TIME Food & Drink

Pepsi Pops Open a New Low-Calorie Soda

Pepsi Green

Meet Pepsi True

When PepsiCo and two other members of Big Soda—Coca-Cola and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group—announced a pact with The Alliance for a Healthier Generation to reduce the number of calories people consume in their beverages by 25% over the next decade, skepticism bubbled to the top. How could the companies lower calorie intake without reducing the serving size? And if they did that, wouldn’t sales fall and wouldn’t Wall Street skewer them?

But Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi has been on an innovation kick these past two years, and by the time the Clinton Global Initiative announced the calorie treaty, Pepsi already had an answer in place. It’s a product called Pepsi True, a cola unveiled Wednesday that’s sweetened with a combination of sugar and stevia, which is plant-based. Offsetting sugar with stevia reduces the sugar content by 30% and the calories delivered by 40%. Each 7.5 oz. can of Pepsi True will cost you 60 calories and be priced on par with plain old Pepsi. Initially, PepsiCo is going to market Pepsi True in a 24-pack of 7.5 oz cans via Amazon.com, beginning later this month.

The stevia-sugar combo is a sort of natural evolution for the company. Pepsi released a 100% stevia-based product called Pepsi Next in 2012 outside of the U.S. And although stevia is sweeter than sugar, it doesn’t necessarily deliver the same flavor profile. (Pepsi also sells a zero-calorie Pepsi Max outside the U.S., which uses an artificial sweetener not approved by the FDA.) In combining stevia and sugar—not high-fructose corn syrup—Pepsi is trying to deliver the taste without the waist.

This latest cola twist may not be a huge risk for PepsiCo. Ironically enough, the company has been cutting back on the sugary carbonated beverages that nutritionist have been complaining about. Over the last decade or so the company acquired such non-fizzy drinks as Gatorade, Naked Juice, Sobe and Tropicana. Less than 25% of the company’s beverage sales in North America come from cola.

Still, Pepsi sells lots and lots of Pepsi, and the idea of losing more sales dollars is not a good idea for a company that has been under pressure from two distinct sets of critics. On Wall Street, investors such as Nelson Peltz have suggested to Nooyi that the company be broken in two: Frito-Lay, the snack food company and Pepsi, the beverage company. Instead, Nooyi kept Pepsi on an innovation diet that has worked. Pepsi now gets 20% of its revenue from its nutrition businesses, for instance, which helped the company beat its financial targets last year. Yet that, and Nooyi’s chairmanship of the Health Weight Commitment Foundation, an industry-related group that has removed 6.4 trillion calories from the marketplace compared with 2007, hasn’t placated her severest critics. Maybe they’ll find Pepsi True easier to swallow.

 

TIME Infectious Disease

How to Get to Monrovia and Back

A Brussels Airlines plane bound for Monrovia at Brussels Airport in Brussels on Aug. 28, 2014.
A Brussels Airlines plane bound for Monrovia at Brussels Airport in Brussels on Aug. 28, 2014. Dominique Faget—AFP/Getty Images

People, and viruses like Ebola, can go anywhere these days

None of the passengers who flew with Ebola Patient Zero from Monrovia, Liberia to Dallas, Texas will have to worry about catching the deadly virus. The patient wasn’t contagious in-flight. Airlines may be called carriers, but airplanes themselves are not particularly good at spreading viral diseases such as Ebola.

What they are good at is transporting people infected with viral diseases from a seemingly far off and remote city such as Monrovia to a big American town such as Dallas. But the global economy has brought cities a lot closer together, and changed disease vectors accordingly.

Need to get to Monrovia? Easy. We can book a trip for you immediately if your passport is handy and you have the visa. There’s a flight leaving JFK in New York City at 5:55 p.m. on Thursday that gets you into Monrovia 21 hours and 25 minutes later. (Relax, Delta passengers; the airline serves Monrovia through Accra from New York, but suspended that connecting service on August 30.) The current itinerary is JFK to BRU to DKR to ROB, airline code for New York to Brussels, where you’ll change planes, then a stop at Dakar, Senegal, before heading to Monrovia’s Roberts International Airport. All that travel takes place aboard Brussels Airlines on wide body Airbus 330s. Indeed, the worst part of the trip may be flying to New York on a commuter jet from Dallas.

You have other options, too: the airline-listing site Kayak offers 1,673 combinations that will get you to Monrovia from New York. Or you can make 574 connections through Chicago. And Open Skies agreements that freed global airlines to fly point-to-point across continents have, as the State Department puts it, “vastly expanded international passenger and cargo flights to and from the United States.”

You can hop an A380 on Emirates Airlines from Dallas to Dubai, change there for a Qatar Air flight to Casablanca and then find a Royal Maroc 737-800 to Monrovia via Freetown. Or fly non-stop to London and then connect via Casablanca or Brussels to Monrovia.

The point is, you can get anywhere from here. And so can the germs.

MONEY Autos

Corvette Stingray: All American Muscle

TIME's Bill Saporito test drives the new Corvette Stingray and finds it's as fast and powerful as advertised.

The guy standing on the traffic island seeking donations didn’t want one from me. He just walked over to the car, gave the thumbs-up and then moved on to the unremarkable vehicle behind me.

The 2015 Corvette Stingray ZF1 convertible I was driving is the type of car that can do that. You park it at Home Depot and guys start circling, taking pictures. Parking lot attendants, who see everything on wheels, nod in admiration. New cars that attract this kind of attention are relatively few: The awesome Audi R-8 comes to mind, as do the recently remade Camaro and the old Jaguar XK8. Even that funky little Fiat 500 was a head turner when it first landed.

For Chevrolet, the Corvette is an iconic automobile and you redesign it at your peril. Yet as Ford proved with its Mustang this year, and Chevy itself with Camaro, you can remake trophy cars without denting their heritage. This Vette is a perfect example of heritage brought smartly—and swiftly— forward.

The Stingray did show up with a surprise: an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters. The automatic trans adds $1,725 to the base price of $58,000, and the other goodies on the car I drove—including a performance data and video recorder—pushed the price up to $71,255. Who would want to drive a Vette with an automatic? Turns out, lots of people, and fully 65% of new Vettes being sold are automatics, according to the company. And it’s not just Corvette owners. Manual transmissions simply can’t match the efficiency of a new generation of 8-, 9-, and 10- speed automatics now being introduced into high performance cars. (In fact, the new Porsche GT3 isn’t available with a manual transmission. It rides a dual-clutch automatic called a Doppelkupplungsgetriebe.) The manual transmission is going the way of the manual window. Do you miss cranking?

Although I absolutely doppelkupplungsgetriebed at the thought of a stickless Corvette, any disappointment disappeared when I stomped on the pedal at a highway on-ramp. Very instant gratification. Chevy has equipped this Vette with its LT1 6.2 liter V-8 engine, the latest version of a famous power plant known as the small block V-8. In GM lore, this engine actually saved the Corvette when it was introduced in 1955, because sales had been languishing with the underpowered 150-hp engine then in use. The small block V8 put the muscle in muscle cars. This updated one has variable valve timing that deactivates cylinders when you don’t need them—say cruising when the tachometer’s barely pushing 1,500 r.p.m.—which helps the car’s impressive 29-m.p.g. highway fuel rating.

But when you want’em, all eight cylinders snap to attention and report for duty, ready to throw out 455-to- 460 h.p. —the higher figure if you get the optional multimode exhaust option ($1,195) that is exquisitely tuned to zoom. This Vette will get you from here to there—0 to 60 mph—in a throaty 3.7 seconds. The eight-speed automatic is even a tick faster than the seven-speed manual, although the thrill of rocketing up the speedometer is very much the same. And if you insist on shifting the gears yourself, go right ahead and use the paddles. Automatic or no, this thing is still low, wide, and nasty. The two competition seats in the Z51 version come with adjustable side bolsters to lock yourself in on tight turns.

It’s not all about speed, I guess. The Stingray includes a 5-position Drive Mode selector (Sport, Track, Tour, Eco, Weather) that adjusts the performance to suit conditions or your whims. And on nice days, there’s that drop-top, which can be popped while moving at up to 30 m.p.h. if you’d like to really show off.

Chevy is also making the convertible available on a supercharged Z06 racing model rated at 650 h.p. that it will introduce next year. Which is going to provide a whole new definition of driving with the wind in your hair. You are probably going to need that automatic. Because you’ll be too busy hanging on to your hat to work a stick.

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TIME Companies

Alibaba Is Overpriced and Overhyped — So What Else Is New?

China-Based Internet Company Alibaba Debuts On New York Stock Exchange
Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma attends the company's initial price offering (IPO) at the New York Stock Exchange on September 19, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

Alibaba may be a Chinese company, but this IPO is an all-American way for inside holders to get rich

Jack Ma was lousy at math as a kid, and began his career as an English-language instructor in Hangzhou, China. He seems to have addressed that deficiency quite nicely. Ma, 50, is executive chairman of Alibaba, China’s biggest internet commerce company, which just launched an Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange that raised some $22 billion. It’s the biggest IPO on record. Alibaba’s shares were priced at $68—the high end of the range set by investment bankers—but when trading started the price jumped to $92.70. That values the company at about $232 billion, bigger than Facebook, IBM, Amazon and that tech fossil IBM. Ma’s shares are worth close to $18 billion, even after selling some $867 million in the IPO.

Alibaba does little retail business in the United States; it was originally designed to provide an online wholesale marketplace that connected Chinese companies with buyers all over the world. But the company now includes an e-Bay knockoff called Taobao that did indeed knock e-Bay out of the way in China; Tmall.com, a brands and retail platform, a cloud computing operation and other retail and wholesale businesses. “Alibaba is synonymous with e-commerce in China,” the company said in its filing statement.

And it is also synonymous with the frenetic tech IPO market in the U.S. The companied initially tried to list its shares on the Hong Kong Exchange, which would seem to be a friendly home. But its byzantine ownership structure, with Ma at the center of a web of interrelated companies tied to Alibaba, wasn’t deemed fairly structured enough to meet the Hong Kong exchange’s rules. Nor did Alibaba list with NASDAQ, always seen as friendlier to tech IPOs and to companies with multiple share classes. Instead, Alibaba listed with the old-school New York Stock Exchange. According to the NYSE, Alibaba is the 25th tech company to list its shares this year.

Except that you are not actually buying Alibaba’s shares directly, since China’s government won’t allow foreigners to control one of its most prized companies. Investors are buying shares in something called a variable interest entity that has a claim on the company’s earnings. The VIE is registered in the Cayman Islands—yes, the Cayman Islands!—that black hole of offshore money. And did I mention that Alibaba is in China. As global auto companies are learning, political risk is not unknown in that country, and even though Alibaba is a home team favorite, foreign holders are just that.

Ma is more than familiar with the way the investment cycle works, as well as the Chinese government. He was introduced to the Internet in 1995, in Seattle, and set out to become China’s web pioneer. He linked up with Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang for a $1 billion investment 2005 that will paying off enormously for the otherwise struggling American firm. Throughout it all, he has done things his way. In this regard, Ma has a lot in common with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch. If you are a big fan of shareholder democracy, you might have the wrong outfit in Alibaba.

All of this should tell investors to tread very cautiously. Yeah, right. Even as talk of another tech bubble keeps bubbling up in Silicon Valley, investors have demonstrated over and over that they are not going to be dissuaded from taking the plunge in the red-hot IPO pool. There are some compelling things about Alibaba. Yes, China, for one. The company’s IPO cites data claims there are 500 million mobile internet users in China and 279 million active buyers. Better yet, only 8% of all shopping is currently done online in China. And the Chinese government is not only raising wages but wants consumer spending to become a greater force in its economy.

The potential is enormous, of course, and Alibaba is not a startup. It’s a company with $7.3 billion in sales that earns actual profits. But the question for investors is always about how much you want to pay for growth. And when it comes to tech, the answer is often: too much. Alibaba may be a Chinese company, but this IPO is an all-American way for inside holders to get rich, or in Ma’s case, dynastically rich.

TIME Investing

The Triumph of Index Funds

CalPERS’ move is a vote for passive investing

It would be reasonable to assume that the professionals running CalPERS, the California pension fund with $300 billion in assets, would be good at picking stocks. Or at least reasonably good at picking other smart people to pick stocks for them. But in the past year, CalPERS has made two decisions that are telling for all investors when it comes to trying to outperform the market.

Late last year, the pension fund signaled its intention to move more assets from active management into passively managed index funds. These are funds in which you buy a market, such as the S&P 500 or the Russell 2000, unlike mutual funds that try to select winners within a given class of equities. More recently, CalPERS said it would also pull out the $4 billion it has invested in hedge funds. Although hedge-fund honchos make headlines with their personal wealth, the industry has significantly lagged the market in the past three years. “Call it capitulation or sobriety: it’s saying that we can’t beat the market and we can’t find managers who can beat the market, and even if they can, their fee structures are overwhelming,” says Mitch Tuchman, CEO of Rebalance IRA, an investment adviser focused on index-fund-only portfolios.

The CalPERS move is a nod to University of Chicago economist Eugene Fama, who won a Nobel for his lifelong work on “efficient markets.” That theory says that because stock prices reflect all available information at any moment–they are informationally “efficient”–future prices are unpredictable, so trying to beat the market is useless. According to the SPIVA (S&P Indices Versus Active) Scorecard, the return on the S&P 500 beat 87% of active managers in domestic large-cap equity funds over the past five years.

Why can’t expert money managers succeed? Researchers from the University of Chicago say there are so many smart managers that they offset one another, gaining or losing at others’ expense and winding up near the market average, before expenses. “Unless you have some really special information about a manager, there’s really no good reason to put your money in actively managed mutual funds,” says Juhani Linnainmaa, associate professor of finance at Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He says the median managed fund produces an average –1% alpha–that is, below the expected return. Some funds do beat their index–what’s not clear is why. “What is the luck factor?” he asks. “Given the noise in the market, it’s kind of hopeless to try to figure anything out of this.” Linnainmaa’s colleague, finance professor Lubos Pastor, also found that mutual funds have decreasing returns to scale. Size hurts a manager’s ability to trade.

Yet even if managers match the market, they’ve got expense ratios that then eat into returns. Index-fund proponents like John Bogle at Vanguard have long preached that fees dilute performance. A 1% difference can be huge. “It’s not 1% of all your money,” says Tuchman, “it’s 1% of expected returns: that’s 16% to 20%.” The average balance in Fidelity 401(k) plans was $89,300 in 2013. While 1% of that is $893, if you earned 8% compounded over 10 years, your balance would be $192,792; at 7% it’s $175,667, a difference of $17,125. Real money, in other words.

Investors are getting the message, pouring some $345 billion into passive mutual and exchange-traded funds over the past 12 months vs. $126 billion in active funds, says Morningstar. “At the end of the day,” says Tuchman, “an index fund is run by a computer, a robot. We don’t want to believe that a robot can beat Ivy League M.B.A.s–and I’m one of them.” What CalPERS seems to be saying is that the game is over. The robot wins.

TIME Retail

See Who Really Runs the U.S. Cigarette Game

A look at the players in the growing US tobacco market—the biggest may surprise you

When CVS Caremark announced it was ending sales of cigarettes and tobacco products in stores, it was viewed as another step in the drive to get Americans healthy.

But despite CVS leaving the tobacco market, the number of stores selling tobacco products nationwide has actually increased. Twenty-eight attorneys general across the country have already asked major pharmacies to stop selling tobacco alongside medicine, a request that has so far been rebuffed.

About 86% of the sales of cigarettes nationwide come from bodegas, delis and convenience stores. And the nation’s largest distributor has a new owner in one of America’s wealthiest citizens. See the video above for more.

TIME tennis

Gael Monfils Is the Most Interesting Guy in Tennis

2014 US Open - Day 9
Gael Monfils of France returns a shot against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in their men's singles fourth round match on Day Nine of the 2014 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2014 in Queens. Mike Stobe—USTA/Getty Images

He's looking to take down Roger Federer

During the first week of the U.S. Open, I made a point of getting out to Flushing Meadow to watch Gael Monfils play. It’s almost become an annual event for me. And Monfils was once again his entertaining self. There are better players in men’s tennis, to wit, five-time U.S. Open winner Roger Federer, the No. 2 seed who will face Monfils, seeded 20th, in the quarterfinals. But nobody is more fun to watch than this Frenchman, because nobody can combine such pure athleticism with the insouciance bordering on disdain he brings to the game. When I bumped into a USTA staffer I know and told him I’d gone to watch Monfils, there was a shake of the head. “Was he moping around again?” was the question.

Only if moping around means dancing deep across the backcourt and whacking everything he reaches — and he just about reaches everything, with a combination of power and dexterity that his fellow pros openly admire. The 6-ft. 4-in Monfils is a rare combination of pointillist and power—Seurat mounted on coiled springs. In his second round match against Alejandro Gonzalez, Monfils won game two of the second set with a leaping, crosscourt forehand from the right baseline corner that was clocked at 105 mph. Think of Johnny Manziel trying to throw an accurate 75-yard jump pass across his body. Monfils applauded his own work by twirling his index finger as if to say, “oui, that’s me.” Up 3-0 in the third set, he won the fourth game by running down a Gonzalez shot into the corner and hitting a paintbrush backhand down the line that had his opponent shaking his head at the incredible touch on display. Oh, and a decent 130 m.p.h. serve.

Monfils also has the temperament of an artist. He seems like he’s not always paying attention to things like winning. His changeover routine is to mumble while looking over the crowd and to sip from a can of Coke once he’s seated. C’est la vie, eh?

“For me, tennis is a sport, you know. It’s not a job, it’s a sport,” he said in a post-match interview Tuesday, having dispatched rising star Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6, 7-5 to reach the quarters. He gave a couple of points away to Dimitrov, just because. “Sometime if I’m fed up with that, just leave it. For me, I don’t know if it’s bad to say it and for sure I will use like bad words in English, but it’s like, you know, don’t give a sheet.”

Rare among top pros, Monfils plays without a coach, meaning his strategy seems to be to do whatever. And fellow pros have criticized his game as too laid back when, given his height and speed, he should be attacking more. The don’t-give-a-sheet strategy has generally been good enough to get Monfils deep into Grand Slam tournaments, but never deep enough to win one. His best result: the semis at the French. But finding a coach that fits him hasn’t been easy, he says: “That person has to be — has to be, for me, like good, first of all, but has to be hard and also understand my personality. Because I don’t think I’m easy, but I think I’m quite a good worker.”

Monfils will have to be quite a good worker indeed to beat Federer, who is again looking like the flawless stroke machine that earned 17 major titles. Federer has beaten Monfils three times at Roland Garros, and more recently at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, but lost to him at the ATP Masters in Shanghai last year. Monfils says he is definitely looking forward to the match. Maybe he’ll win, if he gets a little lucky. Maybe not.

“It’s always great,” Monfils said, “because no matter what, I will say to my children, I played against him. Even [if] I kill him, you know. And this is cool.”

TIME Business

5 Ways To Be an Airplane Aggravation

Passengers sit with their luggage while waiting to board a flight in the domestic terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Aug. 27, 2014.
Passengers sit with their luggage while waiting to board a flight in the domestic terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Aug. 27, 2014. Brendon Thorne—Bloomberg/Getty Images

There are more passengers than the seat recliners who ought to be tossed off flights—preferably at 10,000 feet

Another flight, another fight. This time, a Delta flight to West Palm Beach from New York was diverted to Jacksonville over another dispute about reclining seats. The war between the recliners and decliners has broken into the open as airline travel continues to get decidedly more angry. I’ve already pledged my flying allegiance to the decliners — I don’t go back and I don’t think the passenger in front of me ought to, either. And I’m more than a little cranky about it.

But let’s not stop here. There are more passengers than the seat recliners who ought to be tossed off flights — preferably at 10,000 ft. — although that’s a good place to start. The list of uncivil aviation offenses just begins with the people who insist on intruding on my personal space. Here are other things you can do to qualify as the complete airline a-hole:

1) In the lounge, hog all available outlets with your myriad devices — phone, tablet, laptop, and headphones — and then start talking loudly on your mobile. Because you’re so, so important, aren’t you. Ignore the dirty looks for everyone within 25 yards of you. Yes, we’re still staring at you.

2) Try to barge on the plane before your row is called. Just act stupid — it won’t be a reach — and proclaim complete surprise when you reach the agent. All of these people should go to the back of the line — uh-huh, just like grade school — but the gate agents seem to have given up the fight. Can’t say I blame them, but if the carriers are going to go through the trouble of sequential boarding, a little enforcement wouldn’t hurt. Except in France, where this is completely futile.

3) Bring an oversized rolling suitcase, a briefcase, plus a couple of shopping bags on board and get ticked off when you can’t fit it all in the overheads. Extra annoyance points for arriving late. Then, keep opening bins that are already full until stuff cascades onto another passenger. Then act frustrated because you have to pick up the stuff you just knocked over. Yes, this is yet another case where the carriers are the root cause. Since the airlines have added outrageous fees for checked baggage, people naturally want to bring their stuff on board. All of it. So passengers push the envelop with oversized bags and everything from guitars to cases of wine, slowing the boarding process and sowing hostility because there isn’t room for all their stuff.

4) Once seated, take as much room as you can. That’s right, use both armrests for yourself. Spread your feet out until you make contact with the passenger next to you. Of course you are going to recline your seat with saying anything — slam — right into the knees of the guy behind you.

5) Now, when the plane taxies to the gate, push your way back to where you stowed some of your stuff, and then push your way forward to get back to your seat. Then, try to beat the passengers across the row into the aisle, so you can leave the jet 15 seconds faster than them. And be sure to complain about something on your way out.

You’re never going to fly this airline again, you say? Great. Can you start today?

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