...the Donger need food.

Yes, this title partially refers to the character Long Duk Dong in the 1984 hit '16 Candles.' But more importantly, it refers to the crisis with the Vietnamese Dong. The currency is coming off its greatest 2 month slide since the Asian currency crisis 10 years ago. Why does this matter to me as an apparel/footwear analyst?
  • Vietnam is the #2 producer of footwear outside of China. While its share is only 5% vs. China's 84% (it is also 5% of apparel vs. China at 40%), it serves as a low cost buffer for production when China takes up prices and/or cannot meet production needs.
  • With inflation running at 22% and workers are striking because wage hikes as high as 14% are not enough, and the currency doing nothing but go down, I can't possibly see how this is a good thing. This is not good for anybody in any industry.
  • While I think that numbers look very good at Nike, I'd be remiss to not point out that 31% of its sourcing is in Vietnam. Adidas is 28%

MCD - News from Europe

Over the past three years, McDonald's same-store sales in Europe increased 2.6%, 5.8% and 7.6%, respectively. The primary countries contributing to the strong trends performance included France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. In total, Europe represents 38% of McDonald's 2007 operating income. Here is what we learned today about two important European economies:

According to Experian Group Ltd., the number of Britons visiting malls and town-center stores dropped in May as higher food costs, fuel prices and mortgage rates cut into disposable incomes. The shopping statistics in May dropped 1.5% from last year and 3.4% from April.

Retail sales in Germany, Europe's largest economy and McDonald's largest European market, unexpectedly dropped for a second consecutive month in April as faster inflation left consumers with less money to spend.

The three year stack in same-store sales is as difficult as it's ever been for McDonald's and European consumer spending is slowing.

YUM - CEO's Comments on China

Comments made by David Novak, CEO, of YUM brands speaking at a conference:

in that province - just one part of province, we had 73 restaurants, all but two of them are back in operation today. We've made significant contributions to people in need there. We had some financial issues with some of the stores in that particular province. So when we look at the business, we think we probably had about around a $5 million impact overall.

He went on and implied that the three day of mourning slowed same-store sales trends. The obvious question is how much have sales slowed and for how long?

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RRGB - Buying back stock because?

RRGB put out a press release stating during the board of directors meeting on May 28, 2008, the board reaffirmed its intent, as previously announced in a press release dated August 16, 2007, to repurchase up to $50 million of the Company's common stock.

Buying back stock makes no strategic sense to me. Is this a great use of shareholder's capital? At 15x NTM EPS, I guess the stock looks cheap, but given the Q1 miss the earnings estimates may be aggressive. Is the board trying to send a signal that everything is ok? Even though the advertising campaign did not lift same-store sales as expected. Between buying back franchisees and it's accelerated pace of development, the company is burning cash. If we add in cash spent on buying back stock, RRGB will be taking on more debt, adding to the P&L volatility.

In this environment, debt is s dirty word!

BWLD - The Trends are accelerating...

BWLD is up 31% since reporting Q1 EPS.

In 1Q08 same-store sales increased 4.1% vs 9.0% last year. The averaged check increased 3.5% and they opened 25 new company-owned restaurants. Importantly, average weekly sales increased 5.6% for the quarter, 150 basis points better that same-store sales increase. Driving the impressive 1Q sales trends was a 27% increase in media spending. The trend should continue into Q2 with media spending up 50% versus last year.
  • Bucking the trend of most restaurant companies, BWLD was able to leverage its strong sales trends with EBIT margins up 50bps. Helping drive margins higher were lower COGS. Specifically, wings averaged $1.33 per pound during 1Q08 versus last year's average of $1.40. Additional leverage came from significantly lower SG&A in absolute dollars. The lower SG&A help BWLD get to the numbers due to significantly higher pre-opening expenses.
  • At 22x NTM EPS there is significant momentum at BWLD, but the aggressive ramp in capital spending catches our eye. History has shown that aggressive capital spending can lead to careless decisions. It will be important to look for signs of stress in new stores average unit volumes.

For The Record, Women Are Driving Comp

Someone pinged me today asking which apparel stocks were best to play the revival in menswear that a TV personality noted in her commentary last night. For the record, menswear is not strong. It stinks something fierce and is getting worse.

Remember that weakness in womenswear is just one of the factors pressuring department store comps over the past 18 months. Menswear has actually been pretty decent. Recently, however, menswear has turned down and women are gaining share on a yy basis.

It's no mistake that Phillips-Van Heusen just announced that it is closing down its Geoffrey Beene outlet stores (GB total revs account for about 13% of PVH total by my math). This also coincides with a simply massive round of layoffs on Wall Street. PVH makes one in every three dress shirts in the US. Notice a trend?

I like looking at the year/year change in the ratio of spending on menswear vs womenswear. When the line goes up, men are spending more. When then line goes down, guys like me are spending less on a relative basis.

I'd be surprised to see this go up again in a meaningful way anytime this year. (Source: NPD Fashionworld and Research Edge, LLC).

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