German Snapshot


Polls suggest the center-right is gaining momentum and confidence is rising

Fresh off a victory in European Parliament elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party increased her spread over its main challenger, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), based on a weekly Forsa/Stern poll ended June 12th.

While the CDU lost a point to 35% on the prior week, the SPD dropped three points to 21%, and Merkel's most likely coalition partner, the pro-business FDP, gained one point to 15%. The decline of the SPD, led by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, may reflect the party's inability to win state aid for retail-giant Arcandor, which filed for insolvency last week. 

ZEW published its economic sentiment indices yesterday. The survey said that investor and analysts expectations for economic developments six months ahead increased to 44.8 from 31.1 in May, while current economic conditions improved to -89.7 from -92.8 in May. 

We continue to have a bullish bias on Germany, due in part to the fiscally conservative leadership of Merkel. The latest German CPI number in May mirrored that of the Eurozone at 0.0% on an annual basis. The disinflationary trend on prices (driven by the decline of fuel costs) will help encourage consumers to spend and if the Euro can back down off of $1.40 it will benefit the export-heavy economy. We still expect to see mild growth starting in early '10 as the country works through ~6% GDP contraction this year. Despite a contraction in the unemployment rate in May of 10bps to 8.2%, we believe the number will rise sequentially and provide a headwind for sentiment. Expect employment to remain a focal point coming into elections in late September.

Matthew Hedrick


German Snapshot - eurocpi

The Demographic TAIL


I'm in the midst of writing a post on oil elasticity and as such have been reviewing some interesting research on OPEC's website and happened upon the table below, which outlines projected population growth rates.   Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be officially introducing our third duration, which we will call TAIL.  This duration denotes investment themes of 3 years or more, and, as always, these themes will have a price attached to them.  In the OPEC 2008 World Oil Outlook, which as an aside is an incredibly detailed publication, I found the attached table which outlines population levels and growth for the major regions around the world.  Demographics are clearly in the TAIL, but will be moving into TREND and TRADE in the coming years.  The table is outlined below:

 The Demographic TAIL - dj1

There are a few key takeaways:

  • There are two groups of regions: those taking share in the world population race and those losing share. The regions taking share include: Middle East and Africa, South Asia, OPEC, and South East Asia. The regions losing share include: North America, Western Europe, OECD Pacific, China, Other Europe, and the former Soviet Union.


  • China is the nation losing the most share as it is projected to go from 20.2% of the world's population in 2006 to 17.7% of the world's population in 2030.


  • OECD Pacific, FSU (the former Soviet Union), and Other Europe are the three regions that projected to decline in population from 2006 to 2030; and


  • The three regions with the largest projected growth, Middle East and Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia, are currently 44% of the world's population and over the next ~20 years will contribute 73% of the world's population growth, or 1.2BN people.

Over the course of the coming year, we will be write more TAIL notes, and many of these will have a demographic underpinning.  The global population share shift has implications for consumer spending, energy use, geo-political risks, and product development, to name a few areas.  Both investors and management teams that do not have their focus on the TAIL as it relates to demographic trends are ignoring important fundamental shifts that will drive markets for decades to come.

Daryl G. Jones
Managing Director


Until the fuel rocket was ignited recently, 2009 estimates looked reasonable but we thought 2010 was majorly at risk.  Fuel costs are up 47% since CCL last gave guidance on March 24th.  Q2 guidance of $0.25-$0.27 looks fairly safe but 2009 full year guidance will come down, to no one's surprise.  2010 remains our concern, and not just because of fuel.  Analysts continue to project flat yields in the face of high single digit capacity increases.  That would be quite a v-shaped recovery.  Our 2010 estimate of $1.25 is almost 40% below the Street at $2.08.

Our bias clearly remains on the negative side even given the recent weakness, but not necessarily because of tomorrow's earnings release.  Reduced 2009 guidance is expected but to the extent lower estimates focus investors on the optimistic 2010 sell-side outlook, the stock's valuation may not hold up.  At 19x our 2010 EPS estimate (almost 11x EV/EBITDA) there is precedent for downside.

The following discussion YouTubes management's assertions from the last earnings call and press release, and provides our synthesis.



  • 2Q09 EPS (reduced for Swine Flu): $0.25-$0.27
  • We're inline at $0.25


"We are approximately two-thirds booked for the remainder of 2009, even with the reduced visibility. And based on this, we think our current net revenue yield guidance of down 10% to 12% for the year is reasonable."

  • Given that most of 2009 was already on the books by March 24th,we don't see a lot of risk to the yield guidance (outside of the swine flu impact), especially for 2Q09 as "there is not much inventory left to sell"
  • We believe that discounted prices offered are continuing to bring in booking volumes ahead of 2008 levels

3Q09 guidance: "even with the strong wave season bookings, occupancies are running significantly behind last year. Caribbean occupancies are lower in the double-digit range, with lower pricing in single digits on a year-over-year basis. Alaska occupancies and pricing are substantially lower in the double-digit range. European itineraries are running behind in the single-digit level, but with pricing also substantially lower. So it is clear that the third quarter is shaping up to be an extremely challenging one for our North American brands, with ticket revenues expected to be in the range of 15% to 20% lower on a year-over-year basis."

  • We're interested in how 4Q09 bookings are shaping up as capacity increases are most pronounced but the comps are a lot easier

"For the full year 2009, we have taken our local currency net revenue yield guidance down by approximately 3% to a range now of 10% to 12%. This includes reduced expectations for onboard revenues for the remaining three quarters as a result of the slowdown in consumer spending habits."

  • Aside from the impact of swine flu which the company already lowered guidance for on May 18th we do not expect any material change in yield guidance

Swine flu estimated to impact 2Q09 by $0.05 as a result of the modifications in the cruise itineraries. However CCL left the door open for further impact on back half results:

  • "potential remains for additional financial impact beyond June 15 which could range up to approximately $0.05 per share bringing the estimated total impact to $0.10 per share on full year 2009 results."

"that the fourth quarter, because of the -- we think because of the lower price points -- is booking somewhat better than third quarter's booking because of the higher price points, relatively speaking. It is a relative thing. I don't know if you can glean anything from that at the end of the day, except that that is sort of the phenomena that we see."

  • With the easy comps, in addition to the lower price point, it's hard to see how 4Q09 y-o-y won't be better than 3Q09
  • Expect no change to prior commentary on European pricing holding up. As opposed to last year, the vast majority of European itineraries are bookedby Europeans, which eliminates the cost of a flight and making the vacation a comparative bargain.



"Cruise costs per available lower berth day, for the full year, excluding fuel and in local currency, are projected to be in line with the prior year, up approximately 0.5%."

  • Expect CCL to continue to impress on the cost front

"In current dollars and excluding fuel, our costs are expected to be down 15% to 17%."

  • Both fuel and the dollar have moved against CCL since they last gave guidance

Based on the current spot price for fuel, fuel prices are projected to be $279 per metric ton for 2009 versus $558 per metric ton in 2008, saving us a total of $902 million.

  • As we wrote about in "Fuel could make the glass look half empty" on 6/1/2009, since CCL issued guidance on March 24th IFO 380 has spiked 47% as of yesterday's average spot price.
  • For the 2Q09, we estimate a minimal impact of 2 cents per share, however for the 2H09 we estimate that the increase in fuel costs impacts earnings by $0.22 cents

CCL FX guidance: "Our guidance in 2009 of EUR1.35 and GBP1.45" "the stronger dollar will reduce our costs."

  • Since CCL's guidance, the dollar has weakened against the pound and euro current spot rates are EUR1.38 and GGP1.64, which doesn't help on the cost front but should help on the revenue side


Expect an update on the two new Italian export credits for 2009 worth over $500MM, for the Costa Pacifica and one for the Seabourn Odyssey. As of the last call, the banks had signed these agreements and they were fully committed. CCL was waiting for the issuance of the Italian export credit agency's insurance policy



We stay focused on CONFIDENCE because it is an important factor in the Research Edge MACRO models.

Last Friday when I wrote the Early Look, it was all about CONFIDENCE.  As I said then, and I'll say again, the improvement we have seen from the lows in January are over for the time being.  With mortgage rates and gas prices on the rise and a 25-year high in unemployment, consumer's personal and financial issues will become more of a concern. 

On Tuesday, the ABC confidence figures were released, which showed the Consumer Comfort Index fell to -49 from -47 the prior week.   The survey's reading has not been in positive territory for over two years and has been stuck in a seven-point range since reaching the year-to date high in early May.   The index ranges from -100 to +100 and reached a record low of -54 for the week ended Jan. 25.

Over the past week the S&P 500 has declined 2.9% and Consumer Discretionary (XLY) has declined 5.1%; the second worst performing sector.  The underperformance in consumer names and the market overall will only dampen confidence expectations in the coming months.    

Lastly, we continue to see sluggish sales trends in the Restaurant Industry.  Today it was reported that average Casual Dining Chain saw 6.7% decline in same-store sales in the month of May.  While the 2-year numbers improved sequentially, sales trends are still ugly (but off the lows seen in 4Q09).  As a side note, as gas price rose during the month, sales trends got worse sequentially each week. 

Consumer eating habits are just another barometer of CONFIDENCE!

Howard Penney

Managing Director


Retail First Look: 6/17/09



Last night's resignation of UA's SVP footwear is a near-term casualty of a meaningful growth offensive started six months ago. If the market shoots before it thinks (which it is very good at doing), UA is a great oppty. Heck, it's a great oppty anyway. Here's Q&A on the topic...


Was I surprised that Raphael Peck, SVP of Footwear at Under Armour resigned? No. Kevin Plank (CEO) sent a clear message earlier this year that the footwear org needed more firepower to go from 'good to great.' This was clear in my mind for the past year, was reaffirmed with org comments in 1Q, and confirmed during my visit to UA's HQ 2 weeks back.


Is this a signal that footwear is underperforming at Under Armour? No.


C'mon McGough...are you sure? Yes, I am sure.


Does this mean that there will be transitional pains? Yes - but they did not start last night. They started early this year when the company told him that more firepower was needed up top. That's when the management transition REALLY began.


What do I think about the bench at UA? When I had Plank and new President David McCreight in the room at the same time, I put them on the spot and asked what David would be judged on at the end of the year. Without hesitation, David said "That's easy..." and then like two of the Hanson Brothers from Slapshot "Building The Best Team Possible."


What does this mean for the P&L? Near term - no impact. Long term, to the extent that a higher-end footwear-geared mgmt team is running the show in that product area it should make it easier to model UA becoming a real player in the space. Remember, share today is >1%. If it can get to an Asics, Reebok, or Puma level, we're talking an incremental $500mm in revs (40% north of where it is today). I have a very high degree of confidence we'll see that.


Some Notable Call Outs

  • Anyone find it surprising that three luxury goods companies (with a European slant) have come out over the past two days and noted that they are using price as an offensive weapon?


  • According to Best Buy, the netbook category is accelerating. The niche product positioned between smartphones and laptops could present opportunities for cell phone providers and retailers to jumpstart data subscriptions.


  • Jewelry store and licensed department operator Finlay Enterprises announced a formal process to entertain offers for the company's business or assets from interested parties. In what amounts to a "For Sale" sign on the company, they are clearly throwing in the towel on any potential restructuring plans that were announced in late February. They even included two phone numbers to call if you are interested.


  • Gas prices rose again on Monday, making it the 49th day in a row of increases. This stretch is now surpasses the previous record from early 2007.


RESEARCH EDGE PORTFOLIO: (Comments by Keith McCullough):

06/16/2009 12:50 PM


Ross Stores breaking the $38 line here (-3% on the day) makes it oversold on an immediate term TRADE basis. McGough and Levine remain negative on it. KM


MORNING NEWS (full detail including sources at end of this note)
ZachHammer's overview of items you're unlikely to find in the general press.

  • Many Retailers Oppose the Health Care Reform As It Could Have Detrimental Results to Struggling Companies
  • Marks & Spencer to Reduce Prices at Irish Stores as Local Economy Suffers
  • Luxury goods companies focus on cost cutting
  • Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are continuing their push for revolution in the fashion industry - this time taking on prices.
  • Bidders are beginning to line up outside Aquascutum's door
  • Tourist Report: International tourists have shopping in mind when they visit the U.S. - Top 10 Most Visited Stores by Tourists
  • Social Media and Branding Insight from Marc Gobe, Emphasis on the Exit of the Baby Boomers and the Gap Left Behind
  • Low inventories in stores spurred retailers to shop for immediate orders as well as holiday collections that were unveiled during the market that ended in L.A. Tuesday
  • India ranked as the most alluring market for retail investment, but is that really true? IKEA says differently
  • Wholesale prices for U.S. made apparel increased 0.1 percent in May compared with April, and rose 1.4 percent from a year earlier
  • Procter & Gamble Co. announced it had purchased Zirh Holdings
  • J. Crew recently opened a store for accessories as a new showcase in SoHo
  • Aeropostale's approach and plan for P.S.
  • Luxury footwear and accessories brand Jimy Choo will create a range for H&M this autumn
  • Diesel Black Gold has pulled out of New York Fashion Week
  • RIPT FUSION- the new body-sculpting shirt
  • Hit by a significant drop in sales of luxury lingerie during the economic slowdown, Aubade said it plans to lay off 104 employees from its production site
  • Jos. A. Bank Discounting
  • Calvin Klein Jeans was singled out by the media on Tuesday for its provocative billboard at the corner of Houston and Lafayette streets in Manhattan


Many Retailers Oppose the Health Care Reform As It Could Have Detrimental Results to Struggling Companies - As the Senate prepares to take up landmark health care reform legislation today by making it affordable and available to every American, many retail trade groups have gone on the defensive against several proposals, particularly employer mandates and a public plan option to compete against private health insurers.  These measures could have a detrimental impact on merchants already struggling with a recession. But organized labor is advocating a public plan option to give people a cheaper alternative to private health insurers and inject competition into the marketplace, in an effort to drive down crippling costs. Currently, 170 million people get their health insurance through their employers, according to industry estimates. The retail industry employs approximately 24 million employees at 1.6 million establishments, said Neil Trautwein, vice president and employee benefits policy counsel at the National Retail Federation. Of the 24 million employed in retail, 50 to 60 percent are eligible for health care benefits. The retail industry employs millions of part-time workers who are often not eligible to receive health benefits from employer plans. That means 10 million to 12 million retail employees are not eligible for employers' health coverage. Even retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest private employer, which came under fire for years from politicians and labor groups for inadequate health care benefits, is calling for universal health care. The company joined a health care reform coalition with labor groups in 2007 with the goal of providing health care to all workers by 2012. Wal-Mart covers 51.8 percent of its 1.4 million U.S. employees, in terms of health care benefits, according to a spokesman. He said 5.5 percent of Wal-Mart's workforce is uninsured, while 94.5 percent of its U.S. employee base has some type of health care insurance. The politically volatile issue is sure to test the political will of many lawmakers and will partially define Obama's presidency. Expanding health care coverage to the estimated 46 million to 50 million Americans who are uninsured while reining in skyrocketing health care costs that account for more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies won't be easy, according to a team of professors at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University. But in recent days Obama has thrown his political weight behind one of the pillars of his campaign and hit the trail of public opinion to make the sell. "Today, we are spending over $2 trillion a year on health care - almost 50 percent more per person than the next most costly nation," Obama said in a speech to the American Medical Association in Chicago on Monday. "And yet, for all this spending, more of our citizens are uninsured; the quality of our care is often lower, and we aren't any healthier."

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Marks & Spencer to Reduce Prices at Irish Stores as Local Economy Suffers - Marks & Spencer Group Plc, the U.K.'s biggest clothing retailer, will cut the price of clothing and homeware at its Irish stores as shoppers face tougher economic conditions and the impact of currency fluctuations.

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Luxury goods companies going on shopping sprees - or branching out into technology or interior design - are trends that are firmly in the past as the sector tries to recover from the recession. Somber times demand a return to the core values of luxury, above all exclusivity, and a reassessment of the business as customer expectations change, executives agree. Speaking at the Financial Times' Business of Luxury summit, which ended here Tuesday, Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's largest luxury group, said most of the growth in the last five to six years was largely due to an overleveraged economy, not to real growth, at least in the West. As a result, a large number of companies ended up buying other firms because they had cash at their disposal. "Some investors pushed by the frenzy of doing something were going to invest in almost everything," Arnault said. "As luxury was perceived as an industry where you can make money easily, they were pushed to buy brands without knowing how to make them work." By contrast, Arnault slowed LVMH's deal-making activity during the boom years, divesting loss-making brands like Christian Lacroix in 2005 and venturing into small investment deals like the purchase last year of watchmaker Hublot in a move to strengthen its watch division. Arnault's view is shared by Berndt Hauptkorn, ceo of privately held group Labelux, a relatively new player in luxury goods. The company, based in Vienna and Milan, is owned by family-controlled firm Joh. A. Benckiser. It controls perfume maker Coty Inc., jeweler Solange Azagury-Partridge, fashion designer Derek Lam and Swiss leather goods company Bally. "During this period of growth, there were concepts that were superficial, that didn't deliver in terms of product quality," Hauptkorn said, arguing these brands won't survive the economic downturn unscathed. "There will be a shakeout because there was overcapacity in the market. It will be a market with stronger brands and with a clearer message." Diego Della Valle, founder and ceo of Tod's SpA, said the last 10 years, when the luxury goods sector was booming, were years of frustration for his company, because competitors were rapidly diversifying and, as a result, were booking fast-growing sales and profits. "Several times I had to fight for our vision against external pressures, which were demanding we did perfumes, or mobile phones," Della Valle said. "My answer was that it wasn't our competency. If I want a mobile phone, I want to buy it from Nokia." Della Valle said his refusal to diversify is paying off now since consumers are demanding exclusivity and quality as they begin to spend on luxury goods again. The industry has begun to realize that once the economy recovers, customers will place a particular emphasis on values like quality and craftsmanship, but also exclusivity, as well as commitment to social and environmental responsibility.

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Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are continuing their push for revolution in the fashion industry - this time taking on prices. After criticizing what they deemed untimely and unrealistic shipment schedules (think beefy wools in stores in July and wispy silks in November), the designers' latest quest is to shave prices by between 10 and 20 percent while maintaining creativity and quality. The initiative will begin with the upcoming spring season, but is a long-term one, said Gabbana. The price reductions will occur across the board for both the main and D&G lines and margins will be squeezed to help achieve them. "This crisis has two key aspects: it's international and social. The first thing people say these days when they walk into a store is, 'Nice, but how much?'" noted Gabbana, wearing a white shirt, frayed khaki Bermuda shorts and Crocs sandals. "In this moment of uncertainty, people spend more willingly on travel or spas rather than on a new dress. We want to work for the final consumer." Evidence of the lower prices is seen in the following items: A pair of five-pocket jeans for spring will sell for $450 (for spring 2009 they cost $695); a dress will cost $1,469, down from $2,295; a leather bomber jacket will be priced at $1,499, compared with $2,296, and an iconic stretch silk tulle corset dress will go to $3,589 from last year's $5,200. To obtain the price cuts, the designers talked their suppliers and manufacturers into a collective, cost-efficient approach across the entire supply chain. And everyone, from button suppliers to mills to manufacturers, is doing their part, stressed the designers. In addition, the designers' usual selection of hundreds of fabrics was dropped to dozens that will be served up in a more far-ranging palette, while constructions will be simpler. For example, Dolce and Gabbana worked hard to develop alternative stitching techniques that are innovative, but reduce manufacturing costs.

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Bidders are beginning to line up outside Aquascutum's door. On Tuesday, Crombie, the midmarket British coat and suit brand, said it was interested in Aquascutum's U.K. and European businesses. It remains unclear, however, whether Aquascutum's parent, Renown Inc. of Japan, wants to sell the brand piecemeal or as a whole. Renown put Aquascutum up for sale last year and is in advanced talks with the British brand's Chinese licensee, YGM Trading Ltd. YGM has signed a letter of intent, and industry sources in London said YGM is conducting due diligence. Crombie chairman and owner Alan Lewis said Tuesday he is talking to Renown and expects discussions to continue over the next several weeks. Lewis, a karate black belt who in the Eighties and Nineties owned a major British wool textile empire that included firms such as Illingworth Morris, is a multimillionaire based on his property holdings in northern England. Over the last 15 years, he's built Crombie into a global brand, opening a string of stores in the U.K. and Ireland selling its collections. "In terms of intentions, what we can achieve with Aquascutum will depend largely on the willingness of Renown, and a more detailed analysis of Aquascutum's U.K. and European assets and liabilities," he said. "There is a lot of overlap between the Crombie and Aquascutum brands - so we think it would be a natural fit." Renown has declined to comment on the Crombie talks. Last month, Renown rebuffed a management buyout offer from Aquascutum's former chief executive officer Kim Winser.

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The Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty and Lincoln Memorial are enticing, but a majority of international tourists have shopping in mind when they visit the U.S. - even in the recession. A newly released survey on the behavior of visitors in the last 12 months found that 53 percent said shopping was either a key reason for their trip or a factor in choosing their destination cities. The findings are based on responses from about 1,800 travelers polled in January by Alexandria, Va.-based Mandala Research & Consulting on behalf of Taubman Centers and Shop America Alliance, an organization representing 200 U.S. shopping destinations, with the support of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel & Tourism Industries. The snapshot of the global consumer suggests that they are driven by value, particularly the favorable currency exchange rate. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said good value was their top shopping priority, followed by 56 percent who cited a wide selection of brands. Other key motivators were: Helpful and friendly sales associates, 41 percent, availability of luxury brands, 35 percent, and special discounts for travelers, 26 percent. The three most-sought-after labels were Nike, Levi's and Gap. "The popularity of international travelers coming here specifically to shop really puts things into perspective, because it indicates a great marketing opportunity for retailers and brands," said Laura Mandala, managing director of Mandala Research. "If they enhance their own marketing strategies, they could actually grow their customer base by learning how to target these international shoppers more effectively." International shopping travelers contribute an estimated $38.6 billion to the U.S. economy annually, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce and Office of Travel & Tourism Industries. The five countries that send the most tourists to the U.S. are Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Japan and Germany. Each respondent to the survey had visited the U.S. in the previous 12 months and spent a minimum of $250 on shopping for gifts and souvenirs. The study catalogued total spending, including apparel, footwear, accessories and electronics as well as gifts and souvenirs, with each person spending at an average of $1,063. Average spending for tourists from the top five countries was: Canada, $757; Mexico, $1,310; the U.K., $968; Japan, $1,200, and Germany, $1,085. The study found 50 percent of respondents who have visited in the last 12 months are likely to return in the next year.


Rank of the top 10: 1) Nike, 2) Levi's, 3) Gap, 4) Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger (tie), 5) Abercrombie & Fitch, 6) Calvin Klein and Coach (tie), 7) Adidas, Chanel, and Gucci (tie), 8) Armani, Banana Republic, Louis Vuitton, and Sony (tie), 9) Apple, Prada, and Victoria's Secret (tie),10) American Eagle, Diesel, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Hollister, Hugo Boss, and Old Navy (tie)

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Social Media and Branding Insight from Marc Gobe, Emphasis on the Exit of the Baby Boomers and the Gap Left Behind - What I see is a six- to 10-year span of lower spending. After the Baby Boom generation of 70-some million people, who supported the economy, we have a Generation X of only 47 million people. The Y generation is still too young to have [as big] an impact on the economy. So there is a gap of 30 million people. The Baby Boomers. The marketing of the past - dreams were reachable by anybody - those dreams have to be reviewed in the context of people's reality. Some of those dreams will create resentment or prudence. When the car industry claims to create an American revolution and cannot deliver, it is not making the consumer feel good about brands. People are less inclined to define themselves through brands. They will look at brands with a certain dose of incredulity. Businesses are emerging that are almost under the radar. They don't spend much on advertising. They're built on word of mouth. They have relationships, with a community of customers, that will not be visible anywhere but online. is a young company and it does more than $1 billion in its business in shoes, fashion, accessories. They have a map of the United States where you can see in real time what people are buying and where. You can see somebody's buying that shoe in Boston. Boom! And there's another shoe being bought in Las Vegas. Boom! The essence of the Internet can be articulated around one word: sharing. Anything that goes on in social media is only interesting because it can be shared. It should be a mantra for any brand.

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Low inventories in stores spurred retailers to shop for immediate orders as well as holiday collections that were unveiled during the market that ended in L.A. Tuesday. At Designers & Agents, Focus Apparel and Accessories Tradeshow, Brighte and the showrooms housed in the California Market Center, New Mart and Cooper Design Space, buyers seemed to be in a more positive frame of mind, although they continued to write orders with a discerning eye on prices in light of slimmer budgets."I can't just buy whatever I want to," said Mary Kate Dupont, who was shopping for her soon-to-open boutique in San Francisco. "It's not the way it used to be, when people were spending a lot of money. I have to buy only what I absolutely know will sell." With retailers in the mood to shop, vendors got a boost. "They [buyers] must have nothing in their stores if they haven't been buying, so they need something," said Amy Hall, creator of handbag line amykathryn, adding that business has picked up since March. For the holiday season, novelty was key, as seen in touches of bead work, sequins, crystals and metallic materials. For instance, French Connection made miniskirts pop in blue and silver sequins, Anticipating the need for dresses to be worn at parties, designers offered cocktail dresses drenched in jewel tones, one-shoulder frocks and strapless styles. "The cheaper and the more novel, the better," said Heather Moeck, who handles sales for Dolan, which received favorable responses for $139 silk chiffon dresses accentuated with rows of swinging tassels. Designers adapted to retailers' growing need for lower prices. Mason by Michelle Mason avoided using more expensive stretch leather by giving support to a $275 strapless minidress cut out of conventional leather with wide elastic straps in the back. Retailers wanted "anything short and sexy," said Tish Young, who handles Mason's sales. Leggings remained a fashion fixture, as seen in the debut of footless tights at Trina Turk ($67 in ponte) and Use Unused ($69 for a polyester blend emboldened with sheer netting). Ava Grace updated equestrian pants in $88 fleece leggings sewn with leather patches. In denim, legging jeans wholesaling from $114 to $172 did well for James Jeans. Another strong trend was eco fashion, which received a boost from new entries by style stalwarts at D&A's Green Room. Danish fashion brand Vadum spun off 15x15 by Buskvadum, which fashions patchwork-style dresses, vests, tanks and rompers out of leftover fabrics from European fashion houses such as Roberto Cavalli. Prices ranged from $89 to $199.

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India ranked as the most alluring market for retail investment, but is that really true? IKEA says differently - Providing good growth potential for global retailers amid the economic slowdown, India has emerged as the most alluring market for investment in the retail sector, surpassing the likes of China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. India has been ranked as the most attractive nation for retail investment among 30 emerging markets by US-based global management consulting firm A T Kearney. According to the entity's Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), India is followed by Russia (2), China (3), United Arab Emirates (4) and Saudi Arabia (5). India was placed at the second spot last year. Similarly, the other four countries in the top five have improved their ranking, with the United Arab Emirates jumping 16 places from previous year's 20th rank.  BUT the world's largest furniture maker, IKEA, has shelved plans to enter the Indian retail market because of stringent FDI norms, but the company said it would continue sourcing supplies from the country for its international operations. The Sweden-based company said that it has shelved plans to foray into retail business in India until the government allows 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in single-brand retailing in the country. "We would have liked the government to allow 100 per cent FDI in retail. As it is not forthcoming, we have stopped all plans for our retail business in India," an IKEA official said. "Our sourcing business has no links with our retail plans in India. The sourcing of goods and raw materials would continue from India," the official added. The company has been active in India for two years and is in sourcing business that is worth around Rs 1,800-1,900 crore, the official said. He said the company has a policy of not operating retail chains through Joint Ventures or other routes. On reports that IKEA had planned to invest up to around $1 billion in the Indian market, the official said: "We had made some plans internally and the government is aware of them." IKEA's decision to shelve plans for opening retail chain have come on the heels of this week's report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, which has opposed further opening up of the organised retail market to foreign players.  Under the existing rules, foreign investment of up to 51 per cent is allowed in single-brand retail, while for wholesale cash-and-carry business, 100 per cent FDI is allowed. No FDI is currently allowed in multi-brand retail business. IKEA reported global sales of 21.2 billion euro in 2007-08 and has around 300 stores in over 35 countries.  Contact us at Research Edge for more info on India. Pasted from <>

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Wholesale prices for U.S. made apparel increased 0.1 percent in May compared with April, and rose 1.4 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department said on Tuesday. Women's and girls' apparel prices declined 0.1 percent in May, but increased 1.6 percent in year-over-year comparisons, according to the Producer Price Index. Men's and boys' apparel prices were up 0.3 percent month-to-month, and advanced 2.1 percent from May 2008. Prices for all U.S.-made goods rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in May. The increase followed a rise of 0.3 percent in April and a decline of 1.2 percent in March. The PPI for apparel is not a true indicator of price fluctuations because of the relatively small number of manufacturers operating in the U.S. The Consumer Price Index, to be released today, is a more accurate measure because it reflects the prices for all goods, including imports. Pasted from <>


Retail First Look: 6/17/09 - PPI Chart 


The PPI release tells us that the cost of apparel, footwear, sporting and athletic goods, and jewelry products are still up considerably compared to last year.  May's data point tells us that footwear held its rate of growth at 2.9%, apparel increased sequentially to 1.4%, jewelry products accelerated its rate to 1.3%, and sporting goods decelerated from 3.7% to 2.9%.  Jewelry and Jewelry products have come down over the recent months but picked up in May which means that Tiffany and other jewelry companies face less of a headwind than the last two years.  Sporting and athletic goods costs have been rising since February 2008, but have hit a ceiling at 3.7% growth and have recently come down below 3% in May.  Apparel's modest growth has slowly crept up to a steady growth of over 1% while footwear costs had been on the rise over the last 5 years but recently peaked in October 2008 and now rest just below 3%.   


Procter & Gamble Co. is out to transform the "soap-and-water-guy" into a proper skin care consumer. On Tuesday P&G announced it had purchased Zirh Holdings in a deal industry sources said is worth about $40 million, twice Zirh's annual sales. Zirh, best known for its high-end skin care products, including face washes, masks and antiaging serums, marks P&G's second major men's grooming acquisition in two weeks, with the first being The Art of Shaving, a deal said to have been in the $60 million range. The Zirh buy gives P&G entree to a retail base that includes Barneys New York, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Sephora, while The Art of Shaving deal gives P&G a crack at growing a retail chain, as well as an immediate outlet for its bevy of razors and blades.

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For J. Crew's spunky jeweled flip-flops, antique-styled cut-glass necklaces and sleek minaudière clutches, there's a new showcase in SoHo. Six days ago, a 500-square-foot space for the brand's array of accessories, ranging from $7.50 hair clips to $298 Italian leather hobos, opened in the existing J. Crew store at 99 Prince Street. While the store leads easily into the adjacent 2,600-square-foot women's floor, it feels more like a stand-alone than a shop-in-shop, having a separate entrance, windows and decor. The look is modern, with washed herringbone oak floors and vitrines inset in the walls, balanced by vintage elements like brass jewelry cases and a chandelier. It's an appeal based on spirited design and reasonable pricing. "The relative value is pretty compelling," said Millard "Mickey" Drexler, J. Crew Group's chairman and chief executive. "I think if a customer can find something that's relatively well priced and under a certain price, and it's fun, he or she will buy it." Asked to characterize the clientele, Drexler replied, "It's the same customers shopping the designer stores." They're looking to spend less for products with style and of similar quality, he added. "The accessories can go with anyone's apparel, but frankly we would rather have women wear it with our apparel." The format is a takeoff of the much smaller "shoe salon" in the J. Crew Collection store at 1035 Madison Avenue. The salon displays some jewelry and handbags, as well as shoes, but without the breadth of product seen in SoHo. J. Crew plans a third accessories shop inside its East Hampton store, though the format is not necessarily a rollout strategy. "Not at all," Drexler said, when the question was raised. "Right now, we are just thinking that we are loving the feel of it. Customers love our accessories. Nothing is terribly scientific for us. We debated what to use this room for. Probably, it makes the most sense for accessories. It shows off the merchandise more effectively than other stores. Usually accessories, by virtue of [requiring] little space, should be more productive than other categories."

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P.S. may stand for postscript in literary terms, but the new retail concept from Aéropostale Inc., aimed at seven- to 12-year-olds, is no afterthought. "We have the opportunity for at least 500 P.S. From Aéropostale stores," said Julian Geiger, company chairman and chief executive officer. "Nobody is looking at this as a test. We have every reason to believe that this is going to be successful. We will be aggressive in order to grow this brand quickly. We're leveraging systems, processes, sourcing and fabric from Aéropostale. [That will] allow us to grow quickly." While P.S. embodies the spirit of its older sibling, the format is no shrunken-down Aéropostale. "It doesn't mindlessly copy Aero for a younger age," Geiger said, adding a dedicated team has been working on P.S. for a little more than a year. P.S. From Aéropostale seems more closely aligned with the company's primary business. Besides, said Geiger, the kids' demographic "is an underserved market. It's a $14 billion market that's projected to grow faster than the total market." Aéropostale, which did $1.9 billion in sales in 2008, is in a good position to introduce a second chain. It's had 11 consecutive years of positive comparable-store sales, an anomaly, especially during this depressed economy. Geiger sees potential for 1,100 units in the U.S. for the original Aéropostale brand, which now has about 900 stores. In March, Aéropostale ventured overseas with a store in Dubai and further Middle East expansion is expected. Geiger said that foothold will lay the groundwork for a greater expansion of the brand globally.


The initial plan calls for the opening of five P.S. units: one at the Palisades Center in West Nyack, N.Y., will bow Thursday, followed by Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury, Conn; Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, N.J.; Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst, N.Y.; Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, N.J., and Bridgewater Commons in Bridgewater, N.J. Scott Birnbaum, senior vice president of marketing, said a store in Manhattan is a given, but no leases have been signed yet. The company is also looking for space at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. P.S. units, which average 3,500 square feet, are expected to achieve sales on par with Aéropostale stores that make about $572 a square foot. The idea for P.S. came from years of watching mothers bring their teens to Aéropostale stores with younger siblings in tow. The little brothers and sisters would try to convince mom that the clothes fit them. "Aéropostale [aimed at 14- to 17-year-olds] lives at the intersection of fashion and value," Geiger said. "It's loved by kids, endorsed by moms with trend-right product and compelling values."

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Luxury footwear and accessories brand will create a range for H&M this autumn - the Swedish fashion chain's first designer accessories collaboration.

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Diesel Black Gold has pulled out of New York Fashion Week and drafted in Greek born designer Sophia Kokosalaki to overhaul its premium Black Gold womenswear collection.

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RIPT FUSION- the new body-sculpting shirt - RIPT FUSION: a new body-sculpting undershirt designed to support a man's core, shave inches off his belly and enhance his posture.  Using a patent pending design and dual fabric technology, the RIPT FUSION's mid-panel sucks in the belly and creates core consciousness while the chest and sweep of the shirt are a light-weight, soft cotton perfect for wearing under all types of clothes. Best of all, it looks just like a regular white T-shirt so no one in the locker room will ever know how he got so...ripped! So, wear RIPT under a dress shirt, a polo, or a sweater and replace the tired, white undershirt for good. Compression garments have long been a staple in athletes' locker rooms and RIPT FUSION applies the same concept now to men's fashion. Compacting the abdomen and back creates a flatter silhouette under clothes, and the support offers other benefits, such as better posture and a greater sense of security.  Shapewear is one of the fastest growing industries in the US and continues to receive injections of new talent and technology. Much of this business is focused on women, but Thomson has recognized the need in the market for a men's product. "Feeling fit and secure in your clothes is a human struggle," says Thomson, "not exclusive to sex, age or race."
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Retail First Look: 6/17/09 - RIPT png


Hit by a significant drop in sales of luxury lingerie during the economic slowdown, Aubade said it plans to lay off 104 employees from its production site in Saint-Savin in the southwest of France. Aubade's parent company, Swiss bodywear giant Calida, said the brand's sales fell 4.6 percent in France last year. Calida said it plans to outsource the production of samples and transform the Saint-Savin site into a logistics site employing 28 workers.

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Jos. A. Bank Discounting - Notice anything different between the two promotional events (2009 on the left, 2008 on the right)?  Yeah, the one on the left has an added discount at the bottom and some free shipping options.  JOSB is still more promotional than last year. 


Retail First Look: 6/17/09 - JOSB promo


Calvin Klein Jeans was singled out by the media on Tuesday for its provocative billboard at the corner of Houston and Lafayette streets in Manhattan, which show a seminude threesome. It's the kind of media attention the brand thrives on, but soon it will be out with the old ads and in with the new - and for fall, the campaign includes actress Eva Mendes and Jamie Dornan. Steven Klein shot the duo in, true to form, racy new black-and-white images for Jeans and Calvin Klein Underwear. In addition to billboards, there will be Jeans ad inserts in the August issues of Lucky, Elle and GQ, and the September issue of Vanity Fair, as well as cover gatefolds in W, Nylon, Details and Interview. For women and men's underwear, four-page ad units will run in In Style and GQ. Mendes has developed close ties to the company, adding the new Underwear and Jeans campaigns to her work in Calvin Klein Secret Obsession and the current Underwear campaign. Dornan has worked with the brand for years, previously alongside Natalia Vodianova in fall 2004 and Kate Moss in fall 2006. He's also in the new Calvin Klein white label ads, with model Edita.

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Retail First Look: 6/17/09 - Eva Mendez





Time Changes Things

"They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself"
-Andy Warhol
Yesterday's intraday reversal in the US stock market was one of the most confusing of the year. Stocks opened higher, REFLATING alongside a deflating Dollar (makes sense)... then completely collapsed, breaking the macro inverse correlation (USD vs. SP500) that has held for the better part of 2009. I guess that's why correlations aren't 100%.
This of course was only a 6-hour affair and, as such, can hardly be considered an immediate term TRADE (3-weeks or less), never mind an intermediate term TREND (3-months or more). That said, prices rule in our macro models and when they change, we do.
Trading volumes were light, but volatility (measured by the VIX) shot above its immediate term TRADE line of resistance (30.64) to 32.68 in conjunction with the SP500 breaking down through its immediate term TRADE line of support (917). With the US Dollar down on the day, why did this happen? Sometimes the answer is I don't know. Sometimes I just call it squirrely. Sometimes, real-time prices end up discounting something that I can't quite see, yet. Remember, market prices don't lie; people do.
Are we starting to discount the end of the inverse correlation between REFLATION in Global Equities and the US Dollar? At this juncture, that would be a very premature conclusion to make - we don't have anywhere near the amount of days or volume in the data series to confirm anything other than what you see in front of you today. That said, extremely high r-squares like this aren't perpetual. When consensus hits its crescendo, correlations start to unwind.
Three and six months ago, when I'd write about Breaking The Buck, some people saw what my investment team was seeing. Today, when I write about Burning The Buck, most people do. Those who are ultra patriotic about the currency or their politics don't see anything other than the qualitative stories they like to tell themselves, but quantifying things seems to at least tone them down.
Being politically polarized or ragingly bullish/bearish probably isn't going to help you at this stage of the game. This game of global investing is as interconnected across asset classes and geographies as it has ever been. No matter how politicized the US Financial System has become, you have to accept it for what it is, and keep playing the game that's in front of you.
Why does the US Dollar continue to trade lower this morning? I see two reasons - both are political:
1.       The BRIC Summit is ending with explicit comments from the Brazilians, Chinese, Indians, and Chinese that the world needs a new reserve currency
2.       The US Federal Reserve is starting to signal to the manic media that they won't be talking about raising interest rates at next week's FOMC meetings
Both of these lines of political rhetoric are perfectly predictable. There is no way on God's good earth that President Obama is going to let Bernanke be objective and address where inflation expectations are going come the 4th quarter - at least not next week. Obama signaled this last night on Bloomberg, floating the 10 bagger out there (as in 10% unemployment), as his political trial balloon. The US Treasury market bought that hook line and sinker, as it should have, and bond yields are treading lower for the 3rd straight day.
In the face of the yield on 10-year US Treasuries dropping 32 basis points since last Thursday's crescendo of consensus that printing money forever doesn't end well, can the US stock market put in her 3rd consecutive down day? We will have to see wont we...
The New Reality remains: Americans aren't stupid like some of the economic savants from Washington to Wall Street consider them to be. When Joe Biden starts framing up the unemployment line political football on Meet The Press by talking about his team's "Econometric Models", what do you think your average American sniff tester smells? I can tell you this - this morning's ABC/Washington Post Consumer Confidence survey tells you this smells like a fart.
Consumer confidence erosion is collateral damage that the US stock market has to deal with as REFLATION moves towards INFLATION. Prior to this 3-day drop in bond yields and oil prices, the US Consumer was faced with higher cost of capital, higher gas prices, and a credibility crisis in her currency. That's why the ABC confidence reading dropped to -49 versus -47 last week. Americans vote with their wallet.
This morning, our macro models are showing a price of oil at $71.31 or higher as the elasticity point that triggers turning REFLATION into INFLATION. If the US Dollar can regain some credibility, the Obama "econometric" team doesn't have to worry - a stronger dollar will imply a lower oil price. Stay tuned on that front...
For now, across asset classes, the real-time marked-to-market prices that matter to Americans are at a very critical stage. "They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." My downside support level for the SP500 is now 904, and I have immediate term upside +3% higher than yesterday's close at 936. Trade the range and  keep moving out there. After a day that was as confusing as yesterday, that's all you can do.
Best of luck out there,


EWZ - iShares Brazil - President Lula da Silva is the most economically effective of the populist Latin American leaders; on his watch policy makers have kept inflation at bay with a high rate policy and serviced debt -leading to an investment grade credit rating. Brazil has managed its interest rate to promote stimulus. Brazil is a major producer of commodities. We believe the country's profile matches up well with our re-flation theme.

SPY - SPDR S&P 500 - The S&P500corrected on 6/15 from the YTD high on low volume.  The S&P 500 is positive from a TREND duration and negative from a TRADE duration. This is a market that has a very predictable range, one we'll trade with a bullish bias.

QQQQ - PowerShares NASDAQ 100 - We bought Qs on 6/10 to be long the US market. The index includes companies with better balance sheets that don't need as much financial leverage.

XLV - SPDR Healthcare -Healthcare looks positive from a TREND duration and moved to negative territory for a TRADE. We bought XLV on 6/08 to get long the safety trade.  

EWC - iShares Canada - We want to own what THE client (China) needs, namely commodities, as China builds out its infrastructure. Canada will benefit from commodity reflation, especially as the USD breaks down. We're net positive Harper's leadership, which diverges from Canada's large government recent history, and believe next year's Olympics in resource rich British Columbia should provide a positive catalyst for investors to get long the country.   

XLE - SPDR Energy - We think Energy works higher if the Buck breaks down.  Bearish TRADE and bullish TREND.

CAF - Morgan Stanley China Fund - A closed-end fund providing exposure to the Shanghai A share market, we use CAF tactically to ride the wave of returning confidence among domestic Chinese investors fed by the stimulus package.  To date the Chinese have shown leadership and a proactive response to the global recession, and now their number one priority is to offset contracting external demand with domestic growth.

TIP- iShares TIPS -The iShares etf, TIP, which is 90% invested in the inflation protected sector of the US Treasury Market currently offers a compelling yield on TTM basis of 5.89%. We believe that future inflation expectations are currently mispriced and that TIPS are a compelling way to own yield on an inflation protected basis, especially in the context of our re-flation thesis.

GLD - SPDR GOLD -We bought more gold on 5/5. The inflation protection is what we're long here looking ahead 6-9 months. In the intermediate term, we like the safety trade too.



SHY- iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bonds - If you pull up a three year chart of 2-Year Treasuries you'll see the massive macro Trend of interest rates starting to move in the opposite direction. We call this chart the "Queen Mary" and its new-found positive slope means that America's cost of capital will start to go up, implying that access to capital will tighten. Yields are going to continue to make higher-highs and higher lows until consensus gets realistic. 

UUP - U.S. Dollar Index - We believe that the US Dollar is the leading indicator for the US stock market. In the immediate term, what is bad for the US Dollar should be good for the stock market. Longer term, the burgeoning U.S. government debt balance will be negative for the greenback.  

EWW - iShares Mexico - We're short Mexico due in part to the repercussions of the media's manic Swine flu fear.  The country's dependence on export revenues is decidedly bearish due to volatility of crude prices and when considering that the country's main oil producer, PEMEX, has substantial debt to pay down and its production capacity has declined since 2004. Additionally, the potential geo-political risks associated with the burgeoning power of regional drug lords signals that the country's economy is under serious duress.

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