We will host a conference call on Today at 11:00AM ET to present our view on the Macau stocks, a deeper analysis of the October numbers, our updated estimates for FY 2015/2016, and a comparitive analysis of the concessionaires' performance. As always, we will entertain questions at the end of the presentation.
RELEVANT TICKERS INCLUDE:
LVS, WYNN, MGM, MPEL, 0027.HK, 1128.HK, 1928.HK, 2282.HK, 6883.HK, and 0880.HK
- End of "The Trade": Taking profits on our long trade call
- Hedgeye company EBITDA estimates vs the Street for 2015, and 2016
- Revised 2015/2016 monthly market projections
- "True" Mass trends
- Macau Studio City implications
- Relative bottom line performance:
- EBITDA share analysis
- Who is succeeding in driving the higher margin Direct VIP business
- Cutting the fat - how much lower can fixed costs go?
- Promotional spending analysis
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We are adding Nu Skin (NUS) to the Hedgeye Consumer Staples Best Ideas list as a SHORT.
Nu Skin Enterprises (NUS) is one of the largest multi-level marketing firms in the world. The company sells three core products, skin care & nutritional supplements as well as a food supplement that fights worldwide hunger. Like many companies in the direct selling industry, Nu Skin has come under significant scrutiny for many elements of their business practices.
Following the 3Q15 earnings call, there appears to be a new controversy brewing that could have significant implications for the company. The new controversy centers around its business and sales practices surrounding the company’s food supplement charity, meant to fight worldwide hunger, VitaMeal. To be clear, this call has nothing to do with the plight of starving children around the world, it’s about the process, ethics and execution of getting the needy children the food.
Working against shareholders in the current environment is the company’s precarious financial position. NUS ended 3Q15 with the balance sheet and cash flow statement showing significant signs of stress. Excessive growth, scandals and a challenging business model, have the balance sheet showing significant inventory issues, and the company does not generate meaningful free cash flow. It’s clear; another scandal/investigation could pose a very serious threat to the financial stability of the company.
We will be hosting a call on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 11:00am ET to discuss our thesis on the company.
Our call will cover the following topics:
- What is VitaMeal?
- How material is VitaMeal to the company?
- How NUS and its global charity partners work together.
- Can VitaMeal and the selling process bring about increased regulatory risks?
- Is VitaMeal actually a tax deductible charitable contribution?
- The NUS financial problems.
- What a new scandal means for future profitability.
Details for the call will be provided next week.
Please call or e-mail with any questions.
We are adding Boulder Brands (BDBD) to our Hedgeye Consumer Staples LONG bench.
BDBD is a company we have been following on the sidelines for the past six months. One quarter does not make a trend, but with this most recent earnings call and the upside from a potential acquisition we feel confident in dipping our toes into this one.
Business trends were mixed in the quarter, but it appears they have bottomed out and stabilized. Management has embraced SKU rationalization, and the efficiencies gained from that will play out over the next 12-18 months. Reported net sales decreased 0.7% in 3Q15 to $132.9mm, although topping consensus estimates of $130.2mm.
Gross margin declined 4.8% in 3Q15 to $48mm, or 36.1% of net sales versus 37.7% in 3Q14, additionally, actuals fell short of consensus estimates of 36.72%. This poor performance was driven by a mix shift to the lower margin Natural segment (Udi’s, Glutino, Davies and EVOL) from the higher margin Balance segment (Smart Balance, Earth Balance and Level Life).
BDBD reported non-GAAP diluted EPS of $0.08, beating consensus estimates of $0.06 by $0.02.
Management reiterated 2015 guidance of $0.20 to $0.25.
NOTABLE COMMENTARY FROM THE CALL
- Identified SKUs to be rationalized and will begin the process in 2016
- Will discontinue Level Life
- Launched EVOL cups in Q3 in Target stores under three platforms, veggie, fajita and breakfast scrambles
- Management is working diligently on improving the operations of the company by outsourcing certain manufacturing to co-packers and increasing efficiencies in their four North American plants
- Seeing marked sequential improvement in core categories Udi’s breads and spreads
- Although net sales declined 0.7% in the quarter, consumption was actually up 0.5%
- Udi’s net sales increased 7.7%, consumption increased 8.5%
- EVOL net sales increased 24.8%, consumption increased 30.3%
- Earth Balance net sales increased 3.6%, consumption increased 3.7%
- Company experienced declines in Smart Balance and Glutino (down -5.7%)
- The company is experiencing higher yield loss in bread after implementing processes to reduce consumer complaints about air pockets and holes in the bread
- Smart Balance is seeing velocity improvements, but offset by distribution losses
- BDBD gluten free products were up 6% in the quarter, being outpaced by the segment, management determined to get back the share lost
- Gluten free category growth has moderated but still growing much faster than the broader food segment
- Foodservice category doing very well and accretive to margins, one current big partner is Pizza Hut
STRATEGIC OPTIONS PROCESS
On August 6, 2015, BDBD announced that its Board “has authorized a process to explore a range of strategic and financial alternatives to enhance shareholder value.” At that time the company engaged William Blair as its financial advisor to assist with the process. They have been mum about the project to date, but given the time that has elapsed they must be nearing a conclusion sometime in the next quarter. There are a range of possibilities that can come with this, but we believe all scenarios include a sale of all or a portion of the company.
As we have gone back and forth, we came up with a total breakup (or sale) of the company as a most likely scenario. In which a strategic buyer (CAG, GIS, PF) would purchase the entire company outright or if there is a sale of the parts, purchase just the highly valued assets, EVOL and Udi’s. Leaving Earth Balance, Glutino and Smart Balance to financial buyers. We have our bets on a total outright sale of the business.
Interim CEO James Leighton has done a good job of stripping out costs, and streamlining the operations, all while improving the trajectory of the business. Can they succeed on their own? Maybe.
It’s not hard to see the upside in this company, relative to its peers it is undervalued, currently trading at just 11.1x EV / NTM EBITDA.
It has been a volatile year for BDBD shares. Currently trading 26% below their 52 week high of $11.68 on 2/24/15, and 34% above from their 52 week low of $6.42 on 7/8/15.
WALL STREET CONSENSUS
Confidence in this company’s ability to succeed has continued to wane over the last year. In September of 2014, 83% of analyst rated it as a Buy, now just 33% rate it as a Buy. Where is the love? We firmly believe in this company’s ability to create shareholder value organically, as well as through their strategic review process.
We will update our thinking on the name over the coming weeks and bring forth additional insights we have.
Please call or e-mail with any questions.