Retail Callouts (4/25): HBI, AMZN, BRBY, Alibaba, NKE, UA, WMT, ARO, HMB

Takeaway: Maidenform carries HBI. AMZN good, but needed great. BRBY taps Alibaba. NKE/UA store openings. WMT changes up Asia.



HBI - 1Q14 Earnings


Retail Callouts (4/25): HBI, AMZN, BRBY, Alibaba, NKE, UA, WMT, ARO, HMB - chart1 4 25


Takeaway: The good: HBI continues to push margin expansion and still has some room to run as it recognizes the synergies from the Maidenform integration. The bad: HBI's core business was flat after stripping out FX on top of a -2% number in 1Q13, which equates to a -1% 2yr core run rate. Yes, this company can and will acquire to grow the top line, but what happens when they can no longer take price and commodity costs turn from a tailwind into a headwind?


AMZN - 1Q14 Earnings


Retail Callouts (4/25): HBI, AMZN, BRBY, Alibaba, NKE, UA, WMT, ARO, HMB - chart5 4 25


Takeaway: AMZN results were slightly above printed expectations -- but how do you really measure expectations for something that trades at 135x earnings.  Top line grew at 22.8% at $19.74 billion vs Consensus $19.46 billion (21.1%), and accelerated YoY and sequentially -- good news there.  But North American Media decelerated sequentially, which is not what we want to see. Sure, AWS (Amazon Web Services) picked up some slack -- but is that really the future of this brand? #no. 


BRBY, Alibaba - Burberry Teams With Alibaba's



  • "Burberry has unveiled a collaboration with the Alibaba Group to open a Burberry store on Tmall. The new tie-up is a first for any luxury brand on the platform. The collaboration with China’s largest online retail platform will further connect Chinese consumers to the Burberry brand."
  • "The official Burberry store will offer a tailored assortment of products from all of the brand’s product categories. The store will be accessible in China across all mobile, tablet and desktop devices. The custom-built, dedicated space mirrors the brand’s own online flagship store,…"


Takeaway: BRBY's move validates the Alibaba platform in China. Adidas, New Balance, and GPS among others already use Tmall as the platform for their presence in China, but luxury brands have been hesitant to follow suit primarily because of fears over brand integrity and counterfeiting. We think its an interesting opportunity for RL in particular who we think has a lot to gain from partnering with Alibaba for its e-commerce operations in China.


NKE, UA - New Doors for NKE in Boston and UA in New York


Retail Callouts (4/25): HBI, AMZN, BRBY, Alibaba, NKE, UA, WMT, ARO, HMB - chart1 4 24

Retail Callouts (4/25): HBI, AMZN, BRBY, Alibaba, NKE, UA, WMT, ARO, HMB - chart2 4 24


Takeaway: New doors for both brands opened over the past week. For UA, it’s a major milestone for the brand as it opens its first significant full-price door -- and in New York nonetheless. What strikes us is the influence LULU has had on the athletic retail store experience - the brand redefined the way brands sell athletic apparel especially to women.


WMT - Wal-Mart Names China CEO to Head Asia as Regional Sales Slow



  • "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. named its top China executive to head its Asian operations amid store closures and sluggish sales in the region that have hampered the retailer’s attempts to counter slowing growth in the U.S."
  • "Greg Foran, the chief executive officer of Wal-Mart’s Chinese operations since 2012, will take over as president and CEO of Asia from Scott Price, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said today. Price, 53, will move to the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, as an executive vice president. The changes take effect June 1."


Takeaway: McMillion and WMT continue to rework the international leadership. Since the announcement of his promotion to CEO, new leadership has been put in place for Walmart International, WMT India, and now Asia. Clearly the former strategies weren't working, and now WMT is trying to get its C-suite in place as it renews its International push.




UA - S&P 500 Adds Navient, Under Armour



  • "S&P Dow Jones Indices said Thursday it would add...athletic-goods maker Under Armour Inc. to its S&P 500 index, effective April 30."


AMZN - Amazon, in Threat to UPS, Tries Its Own Deliveries



  • "Adjacent to recently closed Candlestick Park, Amazon is testing its own delivery network for the 'last mile,' the final leg of a package's journey to consumers' doorsteps. Trucks loaded with Amazon packages and driven by Amazon-supervised contractors leave for addresses around San Francisco. Similar efforts are under way in Los Angeles and New York."
  • "Delivering its own packages will give Amazon...which have grown as a percentage of sales each year since 2009, according to securities filings."


Retail Callouts (4/25): HBI, AMZN, BRBY, Alibaba, NKE, UA, WMT, ARO, HMB - chart2 4 25


ARO, HMB - Aéropostale Sues Hennes & Mauritz



  • "The New York-based specialty chain sued Swedish fast-fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz in Manhattan federal court Thursday over use of the Live Love Dream, Aero and 87 trademarks."
  • “'H&M engaged in a pattern of conduct involving the use of identical, or nearly identical marks on some of the same goods for which Aéropostale uses its marks, namely, clothing and tote bags,' Aéropostale said in the suit."
  • "Aéropostale said it discovered in March that H&M was selling a graphic T-shirt and a cloth bag with the words Live Love Dream and upon further investigation discovered other looks that it claims infringe on other trademarks."


WTSL - The Wet Seal, Inc. to Exit Arden B Business



  • "The Wet Seal, announced that it will begin winding down its Arden B brand. Arden B currently operates 54 mall-based stores and an e-commerce web site...In the fiscal year ended February 1, 2014, Arden B generated net sales of $60.4 million and represented 11% of consolidated net sales."
  • "31 Arden B locations will transition to Wet Seal Plus merchandise and the remaining 23 locations will transition from Arden B to Wet Seal merchandise. Where permissible, Arden B locations will be refreshed with either Wet Seal or Wet Seal Plus signage. The Company expects to complete this conversion by the start of the back-to-school selling season in late July."
  • "Through lease expirations and the exercise of early termination provisions, the Company will close 15 Arden B locations through the remainder of fiscal 2014 and 16 Arden B locations in fiscal 2015. For the interim period while Arden B locations remain open, the stores will offer Wet Seal or Wet Seal Plus merchandise, as noted above."


LO: Ho-Hum Quarter But We Remain Bullish on the Strategy

Lorillard reported Q1 2014 results yesterday that were lukewarm, missing Street estimates on the top and bottom lines, however the stock closed up on the day. Our long-term bullish outlook remains unchanged and built on 1.) the strength and profitability of its advantaged menthol portfolio, 2.) our belief in the limited menthol regulatory risk over the longer term, and 3.) upside growth in its blu e-cigarette business that commands leading share in the U.S.


CEO Murray Kessler commanded a confident tone in reviewing the quarter, yet clearly knew the company didn’t hit the cover off the ball, citing numerous headwinds that impacted results: for cigarettes lower wholesale inventory levels, severe weather affecting core markets, a tax increase in Puerto Rico and holiday timing (Easter), as well as in e-cigs lower prices of its rechargables kits and pipeline inventory build versus the year ago-quarter. 


All that said, LO had impressive price/mix of +5.8% to offset total cigarette volume decline of -2.9% (outperforming the total industry at -4.0%). Total LO retail market share in the quarter rose 30bps to 15.2%, its highest level ever and its first quarter above 15%, and Newport’s share grew 40bps to 13% while LO’s share of the menthol market was flat Y/Y at 40.7%, but improved 80bps sequentially.


Although Newport Gold continues to struggle (share was not qualified on the call), and blu contributed a $0.02 loss in the quarter, we remain committed to LO’s long-term opportunity to lead the e-cig market in the U.S. and U.K. (more below), as we remain committed to LO’s industry-leading fundamentals, built on its core menthol business. As we outlined in our Best Ideas long call on LO in March, we see the stock trading to $80 over the longer term. 



On blu E-Cigs

Net sales for blu declined -10.5% y/y to $51MM, versus flattening growth across the entire category (slowing to +10% in the quarter). The loss was a contribution of lower prices of its rechargeable kits and a pipeline inventory build versus the previous year quarter.


The results show two straight quarters of slowing, and reflect an increased competitive and promotional environment as e-cig manufacturers spare for share and brand loyalty – both RAI and MO plan to launch nationally with Vuse and MarkTen, respectively, in June, and we like blu’s first to market leadership advantage.


In the quarter, blu commanded a leading 45% share of the market in the U.S., or 10 points higher versus the year-ago period, according to Nielsen channel data which the company switched to in the quarter to measure sales.


The big news was LO’s decision to step up marketing and distribution in the U.K to launch blu this quarter. It announced a $10-20MM spend over next 6 to 9 months to rebrand SKYCIG as blu and continue to support incremental brand building for blu in the U.SWe like LO’s strategy to invest early to become category leaders. They’ll match up against BAT, who is also in the process of rolling out a national launch. The U.K. is the second biggest e-cig market behind the U.S. and currently highly fragmented, with no brand greater than a 5-6% share, according to Kessler. Unlike in the U.S. with the acquisition of blu, the company has to pay for a sales force to support its rebranding and sales efforts. Kessler underlined that to create the U.K. branding of blu, they expect the business to be break-even in the near term.  


In the U.K. as in the U.S., the longer term strategy of the e-cig business is clearly not selling blu at break-even or a loss, however in the near term the company is willing to take the charge and investment now to win long term brand loyalty in a category with huge growth potential -- we support this strategy.



Other announcements and e-cig category color:

On vaporizers (tank/open/etc.) taking share from “tradition” format e-cigs like blu, Kessler said he believes vaporizers -- sold primarily at vape shops -- are taking some share from blu and other “traditional” style e-cig players (the format Big Tobacco is using today), because the products deliver a better experience at a lower price point. Although he was quick to note that this e-vapor format comes with regulatory challenges – in fact reading the tea leaves we think Kessler was betting the FDA was going to put more prohibitive measures on this format and e-vapor juice.  (For more see yesterday’s note FDA Finally Proposes E-Cigarette Regulations - They’re Surprisingly Mild!). Because the FDA largely didn’t touch non-traditional vaporizers and e-vapor juice, Kessler was quick to counter that LO is considering the landscape, and was suggestive that though the current traditional e-cig is the company’s format of choice, his team is currently working on devises that deliver superior vapor and battery life to close what may be a widening sales gap with non-traditional e-cig formats. He expects these improvements to be rolled out over the next 6 months, and to hit the market piece by piece, rather than a giant roll out (similar to how new razor blades come out for the same razor). Note: we’ll be doing survey work in the coming weeks to better understand the trends of non-traditional e-cig usage.


On proposed deeming regulations from the FDA, Kessler said he was pleased that the FDA is taking a science based approach with its proposed regulation. On the banning of sampling, he said the company will have a chance to comment on that and hopes it’s overturned. 


On any read-through on the FDA’s stance on menthol, Kessler said it was a positive read-through – the FDA is taking a science based approach on flavors – can’t say they’re an “issue”/more addictive than traditional tobacco flavor without the science. 


On any merchandizing shift for blu with MarkTen and Vuse being rolled out nationally, Kessler said that it looks like his major competitors are choosing to place e-cigs alongside their cigarettes, whereas blu wants to remain in stand-alone cases, and he’s perfectly fine if his competitors’ e-cigs are not near blu.  


Call or email with questions,




Howard Penney

Managing Director


Matt Hedrick



Fred Masotta


TGT - Adding to Best Ideas List As A Short

Takeaway: We’re Adding TGT to our Best Ideas list as a short. We’ll be hosting a call Wed. 4/30 at 11am ET to review our thesis. Call details below.

The crux of our argument? Wall Street's perception of Target's financial trajectory is more upbeat than Main Street. When the stock glossed over the company's weak 4Q earnings report, it was because Steinhafel (CEO) issued guidance that he hoped the company would grow into if the Company repaired its reputation after the data breach - not guidance that he knew TGT could meet or beat. We don't think that the Street is giving TGT credit for a) a miss this year, and b) another one in 2015.  The reality is that when a customer has a great experience in retail, they tell a friend. When a customer has a bad experience, they tell 20. Just ask JC Penney or Lululemon. Some of these 'fire your customer' events are worse than others, but there's one commonality - they take a very long time to recover.  

We think that TGT will be lucky to earn $3.75 this year, and $4.00 in 2015. The current 15x multiple is about as high as TGT has seen in 5-years - clearly the market is not factoring in a miss. We think that multiple compression alone on a weaker EPS number gets to a $48-50 stock, or $12-13 downside. If we're wrong, then we're looking at about $5 upside. That's about 2.5x to one, which we like on sleepy mega-cap shorts in Retail. 


TGT - Adding to Best Ideas List As A Short - TGT Bestidea



  1. The biggest risks to current consensus expectations. 
  2. Target's visitation statistics (via one of our proprietary consumer surveys). 
  3. How key competitors are reacting to the opportunity to gain share from Target.  
  4. Target's value proposition compared to the rest of Retail, particularly Wal-Mart. 
  5. Has suffered the same customer attrition fate as Target stores?
  6. Which categories is Target winning? Where is it losing?
  7. Historical margin cycles for Target and other major retailers, and where we are in that cycle today.  


  • Toll Free Number:
  • Direct Dial Number:
  • Conference Code: 917515#
  • Materials: CLICK HERE

For more information contact .

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Dollar Ugly

Client Talking Points


Post the bond auction failing this week, risk is getting real in Russia – faster. The CDS is ticking up to +282 (greater than 300 is what we call the “Lehman Line”) as the Russian stock market continues to crash (down -1.5% to -22% year-to-date). We’re keeping a close eye on these developments.


It’s just plain ugly and, for American cost of living, this is getting worse. Faster too. The CRB Commodities Index is holding on to its year-to-date highs at +11.5%  as American rents rip and the Fed continues to print/devalue ($4.3 trillion Fed balance sheet, up another +$12.4 billion week-over-week).

UST 10yr

While US equity market centric investors might be confused by the no-volume bounce to lower highs into month end, the bond market gets that #InflationAccelerating is slowing real consumption growth. The 10-year is at 2.67% this morning and falling.

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


Another fantastic UK #GrowthAccelerating data pt w/ #StrongPound - Retail Sales for MAR +4.2% y/y @KeithMcCullough


“We can't change the course of events, but we can attempt to protect capital in the face of foreseeable risks.” – David Einhorn


Tokyo’s consumer prices rose 2.7 percent in April from a year earlier, the biggest jump since 1992, pumped up by a sales-tax increase and a year of unprecedented stimulus from the Bank of Japan. Inflation excluding fresh food accelerated from 1 percent in the previous month, while nationally the same price gauge rose 1.3 percent in March from a year earlier, statistics bureau data showed. (Bloomberg)

EHTH: Not Looking Good

Takeaway: We remain short given the fundamental setup. Our concern is the return of undue optimism on the longer-term story.


  1. ATTRITION APPEARS MORE LIKELY: The larger the increase in enrollment on the public exchanges, the greater the IFP attrition risk to EHTH.  The 8M enrollment estimate from President Obama suggests the risk is considerable.
  2. IFP MEMBERSHIP TO DECLINE 1Q14: The brunt of the cancellation risk will emerge in the 1Q print, while membership flow-through from Open Enrollment will be recognized over the 4Q13-2Q14 period.   
  3. GUIDANCE CUT?: We believe top-end cut to 2014 revenues is likely, but not a definite.  Management could choose to wait until it no longer can; in the interim preaching the long-term story.  


HHS hasn’t releases March enrollment numbers yet.  However, President Obama announced that 8M members have enrolled in private plans on the public exchanges (HIXs).  The size of the addressable uninsured population (ex Medicaid eligible) is ~27M according Census data.  So if every one of those 8M members were previously uninsured, the public HIXs penetrated ~30% of the uninsured market.  However, we believe much of that enrollment data comes from the previously insured.


For perspective, when CHIP was expanded in 2009, only 1/6 of eligible parents (16%) applied for coverage for their children (link).  So it’s hard to assume those 8M enrollees are purely organic (previously uninsured), especially since there isn’t much data to support that claim.  McKinsey had previously estimated that 89% of the public HIX applicants were previously insured (link), but that data is somewhat dated at this point. 


A more telling and current example is reported enrollment metrics from Highmark (link), which may be the only MCO that has disclosed both its enrollment mix between public and private HIXs, and the percentage of those enrollees that were previously insured by the company.  The data suggests that 45% of its enrollees were previously insured by Highmark.  


But more importantly, Highmark’s total enrollment into new private HIXs plans during Open Enrollment (~53K) is less than the number of its existing members that chose new plans (~81K).  In short, the private HIXs ceded existing Highmark members to the public exchanges.  That is attrition.


EHTH: Not Looking Good - EHTH   Highmark Enrollment 


A competitor published a note summarizing a meeting it had with EHTH CEO Gary Lauer in late March.  The glaring takeaway from the report was that EHTH knew the churn status on less than 50% of its individual book; however EHTH IR refuted that comment when we contacted them.  If it is true, that’s a scary statement this late into the year.  If not, we still believe that membership will decline in 1Q14 regardless.  


The main reason is that the brunt of EHTH's 2014 IFP cancellations will be recognized in 1Q14 because the company will be able to estimate the impact of forced plan terminations from ACA non-compliance (EHTH doesn't know until members stop paying). 


At the same time, the bulk of approved members from Open Enrollment applications were either recognized in 4Q13 or will be recognized in 2Q14 given the timing of demand for health insurance and the lag to approval.  We illustrate the latter point using EHTH's comScore web traffic and Google search traffic for Health Insurance in the charts below.


EHTH: Not Looking Good - EHTH   UVs vs. Goog 


In short, this is the reverse setup of 4Q13 when we didn't know the cancellation data, but saw some of the flow-through in new membership from ACA open enrollment.  Now the cancellation data will be exposed, and new membership will not be able to offset. 




We believe top-end cut to revenues is likely, but not a definite.  Management could wait until 2Q after seeing membership data from March applications and the trend in application volumes thereafter (which we expect to decline y/y).  


At that point, 2014 may become less relevant as the "promise" of 2015 draws closer, especially since management will be doing everything they can do pump up the longer-term growth story.  There isn't a near-term catalyst to refute the 2015 growth narrative, so unbridled bullish sentiment could take hold again; the same way it did in 2H13 through its 2014 guidance release when reality set in.


We remain short given the fundamental setup in the intermediate term.  Our concern is the return of undue optimism on the longer-term story.  You can read more about our longer-term concerns here (EHTH: Déjà vu)




Hesham Shaaban, CFA


LEISURE LETTER (04/25/2014)



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 – 10 a.m. , Passcode: 22334128
  • VAC Q1 earnings – 10:00 a.m. , Passcode: 4679876
  • MGM Q1 earnings – 11:00 a.m. , Passcode: 20455736
  • Las Vegas March revenues out

Wednesday, April 30

  • PNK Q1 earnings – 8 a.m. , Passcode: 27759612
  • GLPI Q1 earnings – 9 a.m.
  • MAR Q1 earnings – 10 a.m. , Passcode: 10575194
  • H Q1 earnings – 11:30 a.m. , Passcode:  11561402
  • BYD Q1 earnings – 5 p.m. , Passcode:  44440004

Thursday, May 1

  • HST Q1 earnings – 10 a.m.
  • OEH Q1 earnings – 10 a.m. , Passcode: 22074904
  • FCH Q1 earnings – 12 p.m. , Passcode: 28469900
  • BYI FQ3 earnings – 4:30 p.m.
  • EXPE Q1 earnings – 4:30 p.m.


MGM – announced an expansion of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center which will add 350,000 sq. ft. for exhibition area, a 70,000 sq. ft. ballroom and underground parking.  The estimated cost of the expansion is $66 million. The expo space will come online next year while the parking garage should complete in 2016.

Takeaway: Following the concert venue JV announcement earlier this week, we wonder how such redevelopments help to increase hotel ADRs?


WYNN – consummated a surrounding community agreement with the city of Medford and agreed to pay $1 million a year to mitigate the city’s expenses as a result of its planned casino in nearby Everett.

Takeaway: A positive step in the development plan but Boston remains a sticking point.


HOT – 10Q filing:

  • The company closed on the sale of one hotel during April 2014.  The asset was subject to a purchase and sale agreement during Q1 2014.
  • HOT is currently under audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for years 2007 through 2009.  During the year ended December 31, 2013, HOT received certain Notices of Proposed Adjustment from the IRS for such years; however, HOT disagree with the IRS on certain of these adjustments and intend to vigorously contest them, including pursuing all available remedies such as the IRS Appeals process and litigation, if necessary.  These unagreed adjustments, if upheld, would result in a significant cash tax and interest payment.

Takeaway: Several interesting pronouncements worthy of a follow-up conversation.


HLT – announced the return of one of its most popular promotions, Double Your HHonors.  Through Double Your HHonors, members choose between either earning Double HHonors Points or Double Airline Miles for qualified hotel stays completed between May 1 and July 31, 2014, at participating hotels

Takeaway: We look forward to a discussion of this promotion and how the promotion stimulates bookings on next week's earnings call.


NCLH – Norwegian Epic has added two sailings to and from Southampton, England in 2015, marking the 1st time that the ship has visited the port since the in


Takeaway:  Norwegian needs to get some ships out of the super congested Caribbean market.


Lorne Weil – resigned from Sportech's board of directors effective immediately (Thursday, April 24, 2014). Sportech confirmed Thursday that Weil had tendered his resignation from the board with immediate effect, although he will continue to be affiliated with the company as an advisor to the business.

Takeaway: A gaming executive looking for a new opportunity? 


New York Gaming Expansion – the next big gaming expansion for up to four upstate gaming licenses, drew 22 applications who each submitted a $1 million application fee prior to Wednesday's deadline. 

Takeaway: While an interesting near-term growth opportunity, how much cannibalization occurs to these facilities after the 7 year waiting period and commercial gaming is opened "down state" (Metropolitan New York City) with potential casinos located in Westchester, Bronx, Putnam, Nassau or Suffolk Counties - or a casino opens near the Meadowlands?



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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