A winner: Ferrari, whose profit margin was 29.5% in Q1. Think about this: Apple’s margin is 31.6% and Hermes is 36.5%. Ferrari and Hermes…and Apple. How did a tech company make it on this esteemed list? Mr. Jobs was in fact a genius and his genius didn’t involve products as much as it involved marketing. He realized something very important about the world of luxury – specifically, it was a great business. Rather than being the best house in a shitty neighborhood, hardware tech, he decided to become the best house in the best neighborhood, luxury. What other tech products have print ads in Vogue and are sold in shiny glass temples under flattering lights where customers can be seen and admired by others with product launches supported by supermodels? Apple is a luxury brand, not a tech product and as a result, the company has achieved literally the impossible – what no other firm has achieved. That is, they are the low-cost producer yet the premium price product. This is a company that has the margins of Ferrari with the production volumes of Toyota and is generating more profit every quarter than Amazon has done in double their entire history. A winner: the fastest growing retail stock, Ulta, who’s grown faster than Amazon. What is the beauty retailer’s secret weapon? Omnichannel retail. People who shop both online and offline spend two-and-a-half times more than those who just use one channel. While the beauty retailer grew online sales 63% in the fourth quarter, Ulta also drew customers to physical stores with services including facials and sampling and plans to open a hundred more locations this year. As women spend more on beauty products than clothing, Ulta boasts the broadest brand assortment across price categories as well as a loyalty program that accounts for more than 90% of sales. The loyalty program also lets the retailer collect massive amounts of data on its consumers. Similar to Amazon, Ulta has leveraged user data to improve and personalize the online customer experience but they’ve also taken advantage of an asset that people think is a liability: stores. Consumers go to stores not for products, but for people – specifically expertise. Winner or loser? Microsoft. Actually they are a winner but we wanted to build suspense in this episode. Microsoft still powers 90% of desktop computers. When Microsoft launched Windows 10 two years ago, the company predicted that the operating system would be installed on a billion devices within two to three years. They’ve only reached 500 million, however, and daily installs have started to decline. If the Microsoft phone had not failed, Microsoft would likely be the most powerful company on earth. Their diversified revenue, however, likely makes them the least vulnerable of all the big tech companies. Is there a fifth Horseman? If there is, it’s probably Microsoft. The key decision for Apple was opening stores. The key decision from Microsoft: Ray of Light from Madonna to operate that operating system. I saw Lady Gaga at Coachella not because I’m 48, but because I’m level 48 which is much more badass. Actually I’m level 52 but I go to Coachella. I see Lady Gaga – Lady Blah Blah. Strike a pose. Madonna, you and me, we’re taking this shit down. Subscribe now.