Robust Germany

Position: Long Germany (EWG); Short Euro (FXE), Short Italy (EWI), Short Spain (EWP)


Germany’s fundamentals and capital markets continue to signal a positive divergence versus most of its European peers, however we caution that the DAX is approaching an immediate term TRADE overbought level (see chart below).  


Robust Germany - h1


From a fundamental standpoint we continue to emphasize just how important Germany’s fiscal conservatism is as a differentiating factor versus its debt and deficit laden peers, the PIIGS in particular, which we believe has contributed to its equity outperformance (chart below).


Robust Germany - h2


Germany’s deficit is projected at 3.7% of GDP this year, according to the German Finance Ministry, with public debt at 75.5%.  In comparison, most PIIGS are pushing deficit-to-GDP levels near low double digit figures with debt-to-GDP near or above 100%. As Reinhart and Rogoff examine in their work “This Time Is Different”, which examines sovereign default over the last 800 years, there are two important metrics used to indicate when a government is reaching the crisis zone of fiscal imbalance: debt-to-GDP north of 90% and deficit-to-GDP north of 10%.


It therefore comes with no great surprise that based on YTD equity performance alone, the market is rewarding those countries that have not violated these critical fiscal levels. Germany is certainly one standout. On the credit side, we continue to see elevated yields (though off their highs) for the PIIGS.  As we noted in previous works, despite the bailouts of Greece and Ireland, we expect yields to remain elevated over the intermediate to longer term as the Sovereign Debt Dichotomy plays out in Europe, which will further hamstring peripheral countries that require debt servicing to meet their fiscal imbalances.



German Data


Returning to German fundamentals, the data (while admittedly a bit stale), presents a positive picture.


German Industrial Production reported today showed a +11.7% year-over-year gain in October, or +2.0% gain over the previous month. Reported yesterday, German Factory Orders rose +1.6% in October month-over-month, or +17.9% year-over-year. Here we’d note the comp of -8.2% in October 2009, and caution that comparisons will get more difficult into year-end (see chart).


Robust Germany - h3


German Export and Import figures for October were also released today and showed a contraction in Exports of -1.1% in October month-over-month, while Imports rose +0.3% versus the previous month.  Despite the “wet Kleenex” for October exports, Germany’s exporting base looks poised to remain strong into year-end.


Further, German consumer and business confidence surveys have looked strong over recent months, as has Manufacturing and Services PMI, bolstered by an unemployment picture that has improved nearly every month over the last year. Unemployment currently stands at 7.5% in Germany versus 10.1% in the Eurozone or such extremes at 20.7% in Spain or 13.6% in Ireland. 


The German Economic Ministry recently revised its GDP forecasts up to 3.4% in 2010 and 1.8% in 2011. For comparison, the only other countries that will see growth in this area code in Europe are: Poland 3.20% in 2010 and 3.50% in 2011; and Sweden 4.35% in 2010 and 3.15% in 2011, according to Bloomberg estimates.


Today we shorted Spain (via the etf EWP) in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio with the IBEX 35 rebounding off another dead-cat bounce.  Spain remains broken on immediate TRADE and intermediate term TREND durations, and we believe will likely be the on the near horizon to need European and international assistance to contain its fiscal imbalances.


Matthew Hedrick








Global Pipeline and Owned Portfolio

  • 72-73 hotel openings this year
  • Building owner preference to own more hotels
    • HOT booking channels generate a large % of hotel room nights- especially corporate room nights
    • Yield management system
    • HOT marketing efforts
    • Brand recognition allows them to diversify the origin base of guests for hotels
  • Pipeline
    • 5.4% CAGR in operating rooms since 2004
    • Largest relative growth potential out of their competitive set.  Their pipeline represents 28% of their existing room base.
      • HLT's pipeline is 22% of their base
      • Hyatt's is 21%
      • MAR's is 16%
    • Four Points is well positioned as a conversion brand for Western Europe and NA.  This brand is also well positioned for primary and secondary cities in emerging markets
  • Owned real estate portfolio and strategy to maximize value
    • 21,000 room/ 62 hotels
    • 85% wholly owned
    • Remain committed to asset light
    • Mostly in NA, and in urban markets which protect them from supply growth as these are higher barriers to entry markets
  • Maximizing shareholder value - owned portfolio
    • 60% don't require a lot of capex and are relatively easy to sell
      • Sheraton on the Park in Sydney (considered offers for the asset in 2009 but prices didn't meet expectations and this year will achieve peak earnings levels)
      • St. Regis San Fran
      • St. Regis Rome
      • St. Regis NY
      • Park Tower
      • The Phoenician
      • W Chicago
      • Westin Excelsior Florence
      • Westin Excelsior Rome
      • Sheraton Gateway Toronto
      • Sheraton Centre Toronto
      • Sheraton Maria Isabel
      • Sheraton BA
    • 25% need a lot of capex
      • St. Regis Aspen which was just sold is a good example- needed a renovation - sold for $70MM to an owner that was willing to invest in the asset
      • Grand Florence
      • Gritti Palace
      • W New Orleans
      • W Chicago - Lakeshore
      • Westin Gaslamp
      • Westin St. John
      • Westin Cancun
      • Sheraton Kauai
      • Sheraton Steamboat
    • 15% of hotels are very large and would meaningfully benefit from a repositioning and redevelopment - may need a partner
      • Manhattan at Times Square is a good example (was Sheraton Manhattan) - unclear that a hotel is the highest and best use for this hotel
      • Sheraton Rio
      • Westin Peachtree
      • Westin Maui

Summary and Financial Update

  • Since 2000 they have sold 110 hotels for $7.5BN
  • For 10 years, 70% of their business came from the US; now 62% of their business is international
    • Added 338 mgm'd and franchised hotels (79k rooms) since 2000, 70% (55k rooms) outside the US
    • Expect to drive 80% of profits outside the US eventually
  • Launched new brands:
    • W in 1998
    • Westin Heavenly launch 1999
    • Sheraton Revitalization (2007)
    • Launch of Aloft and Element (2008)
  • Targets of their transformations:
    • Higher growth trajectory
    • Lower cyclicality
    • Higher margins
    • Higher capital efficiency
    • Superior cash flow generation
  • 50% of their Luxury brands are located outside the US and 52% of their UUP brands are internationally located.  This is very hard to replicate.
  • WHY HOT?
    • Largest international presence
    • Huge pipeline
    • High value owned hotel portfolio
    • Best global team
    • Secular demand growth in EM
    • Low supply growth in developed market
    • Cash flow generation ability
  • Value of their owned portfolio:
    • Cap rate using average (04-08 NOI)
      • 5.5% = $5.6BN
    • Using per keys: $275k/room = $5.7BN; $325k/room = $6.7BN
    • If they sold these hotels, they could still retain ~$80MM in fees, creating another $1BN of value
    • SVO can continue to generate $150-200MM of cash flow for them assuming one note sale per year
    • Bal Harbour is their largest non-cash flow generating asset on their balance sheet
      • 307 residential units
      • Have 141 contracts in place with 20% deposits
      • On track for certificate of occupancy by Oct 2011
      • Invested $450MM by YE 2010 and expect to spend an additional $200MM
      • Cash from deposits: $60MM, expect to net $550MM through 2013 in closing and an additional $165MM in cash flow post 2013
      • Then they will still own a 210 room St. Regis
    • Have 10,125 unconsolidated JV room, with $60MM of pro-rata share EBITDA
  • Assumptions 2011-2013:
    • RevPAR: 7-9%
    • Margin improvement: 450-600bps (cumulative)
    • Earnings growth: 16-20%
    • 1% (+/-) RevPAR CAGR: -/+ $35-40MM of owned/ leased earnings through 2013
    • Base mgmt fee growth: 7-9%
    • Incentive fee growth: 10-13%
    • Franchise fee growth: 7-9%
    • Net room growth:  3-5%
    • Total fee revenue fee growth: 10-12%
    • VOI: flat originated sales and flat operating income growth
    • Timeshare capital spend: $80-100MM and cash flow: $450-600MM [cumulative]
    • Bal Harbour net cash flow: $350-400MM [cumulative]
    • SVO/Bal Harbour Net Cash Flow: $800-1BN [cumulative]
  • So they think they can get to $1.25BN -$1.375BN EBITDA by 2013 and EPS of $2.70-$3.20
  • 2010 Ending Cash flow: $500MM
    • + 3 yr estimated hotel operating CF ($2.3-2.5BN)
    • + 3 year CF from SVO/Bal Harbour ($800MM-1BN)
    • - Capex ($800-$900MM)
    • - Cash taxes & Interest ($900MM-1BN) =
    • $1.9-2.1BN of cash flow + asset sales =
    • Funds for growth/ debt reduction/ returning cash to shareholders
  • Already received $140MM of tax refund money - and expect to get the remaining $90MM before year end
  • Goal is to get to 3.0x leverage from an estimated 4.4x at 12/31/2010 - that equates to about $1.2BN of debt reduction


  • Assumptions: 7-9% RevPAR growth with 6% coming from ADR why only 150bps of margin expansion?
    • There are inflation and cost pressure
  • Why such a low incentive fee recovery?
    • In international markets they are more tied to top line
    • In NA, F&B and other revenues lag RevPAR typically
  • In Asia, the demand for key money is a lot lower
  • Don't have to give as much key money in general now than they used to given their value proposition
  • Platinum SPGs visit 4 of their brands each year on average
  • Current transaction market?
    • Broad spectrum of buyers hasn't really returned yet
    • Think that for them a rifle shot approach to asset sales is the best approach for now.
    • They think a larger transaction is a little ways off just given the current environment. Most of the action are driven by large REITs looking for clean transactions with little required capex
    • Haven't seen the return of the leveraged transaction - but think asset values will move up a lot when and if the leverage market returns
  • Have 140 units under contract; prices are in the range of 1,000/psf.  Assume that they will not close all 140 units, but that sales will continue for a few years
  • Vast majority of hotel in the china pipeline are under construction - there is plenty of financing. In the rest of Asia - financing is also not really an issue. Owners are either high net worth or conglomerates.
  • In NA and Western Europe are where they are using more of their capital to support the pipeline. Have a lot of conversion opportunities.
  • 70% of customers in their Chinese hotels are Chinese
  • Think that any upside to their projections will come primarily from rate
  • Why no SVO growth?
    • Will only invest money where they are confident there is demand
  • With the hotels that require a large reposition (15% of rooms) they will wait until they find the right partner given the capex requirement
  • Their intent is to preserve their NOLs

Gold Break: Gold Levels, Refreshed...

POSITION: No position in Gold (GLD)


I sold our entire gold position in both the Hedgeye Asset Allocation Model and in Hedgeye’s Virtual Portfolio on Monday, December 6th at $138.55.  This was not a popular decision.


It was an especially unpopular position given that:

  1. It is year end and everyone is long Gold
  2. It is finally consensus to see gold as a replacement currency for the Fiat Fools
  3. I was presenting in front of investors in gold country yesterday (Vancouver, BC)

Now if I was a banker, my boss probably wouldn’t have allowed me to make a bearish call on Gold ahead of meetings in front of large holders. Oops, did I just write that?  


But all TIME, PRICE, and VOLATILITY factors that supported the sell decision aside, there is a very important shift in the Hedgeye fundamental global macro view that doesn’t support the gold price making higher-highs in the immediate-term. We are long of and bullish of the US Dollar.


That position, combined with the macro calendar catalyst that Ron Paul is going to have the right to subpoena the leader of the Fiat Fools (The Ber-nank) in January gives plenty of support for a continued bid to what was a the Burning Buck. The world’s reserve currency could simply have a credibility bid associated with Americans seeing a live, two-sided, debate about what debauching the dollar really creates – the inflation.


If the US Dollar Index can remain above its intermediate-term TREND line of support ($79.49), and the Gold price remains below its immediate term TRADE line of support (1389) like it is today, there will be a heightened probability that gold breaks $1376 (see chart), then makes a move down toward its bullish intermediate-term TREND line of support at $1313. That’s not a crash, but it’s a correction that could leave a mark.


Yours in risk management,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Gold Break: Gold Levels, Refreshed...  - gold png

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Conclusion: Same-store sales growth held up in the U.S. but trends slowed in Europe and seemingly fell off a cliff in APMEA.  I think it is only a matter of time before trends slow in the U.S. as well, particularly as comparisons get more difficult come March 2011.


McDonald’s reported its November sales trends this morning, posting +4.9% comp growth in both the U.S. and Europe and +2.4% comp growth in its APMEA segment.  Relative to the ranges we provided in our preview note yesterday, we would characterize the U.S. results as GOOD and both Europe and APMEA results as BAD.  I would call the November trends in APMEA really BAD.  Looking at these reported results in terms of the street’s estimates, same-store sales growth in the U.S. came in just below the expected +5.1% growth, Europe was in line and APMEA again, missed by a wide margin relative to the street’s 6.4% estimate.


Relative to the fourth quarter, MCD also reported today that as a result of current foreign exchange rates that currency translation is expected to negatively impact earnings by $0.01 to $0.02 per share.


U.S.:  I was expecting comp trends to again slow in the U.S. in November, after decelerating in October about 250 bps on a two-year average basis from the prior month (adjusting for calendar and trading day impacts).  Instead, two-year average trends improved an impressive 140 bps from October levels.  Despite these improved trends, the reported two-year average growth of about 3.2% (again, on a calendar adjusted basis) remains below levels reported during July, August and September.  I would expect this lower level of growth to continue to be the trend in the colder months as I do not think sales of hot McCafe beverages will make up for the considerable slowdown in frappe and smoothie sales. 


Europe:  Although the +4.9% comp growth was in line with street expectations, I view the November results as BAD as they point to another month of sequential deceleration in two-year average trends after a strong September (adjusting for calendar and trading day impacts).  Two-year average trends slowed about 40 bps in November after declining about 60 bps in October.  Furthermore, two-year average growth fell below 5% in November, which, with the exception of August, has not happened since February.


APMEA:  The reported +2.4% comp growth in APMEA was both surprising and disappointing as it implies a 230 bp deceleration in two-year average trends from the October level, which had already slowed about 160 bps from September (adjusting for calendar and trading day impacts).  On a one-year basis, the +2.4% growth is the lowest reported result since December 2009.  On a two-year average basis, however, the +1.8% growth pales in comparison to the more typical +5% growth reported on average in 2010.  Prior to November, APMEA reported its lowest two-year average growth of 2010 in June (+3.5%).



Howard Penney

Managing Director





  • We also remain committed to transitioning to a business that is 80% fee driven as we continue to monetize our high value, owned hotel portfolio and complete our transformation from owning hotels to building great relationships with guests and customers”
  • “The Company’s three year financial scenario assumes a normal cyclical recovery with annual worldwide RevPAR increases of 7-9% through 2013, and would result in:
    • Annual EBITDA growth of 14-18%
    • Annual EPS growth of 35-42%
    • Excess Cash Flow of $1.7 billion to $2.2 billion (not inclusive of cash proceeds from any asset sales) over this time period
  • At today's meeting, the Company will also reaffirm its current full year guidance for 2010, which was detailed in its third quarter 2010 earnings press release.”




Opening Comments

  • Focus on a fee-based global revenue model
  • 2011 and beyond they are focused on:
    • Getting hotel profitability past peak levels (given cost cuts and limited supply growth)
      • Despite unemployment close to 10%, they are seeing occupancies close to peak levels - evidence of benefit from limited supply growth 
    • Owning their guests - not just hotels
    • Global advantage- over 80% of HOT's pipeline is outside the US, skewed towards EM 
  • 20% of their reservations come from online sources
  • Why HOT?
    • Global with well-recognized brands and a large international pipeline
      • Advantage when the balance of power and growth is shifting towards emerging markets
    • Fee-based model with little capital at risk
    • Will generate huge free cash flow 

Global Operations

  • 1,025 properties and 304,000 rooms
    • 57% of rooms in NA
    • 21% in EMEA
    • 18% in Asia Pacific
    • 4% in LA
  • 54% of rooms are managed and SVO, 39% franchised, 7% owned
  • Earnings allocations before overhead:
    • 57% fees
    • 25% owned
    • 18% SVO and other
  • In 2010 Sheraton generates 44% of HOT's fees, followed by Westin at 27%, Le Meridian at 10%, W at 6%
  • 49% of fees come from NA, 27% from EMEA, 21% from Asia Pacific, 3% in 2010
  • NA has 543 hotels with 174,126 rooms
    • Pipeline: 13,000
  • Asia Pacific has 169 hotels and 55,128 rooms
    • Pipeline: 52,000
  • EMEA has 250 hotels and 61,619 rooms
    • Pipeline: 14,000
  • Latin America has 63 hotels and 13,169 rooms
    • Pipeline: 5,000
  • Expect supply growth to be about .4% in 2011 in North America and will help drive pricing power
    • 2% supply growth is the 40 year CAGR
  • Think that their best opportunity to grow in NA is through their select service brands - a category where they are under-penetrated
    • Have 40 Alofts in NA already
  • In Asia Pacific, their operating portfolio is over 40% larger than MAR's - their second largest competitor in the region
    • In 2009, domestic trips in China were already on par with those in the US
    • HOT has 62 hotels in China compared to 48 for MAR
    • They are the largest 4/5 star hotel operator in India with 30 hotels compared to only 12 for MAR. When you add their pipeline - they will have 45 hotels in India (42 by the same metric for MAR)
  • EMEA - see a lot of conversion opportunities in Western Europe given the brand fragmentation.  Are focusing on growing their footprint in Eastern Europe through management contracts.
    • Occupancies are approaching peak levels
    • Only 34% of European hotels are branded in Europe, but 82% of the new build pipeline is under construction. In the US - 70% of hotels are branded.
    • In Africa and ME, HOT has 91 hotels compared to HLT with 46 hotels and MAR with 28 hotels. Current pipeline represents +30% unit growth.
  • In Latin America, HOT has 63 hotels open compared to 43 at HLT and 42 at MAR
  • Global Revenue Management:
    • Introducing dynamic revenue management and other tools to maximize yields
    • Sales maximization initiatives - like having a single point of contact for customers for a particular metro area
  • Lean operations - identified 5 key opportunities
    • Staff to demand
    • Consistency of management structures
    • Leverage economies of scale for procurement
    • Brand Standard rationalization
    • Sustainability
  • Food and Beverage is a big opportunity for them - $4BN of annual revenue.  Feel that they can drive additional growth in this area by optimizing menu pricing and have a better product to keep guest $$ at the property
    • In Asia - 40% of hotel revenues come from F&B.  They manage all the restaurants at their hotels, which have over 40% profit margins for F&B. 

Global Brands

  • Basically went through defining the target market for each of their brands and some of the new concepts like - green design and heavenly bed
  • HOT is the most global branded hotel company
  • 1/2 customers are Starwood Preferred Guests
  • In 2010, 200bps market share gain for Sheraton brand in China



December 8, 2010






  • Is “big and tall” the next “big” growth concept in retail?  After Casual Male announced a collaboration with Sears and JC Penney announced its intentions to build a freestanding big and tall concept, Men’s Warehouse now plans to test a few freestanding stores.  While MW already has a $300 million business serving this growing customer segment, this “test” will represent the company’s first efforts at running stores with a dedicated big and tall product offering.
  • AutoZone noted that the company’s acceleration in same store sales was likely due to two key factors.  First, the extended warm weather trends that carried into the fall were favorable for DIY auto purchases.  Second, the extended macroeconomic malaise continues to be a key factor in consumers holding onto their vehicles longer and as such require more maintenance.
  • With holiday e-commerce sales up 12% so far (Nov 1-Dec 3), there is clear bifurcation between the performance of the larger retailers vs. the smaller ones.  Market share for the top 25 largest online retailers has increased by 6% so far this holiday season, topping out at 68% of the overall market.  Sales growth for the top 25 retailers has been about 20% while small and medium sized business have been trending flat. 



Break Up at Fortune Brands - Fortune Brands Inc., facing pressures from an activist shareholder, announced plans to either sell or spin off its Acushnet Company golf unit, which includes Titleist and FootJoy. The company will also spin off its home and security unit to shareholders in a tax-free transaction while keeping its distilled spirits business. Fortune Brands said its Board has directed management to develop detailed separation plans for consideration and final approval by the Board. The company expects to complete development of these plans - including the structure, timing, and other related matters for each business - within the next several months. "We are taking the next logical step in the evolution of Fortune Brands, which we believe will maximize long-term value for our shareholders and create exciting opportunities within our businesses," said Bruce Carbonari, chairman and chief executive officer of Fortune Brands. "Today's announcement is the result of an ongoing strategic review process conducted by the Board and management over the past four years that included regular evaluation of separating the businesses at the right time to serve the best interests of our shareholders. While the breadth and balance of our portfolio have served shareholders very well, we see the potential for even greater value by separating our businesses into focused companies at a time when they have emerged from the economic downturn in such strong positions. We believe now is the right time to move ahead with this tax-efficient approach, and we're confident the course we've outlined today generates greater potential long-term value than all other alternatives." <SportsOneSource>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Expect the common denominator of Bill Ackman to add confidence to those who believe he will have success influencing change at JCP.  Unfortunately, JCP’s same store sales appear to be accelerating which makes a true case for change (be it strategic or management) less credible. 


Wal-Mart Plans to End Extra Pay in U.S. for Sunday Shifts - Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest private employer in the U.S., plans to stop paying staff there an additional $1 an hour for working Sundays, taking a bite out of its single biggest expense.  The move, which takes effect next year, applies only to employees hired after Jan. 1, spokesman Greg Rossiter said in an interview yesterday. The move wouldn’t affect the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer’s 1.4 million current U.S. staff. Since taking over almost two years ago, Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke has pledged to slow cost growth as the retailer copes with six straight quarters of sales declines at U.S. stores open at least a year. Operating expenses rose to about $80 billion last year, partly because of health benefits. “It’s sad -- people who work on Sunday need that extra dollar,” Cynthia Murray, a Wal-Mart employee at a supercenter in Laurel, Maryland, said in an interview. Murray said she makes $11.20 an hour, and doesn’t work Sundays. The move won’t apply to employees based in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, who weren’t eligible for the extra pay owing to state employment laws, Rossiter said. The retailer has 49 stores in Massachusetts and 10 in Rhode Island as of this month, according to its website. The change will take effect at Wal- Mart stores, Sam’s Club outlets and warehouses. <Bloomberg>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: While prudent cost cutting is necessary to protect WMT’s bottom line in the wake of a sluggish topline, we wonder if the negative PR associated with this announcement is actually worth it.  Happy employees usually equal happy customers.  Will there now be a growing riff between new and old employees working on Sundays given the wage discrepancy? 


Jessica Simpson Brand Expands into Sportswear - The Jones Group has partnered with Camuto Group to design sportswear for the Jessica Simpson Collection for fall 2011. The line, retailing from $39 to $129, will include jackets, woven and knit bottoms, tops, dresses and skirts. The apparel will be available at specialty and department stores in the U.S. and Canada.<LicenseMag>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: What few realize is that Simpson’s fashion company made close to $1Bn this past year and has quickly become a major brand at retail. With product across 20+ categories including shoes, jeans, swimwear, watches, and fragrance, a sportswear line is the next logical progression particularly with Jones and Camuto – both of which are current licensees of Simpson’s other lines.


Hermes Seeks Exemption- Hermès has filed a request with France’s market regulator AMF to be exempted from the obligation to launch an initial public offering for the company after grouping more than 50 percent of its capital into a nonlisted holding company, an Hermès spokeswoman said Tuesday. The company made the move after a family meeting last Friday to discuss how to fend off a potential takeover by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which in October surprised the market by revealing it had built a 17.1 percent stake in the maker of Birkin bags and silk scarves. Hermès subsequently clarified that the creation of the nonlisted holding company was conditional on the AMF granting it a full exemption from rules that oblige anyone crossing the threshold of a third of capital or voting rights to bid for the remaining shares on the market. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Yet another chapter in the LVMH soap opera saga.  Didn’t LVMH say this was a passive investment?  Certainly seems more complicated.


Vera Wang to Launch Cosmetics With Kohl's - Vera Wang is making the move into cosmetics at the mass level. Kohl’s Corp., which renewed its long-term license to manufacture and market Simply Vera Vera Wang merchandise, plans to expand the brand into cosmetics by spring 2012. The branded cosmetics line will include makeup and color, skin care, bath and body products and beauty accessories, available exclusively at Kohl’s stores nationwide and“As part of my incredible partnership with Kohl’s, I will now be able to offer women all over America my own personal regimen for skin care and makeup,” said Wang. “It is an easy, light, modern and effortless approach to beauty and creativity. Like fashion, makeup is also transformational. I love the artistry of makeup to accentuate, enhance or create a mood for any time of day or occasion.”First licensed to Kohl’s in 2006, the Simply Vera Vera Wang lifestyle collection includes all women’s apparel, intimates and sleepwear, handbags, leather accessories, jewelry, footwear, bedding and bath. Kohl’s private brands, which accounted for 48 percent of sales in the third quarter of 2010, have become an increasingly important part of the store’s strategy. According to Kohl’s, since its launch in 2007, Simply Vera Vera Wang has consistently been a strong performer and is the leading exclusive brand in its women’s contemporary category.<WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: While a new category for Vera, this category extension (if successful) should be a nice margin enhancer to the company’s cosmetic efforts.  Already amongst the higher margin products, Wang’s private/exclusive label product is sure add some excitement to the category and Kohl’s itself.   This also marks the beginning of what we expect will be a string of announcements pertaining to exclusive merchandise distribution for 2011.


Men's Wearhouse Slated Big & Tall Test - The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. is the latest retailer to jump more aggressively into the big and tall business. The Houston-based firm revealed Tuesday that it will test freestanding big and tall stores, beginning with three units, under the Men’s Wearhouse name early next year. Doug Ewert, president, said the company currently has a $300 million business in extended sizes, and year-to-date growth is 40 percent higher in these categories than in the regular-size business. “We are not new to big and tall and have built this business over the last three decades,” he said. “We believe we have a strong brand among big and tall customers.” The company didn’t provide any further details about the locations or mix for the stores.  <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: It was only a matter of time. After Casual Male’s success in testing its DXL concept in 2010 and  recent announcement to ramp doors aggressively from 4 test locations this year to 75-100 by 2015 – it looks we have another store growth race on our hands outside of sporting goods.


Amazon punches back at Google’s eBookstore - Yesterday Google Inc. launched a direct attack on’s Kindle store with the opening of the eBookstore, which sells e-books that are accessible from just about any web-enabled computer or mobile phone. And today punched back. Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, today expanded Kindle for the Web to allow anyone with access to a web browser to buy and read full Kindle books without requiring a download or installation of a Kindle application. The offering previously allowed consumers to read for free first chapters of Kindle books through web browsers <Internet Retailer>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Another step towards an “open” system of distribution for ebooks.  Expect Barnes & Noble to follow suit.


Deckers Sues Emu For Infringing on Trademark - Deckers Outdoor Corporation filed a trademark infringement suit Tuesday in United States District Court in the Central District of California against Emu Australia, Inc. and Emu (Aus) Pty Ltd. Deckers is seeking a Court order to stop Emu from using its trademarks. Deckers filed a similar lawsuit against Bearpaw last month. According to Angel Martinez, Deckers Chairman and CEO, "The success of UGG Australia has created an entire industry of companies that market their wares by deliberately confusing consumers. Emu's trademark infringement is intentionally misleading consumers into believing they are buying a genuine UGG Australia product when in fact, they are not." <SportsOneSource>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Between recent customs support and ruling on the eBay vs. Tiffany case, the clear message to brands is that they have to support efforts to protect trademarks out of their own pocket. Deckers is leading the charge doing just that and aggressively.


Dior Reopens 57th Street Flagship  - With its 57th Street flagship reopening this week, Christian Dior is making the ultimate statement for all things Français.The 5,000-square-foot, two-story boutique, which was closed for five months during renovations, is returning with a complete makeover in the spirit of the iconic Dior boutique on Avenue Montaigne in Paris. The opening comes with the same amount of fanfare Dior had when it first introduced the Peter Marino-designed store concept at its landmark Paris store in 2007. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief Bernard Arnault, Dior president and chief executive officer Sidney Toledano and designer John Galliano are in town for the celebrations; the house planned two dinners; Natalie Portman will light the store facade tonight, and a cocktail party to introduce the store is expected to draw Liv Tyler, Amy Adams, Chace Crawford and Dior model Karlie Kloss. The notables at the party and dinners, as well as shoppers who will be able to see the store on Saturday when it officially opens, will find an uncompromisingly French showcase for Dior’s entire assortment, including ready-to-wear, accessories such as handbags and shoes, a separate salon for fine jewelry and special VIP rooms. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Just in time for the holidays – could Dior be next on the list for LVMH’s Arnault?


China: October leather exports, production and shoemaking show promising growth- China’s leather exports posted a year on year increase of 38.2% in October and 33% in the first ten months, with the value reaching US$ 43.5 billion, as compared to a decrease 7.3% in the previous year. Importantly, the industry saw a growth of 27.7% in value in October, 1.7% less from previous month. The import value for the first ten months reached US$ 5.03 billion, up 36.1% year on year. <FashionNetAsia>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: With export growth exceeding the YTD rate, but value down sequentially and wages on the rise, manufacturers are clearly getting squeezed – you can bet retailers are feeling the ripple effect as well.




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