Lijit Ad Tag2

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What is the 8th fastest growing industry in America?

It's no secret that the American manufacturing sector has been losing out to foreign competitors over the past 60 years. Whether it is anything from autos (this graph of personal vehicle production market share loss is amazing) to electronics, we just don't have the ability to manufacture products as cheaply or efficiently. But really, that's OK; we shouldn't be trying to compete in (arguably) commodity-like manufacturing businesses where low cost wins. Instead, Econ 101 tells us that we should focus on sectors were we have a comparative advantage and trade for the goods where we don't. (boom, everyone wins!)

Therefore, it really warmed my heart today to see a video today about one of the fastest growing industries in AMERICA. Looks like not only are we focusing on an extremely high value-add sector and churning out product at a rate high enough to fill demand domestically, but we are also exporting it across the globe.

So without further ado, I present the 8th fastest growing industry in America*:

HOT SAUCE, with 150% revenue growth (9.3% CAGR) over the past 10 years!

And the other good news is that Hot Sauce is likely going to be the savior of the American economy from here on out, because it basically is like crack (great biz model): Highly addictive, people develop tolerance so will need more and more to get their fix in the future, exciting advances in pepper design leading to ever hotter (yet still tasty) sauces, etc. All we need now to accelerate future growth is to develop a smartphone app and get hot sauce integrated into Facebook. Once this occurs (and FYI I've already begun planning/designing this, so don't even think about stealing this idea), the US economy will get back on track and we can all go back to buying cheap cars and TVs from Asia. 

The video is worth watching in its entirety, but five highlights include:

1) the founder of Blair's (one of my favorite hot sauce producers as regular readers would know) suggesting that in 5-10 years "Hot sauce will be like Coke", and that "it'll be more appropriate to eat a meal with hot sauce, than without hot sauce". Also interesting to know he got his start working in a bar, and developed really hot sauce to put on wings and burn up patrons (late at night, so presumably they were drunk/obnoxious) in order to get them to leave.

2) the little professor dude calling hot sauce "benign masochism"

3) the fun fact that kids undergo a transformation (think spiderman) between the ages of 4-6 where they start to begin liking hot sauce

4) Tabasco exports 50% of its products, while Blair exports 75% of its products (still room for growth domestically!)

5) The CBS reporter is a total wuss, and is unable to try the 2nd hot sauce (says he has to "blow his nose" and runs off camera... clearly to go cry)

(Note: I apologize for the 15 second advert in the video, I am not taking a stand one way or another on the validity of "Romney Economics" )

* (according to IBISWorld, where knowledge is power) PDF:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Echo Mountain- Investment Opportunity of the Year

I just received the following email from my friend, MG. In it, he highlighted a very attractive real estate opportunity (far superior to the Nigerian Banking opportunities he normally sends me). After conducting an extremely rigorous and thorough analysis, I have come to the conclusion that we should be buying for roughly $1.3mm. Once MG deposits the $$$ into my bank account via wepay, we will be a go! Free hot sauce will be served at the base lodge every Fri-Sun, so I trust this will drive droves of skier traffic (and lead to major upside to our investment!)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: MG
Date: Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Subject: Colorado's Echo Mtn Ski Area for Sale
To: Todd Wood

Here's your big chance! Bids due Aug. 2.
Sent from my iPhone


From: Todd Wood
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 1:49 PM
To: MG
Subject: RE: Colorado's Echo Mtn Ski Area for Sale


I estimate roughly $1.5mm in annual revenues. Conservatively assuming a 15% EBITDA margin (as non-premium destination, ECHO will not be able to command as high prices as Vail, and hence deserves a discount to the low 20% EBITDA margins that Vail has historically achieved in its mountain segment), I see $225k in EBITDA. At an 8x EV/EBITDA multiple (Vail/Whistler trade historically in the 8-10x range), the company is worth $1.8mm. This would be a 1.2x EV/S multiple, compared to 1.65x for MTN’s mountain (ex-real estate) biz, which seems like a reasonable discount due to ECHO mountain being miniature, completely unknown outside of Denver, and in the boonies.

To get the 40+% returns we’d want, we should be bidding $1.3mm.

As 50/50 partners, I’m just going to need you to contribute $650,000. Please send to me using the wonderful payment service, WEPAY. Thanks, I’ll take care of the rest once I see it hit my account.

Highly Accurate and In-depth Financial Analysis supporting this bid:

Historical Revs per skier visit (by segment) for the past 4 years at VAIL:

Total Rev $109.4

Lift ticket $49.3
Ski School $12.0
Food $9.5
Retail/Rental $26.0
Other $12.5

Echo Visits 32,000

 Blue-Sky Scenario- Echo receives the same $109/visit as Vail. Base case is somewhere in between a 50% discount, and a 50% discount plus ascribing no value to their ski-school business/other....

@Vail Profitability @50%  Discount @50% discount w/out ski-school/other
Implied Revs $3,499,676 $1,749,838 $1,358,908
Lift ticket $1,579,140 $789,570 $789,570
Ski School $383,199 $191,600
Food $305,418 $152,709 $152,709
Retail/Rental $833,258 $416,629 $416,629
Other $398,662 $199,331

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hot Sauce Therapy

When things are going well, working at a hedge fund is extremely gratifying and exciting. For instance, owning a stock into a quarterly earning report, your heart races as the market closes and you anxiously wait for the earnings release to come out. WHAT'S THE NUMBER, WHAT'S THE NUMBER you yell to your trader, as you start to see the stock move in the after-market. If you get it right, and the stock moves up 10+%, it's all you can do to keep yourself from dancing around the office in happiness.

The flip-side to this is that when things are going poorly, working at a hedge fund absolutely sucks. Screwing up timing on trades (buy high, sell low!), missing warning signs and getting pummeled on earnings, watching your portfolio get smashed as the lazy Greeks somehow get active and decide to riot against Austerity measures, etc. All of these are painful, and the negative utility from losing money really is a lot higher (absolute basis) than the positive utility from getting things right.

The most recent month has been rough city, especially in my sector (tech) as evidenced by the below chart. Basically owning anything has been a bad idea. Shorts have been successful, but as a general rule investors (and my fund in particular) are usually long biased so at best the short book minimizes the damage.

So what is one to do to combat a miz month like this in the HF industry? Three words for you. 


While the market gets crushed on a daily basis, you self-medicate and burn the pain away. 

THTF Recommended Weekly Therapy Routine: 
Miz Mon: You Can't Handle this Sauce- Start the week off with a bang
Terrible Tues: Widow Hot Sauce- No Survivors- Feels about right
Wacky Wed: Endorphin Rush- Week can't possibly get worse right?
Thirsty Thurs: Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally- Yup, managed to get worse
Freaky Friday: The Beast- End with a nice gentle sauce; congrats on surviving the week!

After a day like today however, (thanks payrolls!) a quick shot of Mad Dog 357 is required to blow your mind and get you out of your funk.

(co-worker BW with his own weekly therapy he starts off with ASS REAPER, and ends with ASS BLASTER. Sounds about right....)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wuss of the WEEK

What I am about to relate is the age old tale of girl meets hot sauce, hot sauce crushes girl, girl bursts  into tears. Sadly, we all know how this ends. 

That being said, we still thoroughly enjoy hearing it. So please sit back, relax, hit play on the below song (Carly Rae: So HOT right now), and enjoy the shocking and awe-inspiring tale I have to tell.

Location: The Spot Bar and Grill
Date: 4/12/2012
Time: 8:33pm
Witness: Myself and the rest of our amateur volleyball team (Sets on the Beach)
Implement of Destruction: The Spot Burger
Scoville Scale: ~5k
Wuss in Question: Ms. Money

Conclusion: In a nutshell, this was one of the weakest performances I've ever encountered in my brief time on this planet. The only real positive takeaway I came honestly state (without being later sued for libel) is this:

While demonstrating no talent (whatsoever) in hot sauce consumption, J$ remains a champ for allowing me to use her picture and craft this blog post in her honor. 

Background: Last Thursday night was the first game of the prestigious and highly competitive Wash Park coed volleyball league. While initially slightly miffed that our fearless team captain Mr. Gurba chose pink as the uniform color, Sets on the Beach managed to rally around its collective (and unwavering) desire to win, and bonded as a team. Sadly, this unwavering desire failed to propel us to victory in our opening match, and we were defeated in a tightly contested 3 games with the scores of 21-12, 21-13, 21-14... (THTF Note: The trend was our friend, we were a shoo-in for game 11) As a team, we decided that heading to a local bar to discuss strategy over dinner and drinks would be a more effective training tool than practicing; so off to The Spot we went. For those who are not in the know, the Spot is a local sports/dive bar in the Wash Park neighborhood. 

Ms. Money, a dominant blocker on the volleyball court, opted to order the house specialty. "Give me a Spot Burger; medium rare" she says while drinking a $2 PBR and joining the rest of the team as we good-naturedly made fun of the team captain for ordering a glass of "the finest Shiraz in the house." 

(Team Cpt: note pink jersey)

Ms. $'s happy-go-lucky attitude quickly changed upon the arrival of the house special. The fearsome ingredients are as follows:

ZOMG- did someone say chipotle AND guacamole?

In case you are a new reader of this blog and missed the post entitled "n00b alert: Four Dead Giveaways", I shall reiterate: a Chipotle is in fact nothing more than a dried and smoked Jalapeno. Jalapenos come in at a frightening 2.5k on the Scoville scale, and Chipotles are roughly 2x as hot (due to capsaicin naturally increasing as a pepper ages, and ripe Jalapenos are chosen...). So doing the math, I get:

2,500 Scoville Units x 2 = approx 5,000 Scoville Units

WOW. A burger "cooked" in 5k scoville sauce, then covered with cheese (0 scoville units), Guacamole (0 scoville units), onion (0 scoville units), ketchup (0 scoville units), and bread (0 scoville units). Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.... And sure enough, it was.

 I believe the below picture will speak for itself (and the carnage that incurred).

Needless to say, the 60% of the burger pictured above remained uneaten, and Ms. Money remained mute as she battled tears and a burning mouth. What an epic performance! 


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Heat + Flavor WIN

One of the biggest challenges in hot sauce making is the delicate balance between heat and flavor. Most high-end sauces made of extracts taste like sh*t, and most great tasting sauces are weak as hell. The main reason it is so challenging is that historically, the only way to really push hot sauce over the 100k scoville barrier was to use pepper extract. Extract invariably tastes awful, and so there was a direct correlation between scovilles and gross.

Heat at the expense of Flavor:
The first 7 figure hot sauce I ever had was called "The Cool Million". It was housed in a metal circular case, and the actual sauce was enclosed in an eye dropper. Suffice to say that this "sauce" was actually just pure pepper extract, and could not have been worse. (in hindsight, I should have been tipped off when I saw that the co that manufactured it was called Poison Pepper Inc.) The sauce tasted like oily scum that quickly ignites your mouth on fire. Your mouth then goes numb, you are rendered incapable of speech, and when the pain and misery is finally over; all you are left with is a grim tasting oily residue.

(the only thing this was good for was hazing pledges.... hi Thad!)

Flavor at the expense of Heat:
When I was in high-school, I asked my mom for hot sauce for Xmas. In her normal vein of going all out for her favorite child (Sorry BAMW, but it's true! Remember when I asked for a weapons and she bought me "Lot O' Knives" which came with around 40+ daggers?), she purchased a Blair's variety pack with 9 different Death sauces. (side-note: I would highly recommend this for anyone trying to build up their hot sauce inventory. It is available here) Anyway, the pack is below. The second one in, Sweet Death, is without a doubt, hands-down, the best tasting sauce on the planet. But the only problem is.... It is just a sauce; not a HOT-sauce and it probably registers a big fat 0.0 on the scoville scale. It makes black pepper seem insane. So awesome taste, but no heat whatsoever.

(A habanero sauce with a vinegar base, contains sweet tropical ingredients such as honey, mango, passion fruit, and sugarcane.)

So you ask, what is the solution to this age old problem? Hot Pepper cultivation and evolution my friends! We now have hot peppers that are coming in significant hotter than the traditional big dog, the generic habanero (100-300k).  (note to get a 100k sauce like say the one that started it all, Dave's Original Insanity you were forced to use extract... ingredients: Tomato sauce, onions, hot pepper extract, hot peppers, vinegar, spices, soy oil, garlic and salt) These new and powerful peppers allow you to up the total heat without having to resort to the brutal pepper extract that overpowers and destroys the flavor.

So without further adieu, I now offer you my current favorite sauces: Heartbreaking Dawn!

They are made with three of the newer/hotter entrants to the hot sauce domain ranging from 425k (Chocolate Habanero) to 1mm (Ghost Pepper) to the current world record holder, the fearsome 1.46mm (Trinidad Scorpion).

From left to right, they are:

Chocolate Habanero: Chocolate habanero peppers, cider vinegar, carrot concentrate, water, onion, brown sugar, garlic, sea salt, cumin

Ghost Pepper: Pears, applesauce, cider vinegar, ghost peppers, water, onion, carrot, lime juice, sugar, sea salt, garlic, white pepper

Trinidad Scorpion:Trinidad Scorpion Peppers, Scotch Bonnet Peppers, Cider Vinegar, Apricot Preserves, Water, Blueberries, Carrots, Honey, Onion, Soy Sauce, Sea Salt, Garlic, Ginger, White Pepper

I could not recommend these sauces more. I make the below plate of Stoned Wheat-thin nachos on a daily basis now that I am a vegetarian and constantly starving every-time I get home from work. They aren't actually painfully hot (probably 40k, 50k, 70k respectively), but the flavor is second to none at that range on the scoville scale. Enjoy!

(1am dinner last night post an eventful underwater adventure at the Aquarium)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Advertising Intelligence

Must say- I'm starting to become a little bit more impressed with the LIJIT ad network that I use to serve up the very tasteful display ads on my blog. After weeks of showing me crappy RIM playbook ads (and mind you, this was before the most recent software upgrade, so it was trying to pawn off an email-less tablet to me....), it now has finally got onboard and is starting to show me some Hot Sauces! Not sure if this is due to the fact that hot sauce is the only thing I buy online or if it is just due to the fact that 100% of my blog-posts include the words HOT & SAUCE in them, but either way it's a step up. So keep up the good work LIJIT!

Note: It still has some kinks that need to be worked out, as I am certainly not interested in BUNNY BARS, or hand soap.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Late Night Hunger Pains- Office Style

It's been a long day at the office, and sadly, there is no end in sight.

The words on my computer screen  have started to melt into one another, rendering the 74 page sell-side report on semiconductors illegible (though frankly more interesting). At this point, I realize I need something to eat.

A takeout slice of cheese, a few drops of Dave's, and I'm now good to go for a couple more hours!