TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP - March 16, 2011


The Hedgeye models have all 9 sectors broken from an immediate-term TRADE perspective.  The last time the the models signaled this was in May of 2010. As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 36 points or -0.69% downside to 1273 and 2.12% upside to 1309.



  • MBA mortgage applications index fell 0.7% week ended March 11; purchases down 4%, refis gain 0.9%
  • 8:30 a.m.: Housing starts, est. 566k, prior 596k
  • 8:30 a.m.: Building permits, est. 570k, prior 562k
  • 8:30 a.m.: Producer price index, est. 0.7%, prior 0.8%
  • 8:30 a.m.: Current account balance, est. (-$110b), prior (-$127.2b)
  • 2 p.m.: Geithner talks to House subcommittee on budget


  • Netflix is said to be looking at original programming
  • Portugal’s sovereign credit rating cut two steps to A3
  • GE’s target of broadening its $1 billion nuclear service- and-parts business may be under threat after Japanese turmoil
  • Japanese carmakers start to reopen factories.


As of the close yesterday we have 0 of 9 sectors positive on TRADE and 6 of 9 sectors positive on TREND.  Utilities, Materials and Technology are broken on both TRADE and TREND. 

  • One day: Dow (1.15%), S&P (1.12%), Nasdaq (1.25%), Russell 2000 (0.86%)
  • Month-to-date: Dow (3.03%), S&P (3.42%), Nasdaq (4.13%), Russell (3.90%)
  • Quarter/Year-to-date: Dow +2.40%, S&P +1.93%, Nasdaq +0.55%, Russell +0.98%
  • Sector Performance: - Utilities (1.90%), Tech (1.48%), Financials (1.16%), Healthcare (1.17%), Industrials (0.94%), Consumer Spls (0.88%), Consumer Disc (0.83%), Energy (0.75%), Materials (0.0%)


  • ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: -1742 (-638)  
  • VOLUME: NYSE 1288.05 (+33.64%)
  • VIX:  24.32 +13.10% YTD PERFORMANCE: +37.01%
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: 1.69 from 1.80 (-6.07%)


Yesterday, treasuries were mostly higher on flight-to-quality buying.

  • TED SPREAD: 22.08 0.101 (0.461%)
  • 3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: 0.08%
  • 10-Year: 3.33 from 3.36
  • YIELD CURVE: 2.70 from 2.75


  • CRB: 338.14 -3.56% YTD: +1.60%  
  • Oil: 97.18 -3.96%; YTD: +6.08% (trading +1.55% in the AM)
  • COPPER: 413.70 -1.18%; YTD: -4.76% (trading +2.26% in the AM)  
  • GOLD: 1,394.75 -2.15%; YTD: -1.37% (trading +0.28% in the AM)  


  • Commodities Advance, Snapping Four Days of Losses, as Oil Gains on Mideast
  • Rubber Rallies From Four-Month Low in Tokyo as Bridgestone Resumes Output
  • Copper Advances on Prospects for Japan Rebuilding After Quake: LME Preview
  • Sugar Rises on Reduced Concern Commodities Demand May Slow; Coffee Gains
  • Corn Importers in Japan Delaying Purchases After Quake, Unipac Grain Says
  • WHO Says No Evidence of Significant Radiation Spread from Japan Reactors
  • Cotton Advances by Limit as 6.8% Slide Over Past Two Days Attracts Buyers
  • Gold Rises on Decline to a One-Month Low, Concern About Bahrain and Japan
  • Oil Rises as Bahrain Violence Spurs Concern Middle East Supplies at Risk
  • Japan’s Rebuilding Process to Trigger Demand for Rubber, Budhraja Says
  • Hong Kong Moms Empty Shelves of Japanese Baby Formula Amid Nuclear Scare


  • EURO: 1.3977 +0.09% (trading -0.35% in the AM)
  • DOLLAR: 76.328 -0.03% (trading +0.27% in the AM) 


Europe is trading mixed today, with the exception of Eastern Europe.

European inflation accelerated to the fastest in more than two years in February

Moody's downgraded Portugal's long-term debt rating to A3 from A1

  • United Kingdom: -0.67%
  • Germany: -0.15%
  • France: -0.80%
  • Spain: -1.02
  • Italy: -0.70
  • Greece: +1.95%


Most Asian market traded higher. 

Vietnam was the standout to the downside trading down 1.1%.

  • Japan: +5.68%
  • Hang Seng: +0.10%
  • China: +1.19%
  • India: +1.05%
  • Taiwan: +1.09%

Howard Penney

Managing Director

Footwear Looking Good


There are a few datapoints out of the footwear space worth noting over the past 24 hrs. They generally point to continued health in the space, and give us added confidence in our call on Athletic Footwear overall, as well as on Collective Brands (PSS).


First off, NPD data shows that we’re ‘comping the comp’ with +5% growth this February versus +14% a year earlier. Average price point was up +1% for the second consecutive month. Not huge, but more often than not this metric tracks the Gross Margin trends in the space.


The Athletic Specialty space continues to outperform, which definitely synch with recent results out of Dick’s, Foot Locker, etc…  The Family Channel looks good as well, holding steady from recent months. The channel that disappointed was the department stores, which is not a big shocker, and does not concern us. Actually, any weakness in footwear in department stores will only add to the margin pressure we should see as it relates to our call on Apparel for a 4.5pt industrywide margin decline.


Some nuggets out of Brown Shoe (BWS) and DSW:


BWS: This company is pretty much a disaster. Let’s not mistake it as a proxy for PSS – or anything else for that matter. Its wholesale business did not look good, which doesn’t shock us. Famous came in at +4.9% and sequentially unchanged on a 2-year basis, and 1Q comp guidance looks beatable at +low-msd.


DSW: This one had a rather solid quarter, but its guidance suggests a 1,000bp erosion in 1Qcomps. Are they up against some wicked y/y compares? Yes. Do they plan on beating expectations? Yes. But you can’t go guiding to comps like this and expect to walk away squeaky clean.


One thing to note is that it was about a year ago where we saw a 5-6 point negative diversion in comps at PSS vs BWS, DSW, and SCVL. Yes, this also led to PSS getting completely clocked (a painful day for us, a vindicator for the perma-bears, and an opportunity for the opportunist to buy on the capitulation). The point is that we’re about to comp up against those quarters. This is at a point where PSS’ has a better sourced-ratio, and has more boots, toning footwear, and believe it or not, higher prices. We’re not making a bull call on Payless, as we simply like the stability of its cash flow to fund growth in other brands. But let’s not be ignorant or wishful. The stock is going to trade on outsized changes in performances at Payless.


Footwear Looking Good - FW Monthly Trends 3 11


Footwear Looking Good - MonthlyFW SalesByChanl 3 11


Footwear Looking Good - ShoeChain Comp Trends 3 11



Japan’s Keynesian Crisis

Conclusion: It’s obvious that growth will continue to slow on the island economy. What is becoming more obvious by the day is Japan’s fiscal and monetary policy ineptitude, which, for the first time in recent years is being fully exposed to global investment community. In the report below, we detail how to manage risk around this tragic event.


Position: Bearish on Japanese equities for the intermediate-term TREND. Bearish on JGB’s for the intermediate-term TREND and long-term TAIL. Bullish on the Japanese yen for the intermediate-term TREND; bearish for the long-term TAIL. Bullish on Japanese CDS for the long-term TAIL.


It goes without saying that the situation in Japan is frighteningly tragic and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this crisis, both surviving and deceased.


With that said, the critical risk management task to focus on is determining what to buy and what to sell – and at what levels. To do that, one must have a proactive risk management strategy that understands full well that risk is always “on”.


As Rahm Emanuel famously said in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Bros., “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” In the spirit of this quote, we were marginally encouraged by the occurrences in Japanese financial markets over the past two days, as consensus finally starts to come to grips with Japan’s Keynesian Debt & Deficit Crisis

  • The Nikkei 225’s (-16.1%) decline since Friday is the largest two-day drop since 1987 and today’s (-10.6%) drop is the largest since October 2008;
  • Bucking consensus’ “flight to safety” trend, JGB yields backed up across the maturity curve today as investors sold amid speculation of greater supply; and
  • Japan 5Y CDS climbed +26bps to a record 122bps – in spite of the widely held belief that Japan would never default on its sovereign debt obligations. 

Consensus will tell you that this price action is largely driven by hysteria surrounding Prime Minister Kan’s warnings of a possible nuclear disaster just 137 miles north of Tokyo, and, while we agree with that premise to an extent, we don’t think these moves are something to be written off as “panic selling”; nor do we think it’s wise to “buy the dips” here. Some dips are not to be bought – especially those that are broken TRADE, TREND, & TAIL. Today reminds us all that the “flows” work both ways:


Japan’s Keynesian Crisis - 1


We’ll need to see the prices confirm over the next three days or so before we feel comfortable shorting Japanese equities.   There will be a throng of investors trying to get ahead of the Japanese recovery story, some that will buy the dip on valuation, and a few others that will buy them on the global growth story – which the data now suggests is increasingly eroding.


Of course, there will be an opportunity to get long the Japanese recovery trade eventually. As always, duration matters, however; after the January 17, 1995 Kobe earthquake, Japanese equities lost (-24.7%) before bottoming out nearly six months later on July 3. The Nikkei 225 did not break even until nearly 11 months later on December 7 of that year.


Addressing the point we made earlier, we think this most recent natural disaster serves as a wakeup call to the global investment community regarding the state of Japan’s finances. While certainly not “new news” to our Hedgeyes or to investors such as Kyle Bass and Marc Faber, we do think the broad-based weakness across Japanese asset classes exhibited today suggests that, on the margin at least, the world now understands that Japan is on the fast track to what we’ve termed the “Keynesian Endgame”.


To be clear, the Keynesian Endgame is a scenario whereby Big Government Intervention (known in academic circles as “countercyclical government stimulus”) in the form deficit spending, debt buildup, and cheap money monetary policy fail to produce the desired results. Instead, it produces depressed growth rates, which we have seen from Japan over the past two decades.


It’s important to highlight Japan’s fiscal and monetary policy response to this recent natural disaster and thus its latest contributions to its Keynesian Debt & Deficit Crisis:


Fiscal Response

  • Japan, which has yet to pass financing legislation for the government’s record ¥92.4 TRILLION yen ($1.1T) budget, currently has roughly ¥1.3 TRILLION yen in discretionary funds from the current budget that can be allocated to the recovery efforts;
  • By comparison, the ¥1.3 TILLION is less than half of the ¥2.7 TRILLION the government pulled together in the wake of the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Normalizing for the different JPY/USD exchange rates, current on-hand funding is roughly (-42.5%) smaller than it was sixteen years ago;
  • Going back to the budget specifically, which will take effect in two weeks, proposed measures to finance the budget, including a proposal to raise the consumption tax, were largely the source of recent political tension and the cause of a rift within the DPJ, as well as a growing divide between Japan’s central government with its local government officials;
  • The current natural disaster combined with severely depressed approval ratings for Kan and the ruling DPJ (81% of voters and 75% of local government heads disapprove of the current leadership) all but guarantee there will be no tax and fee hikes to help finance the budget;
  • Much like the US, the Japanese government will potentially face a shut down as early as July once all revenues are exhausted and a potential ¥20 TRILLION of short-term JGB debt is issued via a special provision to cover expenses; and
  • While we don’t think the Japanese government will stop functioning given the need to respond to this latest disaster, we do think its growing inability pay for what it spends will result in an serious acceleration of JGB supply growth over the intermediate-term. This will likely push Japan’s Debt/GDP ratio above 210% in FY11, from the current 208.2% using the most current debt balance and GDP figures. For those that prefer the Debt/Revenue metric, that’s 1,971.7% or 19.7x. 

Monetary Policy Response

  • Given the Japanese government’s inability to adequately fund the relief efforts, the Bank of Japan did exactly what they’ve been doing for years after having been encouraged by the likes of Paul Krugman and many other Keynesian academics (including Ben Bernanke) to “PRINT LOTS OF MONEY”;
  • In the last 48 hours alone, the BOJ created ¥42 TRILLION yen (~$520B) in newfound liquidity and BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa pledged more “aid” should financial conditions warrant it (*i.e. if the equity market continue to plunge);
  • Breaking down the allocations specifically, we see that the BOJ pledged ¥15 TRILLION in same-day funds on Monday and an additional ¥8 TRILLION today after the overnight call loan rate rose to 0.13% from the target 0.0%; ¥5 TRILLION to buy JGBs via reverse repo agreements; ¥5 TRILLION in one-week loans; ¥5 TRILLION in one-month loans; and it doubled the size of its current Asset Purchase Program (think: Quantitative Guessing) to ¥10 TRILLION; and
  • This latest round of Big Government Intervention in attempt to fuel a publicly-levered stock market rally is on top of the BOJ currently monetizing JGB debt at a rate of ¥21.6 TRILLION ($267.2B) annually. 

It’s clear that Japan, much like the US, cannot afford to finance event risk – which includes things like recovery from natural disasters and war. Given, that shifts much of the burden to the central bank to print money. It’s worth noting that this concept is near the core of our bearish long-term thesis on the yen; this recent earthquake and tsunami merely inches Japan closer to a demographic fueled JGB supply/demand imbalance.


Further, one has to wonder how much the Bank of Japan can shower the financial system with yen before people stop bending over to pick them up. To this point, it comes as no surprise to us that only ¥8.9 TRILLION of the ¥42 TRILLION yen offered by the BOJ was actually met with demand from financial institutions. Japan has been in a classic liquidity trap for many years and we don’t expect the BOJ’s latest attempts at printing money to be met with a commensurate pick-up in private sector growth.


Japan’s Keynesian Crisis - 2


Our view is in sharp contrast to current consensus expectations, as many Japanese investors have been trained to beg for stimulus at the first sign of a market crack after many years of Big Government Intervention. Consider the commentary offered to Bloomberg by the following investment professionals as a gauge of where Japanese investor sentiment is:


“If stocks continue to drop more and the yen gains further, it will probably have an adverse effect on corporate sentiment and household consumption… So the BOJ may need to take further action.” – Norio Miyagawa, senior economist at Mizuho Securities Research and Consulting Co.


“The Bank of Japan is missing the chance of doing something more aggressive… What the BOJ should do now is to anchor investors’ sentiment with accelerated purchases in its program” – Masaaki Kano, chief Japan economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co.


“The liquidity supply was a normal response to make sure the markets function in an orderly fashion. It was nothing more than standard operating procedure.” – Richard Jerram, chief economist at Macquarie Securities Ltd. in Singapore.


Phrases like “normal response” and “standard operating procedure” are exactly why we think the recent bullish bid across the US Treasury curve is supportive of the case for QE3. That is, if UST yields continue to trade below what used to be their intermediate-term TREND lines of support, we’d contend that the bond market is forecasting another round of Quantitative Guessing here in the US.


Of course, we’d expect to see those same yields eventually back up on the inflationary impact of QE3 policy; until that occurs, however, a compressing spread between UST 2Y yields and JGB 2Y yields is bullish for the JPYUSD exchange rate  – on top of any repatriation that will be done by Japanese nationals to help with relief efforts at home.


Japan’s Keynesian Crisis - 3


Given this setup, we can foresee a scenario whereby the yen continues to appreciate over the intermediate term even in the face of accelerated easing out of the BOJ. For this reason, we think the Japanese yen will continue to strengthen over the intermediate-term TREND. Understanding full well that consensus will likely continue using the same one-factor model of yen up/Japanese stocks down, we remain bearish on Japanese equities over that same duration.


Monitoring the slope of the aforementioned spread and QE3 expectations will be crucial to a timely exit from this position. An additional risk to highlight here is outright intervention in the FX market by the Japanese government – which will come at time when Japan can least afford a weaker currency, given its raw material needs over the intermediate term. For reference, Japanese Import Price growth continued to accelerate in Feb, advancing to +7.6% YoY.


Japan’s Keynesian Crisis - 4


On the other side of Japanese trade, we expect a continuation of slowing export and manufacturing growth as the damaged infrastructure and rolling blackouts delay both production and shipping – much like we saw in 1995 after the Kobe earthquake.


Japan’s Keynesian Crisis - 5


Currently, Japan supplies about 20% of the world’s technology products – many of them key components that cannot be done without, such as the silicon wafers used in manufacturing microchips and batteries used in the production of everything from autos to tablet PCs. The lack of Japanese supply on the margin is likely to put upward pressure on technology and industrial input prices globally – a supportive data point for our current short XLI position in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio. Recent commentary offered by global multinationals like Boeing Co., Korea’s Samsung Group, Germany’s BMW AG, Sweden’s Volvo AB, and Taiwan’s HTC Corp. (among many others) lend credence to this concern.


All told, it’s obvious that growth will continue to slow on the island economy and that the fiscal and monetary levers that Japan can pull in the event of further crises continues to grow increasingly inadequate by the day.


Risk is always “on”.


Darius Dale



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German Economic Sentiment Dips and Merkel Halts Nuclear

Positions in Europe: Long Germany (EWG); Short Spain (EWP)


We’ve been closely following the high frequency data from Europe and have warned in our research in recent weeks that PMI surveys, for both Manufacturing and Services, have come in “toppy” for many of the major economies, including Germany. Today the ZEW reported a month-over-month decline in its German Economic Sentiment survey, a 6-month forward-looking assessment, registering 14.1 in March versus 15.7 in February.


While we’ll need far more than one data point from one survey to make an investment call in the country (we’re currently long Germany via the etf EWG in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio), the data presents an inflection point worth calling out and is in line with our call that German PMI should mean revert over the coming months as it flirts with near all-time highs.


Although we continue to like the country longer term, we’re likely to trim our current 6% asset allocation to Germany over the near term. Currently the etf EWG is getting hammered, however not unlike most global country ETFS as investor concerns are focused on Japan.  


The big news from Germany today is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to shut-down 7 of the country’s aging nuclear reactors for 3 months pending a safety review in light of the events in Japan. The Swiss followed the Germans saying they will suspend the regulatory process for 3 nuclear power stations because safety remained the first priority. [For reference, Switzerland has 4 nuclear plants with 5 functioning reactors].


In opposition, France, Spain, and Italy all announced today that:


(1) They need nuclear and don’t see their stance changing in the foreseeable future, and 

(2) Won’t reconsider building new nuclear plants


Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors account for ~23% of the power generated in the country last year, while atomic energy accounts for ~28% of Europe’s power generation. In 2010, Chancellor Merkel repealed a 2002 law passed by her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder and his coalition of the SPD and Green parties that would have shut down all German nuclear plants by 2022.


German leading power generators such as E.ON AG (EOAN) and RWE AG (RWE), both members of the DAX, are helping to drive the downward thrust in the DAX, both falling 6-9% over the last two days, while Q-Cells (QCE), a solar company (and not a member of the DAX), has been one strong gainer. 


Matthew Hedrick



German Economic Sentiment Dips and Merkel Halts Nuclear - zew

TREND Break: SP500 Levels, Refreshed

POSITION: no position in SPY


With our call for a -5.4% drawdown yesterday being realized, now it’s time to wait and watch. In terms of managing immediate-term TRADE risk in US Equities, the two main factors I’ll be waiting on are as follows: 

  1. SP500 Intermediate-term TREND line = 1273
  2. Volatility (VIX) long-term TAIL line = 22.03 

We made a call on this inverse relationship between the US stock market price and Volatility in April of 2010 (“April Flowers/May Showers”) and we’ve been making it again since mid-February. The correlation risk here is surreal.


With consensus cheering on Big Government Intervention, what they are really getting is Price Volatility. The Keynesians should be

careful what they wish for. Confidence in markets isn’t built through a bullish breakout in the VIX (TREND line = 18.35).


If the SP500 holds below 1273 for the rest of the week, there are plenty of immediate-term TRADE lines of support that you can manage risk around, but the Chaos Theory in our model says that a sustained breakdown below 1273 amplifies the gravitational force toward 1176 – and I’m not so sure too many people are positioned for that…


My immediate-term TRADE lines of support and resistance are now 1253 and 1307. Wait and watch for 1273 break or hold. With inflation being doused by a US Dollar UP day, there are some very early signs to look constructively upon – mind you those are real-time indicators and we still need to get through the lagging inflationary indicators (US PPI and CPI readings) tomorrow and Thursday.


As I wrote in early February (and, not ironically, took some heat for this):


“Almost every other day on our the Hedgeye Macro Morning Call, I say something like this: “If they debauch the dollar, every day and every week, from this day until that, the SP500 could easily get to 1340… and then blow up.”


Just when they thought it was different this time…



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


TREND Break: SP500 Levels, Refreshed - 1

R3: AMZN, Gucci, JJB, & Ala Moana


March 15, 2011






  • According to the Japanese Tourism Marketing Company, more than one-third of all Japanese tourist that visit the U.S. annually do so via Hawaii. While few retailers are ‘over-indexed’ to Ala Moana, the contribution from one of the more productive U.S. malls will certainly have to be tempered near-term.
  • Add online retailer Shopbop to the list of recent entrants into the bridal category behind the likes of Urban Outfitters, Net-a-Porter and The Aisle New York. With dresses ranging from $200 to $2,500, the e-tailer is selling at a similar level to Costco’s latest bridal collaboration at $700-$1,400 with the primary difference the inability to actually try the dress on first.
  • According to the latest Millward Brown “Value-D” study which ranks global brands on how consumers perceive value vs. the associated costs, ranks number one.  Amazon is the only retailer to rank in the top ten on the global list, while Wal-Mart shows up at number six on the US list. 



JJB Sports Unveils Recovery StrategyThe 250-store chain also confirmed it would seek a further £65m from shareholders to fund the restructuring. JJB, which had been in merger talks with rival JD Sports, said the new-look operation would be based around the success of six trial stores.These stores were refocused to appeal to keen amateurs and sporting families.  Sales at these stores have been running at about 16% above the company average, JJB said in a statement. The company also said that it had reached agreement in principle with its major shareholders - Harris Associates, Crystal Amber, Invesco Asset Management and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust - to support a £65m fundraising. <BBC>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Very rarely, if ever, does a new prototype save the day for a retailer that has been under pressure for at least the past five years.  We’d be surprised to see this turnaround succeed based on a complete transformation of the store format.


Gucci With Al Tayer InsigniaAs part of a strategy to directly control its stores, Gucci said Monday it has signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture with luxury retailer Al Tayer Insignia.  The agreement, which is expected to be finalized over the next few months, will allow Gucci to directly enter the United Arab Emirates. Gucci declined to provide details of the partnership, but said the joint venture will be headquartered in Dubai. Al Tayer has been Gucci’s franchisee in the region for more than a decade. The luxury brand currently counts six points of sale in the UAE. One store is located in Abu Dhabi, at Marina Mall, and three boutiques are at the Mall of the Emirates, at The Boulevard at Jumeirah Emirates Towers and at The Dubai Mall in Dubai. Gucci is also present at Dubai’s Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale’s with corners in the two department stores. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Not surprisingly, luxury brands continue to chip away at the small but growing opportunities in the Middle East.  We wonder if at some point recent political unrest puts a damper on near term growth plans given the costs associated with opening boutiques in the region. 


Jack Rogers Opens in ManhattanFor six decades, the Navajo sandal has been the mark of Jack Rogers footwear. Now a casual chic collection inspired by the singular look is emerging, and the progress is most visible on Madison Avenue here between 87th and 88th Streets, where the first Jack Rogers store gets christened with a party tonight.  “We want to become a lifestyle brand,” said William Smith, chairman of Jack Rogers and managing partner of Global Reach Capital, during a visit to the 1,240-square-foot space. The classic sandal has been interpreted into a full line of footwear with more than 100 stockkeeping units, including closed-toe shoes, ballet flats, moccasins, high-wedged espadrilles, pumps, heels, shoes with Swarovski Elements micro beads, with monograms, in glazed suede or distressed leather, and even a rain boot for fall with a side zipper.  <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  A niche product for sure, but one that has a very loyal customer base.  We wonder how successful the iconic sandal company will be with its efforts moving into more traditional closed toe footwear.  Clearly a little private equity infusion is helping to push the brand beyond its 60 year sandal history.


Uptick in M&A activity - The thrift that companies exercised during the recession by building up their balance sheets is coming back to haunt them in the form of pressure to buy, and it’s lifting the mergers-and-acquisitions market to levels that could approach historic highs. Global M&A activity bounced back in 2010, rising 22.7 percent to $2.09 trillion over 2009 as U.S. M&A rose a less robust 2.8 percent to $714.3 billion, according to The Mergermarket Group. Still, both volume figures were well below the levels of 2008, when global activity hit $2.5 trillion despite a near freeze in fourth-quarter activity following the year’s financial crisis, and the progressively higher levels of M&A from 2005 to 2007. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Nothing like a banker bonanza as we head into more uncertain times from a macro perspective.  From a retail standpoint, we note that there are still numerous rumored deals that remain on the table.


Earthquake Hits Luxury Companies  - The stars have aligned for the luxury industry since the global recovery began. But the earthquake in Japan is a reminder of how quickly tragedy can change the industry's prospects.  Japanese investors dumped stocks Monday in response to Friday's earthquake, with the Nikkei 225 tumbling 6%. While the U.S. stock market fell just a fraction of that amount, luxury highfliers came under fire. Tiffany, which trades at 18 times this year's consensus earnings, fell 5%. Coach and Burberry Group of the U.K. fell by similar amounts.  Luxury investors have learned to pay less attention to Japan in recent years. Once vital, Japan accounted for 19% of Tiffany's sales in 2009, compared with 28% in 2000. <WallstreetJournal>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:   It’s likely that beyond the physical recovery, the psychology of luxury buying will take even longer to rebound. 


Smartphone Owners like to Scan and SaveSmartphone owners are realizing the power of the mobile app to both gather information about products and services and save, a new poll from Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies finds. A poll of 1,491 U.S. adults finds of those who have used a smartphone app or mobile browser while shopping, 44% have used a bar code scanning app such as RedLaser or ShopSavvy that lets them compare prices and learn more about products and services in stores. 38% have used a discount or deal app such as those from Groupon or LivingSocial that offer deep discounts, typically on local goods. Location-based shopping apps such as foursquare and shopkick came in last among the shopping-related apps mobile shoppers employed, with 13% reporting using them. <InternetRetailer>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Not surprisingly, the democratization of retail pricing is being empowered by the smartphone and its ability to act as a personal bar code scanner.  It will not be long before self checkout also occurs via the smartphone, thus eliminating the need to wait in lines.


Photo-Sharing Trends Encourage MarketersConsumers are increasingly sharing photos via social networks and mobile apps, and marketers are looking to capitalize on this trend. For most marketers, photo-sharing can help build brand awareness and encourage consumers to interact with the company. LIPTON Brisk iced tea partnered with mobile photo-sharing app Instagram for a campaign prior to the 2011 South By Southwest (SXSW) Conferences and Festivals. Fans were encouraged to take pictures through Instagram and tag them with #briskpic to be entered in a photo contest. The winning photos were included on a limited-edition can of the drink during SXSW.  <eMarketer>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Product placement is certainly not a novel concept, but if LIPTON is any indication, brands’ ability to integrate with mobile/social networking far exceeds the adoption rate compared to sitcoms of the 90s.


R3: AMZN, Gucci, JJB, & Ala Moana - R3 3 15 11



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