prev

MGM: CITYCENTER A LOCALS OPTION?

In an interview with the LV Sun, CEO Murren pitched CityCenter as an attractive property for LV locals. The reader comment section shed some light on the viability of that assertion.

 

 

MGM’s CEO gave an interview with Jon Ralston from the Las Vegas Sun this week to discuss the opening of the $8.5 billion project CityCenter on the Las Vegas Strip.  The project is opening in one of the worst economies Vegas has ever seen.  Predictably, Murren is expanding his duration from a “return on investment perspective” to “over a five-or-ten-year period of time”.  I'm sure the ROI analysis will include cannibalization. 

 

Jim Murren believes that the art and architecture at CityCenter will “inspire” people to the degree that local Las Vegas residents will come to CityCenter.  He contends that locals, himself included, will warm to a property that creates some semblance of a downtown urban environment that Vegas previously lacked.  Murren dispelled the notion that another casino, hotel, mall, or arena is what Las Vegas needs, “but”, he said, “what we could use, what we do need is something to inspire people.  I think the architecture will.  I think the public spaces will”.  MGM has an uphill battle.  Traditionally, locals have preferred the Boulder Strip, North Las Vegas, Summerlin, and Henderson casinos to the more expensive and tourist-orientated, congested Strip.  

 

The Las Vegas Sun’s online version of this piece, entitled, “Locals will visit Strip to go to CityCenter”, was met with almost universal dissidence from readers via the discussion section below the article.  Most of these responders are undoubtedly Las Vegas area residents so their opinions should not be discounted.  Indeed, they are very telling.  Some of the more notable reader reactions include:

 

“Umm... inspire them to do what exactly? Spend more money?”

 

“LOL. And how do you make money from people wandering around enjoying the environment? Last I checked you make a lot more money from the guy sitting in front of the slot machine than the guy sitting on the park bench admiring an obscure piece of art.”

 

“Honestly, if City Center wants to attract locals, then let us know when Crystals has a Wal-Mart and a Dollar Loan Center on site.”

 

“Who wants to fight the traffic then park in a garage that is 4 miles from the Casino and walk? Not me… Murren - you are totally out of touch!  All I see with City Center is a big impersonal Monster that I have no intention of entering.”


Retail First Look: Welcome Back Tourists?

RETAIL FIRST LOOK

December 10, 2009

 

 

LEVINE’S LOW DOWN

 

For the first time in over a year, commentary suggests tourists are taking advantage of the weak dollar and beginning to return to the U.S. shores. Anecdotally, one only needs to spend a few minutes near the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree to observe this phenomenon.

 

  • For the first time in over a year, Neiman Marcus noted that it is seeing a pick-up in its Bergdorf Good man business. Management attributes the improvement to a return of their core customer (as measured by sales associates reuniting with their clients) and the increase in tourism driven by the weak dollar. This marks the first mention of a positive callout for NYC luxury commerce and is likely encouraging for others including TIF, SKS, and COH.
  • When pressed for insights into current product trends, Neiman’s CEO responded with, “Want to know some hot trends, buy some over-the-knee boots, buy some Uggs, any kind of Ugg.” Other positive callouts included women’s flats and cashmere sweaters. Management also suggested that inventory is light in both women’s shoes and women’s contemporary due to better than expected demand for both departments.
  • Bakers Footwear Group indicated that after a warmer November, sales have picked up in early December. Key to driving both the volatility and recent improvement is the company’s reliance on the boot category. With 60% of the company’s product mix focused on boots in 4Q, management is optimistic that positive trends will continue now that the weather has returned to more normal conditions. Bakers boot penetration is among the highest in the footwear sector…

 

MORNING NEWS 

 

Penney's Promotes Executives - J.C. Penney Co. Inc. promoted Jeffrey J. Allison, Steven Lawrence and Elizabeth H. Sweney to senior general merchandise managers. They were general merchandise managers and all continue to hold the title of executive vice president. Under the new structure, which was revealed late Wednesday, Sweney will lead shoes and women’s accessories in addition to women’s apparel. Allison will lead home, custom decorating and now fine jewelry. Lawrence will oversee children’s in addition to the men’s division. Penney’s said the changes take advantage of the depth of talent within the company, and position Penney’s to grow.Officials could not be reached for comment on whether the promotions are related to succession planning or to help fill the void left by the departure of Ken Hicks, the former president and chief merchandising officer who left in June to become ceo of Foot Locker Inc. The company did say it has discontinued its search for a new president.Myron E. “Mike” Ullman 3rd continues to lead all executive areas as chairman and chief executive officer.  <wwd.com>

 

UIL partners with Nike for equipment discounts - The University Interscholastic League announced on Wednesday a partnership with Nike that will make the sports apparel and equipment giant the outfitter of choice for Texas high schools. The partnership is a first between the Oregon-based company and a statewide high school organization. "We are extremely pleased to partner with Nike and to bring greater innovation and resources to the schools of Texas," UIL executive director Charles Breithaupt said in a statement. "This partnership is a reflection of the desire of the UIL to bring new opportunities to students statewide." As part of the agreement, Nike will provide discounted rates to the roughly 1,300 UIL-member schools. Nike also will be an official sponsor at both UIL athletic and non-athletic events. <statesman.com>

 

Under Armour Opens NYC Pop-Up Store - Under Armour opened its first pop-up store in New York City. The 3,300 square foot store, at 3 West 57th Street, displays several of the uniforms for the U.S. team members competing in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. These include the USA Freestyle Ski team and USA Bobsled team, which are sponsored by Under Armour. The store also features a full line of hottest Under Armour athletic apparel, footwear and accessories. The company has four full retail stores in Washington, D.C., Annapolis, as well as 35 factory outlets throughout the country. <sportsonesource.com>

 

Saks.com bags the best November site availability rating - Saks.com posted the best rating in the Gomez Inc. high broadband availability tests for November. Web shoppers could access the mass merchandise retailer’s site 96.90% of the time last month. The average availability for the top retailers in November was 89.99% for high broadband, 79.21% for low broadband and 46.94% for dial-up, Gomez says. Rounding out the top five e-retailers for high broadband availability were Zappos.com (96.84%), AmwayGlobal.com (96.81%), Dell.com (96.62%) and CircuitCity.com (96.52%). AmwayGlobal.com had the most consistent low broadband availability at 92.49%, and Dell.com had the most consistent dial-up availability at 85.61%. <internetretailer.com>

 

Nautilus Sells Portion of Commercial Assets - Nautilus, Inc. has entered into definitive agreements for the sale of certain assets of its commercial business to Fit Dragon International Ltd. for $12.3 million. The agreements provide for the sale of certain assets of StairMaster and Schwinn Fitness, including the licensing of indoor cycling products of the Schwinn Fitness brand for use in the commercial channel. The company retains certain rights to the Schwinn brand and will continue to market Schwinn fitness products in the consumer channel, including both retail and direct to consumer. The transactions are subject to customary conditions to closing and are scheduled to close on or before December 30, 2009. <sportsonesource.com>

 

In Brief: Tiffany Taps Japan President - Stéphane Lafay has been named president of Tiffany & Co. Japan Inc. Lafay succeeds Michael Christ, who will retire in January. Lafay had been president of Bulgari in Japan since 2003. He has also had stints at Puig Group and Saint-Gobain Group. James E. Quinn, president of Tiffany & Co., said Lafay’s experience in luxury jewelry retailing is well-suited to lead the firm in Japan. He credited Christ with strengthening Tiffany’s distribution base in Japan and developing programs to build loyal customer relationships. <wwd.com>

 

True Religion Goes Sexy for Spring -True Religion Apparel Inc. is looking to up its glam quotient and showcase the label’s growing assortment of sportswear when it unveils its latest advertising campaign this spring. In a first for the Vernon, Calif.-based company, it has doubled up on the high-wattage-model front to feature both sexes. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue regular Tori Praver and men’s fashion face Gabriel Aubry appear together in a black-and-white campaign shot by Nino Muñoz at Milk Studios in Los Angeles. Jeff Lubell, chairman and chief executive officer, believes the campaign will make a statement about the brand’s progression from a strictly hippie-inspired aesthetic to a more refined and upscale look. “It is a lot more glam, more glitz, but not moving away too far from our roots,” said Lubell. <wwd.com>

 

Coalision Eyes European Expansion - PARIS — Bernard Mariette, chief executive officer of Coalision Inc., the company that owns apparel and outerwear brands Orage and Lolë, has Europe in his sight. His plan, after taking the helm of the Montreal-based company in August, is to raise the profile of Lolë, the youngest brand in the Coalision stable, in Europe. But Coalision isn’t in a rush to do so, aiming to widen its European footprint next year, according to Mariette. “Lolë targets women aged 30 and older, who like to practice sport and take an interest in their well being, but want to do it with style,” Mariette told WWD. As such, he thinks women in large European cities as well as Scandinavian countries, who are keen on stylish sportswear they can wear in town as well as during outdoor activities, are likely to be receptive to Lolë’s appeal.  <wwd.com>

 

A New Edun: Ali Hewson and Bono's Brand Expands - When Ali Hewson and her husband, Bono, founded socially conscious clothing brand Edun in 2005, they set out to create a business that would generate trade opportunities in developing regions, particularly Africa. Hewson is the first to admit that early on, the label’s mission sometimes overpowered the product itself. But with the backing of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which took a 49 percent stake in the label this year, the couple is looking to correct that. “We were so keen on our mission that we made compromises that maybe we shouldn’t have made with respect to our customer and the fact that they should have great clothes,” said Hewson, sitting in the loft in New York’s TriBeCa district that serves as the company’s showroom. “Without great clothes, we don’t have a business, so it’s important to get that end right.”  <wwd.com>

 

Modern Amusement CEO Exits in Restructuring - California-based sportswear brand Modern Amusement is undergoing a restructuring that includes the departure of its chief executive officer, the elimination of most of its staff and a likely change to its master licensing agreement, WWD has learned. Michael Boyes, who inked a five-year master license for Modern Amusement in December 2008 with brand owner Mossimo Giannulli, left the company last month. Boyes was the ceo and founder of Blk Brd LLC, a company he set up last year specifically to operate the Modern Amusement business. Boyes did not return e-mails seeking comment and Modern Amusement declined to clarify the status of the license agreement. <wwd.com>

 

Biotech Firm Genencor Adds New Denim Product - Biotechnology firm Genencor has added another item to its suite of PrimaGreen eco-friendly denim processing products. The PrimaGreen range of products relies on using naturally occurring enzymes rather than traditional bleaches to achieve faded, washed and worn looks in denim. The latest product, dubbed PrimaGreen EcoLight 1, is a liquid biodegradable enzyme that can be used in the laundering process to attain a vintage look in denim. When used with other PrimaGreen products that allow for low-temperature denim fading and abrasion, the company believes water and energy usage can be cut by 40 to 70 percent. The process of washing, bleaching and dyeing garments often requires a lot of water at high temperatures, meaning more energy usage. However, van Schoot said he’s seen brands and retailers over the past several years take more of an interest in how their goods are made. <wwd.com>

 

House Passes Tax Relief Bill - The House passed a broad tax relief bill Wednesday that would renew a provision that shortens the time it takes retailers to write off the cost of remodeling stores. The overall legislation, which the House passed 241 to 181, would extend $31 billion in tax breaks for businesses and individuals and renews almost 50 current tax laws that are set to expire after Dec. 31. It is unclear whether the Senate will consider the bill this year due to the debate over health care, which has pushed many legislative issues aside. Retailers are highly supportive of a provision in the House bill that provides for a one-year extension for certain leasehold improvements and sets a 15-year period for depreciation of remodeling retail stores that are owned or leased. “In the current economic climate, some retailers look at remodeling as a way to revitalize a failing store, but the anticipated return has to pay for the costs involved,” said Steve Pfister, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation.  <wwd.com>

 

UK: Retailers Breath Sign Of Relief As Chancellor Rules Out VAT Increase - Retailers breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after the Chancellor confirmed that the rate of VAT would return to 17.5% on 1 January but made it clear he had no plans for any further increase. Many high street stores had feared an increase in VAT to 20%, or the extension of the tax to food, as the Government seeks to plug a deficit expected to top £175bn this year. Stephen Robertson, the Director General of the British Retail Consortium said, "It's a relief that VAT won't increase beyond 17.5%. Consumer confidence is weakening. Big price increases would fuel inflation, make people less likely to spend and hold back recovery”. The BRC also welcomed the announcement that retailers will be given four weeks instead of two to update price labels in stores after the VAT rate changes on 1 January. <kamcity.com>

 

Online holiday shoppers grow more conservative in their spending - With their Thanksgiving weekend shopping spree behind them, online shoppers spent more conservatively on their holiday gift lists last week, says comScore Inc. For the first 36 days of the holiday shopping season–Nov. 1 through Dec. 6–comScore estimates that spending increased year over year 3.3% to $15.977 billion from $15.473 billion. That suggests shoppers grew more careful about their purchases after increasing their spending year over year by 11% to an estimated $595 million on the Friday after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, and 5% to an estimated $887 million on the Monday after Thanksgiving, often referred to as Cyber Monday. <internetretailer.com>


Hurling Diatribes

“I never met anybody who said when they were a kid, ‘I wanna grow up and be a critic’”
-Richard Pryor
 
I don’t like to be negative or judgmental. I’m not perfect.  I make mistakes too.  We all do!  Keith is known to hurl a few diatribes in his Early Look every once in a while - sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it just seems mean.  So what!  
 
It’s a cruel world out there and in this business you need to be critical to survive, stand up for what you believe and be factually correct!  Most importantly, people want you to “make a call.”  That is what we do every day!
 
I agree with Keith that Ben Bernanke is completely compromised and Tim “Timmy” Geithner is out of his league and should never have been appointed in the first place.  At the same time they are the two people in Washington that have “inside information.”  
 
During this past week Ben had already said the US economy faces “formidable headwinds“ and then yesterday, we learned that the Treasury Secretary notified Congress that he is extending the Troubled Asset Relief Program through October 3, 2010.  Why?  What do they know that I don’t? A lot, because they have “inside information!”
 
I don’t have inside information, but I have the RE Macro Models and this is what I do know…..
 
(1)   The US Dollar is establishing itself a new level of support with the TREND line at 76.41 – The BUCK is BOTTOMING and is still a SAFE HAVEN.
(2)   The Semis are rallying – The SOX is up 11 of the past 12 days – Talk to Rebecca Runkle about this one!
(3)   OIL is falling – It’s currently trading at a 2-month low – The reality of supply and demand!
(4)   Gold has fallen just over $100 (9%) in a week – Just a bubble?
(5)   Copper has fallen for six straight days (the longest losing streak in a year) – The reality of supply and demand!
(6)   Financials have underperformed the S&P 500 by 660 basis points over the past three months – This could be trouble!
Seeing the Financials dramatically underperform is unnerving and could be a leading indicator of things to come.  Whether or not Ben and Tim know something that I don’t about the health of our financial system, Mr. Market is trying to tell us something.  The Banks are not lending and the FDIC continues to close more doors, while the “son of sub-prime” is going to hit with another wave of defaults in 2010. Ben can’t raise rates and the Treasury Secretary is going to need TARP in 2010!    We are in a very bad situation.  
 
Have the Financials truly absorbed all of the asset deflation in the system and are the current capital ratios real?   
 
To help guide us through this mess, we have recently announced that Josh Steiner has joined Research Edge as head of the Financials Team.  Josh and Keith will be hosting a financials conference call tomorrow at 11am.  If you are interested in listening, please contact us at .
 
As for me, I believe Technology, Utilities and Healthcare are part of the new SAFETY trade.  Utilities have yield and growth - a stealth play on Green technology.  Healthcare is safe from the perils of Washington (that is NOT Tom Tobin’s official Research Edge Healthcare call) and selected Technology names are beneficiaries of deflation.  
 
The daily missives from Keith and the Research Edge team are here to stay.  Any guesses on which group thinker we will take on next?
 
Finish in Style; function in disaster
 
Howard Penney
Managing Director

 
LONG ETFS
 
EWZ – iShares BrazilAs Greece and Dubai were blowing up, we took our Asset Allocation on International Equities to zero.  On 12/8 we started buying back exposure via our favorite country, Brazil, with the etf trading down on the day. We remain bullish on Brazil’s commodity complex and believe the country’s management of its interest rate policy has promoted stimulus.

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.

 
SHORT ETFS
 
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.   

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.


Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.30%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.51%

US STRATEGY – The next two days will be telling

For the Balance of the week the MACRO calendar heats up with Initial Jobless claims today and Retail sales and the U. of Michigan consumer confidence on Friday.  The consensus has the December preliminary confidence reading improving to 68.8 from 67.4.  I don’t see how that is possible. 

 

The S&P 500 finished higher by 0.4% on light volume yesterday.  Looking at yesterday’s sector performance it was difficult to find any obvious theme running thru the market.  The Materials (XLB - proxy for the RECOVERY trade) was the best performing sector, up 1.2%.  Two other sectors that benefited from the RECOVERY trade, Energy (XLE) and Consumer Discretionary (XLY), were the worst performing sectors. 

 

One problem the market is continuing to deal with is less appetite for the RISK, with recent sovereign concerns surrounding Dubai and Greece.  While there does not appear to be any real current threat for meaningful contagion, uncertainties prevail.  The takeaway from this is DOLLAR bullish!

 

The MACRO calendar had an upside surprise with the unexpected increase in wholesale inventories; wholesale inventories rose 0.3% month to month (the first increase since August of 2008) and a net positive for Q4 GDP growth.  Consensus expectations were for a 0.5% decline. Increases in petroleum and farm products, which were largely driven by higher prices, were responsible for the bulk of the upside.   Also, there was the largest increase in mortgage applications since 2-Oct. 

 

For the fourth straight day managed care stocks moved higher (HMO +0.5%) on news that Senate Democrats reached a tentative deal to scrap a pure-play public option from its healthcare reform legislation.

 

OIL is trying to tell us something! Oil Crude for January delivery settled at a two-month low of $70.67, down 2.7%.  Oil is now down six days in a row, declining 7.8%.  While the recent bounce in the dollar has been a headwind for crude, bearish inventory data seemed to be the big driver of yesterday’s decline.   

 

Tech outperformed the broader market yesterday despite a muted reaction to the upbeat mid-quarter update from TXN.  The star in Technology continues to be the SOX, which finished higher for an eighth straight day and eleven of the past twelve.  The MOBILITY sector also did well with RIMM and AAPL up 4.9% and 4.2%, respectively. 

 

A major reason for Consumer Discretionary underperforming yesterday was the Retail sector; the S&P Retail Index declined 0.7% on the day.  The top three contributors to the decline in the XLY were Amazon, Nike and Target.  It appears the market is starting to take notice that Nike’s big investment in Tiger Woods might not help them in 2010.  

 

From a risk management standpoint, the ranges for the S&P 500, the Dollar Index and the VIX are seen in the charts below.  The range for the S&P 500 is 25 points or 1.5% upside and 1.0% downside.  At the time of writing the major market futures are trading slightly higher.

 

In early trading today, crude oil is trading near two-month lows on supply and demand issues.  The Research Edge Quant models have the following levels for OIL – buy Trade (70.61) and Sell Trade (74.30).

 

In London Gold declined for the fifth time in six days, dropping 0.5% to $1,123 an ounce.  The Research Edge Quant models have the following levels for GOLD – buy Trade (1,113) and Sell Trade (1,144). 

 

Copper fell for a sixth day in London, the longest losing streak in a year.  The culprit is the supply and demand issues.  The Research Edge Quant models have the following levels for COPPER – buy Trade (3.09) and Sell Trade (3.26). 

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

 

US STRATEGY – The next two days will be telling - SPX1

 

US STRATEGY – The next two days will be telling - USDX2

 

US STRATEGY – The next two days will be telling - VIX3

 

US STRATEGY – The next two days will be telling - OIL4

 

US STRATEGY – The next two days will be telling - GOLD5

 

US STRATEGY – The next two days will be telling - COPPER6

 




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