MCD is scheduled to report August comparable sales tomorrow. 


U.S. (facing a 4.5% comparison from last year)

Good: +3.5% or better would signal that the company is maintaining its 4%-plus 2-year average trend.  If the number comes in at 5% or better, it would point to a sequential acceleration in 2- year trends from July.


Neutral: +2.5% to +3.5% would signal a sequential slowdown in 2-year average trends from July, but would point to trends that are still better than what we saw in June.  July 2-year average trends improved 185 bps on a sequential basis from June.


Bad: < +2.5% would signal a return to the May and June 2-year average trend levels.  Anything below +1% would signal a slowdown even from the already depressed June level.




Europe (facing a difficult 11.6% comparison from last year)

Good: +4.0% or better would signal an acceleration in 2-year average trends.  A number better than 4.4% would represent an 8%-plus 2-year average trend.


Neutral: +2.0% to +4.0% would signal that the company is maintaining its 2-year average trend from July.


Bad: < +2.0% would point to a sequential slowdown in 2-year average trends from July.  Although a 2% number would still represent 6%-plus 2-year trends, investors are accustomed to 5%-plus reported numbers on a 1-year basis so a number below 2% would be alarming.  A result worse than flat YOY performance would signal a return to June levels.




APMEA (facing a difficult 10.0% comparison from last year)

Good: +3.0% or better would signal an improvement in 2-year average trends on a sequential basis from July.  Anything better than 4% would represent a return to 7%-plus 2-year average trend levels.


Neutral: +1.0% to +3.0% would signal an acceleration from June and July 2-year average trend levels, which had slowed rather significantly from prior months.


Bad: < +1% - A flat to +1% result would still signal a slight acceleration in 2-year average trends from June and July, but like Europe, I think a number below 1% on a 1-year basis would be alarming to investors that are accustomed to 5%-plus results out of the APMEA segment.  A reported -0.5% to -1% would point to 2-year average trends that are similar to the already slowed trends in June and July.









Here’s the post-Labor Day setup.

Now that the masses are back from the Hamptons and en route to the Goldman retail conference, let’s take a quick look at the setup. On the margin, it reinforces the point we’ve been making over the past 2 weeks that the pendulum is shifting to the downside, and if you want to own a name in this space, you’ve gotta be super confident in meaningful earnings beats or takeout potential.  Here are some notables…

  1. Earnings revision factor flattened out for retail last week. It is still a healthy +25%, but marks the first time since June that it did not go up week on week.
  2. In looking at earnings trajectory for the 1462 companies in the S&P 1500 composite that have reported 2Q, the major call out is the rate of change in earnings expectations. Consumer Discretionary EPS growth expectations have gone from -16.7% to -3.4% for CY09 from March 1 through today. That delta is 2x the next closest group, which is Tech.
  3. Retail is trading at 15.5x those expectations. Not egregious, but absolutely not cheap by any means.
  4. As Zach elaborated on in Friday’s First Look, our SIGMA is headed in the right direction. Inventory/sales ratio looking good for the industry, and the margin setup for next two quarters is in check. But I struggle to find anyone that doesn’t know this and is positioned accordingly.
  5. Note that 30% of retail is in the “Sweet Spot” meaning that sales are outpacing inventories and margin delta is positive. We have to look back to early 2007 to find such a high percentage of companies in this zone.








Some Notable Call Outs


  • Despite having many years of growth ahead, the total ecommerce channel is now expected to post its first decline ever in 2009. According to interactive firm eMarketer, the ecommerce sector will decline by 3.1% this year (excluding online travel and ticket sales). However, the same study suggests growth will resume to 5.5% in 2010 and at a double digit rate in 2011.


  • We don’t often think about Toys R Us much anymore given it’s now in private hands and is no longer the largest toy seller. However, the company has been on mini-acquisition spree lately, acquiring trademarks and IP that have long been icons in the industry. Toys R Us is now the owner of: FAO Schwartz,,,, and KB Toys. With all these brands now in-house, it will be interesting to see how the company markets each of them over the holiday period.


  • As the eco-friendly trend in textiles and apparel continues to grow, the FTC is cracking down on environmental claims made by “green focused” manufacturers. The FTC recently charged four sellers of eco-apparel with deceptively labeling products. These manufacturers claimed their goods were made of bamboo, when in fact they were made of rayon. Given this recent crackdown, it is likely retailers will also need to be more diligent in substantiating the claims of their wholesalers before putting environmentally friendly products on their shelves.




-Three creditors of Signature Apparel Group last week sought to force the Rocawear licensee into bankruptcy - The petitioning creditors, representing about $14.9 million in debt past due, filed an involuntary Chapter 7 petition in a Manhattan bankruptcy court on Friday. New York-based Signature manufactures apparel largely for the urban market. It holds licenses for Rocawear in the junior category as well as Artful Dodger, another urban brand. Signature also owns the Fetish trademark, which it relaunched with the rapper Eve for holiday 2008, after the line had separate unsuccessful stints with Marc Ecko Enterprises and Innovo Group. According to court documents, the petitioners are: Hitch & Trail Inc., New York, owed $3.6 million; Talful Ltd., Kwai Chung, New Territories, Hong Kong, $4.8 million, and Harvestway China Ltd., Kowloon, Hong Kong, $6.5 million. The company has 20 days to respond to the petition. <>


-UK comp sales values fell 0.1% - UK retail sales values fell 0.1% on a like-for-like basis from August 2008, when sales had fallen, hit by very wet weather. On a total basis, sales rose 2.2% against a 1.4% gain in August 2008. This August, food sales continued to do better than non-food. Food sales growth edged up only slightly from July's low. Clothing and footwear weakened further. Homewares and furniture sales fell back below year-earlier levels after July's weather- and clearance-driven growth. Non-food non-store sales (internet, mail-order and phone sales) in August were 7.9% higher than a year ago, the weakest since May.  <>


-Home furnishing retailers reap rewards as home purchases start to ramp up - The news on the home front has been a steady increase in home sales for the past few months. Now an e-commerce systems provider reports that heightened interest in home investments may be reflected in increased sales at home furnishings sites. While admittedly unscientific because the data represent sales at only three sites—, and—Avid Commerce LLC reports that sales at the three sites in June were 5.2% higher than sales in May; 33.9% higher in July from June; and 81.1% higher in August from July. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that new home sales in May were up 4.9% from the prior month; in June, they were up 9.1% from May; and in July, 9.6% from June. <>


-Goal is for India to turn into a global manufacturing hub of textile accessories by increasing the turnover - Indian Textile Accessories & Machinery Manufacturers' Association (ITAMMA) aims to turn India into a global manufacturing hub of textile accessories by increasing the turnover from this textile sub-segment from the current Rs 65 billion to Rs 200 billion by the end of the next decade. The Association is also in the process of transforming itself from a government liaison body to a new role of tying up for technology upgrade n and conducting market research for its members. It is also projecting an increase in exports from Rs 6.5 billion to Rs 10 billion in the next five years, since most of its exporting members have already started focusing on new regions and existing buyer countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Far-east countries. <>


-Bangladesh asks for a stimulus package for the apparel industry - A member delegation from the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) has met the Finance Minister AMA Muhith to ask for a stimulus package for the industry. While giving out the details of demands requested by the Finance Minister, the President of BKMEA demanded for a 5% stimulus incentive on FOB value of exports. He said, they had also requested that banks not to increase interest rates higher than 10%. Muhith assured the delegation that the garment sector problems and demands will come up for discussion at the second meeting of the taskforce on recession due on September 15-16. <>


-Japan’s Renown Inc. to sell Aquascutum Group Limited to U.K.-based Broadwick Group Limited - Japan’s Renown Inc. said Tuesday it has struck a deal to sell Aquascutum Group Limited to U.K.-based Broadwick Group Limited, a company owned by retail tycoon Harold Tillman and Jaeger ceo Belinda Earl, for an undisclosed price. Renown also said it will sell the Aquascutum trademark for China and the rest of Asia to Hong Kong-based YGM Mart Limited, which had been the brand’s licensee in China. Renown said it will continue to manufacture and distribute the British brand’s products in Japan through a long-term master-licensing agreement with YGM. Renown is in the process of restructuring its business as it grapples with ongoing financial difficulties and weak macroeconomic conditions in its home market of Japan. Last year it put the British brand up for sale. <>


-Department stores added jobs for the first time since May - Department stores added 5,800 jobs last month to employ 1.53 million, but specialty stores cut 9,500 to employ 1.4 million, the Labor Department said Friday. Despite the higher department store jobs figure, the overall landscape for retailers was not bright, economists said. <>


-U.S. discount, grocery and restaurant chains are hiring a larger percentage of job applicants than seven months ago - In July, 2.99 of every 100 applications resulted in a hire, compared with 2.75 in January, a three-year low. The pace of hiring of cashiers, merchandise stockers and other frontline workers in July was less than half that of October 2006, Kronos said. U.S. unemployment rose to a 26-year high of 9.7 percent in August, according to the Labor Department. Retailers fired 10,000 people last month while all U.S. employers trimmed payrolls by 216,000 after slashing 276,000 jobs in July.  <>


-The Action Sports Retail Show will hit the San Diego Convention Center September 10th -12th - ASR will showcase the latest apparel, footwear, swimwear, accessories and hardgood products from over 700 surf, skate, swim, snow, moto, wake, lifestyle and streetwear brands.  Retailers, buyers, brands and athletes will all get a chance to converge and find out about the latest trends in action sports equipment and apparel. The event takes place at the San Diego Convention Center this Thursday thru Saturday. <>


-The skate business may be headed for slower times, as the youth market feels the sting of the down economy - The economic downturn and a sharp reduction in discretionary spending among teens has impacted the market. The rapid expansion in the skate arena over the past few years may be unsustainable and slowing is to be expected. August is the most important month of the year for skate. To see a slowdown this dramatic in the biggest month of the year does not bode well. According to NPD data, for the 12 months ending June 2009, sales of skate shoes declined 13.3% in terms of dollars spent, largely due to a lower average selling price of $31.95, down from $33.30. By contrast, the total athletic footwear market declined 3%, while the average unit price increased to $37.70, from $35.05. <>


-Many retailers are upbeat that fall’s footwear arrival will give them a much-needed boost after a lackluster spring - With inventories at extremely low levels, a number of key department stores and independents were optimistic last week about early reads on the season and said several key boot styles were already registering strong sales. Larger retailers were also hopeful about their prospects for the coming months — and said shoppers were already starting to snap up fall styles. <>


-An official at the Collegiate Licensing Co. predicted that retail sales of college fan merchandise could be down 7% this year - All the leagues have definitely seen declines this year.The North American college sports segment continues to be a major licensing player. <>


-Under Armour launches new ad campaign - Under Armour will be debuting its "Under Armour is Football" advertising campaign this coming weekend in spots that will include Founder and CEO Kevin Plank making a cameo appearance from his days playing youth football. <>


-New York Fashion week kicks off this Thursday with "Fashion's Night Out," a global event spearheaded by Vogue to stimulate store sales - Retailers in eight cities around the world, from Paris and Milan to New Delhi and Beijing, will stay open late to offer a special night of shopping jazzed up with celebrity and designer appearances, musical performances and special events. More than 800 stores in New York, from Payless to Louis Vuitton, are participating in the five-borough event, which is being produced through collaboration among the City of New York, its marketing arm NYC & Company, American Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. While the event is designed to boost sales, deep discounts won't be part of the night's offerings. To help promote the event, advertising is running on city media assets, including outdoor on bus shelters and kiosks and in New York City's 6,500 taxis. A celebrity-studded PSA created by Laird + Partners has been playing in cab monitors, as well as on TV, online and spread virally through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. <>


-Walmart dwarfs Target in size, yet it loses out to its rival when it comes to consumer discussions online - Target consumers are much more likely to speak about their shopping experience, according to online buzz monitor Crimson Hexagon, while chatter about Walmart often veered into discussion of the social implications of the retailing giant when it comes to labor practices and local retailers. It examined online chatter on blogs, Twitter, social networks and message boards for a one-month period beginning in mid-July. Overall, Target enjoys mostly positive chatter. About 75% of conversations were positive, according to Crimson Hexagon. Walmart, on the other hand, is discussed in a negative light 61% of the time. One in five shopping conversations touched on low prices. <>





SCVL: Timothy Baker, Exec. VP – Store Operations, sold 6,028shs (~$90k) upon exercising the right to purchase 6,028 shares roughly 10% of common holdings.


ZUMZ: Lynn Kilbourne, President & GMM, sold 9,074 ($127k) or roughly 15% of common holdings.


Poisoned Blade

“Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend.”
-William Shakespeare
That quote, of course, comes from Hamlet – Shakespeare’s longest tragedy. It’s a story that continues to be interpreted from many perspectives, despite it being over 400 years old.
Wall Street is all about storytelling. The story of the US Dollar serving as the world’s said “reserve currency” is roughly 1/10th of Hamlet’s in age. Since President Nixon abandoned the Gold Standard in 1971, plenty a leveraged loan banker has been paid to create limitless credit on the Buck’s back. Those bankers, by the way, include the central banking kind over at the US Federal Reserve.
Now we can all wake-up this morning and inspire something along the lines of Claudius’ murderous plot, or we can look at the US Dollar hitting new lows this morning for what it is – a credibility crisis that has gone global. One that’s been proactively predictable, for months…
One of the Harvard economic historians whom I respect, Ken Rogoff (former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund), said in a Bloomberg interview last week that,
“If the Obama Administration fails to rein in the long-term budget deficits, the dollar is set to decline for decades.”
As in all Shakespearean tragedies, there are multiple plots. The story of the Burning Buck has many. Rogoff’s basic point is grounded in US Fiscal Policy, but there are many others. This blade has already been poisoned. It is doused in US Debt.
Since Friday, here are The New Realities that have knocked the US Dollar down to fresh year-to-date lows:
1.      The Fed’s Balance Sheet expanded for the 4th consecutive week to $2.09T (that’s a “T” as in TRILLION; up $1.2T year-over-year!)

2.      The United Nations is calling for a new Breton Woods agreement this morning (i.e. a new world currency reserve system)

3.      The Gold price has shot above $1006/oz; meanwhile the US Federal Reserve keeps monetizing its debt and maintains ZERO interest rates

Last week, I started to get antsy about the US Dollar threatening to breakout from an immediate term TRADE perspective. The two-day move that got the US Dollar Index above my critical breakout line of $78.52 didn’t hold however. Now we’re right back to digging Ophelia’s grave. The US Dollar is once again broken across all 3 of our investment durations (TRADE, TREND and TAIL). Importantly, the breakdown through the $78 line has only been sustained 1 time in the last 38 years – in Q3 of 2008, right before we crashed.
The difference between the US stock market understanding that $150/barrel oil was bad for 70% of America’s GDP (Consumer Spending) last year, and this year’s setup is that there is that other dominating global macro factor accelerating – Chinese demand.
In sharp contrast to the Q3/Q4 2008 slowdown in China associated with the Olympics, this year we are seeing reported Chinese growth rip the rims right off of those Olympic basketball court hinges. Overnight, Chinese auto sales were reported up huge. At +90% year-over-year growth, that was almost 900,000 cars they sold. I know the “China is crashing” crowd wants to believe that China is making up these numbers. I wonder what Horatio would think of these tales…
On Friday, the Chinese also expanded both institutional fund flows and liquidity for foreign investors. Rather than having to be locked up for 1-year, China is allowing for 3-month liquidity on foreign funds and also expanding the size of funds by 20-25%. This, of course, is good for the fledgling Chinese stock market. Don’t forget that 60% of daily trading there is still retail!
Chinese stocks closed up for the 5th consecutive day, adding another +1.7% to the Shanghai Composite’s impressive YTD gain of +61%. We’re long the less volatile H-shares via the EWH (Hong Kong ETF). The Hang Seng took the Chinese auto sales news very kindly and shot up another +2.1% last night, taking it within 5 points of its YTD high. I don’t think Asia’s bull market in equities could care less about what our squirrel hunter extraordinaire, Timmy Geithner, says about America being the world’s financial “reserve” leader by the way.
After the long weekend, no matter where you go this morning, here we are. The two global macro factors that matter most remain:
1.      Chinese Demand

2.      The US Dollar

However tragic it may feel to hear that the world doesn’t look at America or her currency as it once did, it’s time to accept this for what it is. America’s Hamlet has been pierced by the poisoned blade of leverage. We’ve seen this fatal fencing match play out in slow motion. This is no time to pretend that these blades of currency devaluation aren’t real.
My immediate term TRADE support and resistance levels for the SP500 are 1007 and 1041, respectively. The US Dollar breaking down puts that topside target in play.
Best of luck out there today,


VXX – iPath VIX We bought volatility on its lows on 9/3 ahead of last Friday’s employment report.

XLU – SPDR Utilities We bought some low beta dividend yield on its lows on 9/2. Utilities traded down 1% and they should act ok during stagflation fears.  

XLV – SPDR Healthcare We’re finally getting the correction we’ve been calling for in Healthcare. It’s a good one to buy into. Our Healthcare sector head Tom Tobin remains bullish on fading the “public plan” at a price.

EWH – iShares Hong Kong
The current lower volatility in the Hang Seng (versus the Shanghai composite) creates a more tolerable trading range in the intermediate term and a greater degree of tactical confidence.  

CYB – WisdomTree Dreyfus Chinese Yuan
The Yuan is a managed floating currency that trades inside a 0.5% band around the official PBOC mark versus a FX basket. Not quite pegged, not truly floating; the speculative interest in the Yuan/USD forward market has increased dramatically in recent years. We trade the ETN CYB to take exposure to this managed currency in a managed economy hoping to manage our risk as the stimulus led recovery in China dominates global trade.

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. We believe that future inflation expectations are currently mispriced and that TIPS are a efficient way to own yield on an inflation protected basis, especially in the context of our re-flation thesis.

DIA  – Diamonds Trust We shorted the Dow on 9/3.  In the US, we want to be long the Nasdaq (liquidity) and short the Dow (financial leverage).

LQD – iShares Corporate Bonds Corporate bonds have had a huge move off their 2008 lows and we expect with the eventual rising of interest rates that bonds will give some of that move back. Shorting ahead of Q4 cost of capital heightening as access to capital tightens.

EWJ – iShares Japan While a sweeping victory for the Democratic Party of Japan has ended over 50 years of rule by the LDP bringing some hope to voters; the new leadership  appears, if anything, to have a less developed recovery plan than their predecessors. We view Japan as something of a Ponzi Economy -with a population maintaining very high savings rate whose nest eggs allow the government to borrow at ultra low interest levels in order to execute stimulus programs designed to encourage people to save less. This cycle of internal public debt accumulation (now hovering at close to 200% of GDP) is anchored to a vicious demographic curve that leaves the Japanese economy in the long-term position of a man treading water with a bowling ball in his hands.

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.

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Macau’s casino revenue is growing again, with August being a particularly impressive month.  With trough compares for the rest of the year, many are predicting soaring growth figures in the coming months.  The financial crisis, Beijing’s visa restrictions, and a credit crunch among VIP junket operators all contributed to the steep fall in earnings by Macau operators last year. 

Cost cuts implemented by most casino operators have been effective; the companies are far leaner than before.  With speculation mounting that visa restrictions will be relaxed this month, and upcoming calendar catalysts (such as the eight-day Golden Week holiday to mark China’s 60th National Day) boosting traffic, there could be significant mass market growth in the coming weeks and months.



Macau’s Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah warned on Monday that the public should remain cautious given the “unclear” factors of the financial crisis still affecting Macau.  The remarks were made prior to his attendance at the 13th China International Fair for Investment and Trade in Xiamen. 

Ho was quoted as saying, “different indices…show that the situation is not too bad, but unclear factors do exist, so we still need to make full use of all types of support the central government has given us, and maximize our efforts to promote economic development and guarantee employment and people's livelihood, efforts that will not be neglected."  Ho’s term ends on December 19th, 2009.



Melco Crown Entertainment, LTD today announced that Grand Hyatt Macau will open on Tuesday, September 29, 2009.  The property adds approximately 800 guest rooms to City of Dreams and offers spectacular views over the City of Dreams resort or the west bank of the Pearl River.  According to Lawrence Ho, Co-Chairman and CEO of MPEL, “Grand Hyatt Macau is set to become Macau’s most sophisticated luxury conference and special events venue”.


The week of the 8th through the 11th, though shortened by the holiday, will not be without some major economic data releases. Attached below is a snapshot of some (though far from all) of the headline numbers that we will be focused on.


Tuesday September 8


North America: Weekly ABC Consumer Comfort index data will be released on Tuesday. The Treasury will hold a 3 year note auction at 1 PM while the Federal Reserve will release Consumer Credit figures for July in the evening. July Building Permits will be released in Canada.


Europe: Germany will see the release Current Account, Trade and Industrial Production Data for July on Tuesday morning while in the UK Industrial and Manufacturing Production data for July will also be announced.


Asia: In Australia, Retail Trade and Housing Finance figures for July will be issued.


Wednesday September 9


North America:  Weekly MBA Mortgage application data will be released on Wednesday morning, as will EIA oil gas and distillate stock levels as well as ICSC and Redbook figures which were pushed behind one day by the holiday. At 1 PM the Treasury will auction 10 year notes while at 2 PM the FOMC Beige Book will be released. We will be anxious to hear the comments of Chicago Fed Governor Evans when he addresses the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday morning as part of an event titled “The Great Inflation Debate".  August Housing Starts will also be published in Canada on Wednesday morning.


Europe: German CPI for August will be issued on Wednesday morning with a 7 Billion Euro 2 year Schatz offering will be held at 5:15 AM. In the UK, Trade Balance data for July will be also issued.


Asia:  In Japan August CPGI and July Machinery Orders will be released on Wednesday morning. In the Evening South Korea will release August PPI and Australian August Unemployment data will also be released.


Thursday September 10


North America:  Census Bureau Goods and Services Trade data for July will be released on Thursday, while Weekly Initial Claims, EIA Natural Gas Stock and Fed M2 figures will be also be released through the day at their normal times. At 1 PM, the Treasury will auction 30 year bonds. Thursday morning will see BOC rate announcements and Merchandise Import and Export data for July released in Canada


Europe: In France Industrial Production, Manufacturing Production and Trade Balance data for July will be issued on Thursday morning while august CPI will be issued in both Sweden and Norway. Final Q2 GDP, Consumption, Investment and Trade data will also be released in Italy.


Asia:  Indian Weekly Wholesale Inflation figures will be released on Thursday. Japanese Q2 GDP will be released at 8 PM while, later that evening, a slew of critical data will be issued in China including August Exports, Imports, Retail Sales, CPI, PPI, M2 and Industrial Output. We have been writing frequently about the changing nature of internal demand in China, but Export data will be of special interest to us this month as we look for signs that recovery abroad (particularly in the EU) is being felt by Chinese companies.


Friday September 11


North America: August Export and Import Price data will be released at 8:30 AM on Friday, while preliminary Michigan Sentiment figures for September will be published at 9:55 and Wholesale Inventory data for July will be released at 10.  At 2 PM the Treasury Budget for August will be announced. In Canada new Home Price Index levels for July will be released.


Europe:   Swedish Q2 GDP will be announced on Friday morning. CPI figures for August will also be released in Spain while in the UK PPI for August will be announced. In Italy, Industrial Production figures for July are scheduled for release.


Asia: Japanese Consumer Confidence for august will be issued on Friday morning, as will Indian Industrial Output data for July.



Andrew Barber




Heavy gov't borrowing, inflationary policies to cut bond prices

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