COH: Idea Alert. Shorting.

Takeaway: The intermediate-term outlook remains bearish on the front-end of what is an investment year for COH.

We’re adding COH to the short-side of our Real-Time Positions again. While Signet’s holiday sales report is positive on the margin for luxury names today, the intermediate-term outlook remains bearish on the front-end of what is an investment year for COH.

Fundamentally, revenue is decelerating and the cost of that growth is rising. We expect this to be reflected in COH’s results for the next couple quarters at a minimum. Growth is dependent on the Legacy launch, as well as Men and to a lesser degree, China. At the same time, SG&A costs are rising to support the launch (which may or may not work) and Asia acquisitions, and Gross Margins are at risk as the financial triangulation of Sales Inventories and Margins rests in a tenuous point of our SIGMA analysis.

We know that this is all well-telegraphed, but with a decelerating EBIT growth rate until the July print – not to mention a very difficult 1Q – we need to pay particular attention to TRADE factors. Unfortunately, we can’t point to a positive near-term catalyst with our estimates 7% below consensus over the next two quarters.


Quantitatively, the stock is immediate-term overbought and would need to break $58.11 and hold that level to support the bull case from a near-term perspective. With the stock approaching $58 we’re admittedly close to that level. But we think there’s a greater chance it retests its support of $55.36 given earnings pressure.

The argument that sentiment is already bad holds some truth with the sell-side becoming increasingly bearish over the last 5-months with 66% of ratings a Buy down from 81% in August. However, short interest still stands at only 5% of the float – well below historical peaks.

While COH looks cheap relative to history at current levels – the reality is that valuation is not a catalyst.


COH: Idea Alert. Shorting. - COH TTT Table


COH Risk Management Levels:


COH: Idea Alert. Shorting. - COH TTT



COH SIGMA eroding (inventories outpacing sales growth with margins contracting):


COH: Idea Alert. Shorting. - COH S


Trends Good On the Mgn For COLM, VFC and DECK

Takeaway: Another good week for footwear, as athletic remains strong and boots played catch up. On the margin, this is good for COLM, VFC, and DECK.

Athletic footwear clocked in another very impressive week, with low teens growth over last year for the week ending Sunday per NPD. Mind you, this comes on the heels of an impressive +35% holiday week, and also comes just as people are increasingly questioning the sustainability and longevity of the so-called ‘sneaker cycle’. Remember that sales turned down for three weeks in a row at the same time we saw Finish Line implode due to company-specific issues. That hardly helped the space.


One thing we’re encouraged to see is that it is not just performance shoes carrying the day. The gap between performance and non-performance closed almost entirely last week due to a step-up in boot sales. While the performance side of the business is a better barometer for the Nike’s and Foot Locker’s of the world, we like the idea of more even-keeled sales across categories, and this week is the first time we’ve seen that since February 2011. On the margin, this is good for COLM, VFC, and DECK.   


Trends Good On the Mgn For COLM, VFC and DECK - FW App Table1


Trends Good On the Mgn For COLM, VFC and DECK - FW perf v non perf2


Trends Good On the Mgn For COLM, VFC and DECK - FW Brand Sales3


Trends Good On the Mgn For COLM, VFC and DECK - FW Mkt Sh4


Trends Good On the Mgn For COLM, VFC and DECK - FW Category



FNP: Big Value

The recent Tory Burch deal, in which Chris Burch (Tory’s ex-husband) sold the majority of his 25% stake in the company for ~$813 million, acts as a reminder that Fifth & Pacific (FNP) is undervalued at current levels. It’s worth noting that Tory Burch is one of FNP’s closest comps. Estimates on Burch's top-line suggest a multiple north of 4x and ~3x 2012 and 2013 sales respectively. This lands right between FNP’s two publicly traded peers: KORS at 5.5x and COH at 3.5x 2012 sales and at the low-end of 2013 multiples.


FNP: Big Value - image001


FNP on the other hand trades at less than 2x 2013 Kate Spade sales alone (not including Lucky or Juicy Couture, which FNP owns in addition to Kate Spade) – a 45% discount to the peer average. Hedgeye Retail Sector Head Brian McGough outlines the growth potential in FNP:


“We’re modeling Kate Spade sales approaching $800 million in sales for 2013 and over $1 billion in 2014; we expect profitability to continue to move upward toward the 20% level over the next 2-3 years. Assuming a 3x multiple of next year’s sales for Kate Spade alone that would imply a valuation close to a $2.5Bn for the brand – over 50% higher than the entire value of FNP today.”

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We don't think November's GGR release will be a pretty one for the Strip



November Nevada gaming figures will be released this Thursday, the 10th.  As we wrote in "LV STRIP: BACK IN RED FOR NOVEMBER" (12/31/2012), we're projecting November Strip gaming revenue to fall between -6% and -10%, assuming normal slot and table hold.  We're starting to think we may even be too conservative with that estimate.  Difficult slot hold comps (8.4% vs normal of 7.5%) and sluggish slot volumes will certainly pressure slot revenue.  Moreover, November 2012 has one less Friday relative to November 2011.  Finally, the Pacquiao vs Marquez 3 fight occurred in November 2011 while Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 took place in December 2012.  The 2011 fight contributed to a 7% increase in table drop last year in November.

Not Enough From ICSC Reading To Save 4Q

Takeaway: This morning’s -4.2% w/w reading in the ICSC index is not enough to save 4Q earnings for retailers. The clock is ticking.

This morning’s -4.2% w/w reading in the ICSC index is not enough to save 4Q earnings for retailers. This week actually marks a slight improvement from the -5.4% sequential decline we saw in the first week of last year. But 2012 is hardly the benchmark year, as it finished below both 2010 and 2011 levels. The next week is critical. If we do not see a pickup at a rate ahead of last year, we’re likely to see the retailers step on the gas as it relates to discounting in order to clear inventories for the 4Q13 reporting period. That synchs perfectly with preannouncements into ICR.


We remain bearish on softlines retail overall.

Top Shorts: GPS, M, GES, TJX, VFC, FDO, CRI, UA

Top Longs: NKE, FNP, URBN, RH, RL

After a year and half of being bearish on JCP, we have an upside bias – though we think it will be one of the biggest factors leading to draconian competitive landscape changes during the year.


Note: Unlike Same Store Sales day, which has become largely irrelevant die to the shrinking sample of participating, this ICSC index is made up of 80 relevant retailers and is weighted to portray an accurate view of the real state of discretionary retail in the US.


Not Enough From ICSC Reading To Save 4Q - 1 8 2013 10 12 55 AM


This note was originally published January 07, 2013 at 11:36 in Restaurants

The primary takeaway from this post is the most important macro indicators are continuing to confirm our bearish stance on casual dining. 


Employment trends within the industry suggest a possible sequential deceleration in same-restaurant casual dining sales. The deceleration of employment growth within casual dining versus quick service and the broader leisure and hospitality industry is worth noting.


Knapp Track Casual Dining sales data track BLS employment growth data for the full-service and leisure and hospitality industries.  Within casual dining, we are bearish on DRI, BWLD, and TXRH




EMPLOYMENT DATA CONFIRMING BEARISH CASUAL DINING STANCE - leisure   hospitality vs full service employment growth



Employment by Age


Employment growth by age cohort implies that quick service restaurants are benefitting from strong employment growth among core consumers while casual dining’s struggles are being caused, at least in part, by decelerating employment growth of one of the sector’s core demographics. 


The chart below illustrates a strong end to the year for employment growth among the younger age cohorts.  Job growth in the 20-24 years of age cohort remained in the 3% range while growth in the number of employed 23-34 year olds accelerated to 1.2% in December from 0.7% the month prior.  This is positive data point for QSR. 


Employment growth among 55-64 year olds remains robust, accelerating to 5.6% in December, but softer trends in the 45-54 years of age cohort is a concern for casual dining. 





Industry Hiring


If we assume that hiring within the restaurant industry serves as a decent proxy for operator confidence, it seems that QSR operators have a very different outlook than casual dining operators.


The continuing sideways trajectory of Leisure & Hospitality employment growth suggests that employment growth in limited service restaurants could be overstretching at this point.  However, with consumers trading down and quick service chains investing in enhancing the consumer’s experience at their restaurants, it is difficult to come to a firm conclusion.


Sequential Moves

  • Leisure and Hospitality: Employment growth at 2.38% in December (+1.7 bps seq acceleration)
  • Limited Service: Employment growth at 4.29% in November (-5.3 bps seq deceleration)
  • Full Service: Employment growth at 1.93% in November (-47.8 bps seq deceleration)



Howard Penney

Managing Director



Rory Green

Senior Analyst



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