funding at a valuation of $3.4 billion. In November 2017, the company expanded to Canada by announcing a partnership with Loblaw Companies to begin delivery from select locations in Toronto and Vancouver. That same month, some Instacart workers participated in a strike action, alleging wages as low as $1 an hour. Instacart claimed that the strike had no impact on its operations.
In January 2018, the company acquired Toronto-based Unata, a white-label platform for grocers, for $65 million. In February 2018, Instacart withheld tips given by customers to shoppers, blaming a software bug. In addition, customers were often charged for service fees that were supposed to be waived. In April 2018, Instacart made a few additional changes to its pay service by instituting a mandatory 5% service fee on all orders. It originally offered an optional 10% service fee that went directly to Instacart that could be turned off. It also returned the gratuity option back to the checkout screen and raised the default value from 0% to 5%. By mid-2018, Instacart was available for use in 11 Canadian markets and was planning expansions for five more markets. Later in 2018, the company raised $200 million at a $4.2 billion valuation in a funding round led by Coatue Management, as well as Glade Brook Capital Partners and existing investors. In October 2018, Instacart raised another $600 million at a $7.6 billion valuation in a funding round led by hedge fund D1 Capital Partners. In the fall of 2018, Instacart announced national expansions with retailers, including Walmart Canada stores, Staples Canada, M&M Food Market, Kroger, Aldi, Sam's Club, Publix, and Costco. In November 2018, Instacart announced the national expansion of Instacart Pickup, a grocery click-and-collect service, whereby users pick up their pre-packaged orders at the grocery store. In November and December 2018, Instacart again changed its pay system for its personal shoppers; shoppers claimed this pay system resulted in substantially lower pay and boycotted. Instacart customers complained on social media that their orders were being delayed. At the end of the year, Instacart raised an additional $271 million from investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Comcast Ventures, Thrive Capital, Coatue Management, and Valiant Capital, bringing its latest round of fundraising to $871 million at a $7.87 billion valuation.
In February 2019, an online organizing campaign, including shoppers, provided examples of payments as low as $0.80 per delivery. The company announced that it would revise its pay system and give back pay to some workers. Under the revised pay system, tips were no longer factored into the minimum base wages, which were newly set at $7–$10 for a full-service shopping order (based on delivery market) and $5 for delivery only. In March 2019, Instacart expanded its same-day alcohol delivery service in the U.S. On April 11, 2019, the company expanded its services to offering an on-demand option for its workers, in order to allow workers to work more flexible schedules. Effective May 2019, Whole Foods Market ended its partnership with Instacart. By the end of December 2019, Instacart's alcohol delivery service included over 30 new partners in more than 20 states and Washington, D.C., such as Albertsons, Aldi, Sam's Club, BJ's Wholesale Club, Sprouts Farmers Market, The Fresh Market, and Total Wine & More.
In February 2020, Instacart employees in Skokie, Illinois voted to unionize. Instacart said it "will honor" the vote, pending certification of the results. In the lead-up to the election, high-level Instacart managers distributed anti-union literature at a Skokie grocery store where some of the unionizing workers pick up groceries for delivery. At the time, about 12,000 of Instacart's 142,000 workers were employees with the option of unionizing.
From mid-March to mid-April 2020, Instacart hired an additional 300,000 workers to meet the surge in demand for grocery deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from Apptopia demonstrated a 218% increase in daily downloads as social distancing measures increased. Instacart also introduced new services in response to the pandemic, including a contactless delivery option, safety kits and guidelines for shoppers, and new sick leave policies and pay for those affected by COVID-19.
Instacart workers threatened to strike on March 27, 2020 due to a lack of COVID-19 safety measures. A group called the Gig Workers Collective called for a nationwide walk-out to be held on March 30. They had been asking Instacart to provide workers with hazard pay and protective gear, amongst other demands. In early April, Instacart began providing safety kits to workers, with complaints describing a complicated process to order and wait for the kits to arrive. In May, workers reported being denied sick leave despite quarantining under the advice of a doctor. Instacart required that workers either get a positive Covid-19 test or be under a mandatory quarantine by a public health agency or other government agency. By June, Instacart changed its sick leave rules in an agreement reached by it and D.C. Attorney General, Karl Racine. Under the agreement, Instacart would provide paid leave to workers who were clinically diagnosed with Covid-19 by a doctor or other medical profession along with those who had a household member contract Covid-19. The agreement also provided access for workers to telemedicine services.
In May 2020, Instacart began a partnership with Rite Aid, offering its service across 2,400 locations in 18 states. In August 2020, Instacart entered its first partnership with Walmart in the U.S. to offer same-day delivery services. The partnership is a pilot program beginning in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Tulsa. Additional partnerships in June included C&S Wholesale Grocers and Staples.
In October 2020, Instacart raised $200 million at a valuation of $17.7 billion in a financing round led by Valiant Capital and D1 Capital Partners.
On January 14, 2021, Instacart announced a vaccine support stipend to provide financial assistance to company shoppers who choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
On January 21, 2021, the company planned to lay off nearly 2,000 employees, including all of its employees who had voted to unionize. Instacart said that the layoffs were due to stores increasingly using Instacart to have consumers place orders, but have their own employees fulfill the order instead of Instacart's workforce, reducing reliance on Instacart's in-store shoppers.
As of its most recent funding round, in March 2021, Instacart raised $265 million at a valuation of $39 billion from existing venture capital investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia and D1 Capital Partners, as well as existing institutional investors like Fidelity and T. Rowe Price. In March 2022, Instacart slashed its valuation by almost 40% to $24 billion.
On July 8, 2021, Instacart announced that it had appointed Board Member Fidji Simo as CEO, while Apoorva Mehta transitioned to Executive Chairman of the Board.
On February 22, 2022, Instacart started to team up with Delta to give clients more ways to earn miles when they link their SkyMiles and Instacart accounts, with special earning bonuses for Instacart+ members.
On March 3, 2022, the platform celebrates women's history month by expanding advertising initiative with new $1 million to support Women-Owned Brands.
On March 16, 2022, in partnership with TikTok, Hearst Magazine and Tasty, Instacart launched Shoppable Recipes with new product integrations that allow food creators to make their recipes shoppable on Instacart.
On March 23, Instacart introduced the Instacart Platform, a program with services for retailers. The platform launched with features for advertising, home delivery, and inventory counting.
In May 2022, Instacart announced that it had confidentially submitted a draft registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, signalling its intent to go public. Instacart unveiled new partnerships with Canada's top 5 grocers: Metro, Giant Tiger, Galleria Supermarket and more, expanding same-day delivery countrywide.
In June 2022, Instacart+ (formerly Instacart Express) was introduced with new family shopping features, including sharing membership with another family member for free. The membership also allows for shopping-cart collaboration among family members.
In July 2022, Instacart appointed CEO Fidji Simo to succeed Apoorva Mehta as the Board Chair once the company completed its initial public offering. EBT SNAP is now accepted online via the Instacart Platform in 10 additional states- Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming - with launch partners Albertsons Companies and Sprouts Farmers Market.
In September 2022, Instacart announced it would be acquiring Eversight, an AI pricing platform.  
Orders are fulfilled and delivered by a personal shopper, who picks, packs, and delivers the order within the customer's designated time frame—within one hour or up to five days in advance. Customers pay with personal debit or credit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay and EBT cards. The delivery fee is $3.99 for orders of $35 or more and $7.99 under that amount. Regardless of the cost of the order, there is a 5% service fee with a minimum of $2 owed. Instacart offers a membership service called Instacart+, formerly Instacart Express until June 2022, for a monthly fee of about $9.99 or an annual fee of $99. The membership service waives delivery fees on orders over $35, but customers must still pay the service fee for the shopper. Customers are also requested to leave a gratuity. Retailers participating in Instacart's partnership program set the price of individual items on the Instacart marketplace, which are mostly the same prices as in-store. In addition, customers can pick up their pre-made orders from the store through a separate service. For stores that do not participate in Instacart's partnership program, customers can be charged a markup of about 15%-40% per order with individual items ranging from a negative markup to over 50%.
Waste Management - >>> These 3 Stocks Could Finally Become Buys in a Bear Market
By Matthew DiLallo, Neha Chamaria, and Reuben Gregg Brewer
May 28, 2022
I'd love to go dumpster diving for this stock
Matt DiLallo (WM): Investors have been bidding up shares of collections and recycling company WM for several years. The company currently sells for nearly 35 times its earnings and about 15 times its cash flow from operations, both historically high multiples. Because of that, its dividend yield has fallen to its lowest level in years at around 1.5%. That's despite 19 consecutive years of increasing the payout, including a 13% boost last year.
While I love the company -- it has delivered steady growth and consistently returns cash to investors -- I haven't added to my position in years because it's too expensive for my liking. However, I have it on my watch list to buy if a bear market takes it lower. When stocks tanked during the pandemic's early days, WM shares briefly traded at a much more attractive valuation of less than 24 times earnings, under 10 times cash flow from operations, and a dividend yield approaching 2.4%. I missed my chance to add at that time, so I wouldn't mind another opportunity.
In addition to the steady cash flow produced by its collections, disposal, and recycling business, another factor I like about WM is its investments in renewable natural gas (RNG). WM plans to spend $825 million through 2025 to expand its RNG output by 600%. These investments will capture methane produced by its landfills to power its entire fleet and provide 1 million homes with renewable energy. That will save it money, generate incremental income, and reduce carbon emissions.
While there's no guarantee that WM's stock will tumble in a bear market -- shares were recently 7% below their peak despite a nearly 20% decline in the S&P 500 -- it's one stock I'd love to buy if a bear market made it a lot cheaper.
>>> Accenture Gains on New Guidance, Cloud Driving Record Bookings
March 17, 2022
By Dhirendra Tripathi
Investing.com – Accenture (NYSE:ACN) stock jumped 4.5% in premarket trading Thursday as the company raised its annual guidance one more time after grabbing market share in the second quarter.
The company now sees annual revenue rising 24-26% in local currency and profit per share between $10.61-$10.81. At the time of the last revision in December, revenue growth was seen at 19-22% and EPS at $10.32-$10.60.
The company saw record quarterly bookings in both consulting and outsourcing of $10.9 billion and $8.7 billion, respectively, riding on increasing appetite among clients for spending on technology as they pivot to digital. Demand for cloud and security-related services, Accenture’s forte, was strong in the recent quarter through February.
The company’s clients include more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500 companies across communications, media, and technology as well as financial services industries.
Geographically, U.S. grew the most, at 26%, followed by Europe at 24%. Growth markets also rose a strong 22%.
Revenue in the second quarter topped $15 billion, rising 24% in U.S. dollars and around $300 million above the top end of the company’s guided range of $14.30 billion-$14.75 billion.
Operating margin was unchanged from last year at 13.7%. Profit per share rose 25% to $2.54, reflecting a mix of higher revenue and lower non-operating expenses.
>>> Accenture Boosts Revenue Forecast. The Stock Is Rising.
By Joe Woelfel
March 17, 2022
Accenture shares were rising in premarket trading Thursday after the management consulting company reported fiscal second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street forecasts and boosted its fiscal-year revenue outlook.
Accenture (ticker: ACN) stock was up 5% to $340.99.
Accenture reported second-quarter earnings of $2.54 a share on revenue of $15.05 billion.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Accenture to report fiscal second-quarter earnings of $2.37 a share on revenue of $14.65 billion. A year earlier, Accenture earned $2.23 a share on revenue of $12.09 billion.
New bookings in the second quarter were a record $19.6 billion.
The company said it expects fiscal-year revenue to rise 24% to 26%, higher than its previous forecast of up 19% to 22%. It expects earnings of $10.61 to $10.81 a share, an increase of 21% to 23% from adjusted profit in fiscal 2021 of $8.80; Accenture previously expected fiscal 2022 earnings of between $10.32 to $10.60.
Cintas - >>> 3 Top Stocks to Buy During a Sell-Off
By Reuben Gregg Brewer -
Mar 17, 2022
3. Cintas: Uniform performance
Cintas ( CTAS 1.50% ) is the last name on this list. The company focuses on renting uniforms. While that sounds kind of boring, the company has been anything but for investors. Even after a 20% pullback from its recent highs, the stock is still up more than 800% over the past decade.
While you can argue that Cintas is already in a bear market because of that, the 1% dividend yield is still on the lower side of its recent historical range. A yield closer to 1.5% would be much more attractive and could come about in a broader market pullback.
To be fair, Cintas is economically sensitive, given that its customers tend to need fewer uniforms during recessionary periods. But the long-term trend here is for growth, often via acquisition. And a downturn would make it that much easier to find good bolt-on deals. Indeed, with leverage back down after 2017's purchase of G&K Services, Cintas looks like it's ready for another sizable purchase.
So a broader market downturn, perhaps initiated by a recession, might actually be a good thing for Cintas' business. And if you prepare ahead of time, you can take the opportunity to buy at lower prices, confident that management will continue to find new avenues for long-term growth.
Some added confidence here should come from the company's nearly four decades'-long streak of annual dividend increases -- you don't achieve that by accident.
>>> Service Corporation International (SCI) provides deathcare products and services in the United States and Canada. The company operates through Funeral and Cemetery segments. Its funeral service and cemetery operations comprise funeral service locations, cemeteries, funeral service/cemetery combination locations, crematoria, and other businesses. The company also provides professional services related to funerals and cremations, including the use of funeral facilities and motor vehicles; arranging and directing services; and removal, preparation, embalming, cremation, memorialization, and travel protection, as well as catering services. In addition, it offers funeral merchandise, including burial caskets and related accessories, urns and other cremation receptacles, outer burial containers, flowers, online and video tributes, stationery products, casket and cremation memorialization products, and other ancillary merchandise. Further, the company's cemeteries provide cemetery property interment rights, such as developed lots, lawn crypts, mausoleum spaces, niches, and other cremation memorialization and interment options; and sells cemetery merchandise and services, including memorial markers and bases, outer burial containers, flowers and floral placements, graveside services, merchandise installations, and interments, as well as offers preneed cemetery merchandise and services. Service Corporation International offers its products and services under the Dignity Memorial, Dignity Planning, National Cremation Society, Advantage Funeral and Cremation Services, Funeraria del Angel, Making Everlasting Memories, Neptune Society, and Trident Society brands. As of December 31, 2020, it owned and operated 1,470 funeral service locations; and 483 cemeteries, including 297 funeral service/cemetery combination locations covering 44 states, eight Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The company was incorporated in 1962 and is headquartered in Houston, Texas.
>>> Healthcare Services Group - 3 Absurdly Cheap Healthcare Stocks Long-Term Investors Should Consider Buying Right Now
Everyone loves a discount.
by Jason Hawthorne, Rachel Warren, And Steve Ditto
Aug 24, 2021
Healthcare Services Group : Not every company in the healthcare industry is exciting. Far from the boom or bust world of biotechnology and the innovation of robotic surgeries and gene sequencing is Healthcare Services Group. The company provides laundry and linen services, facility maintenance, and dietary services to healthcare facilities. It serves customers from hospitals to retirement complexes. Housekeeping contributes a little more than half of the company's revenue. But business hasn't been great.
Overall, revenue fell 4.4% in 2020. The decline was due to COVID-19 -- both directly and indirectly. The stock has been beaten up over the last few years, falling 52% since the beginning of 2018. Management expects growth to return beginning next quarter. But investors aren't counting their chickens before they hatch. When Wall Street looks at the company it sees two black eyes that keep the negative sentiment in place, and it has pushed the stock to near its lowest price-to-sales ratio in a decade.
Perhaps the biggest mark against the company is an ongoing investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into how it calculated its earnings per share for years. The company received a subpoena in November 2017, but didn't disclose it until March the following year. The company's own internal audit was completed a year after that. Management has said it has been discussing a final resolution to the issue with the agency.
Another concern is its dependence on its largest customer -- a struggling operator of skilled nursing facilities. In the past three years beginning in 2018, that account represented 19.3%, 15.6%, and 14.7% of Healthcare Services' revenue, respectively. In the recently reported second quarter, Healthcare Services Group modified its agreement with the customer. The amended contract reduced revenue but helps keep the customer afloat as it restructures.
On the positive side, Healthcare Services Group offers a steady dividend. The stock currently yields 3.3%. Management has raised the distribution for 72 consecutive quarters. The increases aren't large, but the consistency is nice. What began as a $0.01 payout in the third quarter of 2003 is now almost $0.21 per share. Overall, the dividend has climbed nearly 14% over the past five years.
Investors picking up shares today aren't likely to get rich anytime soon. But Healthcare Services Group is one of the cheapest healthcare stocks in the market. If it can manage through the current uncertainty, it should offer a healthy return for shareholders who can stomach the risk.
>>> Republic Services Raises Full-Year Guidance Again as Second-Quarter Results Better Than Expected
by Brian Bernard, CFA, CPA
Jul 30, 2021
Wide-moat rated Republic Services reported strong second-quarter results as its end markets continue to recover. Revenue increased almost 15% year over year as the firm benefited from strong pricing, a significant rebound in volume, favorable recycled commodity prices, and acquisitions. Core price increased 5.2% during the second quarter, compared with 4.3% last quarter and 4.7% during the year-ago quarter. While volume had an easy prior-year comparison due to the pandemic (second quarter 2020 volume was down over 7%), the 8% year-over-year volume gain during the quarter exceeded management's expectations.
Republic Services' recycling operations contributed 100 basis points to revenue growth as recycled commodity prices increased 68% year over year to $170 per ton. Finally, the company has spent $567 million on acquisitions so far during 2021, which accounted for 200 basis points of revenue growth during the second quarter. Management said the firm has a full acquisition pipeline, and "well over" $600 million is earmarked for acquisitions in 2021. Republic Services' adjusted EBITDA margin expanded 110 basis points to 30.6% primarily due to strong pricing and operating leverage. Favorable recycled commodity prices accounted for 50 basis points of EBITDA margin improvement.
After a strong second quarter performance, management raised its full-year adjusted EPS and free cash flow guidance. Adjusted EPS is expected to range between $4.00 and $4.05 ($3.74-$3.79 previously), and revised adjusted free cash flow guidance is now $1.450 billion-$1.475 billion ($1.350 billion-$1.400 billion previously). After reviewing Republic Services' second-quarter results and revised 2021 outlook, we're maintaining our $85 per share fair value estimate.
Republic Services ranks as the second- largest integrated provider of traditional solid waste services in the United States, operating roughly 186 active landfills and more than 200 transfer stations. The company serves residential, commercial, and industrial end markets. It also runs a sizable recycling operation in North America.