As the quarter-end approaches, we’re wondering if you're bullish or bearish. Vote and tell us why.
As the quarter-end approaches, we’re wondering if you're bullish or bearish. Vote and tell us why.
Hedgeye Managing Director Todd Jordan has demonstrated again why he’s one of the best gaming analysts on the street.
On October 11th, he spelled out why he was advising investors to steer clear of International Game Technology (IGT), as well as Bally Technologies (BYI) and Scientific Games (SGMS).
Shares of IGT are down over 8% this week alone, down over 26% since he made his call.
Watch the 3-minute video below on why Jordan went bearish.
Shares of SGMS haven’t fared much better. They have fallen almost 19% since Jordan warned investors. BYI its down over 7%.
For perspective, the S&P 500 is up over 9% since Jordan made his call.
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.
Yesterday we hosted a conference call on electronic cigarettes with Miguel Martin, President of LOGIC, a private e-cig manufacturer since 2010 with the #2 national brand in unit and dollar share for C-Stores in the United States, according to Nielsen.
Miguel joined LOGIC in July of last year and formerly worked for Altria for nearly 20 years. The call is part of a series of talks we’ve held with industry experts (previous speakers included NJOY, Ballantyne Brands and Victory). On the call Miguel offered industry commentary that we found very valuable as we continue to assess the rapidly expanding e-cigarette category.
Click for the Replay Podcast
Click for LOGIC’s Presentation
Below we provide key callouts from Miguel’s prepared remarks and highlights from a very robust and insightful Q&A session.
Key Callouts from Miguel’s Prepared Remarks
Q&A Highlights (slightly paraphrased for clarity and brevity)
How big is the flavored e-cig market (versus traditional and menthol) in the U.S.? Miguel estimates that flavored products are 10-12% of sales and 6-8% of profitability. The #2 and #3 players (LOGIC and NJOY) both do not have flavored products, however #1 blu does (but only in rechargeables). In test markets, neither Reynolds (Vuse) nor Altria (MarkTen) has offered a flavored product, only a tobacco and menthol offering. He sees flavors in lower cost items/players, typically online sales, and says in many cases the flavor offerings are inflammatory: bubble gum, coffee, etc., which are red flags to the FDA. He believes that flavors will not have a long shelf life (FDA will look to ban).
Are the actions taken by the cities of NYC, Chicago, and LA to treat e-cig as traditional cigs as it relates to banning use indoors unique to the fact that these are big cities, or indicative of a larger trend that could spread across the country? Miguel believes it is typically easier to enact legislation at the city level, and it could be a strategy to then move to the states and then Federal government. There are states with e-cig bans (NJ, ND, UT, AR) but he points out that the FDA is taking a long thoughtful look at e-cigs, but there is still no specific research to make a determination (or support a credible claim) for or against an e-cig indoor ban.
How do you see the sales mix across disposables versus rechargeables evolving for the industry over the next 1-5 years? Miguel says that rechargeables account for about one-third of the overall industry and would expect in the next 18-24 months that the rechargeable business will continue to grow. He believes that the consumer will decide that they’re an e-cig user (exclusive or not) and the compelling economics of rechargeables will propel the category over disposables. The retailers also benefit, customizer sales a higher profit for the same SKU space/footprint as a disposable.
With both Altria (Mark ten) and Reynolds (Vuse) rolling out e-cigs, does the increased competition help or hurt LOGIC? What do you think of Vuse? Difficult to understand what those brands will do on a national level (both RAI and MO are both in 2 state markets each in their e-cig roll-out). Seeing excessive amount of couponing and discounting, and investment in the retail stores in order to generate that trial. They obviously leverage their experience with their database of adult smokers, so it’s hard to say if they can do that nationally – put the same emphasis and resources towards e-cigs as they did in the test markets while managing their cigarette, cigar, etc. businesses. Also a question mark on the margin they can give to the retailers.
Can you comment on the rise in tank/open style vaping devises versus traditional e-cigs and how is the FDA likely to view tanks? There is evidence that tanks are growing, however the majority of national retailers do not carry them. While that might change, the reality is that adult smokers cannot find open tanks. It’s a much more complicated conversation that a clerk has to have with a consumer about what it is. Sadly there have been incidences of children ingesting e-liquid, so clearly there is a huge set of safety measures that must be put in place to better secure these products. As for the FDA, Miguel doesn’t see vaporizers (tanks, etc.) being banned outright, but will fall under similar requirements to traditional e-cigs. In his mind it’s clearly easier to regulate a close system and expects the FDA to struggle with how to assess the great options of constituents that can go into an open tank.
Who’s winning on the back shelf at a retailer? Is it based on the shelf space or product quality? Both, today we’re seeing retailers (especially large national ones) looking for 1) a manufacturer that will be viable in the future, 2) those that provide the greatest GP dollars (a combination of the gross margin and price of the product) and 3) those who will be most flexible and easy to work with. Good product and strong shelf space (visable and good SKU distribution) go hand in hand.
On blu, 2013 sales kind of soft and down in Q4 2013. Do you owe this to increased competition or overall sluggishness in the category? Thinks blu has done a good job and has a great product. Thinks that when you have such a spike in distribution, you will come off of that and they were in competition with a major manufacturer offering a buy one/get one free. Most recent Nielsen numbers suggest that share has come back for blu and LOGIC. Miguel still believes there’s still a lot of trialing in the industry, but people are continuing to coalesce around products they deem high quality.
What do you make of Imperial Tobacco suing 11 American e-cigarette makers (including yourselves) in federal court for a range of patent infringements? No comment on current litigation. The story is not a new one. Imperial bought patents from previous owner (Ruyan) and have continued with lawsuits. It is interesting who they sued and didn’t sue, and we’ll just have to see how it plays out [Hedgeye Note: companies include LO, NJOY, VPCO, VMR, Ballantyne Brands, CB Distributors, Spark Industries, LOGIC, FIN, Victory, and DR Distributors].
We’ve seen LO purchase blu and SKYCIG and Altria purchase Green Smoke. Do you think Big Tobacco will continue to buy to grow, or fund expansion internally? Big Tobacco has the great benefit of a lot of cash to bolt on existing brands and innovate within. What makes things a bit more difficult, beyond LOGIC and NJOY, there really aren’t any private players with national brand recognized and distribution, so it becomes a bit of a finite exercise on who Big Tobacco could look at. However there’s no historical evidence that you can buy your way to be successful. If that was the case Coca-Cola and Pepsi would just own the energy drink business. Also he believes that if there’s any time to buy an e-cig company that’s doing well, it’s now, given the rapid rise in the business [and valuation] around these potential targets.
Does LOGIC have any plans to expand internationally? Yes, active with partnerships around the world. While LOGIC has almost a quarter of the e-cig business as defined by Nielsen, the company has tons of white space west of the Mississippi. Company has 45% of the Northeast market (as determined by Nielsen), and is bullish on all the white space in the U.S., which it sees as its main opportunity.
Do you worry about supply chain disruptions and quality control? Do you see facilities moving to the U.S. over time, or staying predominantly in China? Miguel doesn’t worry. Sees dedicated partnership in China. Believes misnomer that products made in China are of lesser quality than those that could be made in the U.S. The question of U.S. manufacturing is being led by Reynolds. If that is deemed as an advantage (from regulatory or efficiency standpoint), then LOGIC will also consider it.
Call or email with questions,
Takeaway: Confusing FINL guide. Notable chg from NKE in athlete strategy. WMT’s Tesla truck. AMZN closer to streaming. PVH/GIII license. WMT vs Visa.
FINL - 4Q14 Earnings
At face value the print looks good. Comps, margins, and EPS all came in ahead of expectations. But the company guided EPS for the year to a high-single-digit to low-double-digit growth rate, with the Street sitting at +14.8%. That's not the end of the world, but the confusing element is that it guided comps +mid-single, which is slightly above the 3.8% rate the Street is modeling. This is a company that has burned people in the past with investment spending, so one would think we'd start to see some decent flow through this time around -- especially given the solid results we're seeing out of Foot Locker. Separately, the SIGMA move was not a pretty one. Yes, it moved into Quadrant 3 (worst place to be), but the bigger takeaway is how often it is in a negative inventory and margin position.
NKE - Nike Showcases Johnny Manziel Pro Day Collection
Takeaway: Let's be clear about something, we still think that Manziel is a colossal blow-up risk. But we give Nike a lot of credit on how they're handling this one. Their old MO was to endorse big athletes, stick them in ads and hope that it trickles down to mainstream product. But Nike has a full array of product associated with Manziel for Pro Day -- far from when he even will even see a snap in the NFL. This marks a fundamental change for how Nike is handling these endorsements. We still don't like the stock here. But like this development.
AMZN - Amazon Considers Streaming Media Service
Takeaway: The company denied these streaming rumors, but there's no disputing that the company is looking to create its own content. Let's put TV into perspective - over 65% of new shows get cancelled in their first season. NFLX defied the odds and struck gold with two hits. AMZN is 0 for 1 with Beta's and that trend probably continues.
WMT - This is what Walmart thinks tractor trailers of the future will look like
Takeaway: The average 18-wheeler gets about 6 MPG. WMT truckers drive ~700mm miles per year. That’s about $500mm on diesel alone. If that average MPG number went to 18 that equates to about $320mm in cost savings. Pennies for WMT, but significant innovation for the industry if WMT can get the prototype off of the design room floor.
WMT - Wal-Mart Sues Visa Claiming Card Transaction Fee Fixing
Takeaway: WMT has a serious bone to pick with Visa. The company backed out of the $7.25bil class-action settlement agreed upon in December to pursue this new litigation.
Neiman-Marcus - Neiman eyes Hudson Yards for 1st NYC store
GIII, PVH - G-III Apparel Group Announces License for G.H. Bass Men's Sportswear
WMT - 500.com Limited Enters into Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Yhd.com
In this morning’s Q&A session with subscribers, Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough discusses the investing and economic implications of #InflationAccelerating and continuing dollar debasement.
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