Retail Callouts (4/23): SKX, AMZN, LULU, RSH

Takeaway: Too soon to hop on short-side of SKX? AMZN feeling the weight of sales tax. New LULU copycat with big backers.




  • UA - Earnings Call: Thursday 4/24, 8:30am
  • CAB - Earnings Call: Thursday 4/24, 11:00am
  • DECK - Earnings Call: Thursday 4/24, 4:30pm
  • HBI - Earnings Call: Thursday 4/24, 4:30pm
  • AMZN - Earnings Call: Thursday 4/24, 5:00pm



  • VFC- Earnings Call: Friday 4/25, 8:30am




SKX - 1Q14 Earnings


Retail Callouts (4/23): SKX, AMZN, LULU, RSH - chart1 4 23



Takeaway: Clean beat by a sizable margin. DD growth in Wholesale, International, and Retail while taking up price by 5% amounted to the 21% revenue growth rate. The only troubling part of the algorithm was flat sales which management attributed to low inventory levels. Not alarming given that the company comped 5.6% but interesting given just about every other retailers reliance on that channel over the past 6 months. The company got product right - something that it hasn't consistently been able to deliver on in the past. Sustainability of this momentum is the factor to determine now. Getting in on the short side too soon for the legions of perennial SKX haters could prove very painful.


AMZN - Amazon Sales Take a Hit in States With Online Tax



  • "In one of the first efforts to quantify the impact of states accruing more tax revenue from Web purchases, researchers at Ohio State University published a paper this month that found sales dropped for Amazon when the online charge was introduced. In states that have the tax, households reduced their spending on Amazon by about 10 percent compared to those in states that don’t have the levy. For online purchases of more than $300, sales fell by 24 percent, according to the report titled 'The Amazon Tax.'”
  • "In total, brick-and-mortar retailers enjoyed a 2 percent bump in purchases in states that introduced an online sales tax, while competing online retailers got a 20 percent increase, the study found."
  • "The biggest sales uptick -- 61 percent for big-ticket items -- went to merchants that use Amazon Marketplace. These outfits pay Amazon a fee to offer products through the Amazon website, yet don’t collect taxes. The products are typically available alongside Amazon’s own listings."


Takeaway: AMZN is the only retailer that doesn't have to protect its margin, because quite frankly, it doesn't ha. It's never had one mostly because it feels that revenues are more defensible. The 10% pullback in revenues in states where AMZN has started collecting state income taxes is less than we'd expect given the 5-10% price advantage it held prior to the tax laws. At some point Congress will pass a law clarifying this issue, whether it’s the Marketplace Fairness Act or something that looks a lot like it. AMZN can afford to play on a level playing field in the tax arena and still compete on price, but the others who this study points to as the biggest beneficiaries of the share gain don't have that pricing power.


LULU - Montreal’s Lole takes aim at struggling Lululemon's market



  • "Montreal-based Lole...will open a flagship store in the prominent Soho district of New York this spring as a springboard for expansion to the U.S."
  • "On Wednesday, Lole, which started as a wholesaler and branched into retail in 2010, will announce it is financing its plans partly through an investment from several high-profile backers. They include Quebec’s Desmarais family, members of the Hermes luxury fashion dynasty in France and the Simon family, which founded the largest U.S. shopping centre landlord. The group is buying a majority stake in parent company Coalision Inc. from private equity firm Kilmer Capital Partners, whose interest is dropping from 70 per cent to 20 per cent."
  • The retailer’s parent's long-term target is to increase revenues, which are expected to hit $105-million this year, to $1-billion or more annually over the next several years, Bernard Mariette, chief executive officer of Coalision, said….'It’s good timing,' Mr. Mariette, the former CEO of snowboard and surf specialist Quiksilver, said in an interview. 'Every movement in the competition is an opportunity.'”


Takeaway: Big backers stepping in behind another LULU copycat. LULU's competition spans the whole gamut - NKE, UA, GPS joined by a whole host of independents. The big players are the most easy to point to as competition but it’s the competition in aggregate that we are concerned with. We still think LULU has a lot of room to run on the top line, but will have to make its pricing model and/or value proposition more attractive in order sustain its market share -- something it's been unable to do since 2012.




RSH - Top ops exec departs RadioShack



  • "Troy Risch resigned his position EVP of store operations at RadioShack the company disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday."
  • "Risch spent 16 months at the troubled electronics retailer and his hiring in January 2013 was seen as somewhat of a coup since had spent 19 years at Target in various operations roles including EVP of stores."
  • "Risch joined RadioShack under the leadership of former interim CEO Dorvin Lively. However, roughly a month after Risch was hired RadioShack named former Duane Reade and Walgreens executive Joe Magnacca president and CEO to replace Lively."


ABF - Primark to Open Stores in America



  • "Associated British Foods plc said its popular retail brand...would open stores on the east coast of the U.S. starting next year."
  • "Primark signed a lease for some 70,000 square feet of selling space in the historic Burnham Building, which is currently being renovated, at Downtown Crossing in the heart of Boston, Mass. The site was previously home to a Filene’s department store."
  • "The Primark unit is set to open towards the end of 2015, and negotiations are under way to open more locations in the north east, through to the middle of 2016. The U.S. stores will be supported by warehousing in the region, ABF noted."

VIDEO | Keith's Macro Notebook 4/23: RUSSIA YIELD SPREAD VOLUME

PODCAST | McCullough: Three Risks on My Radar Screen

In this morning’s macro call with subscribers, Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough discusses three market risks on his global macro radar screen, how to play various markets around the globe, and why investor caution is advised here in the U.S. 

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Slow Motion Train Wreck

Client Talking Points


Russia is getting wrecked (again) on both the stock and bond market front. The Russian 10-year Bond auction effectively failed this morning as the Russian Trading System Index continues to crash. It’s down -0.6% this morning to -18.7% year-to-date – Putin needs oil higher.


Don’t tell anyone but the 10s/2s Spread has compressed another 6 basis points this week to +227 bps wide. The Financials (XLF) don’t like this and the market needs the Financials to power new all-time bubble highs. Classic #GrowthSlowing signal. 


Total US stock market volume is down -18% and -23% respectively yesterday versus the one month and three month volume averages. #Nice – not. With the Nasdaq still below my 4203 TREND line, FB, AAPL, and QCOM have some heavy lifting to do tonight. Meanwhile, from a US Dollar perspective, I feel like I am watching a slow motion train wreck every morning.

Asset Allocation


Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration

Hologic is emerging from an extremely tough period which has left investors wary of further missteps. In our view, Hologic and its new management are set to show solid growth over the next several years. We have built two survey tools to track and forecast the two critical elements that will drive this acceleration.  The first survey tool measures 3-D Mammography placements every month.  Recently we have detected acceleration in month over month placements.  When Hologic finally receives a reimbursement code from Medicare, placements will accelerate further, perhaps even sooner.  With our survey, we'll see it real time. In addition to our mammography survey. We've been running a monthly survey of OB/GYNs asking them questions to help us forecast the rest of Hologic's businesses, some of which have been faced with significant headwinds.  Based on our survey, we think those headwinds are fading. If the Affordable Care Act actually manages to reduce the number of uninsured, Hologic is one of the best positioned companies.


Construction activity remains cyclically depressed, but has likely begun the long process of recovery.  A large multi-year rebound in construction should provide a tailwind to OC shares that the market appears to be underestimating.  Both residential and nonresidential construction in the U.S. would need to roughly double to reach post-war demographic norms.  As credit returns to the market and government funded construction begins to rebound, construction markets should make steady gains in coming years, quarterly weather aside, supporting OC’s revenue and capacity utilization.


Darden is the world’s largest full service restaurant company. The company operates +2000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, including Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn and Capital Grille. Management has been under a firestorm of criticism for poor performance. Hedgeye's Howard Penney has been at the forefront of this activist movement since early 2013, when he first identified the potential for unleashing significant value creation for Darden shareholders. Less than a year later, it looks like Penney’s plan is coming to fruition. Penney (who thinks DRI is grossly mismanaged and in need of a major overhaul) believes activists will drive material change at Darden. This would obviously be extremely bullish for shareholders and could happen fairly soon driving shares materially higher.

Three for the Road


Gold held $1271 support; Corn, Nat Gas, Wheat all want to make higher highs #InflationAccelerating @KeithMcCullough


"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." - Oscar Wilde


An audit revealed that the IRS paid bonuses to employees  in trouble over tax issues themselves. More than $2.8 million, plus thousands of hours of paid time-off, were doled out over two years to employees who had recently been disciplined for various types of misconduct, according to an audit report. About $1 million of that money was given as bonuses to 1,100 employees who were in trouble over tax related issues. (CNN)

LEISURE LETTER (04/23/2014)



Thursday, April 24

  • WYN Q1 earnings - 8:30 a.m. , Passcode: Wyndham
  • LHO Q1 earnings - 9:30 a.m.
  • PENN Q1 earnings - 10 a.m.
  • RCL Q1 earnings - 10 a.m.
  • HOT Q1 earnings - 10:30 a.m. , Passcode: 12049644
  • LVS Q1 earnings - 4:30 p.m. ; PW: 18236529
  • LA March revenues out

Friday, April 25

  • PEB Q1 earnings – 9:00 a.m.

Monday, April 28

  • CHH Q1 earnings – 10:00 a.m. , Passcode: 70683172

Tuesday, April 29

  • NCLH Q1 earnings
  • VAC Q1 earnings – 10:00 a.m. , Passcode: 4679876
  • MGM Q1 earnings – 11:00 a.m. , Passcode: 20455736


MGM – A group including MGM Resorts, Cirque de Soliel, Ron Burkle, and Roberto Medina announced plans to build a 33-acre open-air music venue named “City of Rock” and built between the Circus Circus resort and Sahara Avenue on the Las Vegas Strip.  The venue is planned to host a four-day Rock in Rio USA festival beginning in May 2015.  MGM will invest $20 million to develop infrastructure and a five stage, 80,000 patron capacity venue which is forecast to draw 300,000 people over the four days music festival.

Takeaway:  It is said, mockery is the greatest form of flattery and such is the case because Las Vegas already has Electric Daisy, iHeartRadio Music Festival, as well as Life is Beautiful.


LVS – Cotai Strip Resorts Macao, including The Venetian® Macao; Conrad Macao, Cotai Central; Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central; and Holiday Inn Macao Cotai Central, is launching an Anniversary 5-Day Sale promotion from April 22 until 10 p.m. April 26, 2014 (Macao time), offering an appealing discount of 35% of each participating hotel’s room rate, valid for stays between April 22 and July 10, 2014.

Takeaway:  The only company with enough rooms to actually run a promo.


Galaxy (Macau Business) announced the refurbished Grand Waldo will reopen in early 2015.  What is unclear is whether the property would retain any gaming amenities. 

Takeaway:  The gaming tables have already been moved.


Summit Ascent – plans to increase its interest in the Vladivostok casino project from 45% to 60% with the purchase of half of Mr. Oleg Drozdov’s 30% interest in the development.  Mr. Drozdov is Summit’s local development partners.  Fitch Enterprises will continue to own 20%, while Melco International will continue to own 5% and Mr. Drozdov will own 15%.  The first phase of the planned casino-resort in Primorye Russia is scheduled to open by the end of this year.

Takeaway:  Lawrence Ho (Summit) continues to build his own empire.



Macau to review VIP rule – Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On has said the government will review the rules governing VIP gaming rooms when it negotiates the renewal of gaming licences in 2015-2016. The Chief Executive conveyed 2015-16 is “an appropriate time” for the city to discuss the renewal of the six gaming concessions and sub-concessions, which will expire from 2020 to 2022.                 

Takeaway: The concession renewal discussions are earlier than we expected.  Hard to imagine that discussions will yield anything positive for the concessionaires.  Status quo is the best outcome.


Macau Junket Crackdown (Macau Daily Times) as a follow up to the comments on March 17 and the arrest of a person linked to junket operator Neptune, it is now known the person arrested was Ng Chor Har, the wife of Cheong Chi-tai, owner of the Neptune Group.  Ms. Ng was apparently targeted by an anti-corruption operation by the Chinese central government.  Additionally, the Chinese central government is allegedly targeting a list of more than 20 junket operators who are supposedly assisting corrupt mainland officials in money laundering.  

Takeaway:  This story explains the recent slowdown in VIP gaming traffic from Mainland China to Macau.  We've long thought that corruption crackdowns are the most likely near term risk for Macau.


Hengqin Land Request –  the Macau government has officially put in an application for use of five square kilometers of land on neighboring Hengqin Island, as well as asking to be granted maritime authority similar to that which Hong Kong exercises over its nearby marine territory.

Takeaway:  An attempt by the Macau government to address the housing shortage.


Gulf Coast Gaming – the Poarch Band of Creek Indians are looking to build a new Las Vegas-style casino in Escambia County, Florida, just over the border from the Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos. The casino would offer slot machines, poker, craps and roulette tables.

Takeaway: More competition for Mississippi by tribal gaming.


Hotel M&A  

  • Santa Cruz Holiday Inn Express sold for $16.5 million. The property features 100 guest rooms and is located at 1410 Ocean Street.  According to various trade journals, the property is in turn-key condition and does not require significant capex.

Takeaway: At $165k/key, this seems like a reasonable transaction price and valuation.  

  • Langham Hospitality Group, the hotel arm of Great Eagle, is looking to make a big splash in the U.S., with an expectation to acquire 10 hotels.  Langham wants to expand its portfolio to 100 hotels over the next five years.  The company is reviewing acquisition opportunities in Washington, D.C., Miami, New York, San Francisco, London, Prague and Shanghai.  Langham owns or manages 23 hotels, under The Langham, Langham Place, and Eaton brands, with more than 8,500 rooms. It has more than 30 hotel projects either confirmed or in a developed stage of negotiations from China through India and the rest of Asia to the Middle East.

Takeaway:  A prudent buyer or simply a buyer looking for size and scale?  


Hedgeye remains negative on consumer spending and believes in more inflation.  Following  a great call on rising housing prices, the Hedgeye Macro/Financials team is turning decidedly less positive. 

Takeaway:  We’ve found housing prices to be the single most significant factor in driving gaming revenues over the past 20 years in virtually all gaming markets across the US.

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