Lego's ready for a digital renovation | British house prices challenged expectations |

Hi Finimizer, here's what you need to know for March 8th in 3:01 minutes.

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Today's big stories

  1. Toymaking giant Lego is building big, but profit growth still took a dip
  2. Here’s what this year could mean for 2022’s stock standouts – Read Now
  3. The world huffed and puffed, but British house prices weren't blown down

A Ton Of Bricks

A Ton Of Bricks

What’s Going On Here?

Lego reported on Tuesday that profit growth tumbled like a poorly engineered plastic house last year.

What Does This Mean?

Demand for Lego’s colorful plastic bricks stacked up last year, so much so that the firm had to scramble to keep up: the world’s biggest toymaker opened 155 new stores and upped production at over half of its factories. A lot of that enthusiasm was for fan favorites like Lego Star Wars and Harry Potter sets, but all-new creations made up nearly half of last year's sales. That helped Lego build up its market share, with revenue fattening up by 17%. But all that investment – plus some higher costs – inevitably put a dent in profit: 2022’s 4% uptick was the smallest in three years.

Why Should I Care?

The bigger picture: Brick by brick.
These results are actually better than Lego expected: after all, keeping up with the roaring pandemic years was always going to be a tough task. But the firm’s confident its market share will bulk up even more in 2023 – unlike rivals Mattel and Hasbro, which are predicting flatlining and falling revenue respectively. But Lego’s betting it knows how to avoid their fate: no price hikes and plenty of store openings – particularly in China, where the economy’s finally starting to find its feet again.

Zooming out: Virtual value.
Store openings are all well and good, but it’s hard to pull kids away from digital devices these days – and that’s a threat for old-school toymakers like Lego. The solution: lean into digital. That’s Lego’s attitude anyway, so the firm’s also funneling more money into its e-commerce offerings and digital playing experiences. In fact, the coming weeks are expected to reveal details of a metaverse collaboration with Fortnite’s developer Epic Games.

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Analyst Take

These Five American Giants Made $100 Billion Profit: Buy, Hold, Or Sell?

These Five American Giants Made $100 Billion Profit: Buy, Hold, Or Sell?

When a lot of the world’s big companies were sputtering last year, the profit engines on these five US giants were purring.

Those impressive showings might lead you to think these companies have got a trick or two up their sleeves – ones that could repeat that winning performance again.

But this year could prove a lot tougher for some of the five firms, and that’s why our partners at interactive investors have been sizing up their stocks and their outlooks.

So, that’s today’s Insight: a look under the hood at five US companies that made a fortune in 2022 – and whether they belong in your portfolio. 

Read or listen to the Insight here

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House Of Mirrors

House Of Mirrors

What’s Going On Here?

Data out on Tuesday showed that British house prices took an unexpected leap in February.

What Does This Mean?

The housing market took a serious hit last year, when the Bank of England's interest rate hikes pushed mortgage rates through the roof. See, with the cost of loans suddenly too hot to handle, folks found that they no longer had the cash – or even the desire – to take the home-owning plunge. But the picture brightened a little in February: mortgage rates dipped from their peak, British consumer confidence ticked up, and the job market held firm. That might help explain why British lender Halifax saw UK house prices climb 1.1% from January to February, confounding economists' predictions of a 0.3% drop.

Why Should I Care?

Zooming in: Bringing down the house.
Best not declare victory yet, mind you: despite that slight climb, house prices are still trending downward in the long run – and with mortgage rates close to a ten-year high, that’s no big surprise. What's more, Halifax's data is sharply at odds with rival Nationwide, which claimed just last week that house prices dropped in February. (That sounds like a head-scratcher, but each lender bases its calculations on its own loans, so conclusions differ now and then.) Add on that fewer sales are being agreed these days, and most experts still think house prices will slide this year.

The bigger picture: Irate about rates.
UK households could be in for even more pain. While the Bank of England hinted that British interest rates might have peaked, its pal across the pond said on Tuesday that US rates would probably climb even higher than folk expected. Problem is, the prospect of higher rates makes a country’s currency more attractive to international savers and investors, which might be why the pound plunged versus the dollar after the news – a move that’ll make importing more expensive and squeeze Brits even harder.

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💬 Quote of the day

“I don’t try to describe the future. I try to prevent it.”

– Ray Bradbury (an American author and screenwriter)
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🌍 Finimize Live

🥳 Coming Up Soon…

All events in UK time.

🌥 Do Recessions Have A Silver Lining?: 5pm, March 8th
🌎 Three Ways Long-Term Investors Can Act On Climate Change: 12pm, March 21st
🚀 What Will Be The Next Big Thing In Artificial Intelligence?: 1pm, March 22nd

🎯 On Our Radar

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  3. AI, please fix me. This PhD student asked an algorithm to sort out her messy life.
  4. Pass the cockroach milk. Check out the so-called “superfoods” of the future.
  5. 1,300-year-old doodles. These ancient scribblings have got scholars all excited.
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