NKE: Someone Woke up the Bear

Great quarter. We still like it and have numbers that are 15-20% ahead of the Street. But a legitimate bear case arose from the quarter. We won’t ignore its existence. But rather will monitor it and point to entry/exit points on a high conviction name.


I’ve had one big multi-stage reaction to Nike’s print.

1)      Upper. Better than expected print. Nike prints $0.94 vs the Street at $0.88. We were at $0.96, but the differential was largely below the line and SG&A. Clean profit algorithm of 9.9% revenue growth, and levers it to 12% Gross Profit growth, and 24% EPS growth, respectively. North American futures accelerated AGAIN to 16%. Slight weakness in other regions on the margins, but more than made up in the US.  Remember what Nike’s stock did 13 weeks ago when US Futures went to 14%?

2)      Downer: On the flip side, as we outlined in our preview ("NKE: It's All on Nike U.S." posted 12/21) the set-up for Europe and parts of Asia is not a good one heading into ’11. Check out that note to see changes in consumer confidence, retail sales metrics, and GDP trends on the margin. Nike appears to be tracking those broader consumer trends to some degree with Western Europe, Eastern/Central Europe and China all decelerating on the margin by 300-500 basis points. Interestingly, while China decelerated, Japan turned up. Given that Japan has been a disaster for almost everyone in retail for years, this is a bit of good news. But there have been many many head fakes, and given the lack of growth in the economy in Japan, it will take well more than a quarter to establish a trend.

3)      Reality. The reality is that this company has proven time and time again that when one part of the portfolio ebbs, another will flow. That’s exactly what we have today. The difference is that in yesteryears, it was always Europe, Asia and The Americas that offset lackluster growth in the US.  Today we have the US growing at a blistering pace, and offsetting any weakness in other regions. This throws a powerful ‘what if’ into the equation.


What If???? The risk with where Nike stands today is that the US business needs to stay strong – else any weakness in Europe, Asia and Americas will be more transparent and even perhaps problematic. Remember, we have to start to deal with World Cup hangover in another two quarters.  The good news is that the US business is at the very start of a major R&D/product cycle that should last well into 2012. Our confidence level there remains very high, as outlined in our past research. Also Nike has a lot in its back pocket to mitigate gross margin pressure in its business from raw material cost inflation.


But regardless of what we think, a bear call exists, and it sounds something like this…”This company has been a solid global top line and gross margin improvement story, but now key regions have shown weakness on the margin. Inventories have built on the margin. In F3Q (Feb) we will be feeling the effects of the ‘Consumption Cannonball’ where real consumption turns negative.  Immediately thereafter Nike – and the whole industry – will have to comp World Cup. Yes, Nike has the balance sheet to buy stock on weakness, and also has recently stepped up acquisition strategy. But a story that morphs from a ‘robust top line and GM% improvement story’ into a ‘top line/acquisition and SG&A leverage story w stock repo as a kicker’ is not enough to keep its multiple in check.


With short interest near historic lows, and the sell-side universally bullish on this name, it is not a major surprise that the stock is down today.


But all that said – we’re coming out at $1.25 for 3Q, and our sense is that the Street ultimately shakes out closer to a buck. Same order of magnitude for the FY11 and FY12.


The bottom line is that we may be entering a period where Nike’s volatility kicks up a couple of notches, which we think will be a potentially good opportunity for those who have been telling us that they ‘missed it.’


NKE: Someone Woke up the Bear - NKE UTube Q2 1 12 10

NKE: Someone Woke up the Bear - NKE UTube Q2 2 12 10

NKE: Someone Woke up the Bear - NKE UTube Q2 3 12 10

NKE: Someone Woke up the Bear - NKE UTube Q2 4 12 10




Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall

This note contains four parts:

1. Existing Homes

2. MBA Purchase Applications Fall

3. Hovnanian Comments on Housing Market

4. Campell/IMF Survey Shows Rising Rates Pull Demand Forward


1. Existing Home Sales Rise 5.6%, Less Than Expected

Expectations were high going into today's Existing Home Sales print.  After Pending Home Sales rose 10% last month, consensus was for a roughly 7% increase in Existing Homes.  Existing Homes typically lag Pending by 1-2 months.  A recent Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance survey suggests that the immediate impact of rising rates is to pull forward demand among first-time homebuyers.  We summarize this survey at the end of this note.  


Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall - existing


The median price of existing homes held steady MoM and eked out a slight gain YoY.  Median prices are not seasonally adjusted.  The November MoM increase of 0.1% compares to an average change for November of -0.1%.   August, September and January are historically the weakest months.


Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall - existing median price


On a year-over-year basis, existing home sales continue to decelerate.  The YoY comparison is lapping the expiration of the first homebuyers' tax credit in November 2009, and will look much better next month. 


Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall - existing YoY


Inventory declined sequentially to 3.71 million units from 3.86 million.  Months of supply fell to 9.5 months, a sequential improvement but still an elevated level.  


Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall - existing inventory


Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall - existing months supply


2. MBA Purchase Applications Fall as Refinance Applications Take Another Nose-Dive

MBA Purchase Applications fell 2.5% week-over-week on a seasonally adjusted basis, while Refinance Applications dove 24.6% in response to higher rates.  Seasonal adjustment factors tend to dominate the week-over-week fluctuations in Purchase Applications in the last few weeks of the year.


Rates remained higher for the week, but didn't rise further.  MBA mortgage rates rose 1 bp versus last week to 4.85%.  BankRate 30 year mortgage rates made a similar move, falling 3 bps versus a week ago to 4.97%. The sharp increase over the last several weeks has taken a clear toll on refinance activities, but purchase applications are much less affected thus far.  


Taking a step back as we head into year-end, mortgage application volume for 2010 is tracking approximately 24% lower than 2009 levels.


Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall - shark chart


Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall - mortgage rates


Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall - refi chart


Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall - shark chart long term


Are Rising Rates Pulling Housing Demand Forward? Existing Home Sales Rise, Purchase Apps Fall - shark YoY


3. Hovnanian Comments on 'Challenging' Environment

Hovnanian reported its 4Q results last night.  We will look for more detail in their call later this morning, but their commentary from the press release is illuminating.  


"In spite of strong long-term demographics, the current housing market remains quite challenging. The combination of a lackluster job market and high foreclosure activity is clearly having a dampening effect on the housing market. The only silver lining is that we continue to find land acquisition opportunities which we believe will yield appropriate returns at today's home prices and sales paces. Even without a general housing recovery, we are optimistic that as the percentage of deliveries from newly identified communities increases, our overall performance should continue to improve." 


4. Survey Shows Rising Rates Pull Demand Forward in the Short-term

A survey conducted by Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance showed that the backup in mortgage rates pulled demand forward for some buyers.  Purchase share of first-time buyers rose to 37.2% in November from 34.4% in October, while fewer existing homeowners bought homes (42.9% in November versus 44.2% in October).  The remainder was investor activity, down to 19.9% in November versus 21.4% in October.  Thomas Popnick, the director of the survey, told HousingWire, "The recent surge in interest rates has made potential homebuyers nervous.  If rates go up much more, then a good percentage of them will no longer qualify for the properties they want. As a result, they're making bids on homes and quickly closing before their rate locks expire."  


This effect may explain the recent strength in Mortgage Purchase Applications and Pending Homes.  If so, the effect is likely to be temporary.  


Joshua Steiner, CFA


Allison Kaptur



December 22, 2010




  •  Sometimes it’s better to have purchasing decisions made for you rather than laboring over too many options.  Such is the premise of, a UK e-commerce site which narrows choices down to just one after the user inputs a product category and desired price point.  The site then returns a suggested item to purchase along with three bullet points explaining why that particular item is right for you.  The sites database is powered by 1.6 million customer reviews which help to match products with consumers.
  • With promotional e-mail volume reaching new highs this holiday season, a few interesting statistics stand out.  First, 63% of the top 25 online retailers sent out at least one promotional email per day between 12/13-12/17.  In addition, 90% of all promotional emails sent last week contained the word “Christmas” but only 6% included the term “free shipping”.  Finally, email volume appears to have peaked a full week earlier than last year, although overall volumes still remain at record levels on a year over year basis.
  • Citing “colossal demand” for new products, Nike noted that elevated airfreight costs will not only continue through year-end, but now at least through the first half of fiscal 2012 (calendar 2011). Yet another margin headwind (RM, labor, and Fx) management is using as a way to keep numbers down.



American Eagle Taking Flight to Japan - American Eagle Outfitters Inc. is headed to the Land of the Rising Sun. 
Under a franchise agreement with Sumikin Bussan Corp., the company will open aerie and American Eagle stores in Japan, with the first slated to open in Tokyo’s Harajuku district in the first half of 2012. The retailer noted that since opening its first stores outside of North America in Dubai and Kuwait earlier in the year, it has been “steadily pursuing” an international strategy, with agreements for stores in China, Hong Kong and Israel, “as well as plans for other countries.”

“American brands expanding to Japan have had a good degree of success,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger. “The Japanese consumer, like the American consumer, is asking for and demanding more value.”

“There is tremendous opportunity for sportswear brands in Japan, both domestic and international,” said Sumikin president Gashun Amaya. “American Eagle Outfitters is increasingly popular among Japanese customers, who have experienced it in their travels to the U.S. and Canada, as well as online.”

“Japan is one of the most important international markets for retail and home to millions of fashion-conscious young people,” said AEO chief executive officer Jim O’Donnell. “Sumikin Bussan Corporation is the ideal partner for this region, given their extensive experience, industry leadership, and commitment to creating lasting value for customers.” <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Unfortunately the franchise model being employed here will not have much impact on overall results until the scale of the franchise network goes well beyond a couple of units in markets including Japan and the Middle East.


Nordstrom in Deal With Kids' Retailer - Nordstrom Inc. has acquired a minority stake in children’s and infants’ retailer Peek…Aren’t You Curious.

Pete Nordstrom, president of merchandising, said in an interview on Tuesday that Peek merchandise will become a major part of the core offering in all Nordstrom kids departments. Peek, which has six stores in the West and Southwest and had 100 wholesale accounts, including Barneys New York, will be sold exclusively at Nordstrom, initially in 18 full-line units, and on starting in February. Eight Nordstrom stores will initially have shop-in-shops inspired by Peek.

Maureen Chiquet, Chanel’s chief executive officer, is a board member and alerted Nordstrom to the company.

Nordstrom did not rule out investing in other businesses. “We want to be curious,” he said. “Curious and selective.” While the retailer isn’t a big proponent of shop-in-shops, Nordstrom said, “You may see more shop-in-shops if we found a unique brand.” <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Positive merchandising move that aims to differentiate and upscale the company’s children’s offering. 


LVMH Boosts Hermès Stake to 20% -  Bernard Arnault keeps gobbling up shares in Hermès International.
In a disclosure that is likely to stoke hostilities between the two camps, Arnault’s LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said Tuesday it had crossed the threshold of owning 20 percent of the shares in Hermès, the maker of Birkin handbags and silk scarves.
Arnault, chief executive officer of LVMH, surprised markets when he revealed in October that he had accumulated a 17.1 percent stake in Hermès via cash-settled equity swaps that allowed him to circumvent the usual market rules requiring firms to declare share purchases.
Although Arnault said he had no plans for a full takeover, the move rattled representatives of family-owned Hermès, who have vowed to protect their company from what they deem an unwelcome suitor.
LVMH said in a filing to stock market regulator AMF that it now holds 21,338,675 shares, or 20.2 percent of the share capital, through its subsidiaries LVMH Fashion Group, Altair Holding LLC, Ivelford Business SA, Bratton Services Inc. and Ashbury Finance Inc. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Probably not the Christmas present the Hermes family was hoping for.  This French soap opera is clearly far from over.


LULU Recalls Shopping Bags - Lululemon athletica inc announced the voluntary withdrawal of certain of its reusable bags, or shoppers, from its stores. This is in the wake of the recent discussion among other retailers over the proper disposal of reusable bags due to lead content. The shoppers are distributed free of charge to Lululeomon customers with their purchases. Lululemon invited all customers who have received one of the shoppers at issue to return them for a replacement shopper. In addition, any of its "guests" who simply wish to dispose of their shopper may return the shopper to any stores for appropriate disposal. The decision follows a report by the Tampa Tribune that many shoppers it tested from supermarket chains, including Walmart and Target, contained enough lead to be banned from local landfills. That report prompted Sen. Chuck Shumer, D-NY, to call for a federal investigation of whether bags containing unacceptable levels of lead are coming into contact with food. <SportsOneSource>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: With the ‘seaweed’ scandal still fresh in consumer’s minds, the company takes a step back with lead tainted shopping bags now in the headlines. The offsets here are that it’s not related to the iconic clothing, LULU isn’t the first company slapped with lead infractions, and at the end of the day what’s a little lead relative to how good you’ll look in a pair of their pants.


VF Acquires Rock & Republic - VF Corp. has signed an agreement to acquire the trademarks and intellectual property of bankrupt Rock & Republic for $57 million in cash.
The deal does not include the premium denim brand’s operations, retail stores or inventory, meaning Los Angeles-based Rock & Republic Enterprises will be wound down after completion of the transaction. The sale is a jarring return to earth for Michael Ball, the once high-flying chairman and chief executive officer who founded the brand in 2002. Ball, the sole owner, will exit the business.
Rather than manufacturing Rock & Republic product itself, VF Corp. plans to operate the brand under a licensing model. Rock & Republic is the first acquisition by VF’s newly created Retail Licensed Brands group, which was formed in July 2009 and is led by David Conn, president of the group. Conn is a veteran of Iconix Brand Group, where he was executive vice president. VF has said the group’spurpose is to seek leading retailers to partner with on licensed brands.
The deal will allow Rock & Republic to pay off about $25 million in debt to unsecured creditors and $15 million to secured creditor Richard Koral.

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Upon further review, licensing the Rock and Republic brand makes sense. With a licensed model, the brand won’t compete directly with VF’s Sevens business and Conn has played this game before. As for the VF’s appetite for M&A – no change as a result, they remain active.


The FCC Passes ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission, in a 3 to 2 vote, today approved rules that will establish controls over how Internet service providers deliver Internet content and generally favor the nondiscrimination principle known as net neutrality.“For the first time, we’ll have enforceable rules of the road to preserve Internet freedom and openness,” Julius Genachowski, the commission’s chairman, said today. Whether the FCC has the authority to issue and uphold the rules is another question likely to be hashed out in court.The FCC says broadband Internet access services are “clearly within the Commission’s jurisdiction” as detailed within the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Other groups, such as Internet service and wireless provider Verizon, say they aren’t. “Based on today’s announcement, the FCC appears to assert broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband wireline and wireless networks and the Internet itself. The assertion of authority without solid statutory underpinnings will yield continued uncertainty for industry, innovators and investors,” the company said in a statement. <InternetRetailer>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: It’s just the beginning of this saga – internet controls over push, pull, and privacy will take years to both establish and institute.


Italy Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Rises to 11-Month High - Italian household confidence rose in December to an 11-month high as the economy expanded and unemployment fell in the third quarter, making consumers more optimistic about the recovery. The Isae Institute’s consumer sentiment index rose to 109.1 from 108.5 in November, the Rome-based research center said today in a statement. The reading was the highest since January and more than the 108.3 median forecast of six economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Growing exports helped boost Italy’s gross domestic product 0.3 percent in the three months through September, more than the 0.2 percent initially reported. Unemployment fell in the third quarter to 8.3 percent, less than the 10.1 percent average for the euro region in October, a separate report showed yesterday.<Bloomberg>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Consistent with broad-based improvement in consumer confidence across much of Europe – even for the laggard.


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October was above trend and that got people excited. November looks flat on the surface but sequential trends definitely slowed.  What now?



Regional gaming markets declined 0.6% YoY in November.  That’s not so bad relative to the year to date decline of 1.9%.  However, given the volatility, the usefulness of one and even two year comp analysis is compromised.  Our approach to monitor sequential trends is to incorporate historical seasonality factors and compare each month to the weighted average of the previous three months.  This methodology allows us to analyze sequential revenue levels. Here are the results, graphically depicted:




Based on the results for August through October, November should have increased 3.5% YoY to maintain the same seasonally adjusted level of revenue.  The calendar was even YoY so we cannot use that as an excuse.  Rather, it appears October was an anomaly and business levels, at best, are not improving. 


Overall, the numbers are disappointing.  The clear bull thesis on US gaming operators is the tremendous fixed cost leverage of the business (and financial leverage) in an economic recovery.  Unfortunately, we’re just not seeing it yet.


Regionals Must-Know News



  • West Virginia
    • Charles Town Races table revs soared to $11MM, a new high. Charles Town maintained around a 70% market share.  Slot revs fell 3.28% YoY; however, December 2010 has a favorable comp since December 2009 revs tumbled 24% YoY.
  • Pennsylvania
    • Slot revs were flat at Penn National as higher hold offset lower coin-in. Meanwhile, the state revs grew 8.4% YoY.
    • Since August, table revs have stabilized around $2.5-2.75MM per month
  • Illinois
    • Argosy, Joliet, and Aurora continue to report steep declines; the state revs overall fell 6.3%--continuing its streak of YoY declines since April


  • Missouri
    • Lumiere + River City reported $26.30MM
    • Compared with last year, PNK’s St. Louis properties generated 47% growth, similar to October
    • River City made $13.51MM aided by record high slot and table hold
  • Louisiana
    • Helped by easy comps and stronger win per admission, L’Auberge revs gained 13.2% YoY
    • Boomtown Bossier broke its 8-month losing streak of YoY declines even though admissions were weak


  • Illinois
    • Par-A-Dice continues to buck the trend in a weak market, rising 0.6% YoY
  • Louisiana
    • Treasure Chest rose over 15% YoY for the 2nd consecutive month. It has two more months of easy comps.
  • New Jersey
    • Borgata declined 6.41% YoY, but this is considerably better than the market’s slump of 12.5% YoY. Borgata’s slot drop only lost -2.7% YoY compared with the market average of -11% YoY.


  • Indiana
    • East Chicago continues to improve, posting its 1st YoY growth since Oct 2009. East Chicago will have a lower bar to beat since December will be the first month that it is compared against its performance when the Cline Avenue bridge was closed for repairs.
  • Colorado
    • Black Hawk market declined 7% YoY, a sharp reversal from its 5% rise in October
  • Iowa
    • The largest casino in Iowa had a healthy 5.2% gain. High coin-in offset flat admissions.


  • Florida
    • Pompano’s slot rev growth slowed down to 7.74% from 14.69% in Oct but still a strong performance.
  • Louisiana
    • Continuing to lose market share, Lake Charles fell 5.67% YoY to $9.82MM, its lowest monthly win since Sept 2008.


We are now projecting HK$18.2-18.7 billion in total revs for December.



Macau table revenues exploded over this past weekend.  Daily run rate was HK$738.3 million per day over the past 5 days, up from HK$533.9 for the first 15 days.  It is unclear but likely that high hold played a part in the surge.  The recent strength pulls up our full month estimate (including slots) to a range of HK$18.2-18.7 billion, up 65-70% YoY.


Interesting market share shift with MPEL and SJM taking share from LVS.  LVS is now back down below its already depressed 3 month average of 17.4%.  In contrast, Q4 2009 LVS market share was almost 23%.  We will have more market share analysis in an upcoming post.  Wynn continues to outperform and hold the 17% level.  If it holds, December will be only the 3rd month of the year above 17%.  The good news is that one of the others was November which bodes well for a blow out Q4 for the company.


Here are the table revenues through the 20th:



The BOE Sees Inflation?

Hedgeye Positions in Europe: Long Germany (EWG); Short Italy (EWI), Euro (FXE)


The answer to the question, Does the Bank of England see inflation?, appears to be a qualified ‘yes’.  Today the Bank of England published the minutes from its December 8-9 meeting and one sentence stood out:


“Most of the members considered that the accumulation of news over recent months had probably shifted the balance of risks to inflation in the medium term upwards.”


We’ve highlighted inflation risk in the UK over the last months as the Bank has reported CPI above or at its target of 3% for most of the year. With CPI currently at 3.3% in November year-over-year, we’re likely to see further upside pressure on CPI in the coming quarters due to an increase in VAT to 20% (versus the current rate of 17.5%) in January 2011, a weaker Sterling versus major currencies in the 1H 2010 on the comp (see chart), and inflationary global commodities that we’re calling for next year.


The BOE Sees Inflation? - currency chart


The Bank, despite two dissenting members, maintained that the Bank Rate should remain unchanged at 0.5% and its asset purchase plan unchanged at £200 Billion. Again, we see the Bank largely handcuffed on monetary policy: the Bank can neither raise rates to quell inflation for fear of further chocking off the economy nor buy more paper (to potentially spur growth) for fear of stoking further inflation.


A sticking point remains the country’s fiscal policies, namely its austerity measures, that should threaten growth through increased taxes, job cuts, and dampen business and consumer confidence. Today, the final reading of Q3 GDP in the UK showed downward revisions. Year-over-year Q3 GDP was revised to +2.7% (versus +2.8%) and quarter-over-quarter GDP was revised down 10bps to +0.7%. 


We don’t have an investment position in the UK, but clearly we’re worried about inflationary pressures over the coming quarters given the country’s weak growth prospects next year.


Matthew Hedrick


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