Restoration Hardware: Is $RH Best Idea In All of Retail?

Takeaway: If you missed it, don’t worry. The story has so far to go. If we’re right on earnings, the stock will be well north of $200 in 3+ years.

Editor's note: This is a brief excerpt from a research note written by retail sector head Brian McGough at 10:28pm ET last night.


This quarter served as another milestone for Restoration Hardware (RH) in its march towards $11.00 in earnings, and additional proof for us that this is perhaps the best idea in all of US retail.


Restoration Hardware: Is $RH Best Idea In All of Retail? - rh


The after-hours move to $80 is nice…we’ll definitely take that. But it’d be a mistake to lose sight of the very real potential for this to be a $200+ stock over a 3-4 year time period. The EPS CAGR RH needed to get there is over 40%, and our research says it will get there. What multiple is fair for a 40% EPS grower that earns $11? Let’s say 20x, conservatively. If we’re right on earnings, we can build to a stock well above $200.  


In other words, the call is not done. It’s really just beginning.

RH - $11 x 20x = Call Just Beginning

Takeaway: If you missed it, don’t worry. The story has so far to go. If we’re right on earnings, the stock will be well north of $200 in 3+ years.

This quarter served as another milestone for RH in its march towards $11.00 in earnings, and additional proof for us that this is perhaps the best idea in all of US retail. The after-hours move to $80 is nice…we’ll definitely take that. But it’d be a mistake to lose sight of the very real potential for this to be a $200+ stock over a 3-4 year time period. The EPS CAGR RH will need to get there is over 40%, and our research says it’ll get there. What multiple is fair for a 40% EPS grower that earns $11? Let’s say 20x, conservatively. If we’re right on earnings, we can build to a stock well above $200.  In other words, the call is not done. It’s really just beginning.


Think about it like this. RH went over six years shrinking its real estate footprint. But starting next quarter, it will go on a 5-7 year tear as it executes on its store growth strategy. Next year alone, we should see square footage grow in excess of 40%. And it’s doing this while it simultaneously executes its category expansion plan – such as kitchens, which alone should be a $2bn business.  Our point is that it’s easy to get hung up on a given quarter with this (or any) company, and this quarter the stock is definitely getting its due. But if you look at a the story bigger picture, you’ll see that it consolidated for six years, and now should gain share of the market at an accelerated rate for another six years. The bottom line is that it seems a little short-sighted from where we sit to think that just because the stock is hitting new highs that the opportunity is over.  


*Note: We’ll be issuing another RH Black Book in two weeks where we’ll be conducting a deep dive into specific drivers around the company’s new Design Gallery growth initiative. Stay tuned for details.


Our Take On The Quarter. As it relates to the print itself, it was pretty much spot-on with our model. The comp was exactly in line with our 18%, though revenue was slightly better due to better new store productivity. Gross margins were also a touch better due to better merchandise margins, and less ‘dead rent’ (see below)  than we conservatively expected. That accounted for an extra $0.02 above our Street-high $0.16 estimate. We’re sticking with just about every assumption in our model, and remain well ahead of the Street this year, and every year thereafter.


We’ve got to note Gary Friedman again (he was a positive callout last quarter).  There are still so many ‘Gary-Haters’ out there. We kind of get that you can’t radically change the perception of someone’s persona overnight. But we think it’s impossible for anyone that is ‘anti-Gary’ to be intellectually honest and not admit that the guy has tremendous command over virtually every part of the business – from stores, to product, to personnel, to cash flow (yes, cash flow). From the get-go, he laid out his vision and he took control of the narrative that he wanted to tell. So many CEOs default to playing defense to Wall Street’s agenda. Gary set his own, and we found it convincing. If you want a polar opposite scenario, look at Lululemon, which will have reported by the time most people read this. Both companies are about $1.5bn in sales, both are in unusually high growth categories for US Retail, and both can grow by a factor of 3x within 4-5 years. Our confidence that RH gets there is 90%+. Our confidence in the current LULU management team is closer to 10%.  To mention both CEOs in the same sentence is almost laughable (note: LULU can get there, but we need to see serious change – they should look to RH for guidance).


RH - $11 x 20x = Call Just Beginning - RH financials 2


In case you missed the call, here are some of the more notable callouts on key margin components.


For the balance of the year there are 4 key drivers on the Gross Margin line.

1) Pricing initiatives: With the product refresh starting to hit the P&L in 2Q, RH will benefit from the anniversary of its 2013 pricing initiatives while also getting a little boost by taking price on the new assortment.

2) Mix & Shipping: The company isn’t going to realize the full benefits of mix shift until the new Design Galleries account for a more meaningful percentage of the company’s square footage and Kitchens is added to the mix in Spring of ’15, but management indicated on the call that furniture’s penetration as a percent of sales was starting to flatten out. This, along with RH’s new source book strategy should help with shipping leverage, with more of the benefit weighted towards the back half of the year.

3) DC leverage: The company will anniversary the opening of its Dallas DC and Ohio shelf stock facility in 2Q, and will benefit from DC occupancy leverage in the 2nd half of the year.

4) Pre-opening expenses: The company will face some headwinds from retail occupancy deleverage in the back half of the year as it ramps up spend to facilitate 2015’s class of Design Galleries.



Biggest call outs here are fixed cost leverage and ad spend.

1) The company will leverage fixed and corporate costs, with headwinds in 4Q due to lower incentive compensation expenses in ’13 that will not recur.

2) As for Source Book costs, our math suggest that worst case the Source Book cost an extra $52mm this year when compared to last – taking Source book spend as a percentage of sales up 230bps. But, when accounting for the company’s 12 month amortization curve and the benefit realized in 1Q from the company’s change in strategy, the books add an incremental $35mm or about 140bps to SG&A for the year. That doesn’t include inestimable costs associated with marketing spend that the company will lap in the back half of the year which will help to further mitigate the dollar impact. 


RH - $11 x 20x = Call Just Beginning - RH sourcebook spend





RH – Where Can We Be Wrong?

Takeaway: RH is our favorite idea. It remains massively misunderstood. But let’s keep it real and vet all the areas we could be wrong near term.


RH is our top long idea in Retail by a country mile, and we remain convinced that the company will see earnings grow from $1.71 last year to near $11.00 in five years time. If we’re right on that earnings number, which we think we are, we think that this is ultimately a $200 stock.  We don’t think this is just a square footage growth story (which is impressive in its own right), but rather one of the biggest market share stories in retail today. In effect, we think that RH is doing to the high-end home furnishings space what Ralph Lauren did to apparel on 1980. The parallels are staggering. For more details on the long term opportunity, check out our latest Black Book.


Looking more near-term, we feel really good about RH heading into the 6/11 print. Demand remains strong, the Sourcebook appears to be well executed, the May/June store openings are on track (Greenwich/NYC), the company’s on-line business appears to be tracking quite well, and EPS expectations for the quarter appear very doable (we’re at $0.16 vs the Street at $0.11).


Given our comfort level around the print and the year, at this point we’re hyperfocused on one thing…where can we be wrong?


Here are some factors that we think about as it relates to the print and guidance. To be clear, after vetting these factors we still come out positive. But let’s lay it all on the table such that there are as few surprises as possible.


  1. Buying shallow.  When the company launches a Sourcebook, it usually does so with a redesigned product line, which is exactly what it did with its goliath 16-lb book that was distributed to customers via UPS from mid-May through early-June. But given the ever-growing breadth of RH’s product line – the company has a tendency to go very shallow with inventory around the book. The strategy  is simple…let consumers tell you over the course of 2-3 months which items they like the best, and then go very heavy on inventory for those items in the subsequent three quarters. But that could mean lighter guidance on revenue in the upcoming quarter. For the year, it is a strategy that clearly maximizes gross profit dollars and ROIC. But there could be a shift between 2Q and 3Q.
  2. Deferred Revenue. The RH-haters out there love to talk about the company’s deferred revenue as customers wait 10-weeks or more for custom items (keeping in mind that RH does not get paid until the customer takes delivery).  In 2Q14 we could see an uptick in deferred revenue around non-custom items due to the strategy around buying shallow that we outlined in point #1.  It could provide ammo for those RH bears who want to poke holes in the company’s revenue recognition. We’re not worried about the economic reality -- -but just the perception based on how some people will take it.
  3. Margin Weakness. With any new assortment, margins will usually be lower given that the company will not have hit its own costing hurdles to lower its COGS on high volume. The margins will be better on the product 3-4 quarters out when RH focuses its inventory spend on key items and gets additional volume discounts. Initially, it will be buying some items that might not be as popular as it otherwise planned. That leads us to think that there’s the potential for a margin ramp throughout the year – though they could potentially be lighter this quarter. 
  4. Dead Rent. RH is officially in growth mode. It opened the Greenwich store successfully in May, and will open the FlatIron store in NYC in a few weeks. Then there’s Atlanta and Chicago in 2H followed by a meaningful acceleration in 2015. It takes between 6-12 months to complete a store. The bigger the store, the more time it will take. And make no mistake, the stores are getting bigger. While the company is overseeing construction, it is paying rent – and a lot of it. It’s known as Dead Rent, and it has never been a part of the RH equation as it has been in store shrinking mode. But there will be a meaningful ramp in rent over the next 12-18 months, and we’ll see some of it this quarter. The company is getting great deals, which helps. For example, the Greenwich store just opened up at $1.1mm in annual rent. That seems like a lot, but it is replacing a store up the street that is 1/3 the size where they pay $1mm in rent. That’s only $100k extra for about 15,000 extra square feet. The ROI is astounding. But as it relates to quarterly occupancy costs, there is clearly some overlap. We think we’re accounting for all this correctly. But it is an area where we could be wrong on the near-term earnings flow.
  5. Flatiron Comp. The store that is ‘opening’ in the Flatiron district is really not opening at all. It’s a renovation of the most profitable store in the fleet. As this store opens up with an extra 13,000 square feet attached to it (on a base of 9,000), it’ll be yanked out of the comp base for 14 months. Sales will still be recorded, of course, and will show up on the top and bottom line. But the reported ‘brand comp’ will not include this store. That has the potential to cause some confusion in comp guidance.
  6. Amortization of Sourcebook Costs. The company amortizes its Source Book costs on a 12 month time period over the expected ramp in revenue of the book. This is a meaningful number – our best estimate is that it’s about $50mm this year, or about $0.75 per share (not disclosed). That dwarfs the ‘Dead Rent’ costs. The ROI on this book remains extremely high. But any change in accounting – from a curve to straight-line, or even to a longer duration than 12 months – would muddy the numbers. Karen Boone (CFO) is borderline religious about this accounting, so we’d be floored to see any change. But if there was, it would certainly be outside the realm of things we’re expecting.


Takeaway: Census Bureau revised Healthcare Spending estimates, the lone source of strength in 1Q GDP, a lot lower. A -2% report on deck for June 25.

We’ve highlighted repeatedly over the last few months that reported healthcare spending in 1Q14 was largely a guess by the BEA due to the implementation of Obamacare and a dearth of hard data.  More specifically, we noted the following in March & April:   


*Healthcare Spending:  The strength in Healthcare Services spending stems largely from the implementation of Obamacare. The reported figures, by BEA’s own admission (see their note Here), are very much an estimate and the preliminary data are likely to be revised (significantly) over time as the Census bureau’s quarterly QSS and annual SAS survey’s provide harder data.   


With reported Hospital and Outpatient spending both accelerating materially in 1Q14, it could also be that individuals are accelerating medical consumption ahead of ACA implementation and uncertainty around coverage changes. 


Either way, in the context of the broader spending data, the takeaway is pretty straightforward – Healthcare Services represent ~17% of total household consumption expenditures and certainly impacts the direction of reported, headline consumption growth.   To the extent that deceleration is the larger trend across the balance of services, a mis-estimation of ACA related spending and/or a significant, transient pull-forward in medical consumption could be materially distorting the prevailing, underlying trend. 


The Census Bureau released the 1Q14 QSS data this morning (note: the QSS survey data feeds the calculation of household spending in GDP) and the estimate for Healthcare spending saw a sharp negative revision. 


Specifically, the data showed total revenue for Healthcare and social-assistance declined -2% QoQ in 1Q14 while Hospital revenue (the largest component of healthcare spending) declined -1.3% QoQ. 


Translating that into an exact impact on the final GDP estimate for 1Q14 (June 25th) is complicated by the fact that the reported QSS Healthcare spending data is both nominal and non-seasonally adjusted while the Hospital revenue is not adjusted for price changes (but is reported on a seasonally adjusted basis)


The translation complication is really besides the point, however.  The larger takeaway is simply this:


Services consumption was the singular source of strength in the 1Q14 GDP report and most of that was from Healthcare Services which contributed +1.01% to GDP – that estimate of accelerating healthcare consumption just got revised to negative growth which will take the final GDP estimate for 1Q down to -2.0% plus or minus. 


It also notable that Healthcare consumption growth, while decelerating modestly sequentially, was still very strong in April (again one of the lone sources of strength in household spending).  If the April (& 2Q) numbers get revised lower also then 2Q growth estimates will take a hit as well.


Full year consensus growth estimates for 2014 remain in the +2.5%-3% range - implying 4%+ growth over the balance of the year (exclusive of the forthcoming negative revision to 1Q).  Those estimates still need to come down.  








Christian B. Drake


investing ideas

Risk Managed Long Term Investing for Pros

Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough handpicks the “best of the best” long and short ideas delivered to him by our team of over 30 research analysts across myriad sectors.

Cartoon of the Day: We're Lost

Takeaway: We are still on another planet vs Consensus Macro on 2014 US GDP growth. And we're okay with that.

Cartoon of the Day: We're Lost - GDP cartoon 6.11.2014


Patti Hart’s employment contract rewards for change of control




As follow-up to our IGT recent analysis regarding IGT: A BETTER PRIVATE COMPANY, we now call subscribers attention to CEO Patti Hart’s recently revised employment contract filed via 8-K on November 15, 2013.  Hart is clearly incentivized to sell the company and may be leading the discussions with bankers and potential buyers. 


Fearing for the longevity of her employment while also wanting to catch a Golden Parachute and exit gracefully, Hart may pursue a change in control that earns an accelerated compensation payment. 


We continue to believe the Reuters story from Monday has teeth and we’re bullish on the prospects for some sort of value creating event:  a private equity or strategic buyout, some form of separation between Gaming and Interactive, or even a management change.



Patti Hart’s new employment provides for increased pay-outs “if termination of employment occurs upon or within eighteen months following certain changes in control of the Company.”  The increased payout apply to severance compensation, continued medical coverage, accelerated vesting of any time-based awards, unvested equity awards, and stock options. 


Furthermore, the following new compensation disclosures were made in the 2014 Shareholder Proxy:

  • For the “Change in Control (no termination)” the equity acceleration is $20.8 million
  • For the “Termination of Employment” section, note the $25.3 million in equity acceleration value in the new disclosure which follows a change in control

Exhibit A: Why There Seems to Be No Recovery In the First Time Homebuyer Market

Takeaway: This is an excerpt from a research note published by Hedgeye's financials team earlier this week.

We wanted to take a moment to flag the unstoppable force that is student loan growth in this country. 

Exhibit A: Why There Seems to Be No Recovery In the First Time Homebuyer Market  - STUDENT DEBT 

The chart below (taken from the G.19 data) shows the amount of federally-backed student loans sitting on the books of the United States. Currently the figure stands at $775 billion, up $112 billion (+16.9%) in the last 12 months.


For those wondering why there seems to be no recovery in the first time homebuyer market we offer the chart below as "Exhibit A".


Exhibit A: Why There Seems to Be No Recovery In the First Time Homebuyer Market  - student loans

Daily Trading Ranges

20 Proprietary Risk Ranges

Daily Trading Ranges is designed to help you understand where you’re buying and selling within the risk range and help you make better sales at the top end of the range and purchases at the low end.