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No Money, Need Crisis

This note was originally published at 8am this morning, November 11, 2010. INVESTOR and RISK MANAGER SUBSCRIBERS have access to the EARLY LOOK (published by 8am every trading day) and PORTFOLIO IDEAS in real-time.

“This country’s out of money and we better start thinking.”

-Erskin Bowles

 

Erskine Bowles is a Democrat. He was Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff the last time this country ran a budget surplus. Now he’s President of the University of North Carolina and Co-Chair of President Obama’s Debt and Deficit Commission.

 

If you already haven’t, google ‘Bowles Pelosi’ this morning and you’ll see why professional US politicians are tee’ing up America’s balance sheet to implode. The good news is that this isn’t “new” news. Those who aren’t paid to be willfully blind get it at this point. The American political machine has crossed its proverbial Rubicon.

 

This is going to be critical news for the next few weeks because yesterday afternoon Messrs Bowles and Alan Simpson (former Republican Senator from Wyoming), released a “draft” of their debt and deficit report that’s due out on December 1st.

 

Commenting on the draft, compare and contrast these views:

  1. “Without tough choices, we’re on the most predictable path toward an economic crisis that I can imagine.” –Erskine Bowles
  2. This is “simply unacceptable” –Nancy Pelosi

Then consider the PR guy’s take from Stan Collender (former Democrat budget analyst): “Mathematically, it apparently works… Politically, it is going to have a lot of trouble getting support from more than just the two co-chairs.”

 

Finally, here’s President Obama’s take: “So before anybody starts shooting down proposals, I think we need to listen, we need to gather up all the facts.”

 

Positioning:

  1. Bowles is calling it like it is.
  2. Pelosi doesn’t know what it is.
  3. PR guy knows what math is.

Question: Does the President of the United States have the leadership to listen, hear, and execute on the toughest fiscal decision of the century?

 

Ironically enough, as the Debt and Deficit Commission’s draft was being released, I was sitting in Peter Orszag’s office at Princeton University. Orszag, of course, just left Obama’s team after running the OMB (Office of Management and Budget). He’s done the math too.

 

We’ll send a research report out to our clients later on today that goes through the details of Hedgeye’s discussion with Peter, but the overall takeaway is that he not only agrees with our (and Reinhart & Rogoff’s) conclusions about structural debts and deficits, but he agreed that we’ll likely need another economic crisis in order to rid ourselves of this unbearable political polarization.

 

Now, to be clear, Orszag introduced and effectively utilized the word “polarization.” At Hedgeye we use words like: fiat, conflicted, compromised, fools, risk, charlatan, dogma, etc… but it’s all one and the same thing. And guess what Washington people? Americans have a Ph.D. in their gut on this too.

 

This morning Bloomberg released a poll (which I’ll editorialize) that confirmed most of what the objective mind in you has already internalized:

  1. 75% of people think Quantitative Guessing (QG) will be “ineffective”
  2. 60% of people (down from 71%) trust Bernanke at the wheel
  3. 44% of people trust Geithner has a clue on economic matters

Now at least Geithner is on the record admitting that he “isn’t an economist.” So when you read his quotes from the G20 this morning suggesting that the debauching of the Dollar has nothing to do with our professional politicians burning it at the stake, take his word for it – he doesn’t do interconnectedness.

 

Back to Orszag, Bowles, and the American leaders who remain brave enough to stand up against the tyranny of a compromised Congress…

 

Fellow citizens, it’s time. On this Veteran’s Day we need to ask ourselves if the time to rid this country of Pretended Patriotism isn’t now, when will it be?

 

As Peter Orszag stated plainly, the clock has been ticking. Any independent analyst who isn’t trying to snag a banking bonus or Washington consulting fees gets this. US municipalities and states are already in fiscal crisis – they’ll eventually need to be bailed out too (QE3). But who is going to pay for it? Will America allow Congress to raise the US Debt Ceiling in 2011? If America can’t issue debt at these artificially low rates, what happens next?

 

Maybe Mr. Macro Market is already giving us a preview of the answer – US Dollar UP, and US Treasury Yields UP. This is new as of the last week. We’re seeing immediate term breakouts in both. The Buck won’t Burn forever – particularly if we find a President who gets that this debt and deficit buck stops with him.

 

My immediate term support and resistance levels for the SP500 are now 1206 and 1239, respectively. I covered some short positions on yesterday’s opening market weakness and now have 10 LONG versus 11 SHORT positions in the Hedgeye Portfolio. I remain short the Euro (FXE) and long the US Dollar (UUP).

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

No Money, Need Crisis - 1


Bear/Bull Battle: SP500 Levels, Refreshed

POSITION: Short SP500 (SPY)

 

For the 2nd day in a row, the US stock market has rallied (intraday) from what we call critical immediate term TRADE lines of support. Today, that line = 1209. This is important and something that should wear on the bears until it doesn’t.

 

The corollary to barely holding on to support is that eventually markets break support. With time and space, the probabilities of significant mean reversion corrections increase. Then, what was support becomes resistance. If the SP500 were to break down through and close below immediate term TRADE support of 1209, there is no support until 1187 (another -2.5% correction from yesterday’s closing price of 1218).

 

From a longer term perspective, it’s important to remember that, like the Nikkei 225 has in Japan for the last decade, the SP500 is simply making a series of long-term lower highs versus its leverage cycle-peak of 1565 in October of 2007.

 

From a more immediate term correlation risk perspective, the US Dollar is now trading bullish on our immediate term TRADE duration as well. This is new and, combined with a very hawkish macro calendar (global inflation data and G20 rhetoric), will have me doing a lot of waiting and watching. Support, after all, doesn’t hold in perpetuity.

 

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Bear/Bull Battle: SP500 Levels, Refreshed - SP500


EAT – FLEXING ITS FINANCIAL MUSCLES

Conclusion: One of the key factors outlined in my Brinker Black Book was the enhancement of EPS growth in FY11 by the resumption of its share repurchase program.  The company’s announcement that it increased its share authorization adds to my confidence that meaningful EPS growth is on the way at Brinker.


One of my primary reasons for being bullish on EAT has always been rooted in the strength of the company’s balance sheet.  Specifically, the company has the financial flexibility to invest behind Chili’s.  To that end, Brinker reaffirmed its financial strength yesterday when its Board authorized an additional $325 million in share repurchases.

 

Brinker reaccelerated its share repurchase program during the first quarter after completing the refinancing of its debt facility and closing the On The Border transaction in 4Q10.  During the company’s 4Q10 earnings call, management said, “we look forward to returning to a more rapid share repurchase strategy.”  Brinker bought back 5.3 million shares for $92.7 million during the first quarter.  At the end of Q1, approximately $197 million was available under the company’s share repurchase authorizations and subsequent to the end of the quarter; Brinker bought back an additional 4.3 million shares for $83.1 million.

 

Given the company’s FY11 guidance of $115 to $125 million in free cash flow, combined with the $215 million of cash on the balance sheet at the end of Q1, the company has ample flexibility to continue to buy back shares during the balance of the year.  This accelerated level of share buybacks will enable the company to partially offset any near-term earnings shortfall that could result from a continued slowdown in comp trends at Chili’s.  That being said, I continue to think that comp growth at Chili’s should begin to turnaround come fiscal 3Q11 when the concept will no longer be lapping last year’s “3 Courses for $20” promotion. 

 

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director


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ORSZAG’S TAKE ON GDP

Having escaped the quagmire that is Washington’s bureaucracy, Peter Orszag provided some very interesting commentary during our conference call titled, “Out with the Rhetoric and In With the Facts on the Budget” that took place yesterday.  Here I will focus primarily on the insights he provided that pertained most directly to his view of the general outlook for the U.S. economy. 

 

In terms of GDP, the bottom line is that there are many headwinds coming into play.  Furthermore, if the Federal Reserve’s $600 billion Quantitative Guess does not work (you know where we stand), the outlook will become even less promising. 

 

First, we need to provide some context around where we have been.  Total private sector borrowing amounted to almost 30% of GDP in 2007 and in 2009 it had fallen to less than minus 15% of GDP, so you're talking about a roughly 45% of GDP swing in private sector borrowing over a two-year period.  This was a traumatic hit to the nation’s economy, not seen in generations. 

 

The tectonic shifts in the financial sector, housing market, and subsequent (and ongoing) consumer deleveraging pose drastically difficult obstacles for the Federal Reserve to surmount.  Unlike slowdowns that are associated with monetary policy being tweaked in order to address inflation concerns, Orszag stated that downturns triggered by the financial sector tend to take result in longer and more sluggish recoveries. 

 

As alluded to by Orszag, a recent study by Reinhart and Reinhart of roughly thirty similar instances of economic downturns triggered by difficulty in the financial sector suggests that the average unemployment rate in the decade following such crises is 5% higher than immediately pre-crisis; housing prices being 15-20% lower over the entire subsequent decade versus pre-crisis levels and government debt as a percentage of GDP being 90% higher that the pre-crisis level.  The increase in debt, according to Orszag, reflects the downturn itself and the policy measures that are taken to offset it.

 

What does the nest 12-to 24 months look like?  First the positives:

  1. Real exports are growing quite rapidly (aided by the debauching of the U.S. Dollar)
  2. (Notwithstanding the CSCO news today)  Investment in equipment and software has been growing nicely.  Firms making significant investments in short-lived assets.  The problem on the investment side is on the long end; assets with longer depreciation schedules are seeing a historically low share of investment allocation.
  3. Corporate profits have improved.  They were ~12% of GDP in 2006 and 2007, falling to 9% in 2009 and are now back up to ~11% of GDP on 2010.  The difference between 9% and 11% represents $300 billion in GDP so it’s significant step up. 

 

One caveat pertaining to point number three is that the surge in corporate profits is not resulting in significant hiring or long-lived investments.   Rather the profits are being retained as liquid assets.  The psychological impact of the Great Recession is clearly impacting the behavior of the Consumer and Corporate America.  The effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the Federal Reserve’s actions is leaving a huge question mark over the economic outlook.

 

The factors that supported growth in late 2009 and 2010 will become significant headwinds in 2011.

  1. The inventory cycle is going the wrong way in the first part of 2011; moving to net-neutrality towards impact on GDP growth.  (I recently posted that inventory accounted for 2.6%, 0.08% and 1.4% for the first three quarters 2010, respectively)  As a side note, Orszag noted that the sequential improvement in GDP in Q3 was unintentional as some firms were caught out by the slump in demand during the summer and unintentionally built up inventories in Q3.  That trend, Orszag expects, will reverse itself in Q4 and the early part of 2011. 
  2. The Recovery Act, despite the controversy, added 2%+ to GDP in 1H10.  By design the act was to have all the money “out the door” by the end of September and succeeded in doing so.  Going forward, the cost of the Recovery Act will be net neutral and eventually as it ramps down and, eventually – in terms of cash flow – will be net negative to GDP growth.
  3. The final factor is state and local deficits which are projected to be $100 to $150 billion a year for the next two tears.  Going forward, a much smaller share of which will be offset by federal subsidies, therefore a much larger share will need to be closed through tax increases and spending cuts at the state and local level.  

 

Taking points two and three, together that added a net 2% to GDP in 1H10 and will be a negative 2% to growth in 1H11.  If you then add the positive inventory cycle in 1H10 of 3.4% and you get the total contribution to GDP growth from the three factors of 5.4% in 1H10.    

 

Depending on your view of the inventory cycle, we are looking at a potential year-over-year swing in GDP in 1H11 of around 5.4%, which becomes a headwind in the next 12 to 24 months.  At best, we are looking at flat to 1-2% GDP for the next 12-24 months.       

 

What does all this mean for the consumer and the unemployment rate?  Under a good scenario, it’s going forward it’s going to be a hard slog of 1-2% GDP growth, which will prove to be inadequate in an effort to reduce the unemployment rate.  According to Orszag’s rule of thumb - to get to what the unemployment rate is; take whatever the GDP growth rate is, subtract 2.5%, and divide by two.  So, to get a 1% reduction in the unemployment rate you need GDP growth of 4.5% for one year. 

 

Given the GDP headwinds outlined on the call, it seems unlikely that the unemployment rate will improve meaningfully any time soon.   This is particularly problematic for U.S. corporations levered to domestic demand.

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director


ORSZAG’S TAKE ON GDP

Having escaped the quagmire that is Washington’s bureaucracy, Peter Orszag provided some very interesting commentary during our conference call titled, “Out with the Rhetoric and In With the Facts on the Budget” that took place yesterday.  Here I will focus primarily on the insights he provided that pertained most directly to his view of the general outlook for the U.S. economy. 

 

In terms of GDP, the bottom line is that there are many headwinds coming into play.  Furthermore, if the Federal Reserve’s $600 billion Quantitative Guess does not work (you know where we stand), the outlook will become even less promising. 

 

First, we need to provide some context around where we have been.  Total private sector borrowing amounted to almost 30% of GDP in 2007 and in 2009 it had fallen to less than minus 15% of GDP, so you're talking about a roughly 45% of GDP swing in private sector borrowing over a two-year period.  This was a traumatic hit to the nation’s economy, not seen in generations. 

 

The tectonic shifts in the financial sector, housing market, and subsequent (and ongoing) consumer deleveraging pose drastically difficult obstacles for the Federal Reserve to surmount.  Unlike slowdowns that are associated with monetary policy being tweaked in order to address inflation concerns, Orszag stated that downturns triggered by the financial sector tend to take result in longer and more sluggish recoveries. 

 

As alluded to by Orszag, a recent study by Reinhart and Reinhart of roughly thirty similar instances of economic downturns triggered by difficulty in the financial sector suggests that the average unemployment rate in the decade following such crises is 5% higher than immediately pre-crisis; housing prices being 15-20% lower over the entire subsequent decade versus pre-crisis levels and government debt as a percentage of GDP being 90% higher that the pre-crisis level.  The increase in debt, according to Orszag, reflects the downturn itself and the policy measures that are taken to offset it.

 

What does the nest 12-to 24 months look like?  First the positives:

  1. Real exports are growing quite rapidly (aided by the debauching of the U.S. Dollar)
  2. (Notwithstanding the CSCO news today)  Investment in equipment and software has been growing nicely.  Firms making significant investments in short-lived assets.  The problem on the investment side is on the long end; assets with longer depreciation schedules are seeing a historically low share of investment allocation.
  3. Corporate profits have improved.  They were ~12% of GDP in 2006 and 2007, falling to 9% in 2009 and are now back up to ~11% of GDP on 2010.  The difference between 9% and 11% represents $300 billion in GDP so it’s significant step up. 

 

One caveat pertaining to point number three is that the surge in corporate profits is not resulting in significant hiring or long-lived investments.   Rather the profits are being retained as liquid assets.  The psychological impact of the Great Recession is clearly impacting the behavior of the Consumer and Corporate America.  The effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the Federal Reserve’s actions is leaving a huge question mark over the economic outlook.

 

The factors that supported growth in late 2009 and 2010 will become significant headwinds in 2011.

  1. The inventory cycle is going the wrong way in the first part of 2011; moving to net-neutrality towards impact on GDP growth.  (I recently posted that inventory accounted for 2.6%, 0.08% and 1.4% for the first three quarters 2010, respectively)  As a side note, Orszag noted that the sequential improvement in GDP in Q3 was unintentional as some firms were caught out by the slump in demand during the summer and unintentionally built up inventories in Q3.  That trend, Orszag expects, will reverse itself in Q4 and the early part of 2011. 
  2. The Recovery Act, despite the controversy, added 2%+ to GDP in 1H10.  By design the act was to have all the money “out the door” by the end of September and succeeded in doing so.  Going forward, the cost of the Recovery Act will be net neutral and eventually as it ramps down and, eventually – in terms of cash flow – will be net negative to GDP growth.
  3. The final factor is state and local deficits which are projected to be $100 to $150 billion a year for the next two tears.  Going forward, a much smaller share of which will be offset by federal subsidies, therefore a much larger share will need to be closed through tax increases and spending cuts at the state and local level.  

 

Taking points two and three, together that added a net 2% to GDP in 1H10 and will be a negative 2% to growth in 1H11.  If you then add the positive inventory cycle in 1H10 of 3.4% and you get the total contribution to GDP growth from the three factors of 5.4% in 1H10.    

 

Depending on your view of the inventory cycle, we are looking at a potential year-over-year swing in GDP in 1H11 of around 5.4%, which becomes a headwind in the next 12 to 24 months.  At best, we are looking at flat to 1-2% GDP for the next 12-24 months.       

 

What does all this mean for the consumer and the unemployment rate?  Under a good scenario, it’s going forward it’s going to be a hard slog of 1-2% GDP growth, which will prove to be inadequate in an effort to reduce the unemployment rate.  According to Orszag’s rule of thumb - to get to what the unemployment rate is; take whatever the GDP growth rate is, subtract 2.5%, and divide by two.  So, to get a 1% reduction in the unemployment rate you need GDP growth of 4.5% for one year. 

 

Given the GDP headwinds outlined on the call, it seems unlikely that the unemployment rate will improve meaningfully any time soon.   This is particularly problematic for U.S. corporations levered to domestic demand.

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director


R3: WMT, RL, TRU, GPS

R3: REQUIRED RETAIL READING

November 11, 2010

 

 

 

RESEARCH ANECDOTES

  • With some retailers just now launching initial forays into e-commerce, it puts Ralph Lauren’s 10th anniversary of ralphlauren.com into perspective. Keep in mind that despite reporting 21% growth in its e-commerce business in Q2, this channel represents less than 5% of total sales and remains a material growth opportunity.
  • KSS noted that its October sales shortfall was largely a result of a dramatic impact on sales of outerwear during the warm weather trend over the first two weeks of the month.  As a result, outerwear inventories were a bit high coming out of the month.  On the flip side, management also noted that business trends have “returned, frankly, to a much more normalized trend rate for the year”. 
  • On the heels of its pop-up store store strategy, Toys”R”Us is now launching a mobile coupon campaign in additional efforts to capture customers. It’s a significant improvement compared to the e-coupons offered last year, which customers had to print to redeem. Recall that Starbucks launched a similar campaign back in 2009 to mixed reviews though TRU’s demographic will likely be considerably more receptive to redeeming offers through the holidays.

OUR TAKE ON OVERNIGHT NEWS

 

Free Shipping Offered at WMT - Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s biggest retailer, is offering free shipping to homes on almost 60,000 holiday items through its website as it vies for budget- conscious shoppers.  The offer, which applies to products including furniture, jewelry and video games, is on now through Dec. 20, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said today in a statement. It isn’t valid on Apple Inc.’s iPod and iPad devices.  Wal-Mart is looking to win back customers in the U.S., where sales at stores open at least a year have declined for five straight quarters. Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke said last month that confidence among consumers, whose spending accounts for about 70 percent of the U.S. economy, is “not very positive” because of high unemployment. <Bloomberg>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Bad news for the entire e-commerce sector which will now be forced to compete with similar offers.  Free shipping is once again the ante for simply being in the e-commerce game.

 

Gap Goes China - The flagships of Louis Vuitton, Ermenegildo Zegna, Cartier and other luxury retailers clustered together on Mid Huaihai Road, a premier shopping street in the heart of the city, now have a new neighbor: Gap. On Wednesday night the American retailer unveiled the first of four wholly owned Gap stores in China in Hong Kong Plaza, a high-end shopping center on Huaihai. A launch party included speeches from regional executives and a fashion show featuring the 2010 holiday collection. The flagship will open to the public today. Two stores will open in Beijing — a two-story flagship in the AMP building on Wangfujing Street and a smaller space in Chaobai City, a regional shopping center — on Saturday and another flagship in the next several weeks on Nanjing West Road in the Venture Tech building in Shanghai in what executives say is a part of an ambitious plan to take Gap Inc. global. In October, Gap Inc., which will also open stores in Italy by the end of the year, said it expects international and online sales to account for 25 percent of revenues by 2013. Those areas accounted for 12 percent in 2009. The retailer’s chief executive officer, Glenn Murphy, has been at the forefront of the company’s global road map. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: With Gap looking to double its international exposure over the next 3 years, it’s no surprise that China will be a key market in which to grow.  While in theory margins should be higher outside of the domestic market, we still wonder how much investment/infrastructure spend will be needed to operate a multi-country, multi-language business across the globe.

 

Seven Turns Ten - Seven For All Mankind, whose founding in 2000 was a key milestone in the development of premium denim, is marking its 10th anniversary with a limited edition capsule collection, an oversize coffee-table tome and a series of events with magazine partners. The VF Corp.-owned label is issuing a line of anniversary jeans that accentuates its modern, classic aesthetic and is inspired by the clean lines of Southern California’s mid-century Case Study Houses. Each of the five styles for men and women, dubbed Case Study Denim, feature updated interpretations of Seven For All Mankind’s signature design elements, with prices ranging from $255 to $750. The collection is available in the company’s freestanding stores this week. Seven For All Mankind operates 39 stores in the U.S., with another 76 owned and partner-operated stores overseas. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Oh the irony of selling $750 denim to promote the brand’s 10th anniversary while at the same time the core business remains under substantial pricing pressure.  We would not expect this PR event to help the situation.

 

Top-Line Strength at Mizuno - Mizuno Corp. saw its second-quarter profit nearly double, thanks to strong sales in Europe and North and South America. The athletic company, based in Osaka, Japan, said Wednesday its net income for the period ended Sept. 30 was 1.78 billion yen, or $21.6 million at current exchange, a 91 percent improvement over 931 million yen, or $11.3 million, in the same period last year. Revenues from Europe and North and South America more than doubled, on a currency neutral basis. However, revenues from Japan, Asia and Australia nearly halved. As a result, total group revenue stayed flat at 76.2 billion yen, or $923 million, compared to a year ago. The company said sales of sports shoes, especially running shoes, were strong in the quarter, and that it is seeing a strong recovery in the golf business. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Another positive data point for technical running which is in-line with recent comments from Saucony.

 

Acra Focus on Plus-Size Bridal Category - Plus-size brides can’t get any respect. Just ask Yukia Walker. When Walker was shopping for a wedding gown three-and-a-half years ago, she suffered one insult after another. Walker got the cold shoulder from retailers that didn’t stock dresses for her size 20 frame. Stores didn’t have samples in her size, so she was forced to try on dresses with the backs cut out. “It was a very humiliating and humbling experience,” Walker said. “My sister had to try on my wedding gowns for me. It was very disheartening. I had to get a size 16 and go on a crash diet. I ended up with a wedding gown that I hate. ” After her experience, Walker decided to fill what she perceived as a major gap in the market. In September, she opened Curvaceous Couture, a 5,000-square-foot bridal salon in Columbia, Md., that specializes in sizes 16 to 32. Curvaceous Couture sells brands such as Ian Stewart, Enzoani, and Pronovias. Prices start at $1,000. “We give customers the opportunity to try on styles that actually fit them,” Walker said. “When you’re making a sizable investment, it’s embarrassing to have to endure such humiliations as not finding dress samples in your size.” While lower-priced lines for plus-size brides exist, high-end bridal collections in large sizes are scarce. “The luxury market has generally shied away from big sizes,” Walker said. “We’re interested in partnering with [the brides] and making them feel beautiful and special so they come away with a positive experience.” <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Another attempt to capitalize on the plus-size niche but this time may be different.  Pop-culture reality TV show, “Say Yes To Dress”, might actually help jumpstart the efforts of Curvaceous Couture. 

 

Men's Accessory Demand Robust - Accessories are a popular add-on item for men seeking a quick update of their styles. As a result, retailers are highlighting the category with more offerings and enhanced presentations — and the investment seems to be paying off. Saks Fifth Avenue last month introduced a new accessories outpost on the sixth floor of its flagship, with expanded assortments of Tod’s, Gucci and Ferragamo leather goods as well as watches and jewelry. Large leather goods, such as briefcases from Ferragamo and Mont Blanc, have been among the top performers. “We’re getting a nice lift from leather bags and leather goods,” said Tom Ott, Saks’ senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear. “Guys today are looking for the correct kind of bag to go with their lifestyle.”  In the past, men were content to make do with their outdated, worn leather pieces. “But now we see a renewed interest in all shapes and sizes of small leather goods, as well as exotics,” Ott said. Although the price of exotic skins such as alligator may be high, “if it’s a great make and a great skin, a guy will spend. Before the recession, if it just had a great name it would sell; now it has to have a great name and a great make.” Ott predicted that the category will continue to gain in importance. “The younger male consumer is very fashion-aware, and he wants to accessorize correctly,” he said. “This is a trend you saw in women’s wear first, but now men are embracing it too.” <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: We question just how much demand for large men’s leather goods is coming from domestic consumers – chances are that foreign based tourists are capitalizing on currency arb much like what we’re seeing with luxury watch sales of late.

 

Fortune 500 Doubles Use of Twitter - America’s biggest corporations have dramatically increased their participation in Twitter, according to “The Fortune 500 and Social Media,” a yearly report from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Three in five Fortune 500 companies now have an active Twitter account, compared with 35% in 2009. This is even more than the number that have Facebook accounts, at 56%. More than a third of the companies with Twitter accounts regularly responded to consumers with @ replies or retweets within a brief period of time, making a solid effort to engage the 26 million US adults eMarketer estimates use Twitter at least monthly. <emarketer>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: With the top 100 companies accounting for 39% of last year's accounts, adoption among the ranks between 200-500 drove growth in 2010. It's no surprise that specialty retail with 23 companies was the industry most strongly represented.

 

R3: WMT, RL, TRU, GPS - R3 11 11 10

 

Groupon’s Coupons - Facing steep competition from sites like LivingSocial, BuyWithMe and flash sale merchants like Gilt Groupe that are entering the local deal market, daily deals behemoth Groupon.com is attempting to simplify the process for merchants to redeem its local deal coupons called Groupons. It’s doing it with a free bar code scanning app for mobile devices using Google Inc.’s Android operating platform that enables merchants’ staff to use a smartphone’s built-in camera to scan and redeem Groupons presented by customers. Groupon says it plans to launch a similar app for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPod Touch and will soon ship as part of a special merchant promotion Android phones and iPod Touches preloaded with the Groupon app to thousands of affiliated businesses. When an employee uses the app to scan a Groupon coupon, purchase data is immediately transmitted to the merchant’s interface on Groupon.com, allowing business owners to track redemption and the total amount spent by a customer, Groupon says. Groupon may be giving its merchants a little extra TLC because it’s feeling heat from new competitors looking to tap its successful business model. Groupon, one of the first in the space, takes a hefty 50% cut of each coupon sold, according to its web site. It takes a lower 30% for deals promoted through Groupon stores—virtual storefronts where merchants can run their own deals. Stores are different from traditional Groupon offers because consumers must choose to follow a store.  <internetretailer>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: As the coupon phenomenon continues to push towards paperless solutions, it’s no surprise to see one of the top deal concepts leading the push to gain share in the process.

 

U.S. Apparel and Textile Imports Increase in September - but the frenzied effort to restock inventories that drove substantial increases in July and August cooled somewhat. Combined shipments of apparel and textiles to the U.S. rose 16.7 percent compared with a year earlier to 5.2 billion square meter equivalents in September, the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel said Wednesday. September was the fourth highest month of textile and apparel imports in 2010. Apparel shipments were up 13.3 percent to 2.5 billion SME and textile shipments advanced 20.1 percent to 2.6 billion SME. The overall trade deficit narrowed to $44 billion in September from $46.5 billion in August. Companies are looking to scale back their orders after rebuilding stocks in recent months, said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight. Combined imports from China rose 22.1 percent to 2.7 billion SME, with apparel up 12.5 percent to 1.2 billion SME and textile increasing 31.8 percent to 1.4 billion SME. Shipments of textiles and apparel from Vietnam rose 27.1 percent to 252 million SME, with apparel gaining 22.8 percent to 177 million SME and textiles up 38.5 percent to 75 million SME. Mexico increased its industry imports 21.4 percent to 235 million SME, as apparel rose 7.6 percent to 79 million SME and textiles climbed 29.9 percent to 155 million SME. A number of countries had import increases driven by apparel shipments. Honduras saw combined imports rise 35.8 percent to 118 million SME and Haiti’s shipments increased 28.4 percent to 29 million SME. Apparel imports from Cambodia increased 14.7 percent to 99 million SME and shipments from El Salvador advanced 37.5 percent to 79 million SME. Shipments of textiles and apparel rose from all of the top 10 U.S. suppliers, except South Korea, which saw imports decline 20.4 percent to 101 million SME. The top five apparel suppliers in September were China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Honduras. China was also the largest textile supplier, followed by India, Pakistan, Mexico and South Korea. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Keep in mind this is a substantial deceleration from the August rate of +29% reflecting retailers push to restock earlier than usual driven by transportation cost inflation fears. We expect a continued sequential deceleration with inventories now at higher year-over-year levels coupled withretailer interest in avoiding excess buildup.

 

China Shoe Manufacturer Migration - The number of shoe manfacturers in Wenzhou city has dropped to current 3035 from 4,000 at the peak period as companies in other inland cities such as Hebei, Henan and Hunan can produce cheaper products. According to China Leather Industry Association, the shoemaking industry in inland areas recorded a rapid growth that challenges the position of shoemakers in Wenzhou. Due to lower costs of labor and water and power supply, shoemakers in inland areas gain more market share of the low-end shoe market in China. The size of the shoemaking industry in Wenzhou has continued to shrink for several years. More than a thousand shoe manufacturers have been shut down over the past seven years. <FashionNetAsia.

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Production flight out of Wenzhou has been swift with 25% shifting inland and cross borders. The city’s likely to see further contraction with future volume primarily driven by increased demand in Vietnam, Indonesia and other neighboring countries.

 

Pakistan Government Criticized for Raising Petroleum Prices - The Pakistan government is condemned by the Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PLGMEA) for raising the rates of petroleum products by 9%. The already weakened export sector is confronted with a number of issues including that of acute power cut, deteriorating law and order conditions and rising prices of raw materials. The government’s decision of raising the rates of petroleum products has further distressed the industry. Moreover, as most of the times the garment units provide transportation facility to their workers, this rise in prices of petroleum products would certainly raise the transportation cost. Also, the leather garment factories use some of the chemical solutions which are obtained from petroleum products, due to which the production cost is bound to rise. A year-on-year hike of 50% in leather exports during the third quarter of the current year, has greatly elevated the prices of leather garment exports. Meanwhile, massive floods in the country have also claimed lives of a number of animals, leading to scarcity of raw hides and skins. <FasionNetAsia>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: As the saying goes - when it rains, it pours. Despite having the ability to curb mounting pressures on Pakistan’s leather industry with subsidies it looks like input costs for luxury brands are only headed higher near-term.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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