GES: RECKLESS SHOPCATIONS

Here's a GES nugget. I'm going through all the recaps of same store sales trends. I love the Bloomberg interview with Marshall Cohen, NPD's retail guru. In talking about the standout brands and stocks that he likes, Cohen noted how much he likes Guess?. The comment sounded something like this... Foreigners are going to resort areas on vacation and are spending with 'reckless abandon' on high end product. They're turning them into 'shop-cations.' This is one of the main reasons why Marshall likes the stock.

First off, Mr. Cohen has no business making stock calls. He data is a very good concurrent indicator of business trends, and as such he's got some good insight into consumer spending patterns. But a trend guy making a stock call? Big no-no. (Full disclosure, Research Edge is one of NPD and Mr. Cohen's clients).

In a roundabout way, his comment about 'reckless shopcations' supports my bearish view on GES. As I noted yesterday, I think that GES underinvested at the top of its sales, growth, margin, and FX cycle, and therefore printed too much operating margin. No one knows, or cares, right now when business humming and the perceived returns are 40%+. But perception is far from reality in retail.

This actually smells a bit like the sentiment around Dick's Sporting Goods last year. The company could do no wrong, and no one cared about DKS' aggressive lease structure and deleverage risk. Two weeks ago DKS shareholders found out the hard way.

I think we'll see the same with GES.

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