We've only got anecdotal evidence so far but January is looking a little soft for CityCenter and Aria. Recall that Aria will open on December 16th. Up until the last week of the month, December is a pretty soft month so we are focusing on the first quarter of 2010 to monitor the Aria performance.
This week we received our first promotional email from Aria as shown below. This wasn't our first from the MGM portfolio, however, those come hot and heavy. The Aria offer looks pretty good: $159 plus $75 in resort credits; a much better deal than the lowest rate we got from our Aria room survey.
The following chart details the Aria discount to the average of the "premium" properties (Bellagio, Venetian, Wynn Las Vegas) over the period measured. As seen, Aria is quoting rates at a mid-single digit discount. The real discount is probably even larger since we are not quoting from Wynn Encore and Venetian Palazzo, which bother typically garner a premium to their respective sister properties.
All of this is somewhat anecdotal. The quoted rates are for free and indpendent travelers so we are not capturing over half of the business attributable to conference, group, and tour and travel. We are mainly concerned with how the rate and discount trends as we get closer to January. In any event, the anecdotal evidence so far leans toward disappointing.
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RETAIL FIRST LOOK
December 4, 2009
TODAY’S CALL OUT
Now the flip-flop in cold weather apparel sales is all too obvious, and is beginning to frame up some immediate and intermediate-term opportunities. Bad for retailers, good for brands.
We’re getting more proof that the ‘pull-forward’ of outerwear is a reality this season. In fact, it’s now blatantly obvious. The chart below speaks volumes – in that outerwear’s percent of total weekly sales was meaningfully above trend in September and October of this year, while for the last two years the ratio peaked in December/January.
Weather is an obvious driver, but another key factor in prior years’ volume is that there was so much excess product in the system that ultimately needed to be cleared out at the end of the season. This year, not only was early season unseasonably cold, but there is far less product in inventory than before.
What does this mean? I’m getting incrementally concerned for retailers like Dick’s. The trend is not good – especially as the retail sector in aggregate is running out of earnings momentum. On the flip side, if there is a cold snap later this season upon such limited and tight inventories, it could meaningfully benefit any brands that are sitting on either a) product that is ready to ship, or b) an orderbook primed to be filled.
The first name that comes to mind is Columbia – especially given that its order book has been sequentially improving even before this trend was a reality. VFC’s North Face benefits as well – but it simply is too diversified a company to matter. Under Armour is another one to watch, as Cold Gear accounts for an increasingly more meaningful portion of its 4Q apparel sales.
LEVINE’S LOW DOWN
- Sequential improvement in the same store sales trends at Costco in non-food categories continued for the fourth month in a row. Leading non-food categories included hardware, toys, seasonal, sporting goods, small appliances, domestics, media, home furnishings and men’s apparel.
- Almost every retailer reporting same store sales noted that sales trends were strongest over the final two weeks of November. The strength was in part due to positive traffic trends over the post-Thanksgiving weekend as well as more normalized weather patterns as the month progressed.
- Speed matters. According to a recent poll, 33% of shoppers will leave retail website if it takes more than ten seconds to load. Additionally, 75% of consumers will not return to a site if its checkout process takes more than 30 seconds. What’s most interesting is how little patience consumers have when shopping online when compared to bricks and mortar. While no one wants to wait in a line, I suspect consumers don’t abandon their purchases when the wait time is 30 seconds at the mall.
Comp-Store Sales Fall Even With Black Friday - Retailers reporting same-store sales for the month Thursday generally had increases for the Thanksgiving weekend, but they were insufficient to prevent the month from ending up as an unseasonably flavorless turkey. Stores tracked by WWD recorded a composite comparable-store sales decline of 3.4 percent in November on top of an 8 percent drop in last year’s month. Hampered by unseasonably warm weather, which took a bite out of sales of outerwear and other warm-weather gear, and persistently thrifty consumers, stores were content to engage in self-congratulation for keeping tight reins on expenses and inventories. While clearly let down, merchants remained generally optimistic about building on last year’s sharply lower profits. But Scott Tuhy, vice president and senior analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, had reservations. “While we expect modest improvement in earnings in the fourth quarter, helped by cost savings and improved inventories, we remain concerned that promotional activity will increase in the next few critical weeks as retailers may increase discounts to entice bargain-hungry shoppers to the mall,” he said. <wwd.com>
USA-ITA Names New Executive Director - The U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel is shifting its focus from New York to Washington under new leadership as importers ratchet up the pressure on policy makers in the nation’s capital to help craft beneficial measures that impact billions of dollars in global trade. The 20-year-old trade and lobbying association said Thursday that Laura Jones, executive director of USA-ITA since its inception in 1989, will be stepping down at the end of January. Julia Hughes, senior vice president and chief Washington lobbyist, will take the helm. The association, which has 200 members, including J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Target Corp., Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., AnnTaylor Stores Corp., Quiksilver Inc. and Macy’s Inc., will also move its headquarters to Washington from New York by the end of January. “In this critical time for the American retailers and importers, the board wants to focus USA-ITA on our mission to represent the views of the industry to the decision makers in Washington,” said Janet Fox, chairwoman of USA-ITA and vice president and director of strategic sourcing at Penney’s. <wwd.com>
Global Sources to Hold 18 Private Sourcing Events - Twenty-two buyers representing more than US$367 billion dollars in annual sales are scheduled to meet more than 100 China suppliers to source a range of products including car electronics, home textiles and fashion accessories and wireless communication equipment. Participating buyers include Advanced Auto Parts, Auchan, Canadian Tire, El Corte Ingles, Kmart (Australia), Li & Fung, RadioShack, Sears and Woolworths Australia. Global Sources' Chairman and CEO, Merle A. Hinrichs, said: "Over the past year, we've been helping our suppliers grow their exports and stay profitable by nearly doubling the number of Private Sourcing Events on the schedule. "Now that the global economy is showing signs of improvement, these events provide an unmatched opportunity for suppliers to gain new orders right as buyers increase their purchasing. For buyers who need to restock inventory, Private Sourcing Events offer a streamlined channel to find new qualified suppliers capable of meeting their requirements." <prnewswire.com>
Wal-Mart Settles Mass Labor Suits; Secures Licensing Deal w/ FIFA - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. continued its recent effort to reconcile outstanding wage-and-hour lawsuits Wednesday when it agreed to a $40 million settlement with up to 87,500 current and former employees in Massachusetts. The deal, filed in Middlesex Superior Court, ends a class action suit brought in 2001. Employees had accused the world’s largest retailer of forcing them to work off the clock by refusing breaks and controlling time cards, among other methods. The agreement is the latest in a string of similar deals struck by the Bentonville, Ark.-based company since it said last year that it would pay up to $640 million to end 63 such suits in courts across the country. Last month, a federal judge in Nevada signed off on a settlement that affected up to 3.2 million employees of the retail giant. Robert Bonsignore, a lead counsel in two actions in the Massachusetts case, said the settlement is the largest for a wage-and-hour action in the state’s history. Employees who worked for Wal-Mart in the state between August 1995 and the settlement date will receive between $400 and $2,500, the attorney’s firm said. The deal also calls for Wal-Mart to take measures to ensure that future hourly wage violations do not occur. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced today that it will collaborate with FIFA's exclusive worldwide master licensee, Global Brands Group (GBG), to operate 2010 FIFA World Cup(TM) Official Event Stores in nearly all of its retail markets around the world. <wwd.com> <sportsonesource.com>
PUMA Forms PUMA Golf North America - PUMA announced a new partnership to grow the North American golf business with the formation of PUMA Golf North America, as the official distributor and licensee of PUMA Golf in the United States and Canada. PUMA Golf North America will become the official licensee, responsible for the North American distribution of the brand's footwear, apparel and accessories to on & off course golf specialty, sporting goods and online accounts. The long-term agreement will include dedicated resources for the golf category across merchandising, sales, marketing and operations. The newly formed organization will begin work on PUMA Golf effective immediately, with the in-store launch of the Spring 2010 collections and the sell-in for Fall/Winter 2010 quickly approaching. The company said golf is a major priority in PUMA's global brand strategy and this new alliance will propel the category in North America as well as expand PUMA's distribution in the golf market. <sportsonesource.com>
Nike Supports Tiger Woods - Nike was among other sponsors affirming its support for Tiger Woods. Nike said briefly in a statement, "Nike supports Tiger and his family. Our relationship remains unchanged." <sportsonesource.com>
Senate Won't Address Duty Relief Before Holiday Recess - Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has confirmed that the Senate will not pass its miscellaneous tariff bill (MTB) before adjourning for the holiday recess. Congress tries to pass an MTB bill every two years to provide temporary duty relief on products where importers, retailers or other stakeholders can prove doing so will not hurt domestic manufacturers. In several cases, temporary duty relief secured by OIA and its allies has temporarily reduced duties on some outdoor performance footwear from the nearly 40% ranges to less than 10%. Without an MTB bill, duties could revert on some of that footwear, but a less drastic outcome is more likely, according to Alex Boian, director of trade policy for OIA. <sportsonesource.com>
Russia's Apparel sector grows after closure of illegal market – Putin - The Russian government had decided to close down the Cherkizovsky market, the country's largest wholesale market, dominated by Chinese traders, in the interest of the domestic textile and clothing sector. Fibre2fashion had reported in June about the crackdown on the market by Russian authorities and which led to the burning of goods of 22 containers, reportedly containing illegally imported goods, which includes textile and clothing. In a televised interview, Mr Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Russia said that, after the shutdown of Cherkizovsky market, Russia's textile industry had grown by 3 percent, and the production of pants and suits had increased by 16 percent and 13 percent, respectively. He added by saying that, "We will never win as long as domestic manufacturers are hit by smuggled and counterfeit goods, but at the same time, Russia wants friendly relations with its partners, including China”. < fibre2fashion.com>
Websites selling counterfeit Ugg boots forced to close - Police have shut down hundreds of websites selling counterfeit Ugg boots as shoppers race to buy discounted product in the run up to Christmas. According to reports, the Metropolitan Police said that several websites have been set up this year advertising boots from the Australian comfort footwear brand Ugg. However, buyers using these sites, most of which are based overseas, have either been sent counterfeit boots or have not received their order at all. The police said yesterday that they had frozen 1,219 such websites as a result of their Operation Papworth investigation. However, they added that the website owners were unlikely to be traced because they had used fake names and untraceable emails. Detective superintendent Charlie McMurdie, head of the Police Central e-crime unit told the Daily Mail: “Fraudsters target the victim’s desire to buy designer goods at reduced prices, particularly at this time of year.” <drapersonline.com>
Malaysia’s Exports Unexpectedly Rebound as China Demand Surges - Malaysia’s exports unexpectedly rose for the first time in a year in October as demand from China jumped amid an Asian economic recovery. Overseas shipments climbed 1.6 percent from a year earlier to 54.3 billion ringgit ($16 billion) after falling 24.2 percent in September, the trade ministry said in a statement in Kuala Lumpur today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 13 economists was for a 10.5 percent decline, with none expecting an increase. Asia is leading the world’s recovery from its worst recession since the 1930s after policy makers pledged more than $950 billion in stimulus measures and cut interest rates to revive growth. Malaysia’s government, which raised its 2009 economic forecast in October, said this week that next year’s expansion may exceed the current 2 percent-to-3 percent target. “The outlook on the export front is getting brighter as recovery remains unabated,” said Irvin Seah, an economist at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore. <bloomberg.com>
Perrin Named CEO at Cartier North America - Emmanuel Perrin has been named president and chief executive officer of Cartier North America, succeeding Frédéric de Narp, who has resigned. Perrin was most recently present and ceo of Van Cleef & Arpels, which, like Cartier, is owned by Geneva-based Compagnie Financière Richemont SA. His appointment at Cartier is effective Jan. 1 and ends months of industry speculation. Perrin took his role at Van Cleef & Arpels in 2006 and saw the jewelry and watch firm through its centennial that same year. <wwd.com>
NHL Sees Robust Thanksgiving Weekend Sales -The National Hockey League (NHL) registered record-setting merchandise sales at both the NHL Powered by Reebok Store and at Shop.NHL.com over the 2009 Thanksgiving weekend. On Black Friday and through the holiday weekend, the NHL Powered by Reebok Store in New York City saw a 34% increase in sales over last year's figures while Shop.NHL.com enjoyed its highest-grossing sales day ever on Cyber Monday. With the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic coming to Fenway Park on New Years Day, the event's merchandise is setting new sales records both in-store and online. The NHL Winter Classic jerseys from the Boston BruinsÂ® and Philadelphia Flyers were the top-selling NHL Winter Classic items over the holiday weekend. The Reebok Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers 2010 Winter Classic Official Center Ice Reversible Player Knit Hats were the second most popular NHL Winter Classic items through Cyber Monday. <sportsonesource.com>
Louis Vuitton expands in Asia Pacific - Louis Vuitton has opened in Macau’s One Central retail and residential development as part of its planned expansion across the Asia Pacific region. The French luxury label’s One Central “Maison” is one of its largest stores internationally. The three-storey, 1,633 sq ft store is on a similar scale to Louis Vuitton’s Maison flagships in Champs Elysees in Paris, Canton Road and Landmark in Hong Kong, 5th Avenue in New York City, Taipei and San Francisco. Yves Carcelle, chairman and chief executive of Louis Vuitton, said: “The opening of this store and the investment it represents reflects Louis Vuitton’s confidence in this market and the appreciation by the local customer of the quality and craftsmanship of Louis Vuitton’s product range.” <drapersonline.com>
Izod G Licensed for Golf - Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation has licensed Jensan Apparel Corporation to produce and market a full range of golfwear for men, women and children under PVH’s IZOD G brand. Jensan’s first IZOD G collection, set to arrive in stores in Fall 2010, will be distributed in green grass shops; golf, tennis and sporting goods stores; and specialty stores. The territory licensed to Jensan includes the United States, its territories and possessions, as well as Canada. <sportsonesource.com>
NTD Apparel sweatshirts recalled - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of NTD Apparel sweatshirts due to a strangulation hazard. About 1,200 sweatshirts imported from China by NTD Apparel of Los Angeles, Calif., include drawstrings that pose a risk of strangulation, the commission said. The "Hello Kitty" Zip Up Hoodie Sweatshirts involved in the recall were sold nationwide at Macy's and Dillard's stores from November 2008 through December 2008 for $36. Consumers were advised to remove the drawstrings from the sweatshirts or return the garments to the retailer or NTD Apparel for a full refund. <upi.com>
The Macau Metro Monitor. December 4th, 2009.
COMMISSION CAP, RIP destination-macau.com
DM learned this week that the enforcement of the junket commission cap was not going as smoothly as planned. One of the six concessionaires persuaded the regulators that “revenue-share deals should be left out of the regulatory framework”. When posing the question “who runs this town?” DM outlines that the junkets are constituents and do have a powerful voice. Nevertheless, they believe that the junket commission cap has been read into too much as an indicator of whether to buy or sell the concessionaires’ stocks. Volumes are far more dependent on credit lines extended to junkets and direct players than small extra play they can generate through junket commissions. DM expects December to be a strong month in Macau.
MACAU RETAIL SALES SURGE IN Q3 forextv.com
Retail sales grew 17% year-over-year, to MOP 5.56 billion, in Macau in the third quarter, according to figures released by the Statistics and Census Service. In volume terms, retail sales increased 14.8% annually in the third quarter. For the first nine months of the year, the cumulative value of retail sales totaled MOP 15.69 billion, up 13% from the first nine months of 2008.
“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.”
He Who Sees No Bubbles (Bernanke) had a fascinating performance in Washington yesterday. He, once again, claimed to see no bubbles. He talked a lot about the Fed’s “expertise.” He remains one of the most politicized Chiefs that the US Federal Reserve has ever had at its helm.
Rather than take his and Timmy Geithner’s word for it, we have decided to use our own expert, Mr. Macro Market, to help us proactively manage risk. What you are seeing from both the US Treasury and the Fed is called reactive management. It is a cornerstone of expertise only taught at Groupthink Inc.
Earlier this week, we called out 3 major bubbles:
1. Gold = immediate term TRADE
2. Short Term Treasuries = intermediate term TREND
3. Banker Bonuses = long term TAIL
On Gold, we posted an intraday note to our Macro subscribers on Wednesday titled, “Bubbly Gold: Selling Some, Again”, cutting our position in the Asset Allocation Model to 4% from 7%, at the YTD high. It’s ok to be long of bubbles. Just be aware when you are in one. This morning we are seeing gold correct. Our immediate term TRADE support for Gold is $1186/oz. At this stage of the game, we are a buyer on weakness and a seller of strength.
On Treasuries, our Macro subscribers saw us short SHY (1-3 year Treasury ETF) in our Virtual Portfolio when we started calling out He Who Sees No Bubbles, on November 19th. When yields hit their lowest levels EVER, we call bonds priced at those yields intermediate term bubbles. The only other times that 2-year yields have been at 0.65% (or lower) were December 2008 and December 1938. Of course, they went up from both points, and stocks went down.
On Banker Bonuses, you have to love the no shame associated with the Banker of America Sell It While You Can model. Last night’s pricing of BAC’s secondary rung the register on a $19.3B banker transaction. That was the largest secondary offering Americans have seen in almost a decade. Bubbly anyone?
The takeaway from all of this is that the experts who run this joint are experts in knowing “less and less” about what’s going on, real-time, in the marketplace. All the while, Americans are getting smarter. They are finally realizing that the perceived wisdoms of our “experts” are just that – perceptions.
Practitioners of risk management like to proactively call out bubbles before they actually pop. We call this competence.
Back to being your risk manager, here are 2 critical intermediate term TREND lines that have broke yesterday:
1. US Financials (XLF) = $14.64
2. Russell 2000 (RUT) = 590
Small caps and financials are now going down as the US Dollar goes down. So is Oil. Dollar down = stocks and commodities down? Yes, this is new. This is called unwinding the REFLATION trade.
We have been saying this, and I will say it again. At a price, the US Dollar crashing to lower-lows becomes a negative rather than a positive. That price is $74 on the US Dollar Index, or lower. Currencies in crisis create many unintended consequences that the “experts” don’t see coming until it is too late.
The price of oil has broken its immediate term TRADE line of $78.37. The intermediate term TREND line for Oil is $74.18/barrel, and now that’s in play.
My immediate term support and resistance levels for the SP500 are now 1084 (the TRADE line) and 1110, respectively.
Have a great weekend with your families and best of luck out there today,
XLK – SPDR Technology — We bought back our position in Tech on 11/20. Rebecca Runkle has an innovation story in Mobility and Team Macro has an M&A story in our Q4 Theme, the “Banker Bonanza”. We’re bullish on XLK on TREND (3 Months or more).
GLD – SPDR Gold — We bought back our long standing bullish position on gold on a down day on 9/14 with the threat of US centric stagflation heightening.
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.
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.
XLI – SPDR Industrials — We shorted Industrials again on 11/9 on the up move as the US market made a lower-high. This is the best way for us to be short the hope of a V-shaped recovery.
EWU – iShares UK — Despite areas of improvement, broader fundamentals remain shaky in the UK: government debt continues to expand, leadership in critical positions lacks, and the country’s leverage to the banking sector remains glaringly negative. Q3 saw its GDP contract by -0.3%. Further bank stimulus and the BOE’s increase in its bond purchasing program suggest that this will not end well.
XLY – SPDR Consumer Discretionary — We shorted Howard Penney’s view on Consumer Discretionary stocks on 10/30 and 12/2.
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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