prev

WHERE'S THE MARGIN GOING?

WHERE'S THE MARGIN GOING?

October 12, 2009

 

 

TODAY’S CALL OUT

 

There’s a notable call out in reconciling the latest apparel import price data with CPI. The punchline is that after a six-month time period where margin dollars increased, they narrowed meaningfully last month. Still a positive spread – implying that margins are still getting better – but at a far lesser rate. So many people look at CPI and raw material pricing data in yy % terms, but that’s simply inaccurate. Remember that the average retail price for an apparel garment is about $10, while the import price is about $3.50. So a 1% change in retail price equates to about a 3% change in import price to keep the margin equation in balance. So we measure the actual dollar spread between costs to consumers vs. the industry. On average, the spread is about a dime per garment. That might not seem like much, but at about 30 bn garments per year, we’re talking about $3bn in ‘margin jump ball’ injected into the industry per year – or about 100bp in margin. THAT’s why these stats matter. That’s also why I’m surprised to see that spread go near zero – just at the time (4Q) when the investing world at large thinks that 4Q will be a cakewalk.

 

WHERE'S THE MARGIN GOING? - 1

 

WHERE'S THE MARGIN GOING? - 2 

 

 

 

LEVINE’S LOW DOWN

Some Notable Call Outs

 

  • Li & Fung is getting louder about acquisitions. Currently the biggest supplier of apparel and toys to US Mass Retail, said it’s considering acquisitions of several U.S. companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales. The company has a $1 billion acquisition fund, and is eyeing “multi-hundred-million-dollar-sales companies” in the U.S., said President Bruce Rockowitz. Li & Fung may make “a series of acquisitions” within the coming months, and is also looking at companies in Europe and in Hong Kong, he said.

 

  • As some retailers still try to figure out their ecommerce strategies, the effort is now expanding to m-commerce. By the end of this year about 50% of traditional retailers are expected to have mobile websites, up from 20% at the end of 2008. For now the biggest hurdle to mobile commerce is the consumer’s hesitancy to share sensitive credit card or personal information via a smartphone device. Expect credit card network operators including Visa and MasterCard to begin promoting safety and security as they roll out mobile strategies of their own.

 

  • In an effort to get a jump start on the competition as well as the hype surrounding Black Friday, Toys R Us is expected to be open on Thanksgiving Day. Healthy competition and media attention is certainly part retail landscape, but there has to be some line drawn as it pertains to employee satisfaction. We wonder if any other retailers will follow, leaving their employees with just Christmas and Easter as the only two holidays guaranteed to be off.

 

  • A reminder that the next U.S census is approaching and it will be measured as of April 1, 2010. As always, the census will have implications for all kinds of issues and businesses, including retailers. This massive “research” project which will examine the composition and demographics of the U.S population is expected to cost $15 billion to complete. Results will begin to be made public in spring 2011.

 

 

MORNING NEWS 

 

-U.S. Imports Fall in August, Trade Gap Narrows - Textile and apparel imports to the U.S. continued their long decline in August, with Vietnam posting the only increase among major suppliers. The Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel said Friday industry imports fell 9.8 percent to 4.2 billion square meter equivalents in August compared with a year earlier. The total volume of imports of textiles and apparel to the U.S. in August was the highest for any month this year, but in year-over-year comparisons imports have been declining since February 2008. Apparel imports fell 6.4 percent to 2 billion SME and textile imports dropped 12.7 percent to 2.2 billion SME. Imports of textiles and apparel from China dropped 0.7 percent to 2.1 billion SME in the month compared with August 2008. Apparel imports from China increased 9.1 percent for the month to 961 million SME, while textile imports from China fell 8 percent to 1.1 billion SME. <wwd.com>

 

-Argentina: Threat of tannery closures recedes as companies accept lower level activity - Information obtained from the Argentine Tannery Association CICA indicates that the threat of tannery closures has receded since the height of the financial and business crisis in the country last January. Tanneries are still well stocked with hides, mainly salted and in storage, as the kill was accelerated in reaction to the worst drought in 60 years which killed thousands of head. The premature kill of smaller animals has led to a reduction in larger hides for upholstery and with many smaller hides now available, tanneries are reorienting their business towards footwear production. The collapse in car sales world-wide has forces tanneries to diversify and change strategy instead of having all their eggs in one "automobile" basket. <fashionnetasia.com>

 

-European Commission Calls on Hungary to Change its VAT Reimbursement - The European Commission has called on Hungary to modify the relevant provisions of its VAT legislation which preclude Hungarian taxable persons from claiming reimbursement of input VAT where the underlying supply has not been financially settled by the taxable person. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion, the second step of infringement procedure enshrined in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. The Hungarian VAT Act grants taxable persons the option to choose between carrying forward their excess VAT (which results from deductible VAT exceeding payable VAT in a tax period) to the next tax period or immediately claiming the refund of it. <ibls.com>

 

-McCarthy Puts Under Armour on the Offensive - Two months after taking over as captain of Under Armour’s footwear business, Gene McCarthy is drawing up a playbook that aims to offset the company’s weak sneaker sales. While the Baltimore-based company made big bets earlier this year on the debut of its running shoe, footwear revenues fell 19% in the second quarter, leading to major markdowns on inventory. Under Armour will report third-quarter results later this month, but analysts do not expect footwear figures to be much better. To combat that, McCarthy — who previously served as co-president of Timberland and worked for two decades as a Nike executive, with a stint at Reebok in between — said he is focused on building up the company’s design talent so its footwear has a “distinct design language unique to our brand.” McCarthy is also in the process of overhauling sourcing and development and is fine-tuning footwear distribution. <wwd.com>

 

-LVMH to Freeze Hiring, Salaries in 2010 - LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA plans to freeze hiring and salaries in 2010 after a stagnation in sales and earnings this year, La Lettre de L’Expansion reported, without saying how it got the information. The company’s wines and spirits unit is showing a sales decline of 42 percent, La Lettre said. Overall 2009 revenue will rise 0.2 percent and net income will gain 0.1 percent, the newsletter said. LVMH is planning an acquisition in perfumes and cosmetics, according to La Lettre. <bloomberg.com>

 

-Marks & Spencer May Speed Up Non-U.K., Internet Retail Plans - Marks & Spencer Group Plc, the clothing retailer fighting two years of declining sales in its home British market, may announce plans for more international stores and an enlarged online offering tomorrow. Finance Director Ian Dyson is scheduled to speak to analysts and investors in London, and Britain’s biggest clothing retailer by revenue has said he will discuss “developments” outside the U.K., without giving more details.

<bloomberg.com>

 

-CVS, Walgreen Have Spot Flu-Vaccine Shortages as Demand Surges - CVS Caremark Corp. and Walgreen Co., the two largest U.S. drugstore chains, are experiencing spot shortages of seasonal-flu vaccines because of increased demand. CVS MinuteClinics in Austin, Texas, and New York ran out of the seasonal-flu vaccine within the past week before restocking, according to calls to 13 stores by Bloomberg News. Calls to eight Walgreen stores in Manhattan on Oct. 5 determined none had it at the time. There are also shortages in the South and Southeast, said James Cohn, a Walgreen spokesman.

Demand for seasonal-flu vaccinations has soared because of public awareness of the H1N1 virus, known as swine flu, Cohn said. Walgreen administered twice as many doses in September as in the entire 2008 flu season, he said. <bloomberg.com>

 

-Asda is Top Clothing Retailer in Britain - According to TNS data, Asda has become Britain's biggest clothing retailer with its George brand achieving 10.1 percent market share. The growth was driven largely by school uniforms and womenswear. "Our objective was to be No. 1 by volume by 2011, so we're 18 months early," Anthony Thompson, George's managing director, told The Times. <licensemag.com>

 

-DKNY Jeans set to be launched this month in India -DLF Brands Ltd, the retail and lifestyle division of DLF Ltd, today announced its agreement with Christina Ong’s Club 21 Group, the international licensee for DKNY Jeans, to launch the brand following the successful introduction of the DKNY brand in the Indian market earlier this year. The first two DKNY JEANS stores will be launched in New Delhi in October 2009 at DLF Place, Saket and the DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj. Both the DKNY and DKNY JEANS brands are owned by Donna Karan International, Inc. and are sold in India under license. <indiaretailing.com>

 

-eBay India launches Global EasyBuy - eBay India (www.ebay.in), India’s leading eCommerce Marketplace, today announced the launch of Global EasyBuy - The International Online Shopping Destination - which provides Indian shoppers with instant access to an unprecedented 18 million products. Global EasyBuy (www.ebay.in/geb) is aimed at redefining the Indian retail landscape and will provide savvy Indian shoppers access to the world’s hottest labels and coolest brands from the comfort of their home. <indiaretailing.com>

 

-Chloé Awarded $7.2M in Infringement Suit - A federal court on Friday entered a $7.2 million default judgment against a Los Angeles supplier after he failed to respond to an infringement lawsuit filed by Chloé. According to court documents, Mohammed Alexander Zarafshan, who did business as Alexander Zar, was aware of the 2006 suit and initially gave a deposition in the case, but never formally answered the complaint. A judge can enter a default judgment if a defendant fails to respond within a given time. <wwd.com>

 

-Trovata, Forever 21 Settle Lawsuit - Trovata and Forever 21 have settled the lawsuit that Trovata brought against the fast-fashion chain alleging it willfully and intentionally copied its designs on seven garments in 2007. The settlement comes just as a second trial was set to begin in the case this Tuesday, Oct. 13. The companies have recently resolved their differences to their mutual satisfaction, without any admission as to liability, and the action has been dismissed. The terms of settlement are confidential. <wwd.com>

 

-Chanel to Open Shanghai Boutique - Chanel is gearing up to make a splash in Shanghai on Dec. 3, when it will stage a fashion show for a luxury pre-fall collection and open an art-filled 5,160-square-foot boutique in the Peninsula hotel on the historic Bund riverfront promenade. <wwd.com>


US Strategy - Earnings Season Looms

On Friday, the S&P 500 closed at 1,071, up 0.6% on the day.  Day five of the S&P 500’s rally as the momentum behind the recovery trade continued all week; volume was shockingly low. 

 

Last week the S&P rose 4.5% as the MACRO calendar provided some positive momentum.  The bullish tone stemmed from the ISM numbers on Monday and continued through Wednesday and Alcoa's relatively upbeat release into Thursday's better than expected jobless claims and retail reports.  The catalysts in the coming week will be comprised of major earnings reports, which include: top banks JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Bank of America, report this week along with Google, Southwest Airlines, Intel, IBM, General Electric, and Johnson & Johnson.

 

Friday’s portfolio activity included shorting the XHB – the Homebuilders ETF.  We were the bulls on a Q2 housing turn last December.  Now Keith and I are getting cautious on housing in 1H 2010.  As rates head higher, access to capital tightening is not good for the early cycle home builders.  Additionally, without help from Washington the housing market is not healthy enough to stand on its own two feet and the $8,000 tax credit is expected to expire at the end of November.

 

The dollar index was up 0.7% on the heels of Ben Bernanke's comments after recovering from a 14-month low hit Thursday.  The VIX declined for the fifth straight day and is now down 14% over the past week. 

As of Friday, four of the nine sectors outperformed the S&P 500, with every sector positive except Consumer Discretionary and Energy.  The three best performing sectors were Healthcare (XLV), Financials (XLF) and Technology (XLK), while Energy (XLE), Materials (XLB) and Consumer Discretionary (XLY) were the bottom three.  We are currently long the XLV, which we would expect to be buoyed this morning by the announcement from Onyx Pharmaceuticals that they are acquiring privately held Proteolix for $810MM.

 

Today, the set up for the S&P 500 is: TRADE (1,051) and TREND is positive (991).   Day 1 of perfection - the Research Edge quantitative models have 9 of 9 sectors in the S&P500 positive on TREND and 9 of 9 sectors are positive from the TRADE duration.         


Howard Penney
Managing Director

 

US Strategy - Earnings Season Looms - S P500

 

US Strategy - Earnings Season Looms - s pperf

 

US Strategy - Earnings Season Looms - s plevels

 


Blankfein's Bucks

“Study the past if you would define the future.”
-Confucius

No matter where you go this morning, there’s that Burning Buck consensus again. The #1 headline on Bloomberg is “Dollar Reaches Breaking Point As Banks Shifting Record Reserves Into Euro”…
 
That article, written by Ye Xie, was very well researched. Xie used the powerful weaponry of math and history. Some of his historical conclusions on US Dollar weightings as a percentage of total central banking reserves came from Barclay’s Steve Englander (former Fed Head), who concluded what we have for quite some time now – this isn’t about a “risk aversion” trade. Moving away from the Burning Buck is mostly about Global Asset Class Diversification.

The levered long glory days of US centric (US currency denominated) global financial dominance are over. Whether his name was Paulson and now Blankfein isn’t the point. The point is that Blankfein is going to be a revisionist historian and start telling the world “we never needed the money.” The problem with Wall Street storytelling, of course, is that until YouTube came along, there was no auditor!
 
These aren’t political points. They are credibility points. Study the past, and you’ll find that a country’s credibility will define her currency’s future. Mr. Blankfein, I know you are really smart, so be smart this week… and start acting like the accountable leader in US Financial Services that this country needs.
 
Studying the past is what Englander did, noting that in Q2 of 2009 that 63% of incremental foreign currency fund flows were allocated to buying Euros and Yen. Only 37% went to US Dollars. Going all the way back to 1999, the average share that the greenback would capture was 63%, and total central bank reserves held in US Dollars at the end of Q2 was 62.8%. Yes, per Englander’s math, that was the lowest level of US Dollar representation, ever.
 
Ever, by my math, is always a long time. In order to define ever, we have to study the past. In the Burning Buck’s case, we simply have to go back to 1971 (when Nixon abandoned the Gold Standard). That’s when the United States of America was benedicted with the almighty power of having a world reserve currency.
 
What did we do with that power? We levered it up at every turn. We bought into the Washington sponsored mantra of limitless credit creation whenever there was a sniffle in the performance of the “Next Warren Buffett’s” returns (Baron’s called Miller that before he lost 55% of his clients moneys in 2008).
 
So, when Blankfein reports crushing earnings this week and tells you that becoming a bank holding company was a “long time” pending, just remember two things: the Chinese are watching and the American people are watching. Neither of these massive creditors of US Currency Credibility Lost are as stupid as some of America’s financiers think they are.
 
Studying the past reminds us that building credibility takes a lifetime, and it takes no time to destroy. While I think that the immediate term TRADE for the US Dollar is Bombed Out,  I don’t see the credibility of our said financial leaders having changed one bit. Please, prove me wrong guys…
 
Last week the Burning Buck was down -0.90% to close the week at $76.30. That was a higher-low, and this morning we’re monitoring two levels in the US Dollar very closely to see if they hold:
 
1.      US Dollar Index YTD low = $75.77

2.      US Dollar Index immediate term TRADE resistance = $76.84

 
With the US Dollar broken across all 3 of our investment durations (TRADE, TREND, and TAIL), there is only hope that it can see a rally that gets it over the immediate term (3-weeks or less) line. Hope is not an investment process. And there isn’t a hope in hell that the US Dollar gets above the long term TAIL line of $82.67 any time soon. That’s the American financial history cross that we will, unfortunately, have to bear.
 
History now proves that there were no incremental buyers for US Dollars in Q2. Newsflash, there probably weren’t any in Q3 either! Some people, like the aforementioned bullish mean reversion mutual fund investor don’t understand that stocks, currencies, and commodities stop going up not when there are sellers, but when the largest holders stop buying them!
 
The immediate term risk in this morning’s US market open outruns the reward. This is only the second day in a row that I could say that. After trading up every day last week, studying the past reminds me that as long as the US Dollar doesn’t go up, everything priced in those Burning Bucks will have an opportunity to REFLATE. My immediate term risk/reward levels for the SP500 are now 1051 and 1081, respectively.
 
Best of luck out there this week,
KM

 

 

LONG ETFS
 
EWT – iShares Taiwan
With the introduction of “Panda Diplomacy” Taiwan has found itself growing closer to mainland China. Although the politics remain awkward, the business opportunities are massive and the private sector, now almost fully emerged from state dominance, has rushed to both service “the client” and to make capital investments there.  With an export industry base heavily weighted towards technology and communications equipment, Taiwanese companies are in the right place at the right time to catch the wave of increased consumer spending spurred by Beijing’s massive stimulus package.

EWG – iShares Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel won reelection with her pro-business coalition partners the Free Democrats. We expect to see continued leadership from her team with a focus on economic growth, including tax cuts. We believe that Germany’s powerful manufacturing capacity remains a primary structural advantage; with fundamentals improving in a low CPI/interest rate environment, we expect slow but steady economic improvement from Europe’s largest economy.

CAF – Morgan Stanley China Fund
A closed-end fund providing exposure to the Shanghai A share market, we use CAF tactically to ride the more volatile domestic equity market instead of the shares listed in Hong Kong. To date the Chinese have shown leadership and a proactive response to the global recession, and now their number one priority is to offset contracting external demand with domestic growth. Although this process will inevitably come at a steep cost, we still see this as the best catalyst for economic growth globally and are long going into the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the People’s Republic.

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.   

XLV – SPDR Healthcare We’re finally getting the correction we’ve been calling for in Healthcare. We like defensible growth with an M&A tailwind. Our Healthcare sector head Tom Tobin remains bullish on fading the “public plan” at a price.

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.

 
SHORT ETFS
 
XHB – SPDR Homebuilders We were the bulls on a Q2 housing turn but, as the facts change so do we: now we are getting cautious on 1H 2010 US Housing. Rates up as access to capital tightens is not good for new home builders as we enter into a new year and series of potential catalysts for renewed pressure in the secondary market, including the expiration of the $8,000 tax credit.

USO – US OIL Fund We shorted oil on 9/30. The three Fed Heads put rate hike rhetoric right on the table. If the Buck stops Burning, Reflation stops working.

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.


the macro show

what smart investors watch to win

Hosted by Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough at 9:00am ET, this special online broadcast offers smart investors and traders of all stripes the sharpest insights and clearest market analysis available on Wall Street.

THE MACAU METRO MONITOR

WYNN MACAU RAISES HK$1.89BN VIA IPO OVER-ALLOTMENT PLAN wsj.com

Wynn Macau Ltd. announced today that it exercised the over-allotment option on its IPO, raising an additional HK$1.89 billion (US$242.3 million).   The statement indicated that a further 187.5 million shares were sold via the over-allotment option.  The shares were sold at the IPO price of HK$10.08, which represents a 6.5% discount from Friday’s closing price of HK$10.78. 



THE WEEK AHEAD

 

The Economic Data calendar for the week of the 12th of October through the 16th is full of critical releases and events.  Attached below is a snapshot of some (though far from all) of the headline numbers that we will be focused on.  

 

THE WEEK AHEAD - TWAOCT


Early Look

daily macro intelligence

Relied upon by big institutional and individual investors across the world, this granular morning newsletter distills the latest and most vital market developments and insures that you are always in the know.

next