Sharapova and Sugarpova: Game, Set and Mismatch – But Both are Winning

This post is part of a series that is related to the ongoing Australian Open 2015 tournament.

Sharapova and Sugarpova initially seemed to be a mismatch, but the combination actually makes sense.


Health and sugar don’t match. In fact, in recent years, sugar has probably earned the unhealthy reputation of bacon. Look at what has happened to Krispy Kreme.

A sport star is a bastion of fitness and if ever one will associate himself with a sugary product, the terms used will be “fuel”, “power” or “energy boost” rather than “sweet, “sugar” or “candy”.

In 2012, when Maria Sharapova, a five time grand slam tennis champion, launched Sugarpova, a line of premium candies, many were perplexed with the move.

Sharapova is the world’s highest paid female athlete, and she makes most of that money off the court by hawking products from Tag Heuer, Nike, Porsche, Cole Haan and other brands. What makes Sugarpova different from all those other brands is that it is actually Sharapova’s own business. She’s selling the candies on behalf of herself.

Sugarpova is “premium” candy; in other words, more expensive than usual candies. A 5 oz bag of Sugarpovas costs around USD 5.99, many times more than usual candy brands. Not that these candies have something to be premium about. Most premium products boast using the finest ingredients, the finest manufacturing technique (finest being either ultra modern or handmade, but never the in-between), posh packaging, or luxurious buying experience. None of these are present in or claimed by Sugarpova. Sugarpovas are expensive because of Maria Sharapova.

There have always been premium chocolates, but never premium candies. Who would have thought of coming up with premium sour balls or gummy bears? Apparently no one has, which is why Sugarpova occupies its own niche. There must be candy that’s worthy of selfies, instagrams and facebook posts. Sugarpova fills that void.

In its first three months of release, Sugarpova had sold around 250,000 bags. It has probably sold more than a million bags by now. That’s major, considering that these candies have limited availability. In fact, here in the Philippines, there’s only one store chain that carries it.

I was lucky to get a bag here in Manila. The store I went to had only two bags. One is  “Quirky Sour, the other is  “Quirky”. Obviously, I didn’t have to ask what the difference between the two is… Actually I did. The sales lady said one was sweet, the other was sour. I went with the non-sour one.

Sugarpova candies available in the Philippines
Cheaper in the Philippines. Just PHP 199.75 or USD 4.52 in Manila. Do I see an arbitrage opportunity? Image by


Continue reading Sharapova and Sugarpova: Game, Set and Mismatch – But Both are Winning


Do You Have What it Takes to Become an Equity Analyst? You Have to be Persuasive

In this post, I’ll show a job listing for an equity analyst position from a Philippine based stockbrokerage firm, and let’s see what traits the company is looking for.

Because I’ve passed all three levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams, I would normally get emails regarding job opportunities in investment.

Here is a job listing for an equity analyst position at the stockbrokerage unit of a Philippines based bank. This is what they’re looking for in an applicant:

requirements for an equity analyst  position
Do you have what it takes? Requirements for an equity analyst job at a stock brokerage firm Philippines. Image captured from job listing email.


I think I have what they are looking for. I enjoy working as a doctor though. What caught my eye in the list is the requirement for being “persuasive”.

I always thought that if you’re an equity analyst, your work should speak for itself. I didn’t know that part of the job is to also “convince” people.

Here is an interesting excerpt from the book How to Get an Equity Research Analyst Job: A Guide to Starting a Career in Asset Management by Gillian D. Elcock – available at Amazon


“Conviction is very important when you are an analyst. You can’t be lukewarm about your stock. You can’t give up on your idea the moment someone presents you with a different opinion about the company…

In fact, as an analyst, you often have to persuade your fund managers to buy your stocks, to convince them that this is the right thing to do… Why should they risk their client’s money and their careers if you don’t even have the conviction to stand behind your own stock recommendation?”

Ok, I am convinced. The author really knows how to persuade.


– Finance MD




Deconstructing the Dunkin’ Donuts 3-3-12 Promo: How Much Did I Save and Why Dunkin Benefits More From the Deal

In this post, I am not just going to calculate the discount from a run-of-the-mill Dunkin’ Donuts food promo (because that would be too easy), but also try to connect it to the concept of self-interest and the invisible hand. By the way, this is NOT an advertorial. This is a legitimate post y’all.   I love donuts and I love promos more. Upon entering a neighborhood Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN:US see latest stock quote), I planned to take out one – or maybe two – donuts home. However, I saw this poster.

Dunkin Donuts 3-3-12 promo
Is this really a great deal? Poster of Dunkin’ donuts 3-3-12 promo. Image from official Dunkin’ Donuts Philippines twitter account

The franchise owner for Dunkin’ Donuts in the Philippines is Golden Donuts Incorporated. The promo price for this box of donuts is PHP 199 (USD 4.51). If I buy the donuts separately, this is what I’ll have to pay:

  • 3 premium donuts – PHP 35 each – total of  PHP 105
  • 3 regular donuts –     PHP 20 each – total of PHP 60
  • 12 munchkins –          PHP 4 each  –  total of PHP 48

Separately, the donuts cost a total of PHP 213, so there’s a savings of PHP 14 (USD 29 cents) or 6.6% with the promo. In my opinion, that small a discount is not really a good deal. Continue reading Deconstructing the Dunkin’ Donuts 3-3-12 Promo: How Much Did I Save and Why Dunkin Benefits More From the Deal

The Araneta Wealth

Stella Marquez Araneta is currently making headlines in the Philippines and not in a good way. See related post here.

From Filipino designers to Twitter users, it seems that many are expressing their disappointment – ok anger – with her. Will the angry netizens speak with their wallets though? Stella had married into one of the Philippines’ wealthiest families. The Aranetas are involved in many businesses in the country.

She didn’t end up as a trophy wife. She is actually now the second most famous Araneta. The most famous being the inanimate Araneta Coliseum. Stella during her wedding to Jorge Araneta. Image from Alo Magazine


A view of the Araneta Center’s most famous landmark, the Araneta Coliseum. The coliseum hosted the Thrilla in Manila, the 1975 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Image from Ramon FVelasquez


Aside from the Araneta Coliseum, which is part of the 35 hectare Araneta Center complex, what are the other business holdings of the Aranetas? Continue reading The Araneta Wealth

Health and Finance: The “January Effect” for Fitness and the Associated “Failed” Statistics

One of my earliest posts this month was about the “January effect” for stock investments.

It seems that there is also this kind of phenomenon when it comes to fitness. Here are possible reasons why people care more about their physical fitness during January:

  • Many people eat a lot during the holidays and they will want to shed the extra pounds gained.
  • The start of the year also brings about “new year’s resolutions”. To be more physically fit is a popular goal.
  • Many gyms and fitness related companies offer discounts and various promotions at the start of the year. Of course, they may be doing that to take advantage of the higher fitness interest among consumers; a chicken or egg situation perhaps.
  • For some reason, many of those who want to get fit but have been putting it off for months, will choose to start in January.
  • Gym newcomers will prefer to be in the company of newcomers. January is the best month for this purpose.

Like investments though, the highs in January may not necessarily be sustained for the rest of the year, and Facebook has the answer. Continue reading Health and Finance: The “January Effect” for Fitness and the Associated “Failed” Statistics

Outsourcing Gone Too Far? The Miss Philippines National Costume Drama

Outsourcing is big business. The industry is currently estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.  Companies in countries with high costs will outsource some of their processes in countries where labor and materials are cheaper yet dependable.

But are there limits to what can or cannot be outsourced to another country? Can goods/ services of national and cultural importance be outsourced to foreign entities?

Those questions have been part of a hot topic recently in the Philippines. During the national costume presentation at the Miss Universe pageant in Doral Forida, Miss Phlippines, Mary Jean Lastimosa, wore a national costume that drew mostly negative comments on the internet.

The internet asked “What the hell was that?” Miss Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa’s national costume for the Miss Universe pageant in Doral. Image from Jory Rivera/ OPMB worldwide


Some compared her dress to a wedding cake. Some compared her outfit to a multi-flavored ice cream combo. Some compared her outfit to a float filled with flowers. On a more serious note, many questioned the relevance of her outfit to Filipino culture.  Continue reading Outsourcing Gone Too Far? The Miss Philippines National Costume Drama

Undoubtedly One of the Best and Successful Investments Ever Made by the Boy Scouts?

The title of this post was derived from the statement of Alphaland, a Filipino real estate development company, in response to its alleged involvement in corruption accusations that are currently making headlines in the Philippines.

The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) ordered the involuntary delisting of Alphaland in late 2014, citing violation of disclosure rules. Trading of its stocks has been suspended since January 2014.

What is this investment that they speak of? Is it really “the best and successful investment ever made” by the Boy Scout of the Philippines (BSP)?  Continue reading Undoubtedly One of the Best and Successful Investments Ever Made by the Boy Scouts?