R3: 6/9 -- UK, check. Canada, check. US, check.


June 9, 2010


Positive sales reports out of JD Sports in the UK, Forzani in Canada, and another week of acceleration of sales in the US are all notable – especially given that World Cup is still an inventory event for retail rather than a sales event. In other words, World Cup sell-through is yet to occur. Good for our calls on FL, UA and NKE. Other boats will rise. 





Positive sales reports out of JD Sports in the UK, Forzani in Canada, and another week of acceleration of sales in the US are all notable – especially given that World Cup is still an inventory event for retail rather than a sales event. In other words, World Cup sell-through is yet to occur. Good for our calls on FL, UA and NKE. Other boats will rise.


US sales accelerated for the 3rd straight week, with particular strength in the athletic specialty channel. We don’t particularly trust the absolute results from this sample (Sportscan), but we view it as a consistently flawed sample. In other words, things continue to get better directionally.


R3: 6/9 --  UK, check. Canada, check. US, check.  - 1


R3: 6/9 --  UK, check. Canada, check. US, check.  - 2





- When asked about whether ROST has cut inventories too far (they’re down about 33% since ’07 per store), management suggested quite the opposite. The company intends to continue cutting inventory until it begins to impact sales, which it is currently not doing. Unfortunately, this strategy suggests that sales at some point will be negatively impacted before any changes are made to stabilize overall inventory levels. We can’t imagine how that top-line impact, and subsequent leverage to EBIT, will be a positive event for the stock. Overall, it smells like rather lackluster risk management.


- One of DG’s key initiatives is to roll out back-office computers which will facilitate the transfer advertising information to the stores, transmit shelf labels, download training programs and perform pre-employment screening. Prior to this rollout, these tasks were manual and paper based. Welcome to 2010.


- Neiman Marcus noted that the rebound in New York City was particularly noteworthy over the past few months. Bergdorf Goodman reported a 25% increase in sales for the quarter. In fact management noted, “it’s amazing how much it bounced back”. It still remains to be seen how sustainable this NYC revival will last, especially with Euro impacted tourism on the decline and increased financial market volatility.





Brown Shoe Continues International Expansion with Parternships in Russia and Ukraine - Brown Shoe Co. announced Tuesday a partnership with MTB Group Ltd. to offer the Naturalizer brand in Russia and the Ukraine. The deal allows MTB’s affiliate, Monarch Group, to wholesale the label and sell it in its 80 Monarch retail stores by late August. Additional standalone Naturalizer shops are planned for 2011. Brown Shoe also recently disclosed expansion plans for Naturalizer in the U.K., Germany, Korea and Morocco. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Newsflash: DO NOT confuse MTB Group for MBT, which is the originator of the toning shoe back in the late 1990s (no, Skechers did not create the product, it just knocked it off!).  As far as this move by Brown Shoe, it’s a push to broaden exposure to Eastern Europe. Probably not a bad idea because 1) it’s not a great brand here – maybe it actually works there (I say that tongue-in-cheek), and 2) this is actually not a bad time for US companies to be investing capital in Europe.


Forzani Crushing it in Canada: The Forzani Group Ltd. reported sales rose 6.8% due to comp increase of 9.8% offset by a 5% decline in wholesale. Strategic initiatives, strong market share and seasonal weather all contributed to improved same store sales, margin and operating cost in the Q1. Strategic initiatives: FGL's plan to increase its golf, fitness and cycling businesses within Sport Chek delivered a combined 27% same-store sales increase in the quarter in those categories. Seasonal weather: seasonable weather through much of the quarter positively impacted sales of all spring categories, most notably outerwear, athletic clothing, footwear and hockey equipment. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics spurred sales of licensed apparel, in particular Team Canada hockey jerseys. Gross margin grew 240 bps due to gains in the corporate retail business which has higher margins and improvements in age and mix of inventory to avoid significant discounting. Results in the four weeks of the fiscal 2011 second quarter continued to show improvement over the prior year, despite somewhat unseasonable weather in Western Canada. On a same-store category basis, the increase was led by athletic clothing, footwear and fitness equipment. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Long live the Olympics! (Let’s hope so, because Canadians generally could care less about World Cup).


New Balance Pushes Apparel with Signing of Pitcher Johan Santana - New Balance announced the signing of All-Star and award-winning pitcher, Johan Santana, to a multi-year endorsement contract. New Balance will be Santana s official on-field footwear and on and off-field athletic apparel provider . <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: This is actually more meaningful than it might seem. I could care less about whether this is Johan Santana or Johan Sebastian. One person does not matter. But a new initiative in a new category for a company that has been pigeonholed as a stodgy old running company makes sense. Also, it suggests to me that New Balance will not need to solely defend its running presence as Under Armour pushes harder into the category. On the margin I think this takes a little pressure off of KSWS as New Balance’s R&D/marketing budget shifts elsewhere on the margin.


UK Sport Retailer JD Sports Fashion Reports Improving Sales - JD Sports Fashion has reported improved trading in the UK and Republic of Ireland with like-for-like retail sales up 4.1% for the eighteen weeks to June 5. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Yet another sign that the athletic space tends to have a mind of its own relative to the rest of retail. We could have the best economy in the world, and this space could be in the tank – and vice versa. Note that World Cup has been more of an inventory event for retail so far – not a sales event. Yes, this is bullish.


Juicy Couture and Social Media - Kate Foster, VP of global marketing and communications at Juicy Couture, explained the brand’s devotees tend toward the fanatic, a trait the company has leveraged in its social media program. “Social media perpetuates Juicy mania,” Foster said. “Our customer wants to participate in our brands. She wants to interact with the brand, and she’ll go that extra mile to share her experiences with others. She loves us, and we love that she loves us.” In 18 months on Facebook, Juicy Couture has garnered about 360,000 “likes” and is on track to clear 500,000 by the end of the year. Juicy's customer profile is smack in the middle of the social media demographic. Juicy treats Facebook like an editorial outlet with a proper editorial calendar. The company uses social media to drive consumers to its own online store and to retail. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: We won’t dispute any of this. But EVERY brand manager will say this about their respective brands. Have you ever heard a brand manager or marketing exec say “the person that uses our product really has very little interest in doing so.”  The real question here for Juicy, and all brands for that matter, is whether they can use social media tools to actually grow the top line.




Although PFCB’s Co-CEO Bert Vivian opened up his presentation today by saying (I am paraphrasing), “I have been asking people if the world is coming to an end.  If so, what I am about to say probably does not matter much,” his comments regarding current sales trends were more optimistic.  Specifically, he said that management continues to believe that the second half of the year will be better than 1H10, and in line with management expectations, they are continuing to see a gradual improvement in trends across the country.  They are seeing signs of life in Arizona and California and although retail activity slowed in May in California, the Bistro continued to show steady progress. 


The company implemented a 1% to 2% price increase at the Bistro in May in an attempt to support average check, which has been a drag on comp growth as traffic has improved.  And, Mr. Vivian stated that comp growth is “getting dangerously close to getting positive.”  Weekday sales growth is improving ahead of weekend growth, which he attributes to stronger business travel spending (accounts for about 30% of Bistro’s tickets).  He also commented that sales and traffic trends at Pei Wei continue to improve in 2Q10. 


During the first quarter, PFCB’s margins suffered as the company invested behind its newly rolled out Happy Hour program.   The inefficiency around executing this new program, along with some other incremental discounting activities at the Bistro, cost the company about 80 bps on the COGS line and 100 bps on the labor line, or about $0.13 per share.  For reference, in the Happy Hour test markets (Arizona and Pacific Northwest), it took about 3-5 months for margins to normalize.  PFCB had said on its 1Q10 earnings call (and reiterated today) that this program would continue to be a slight drag on margins in the second quarter.  However, he said that with a little wind behind the Bistro from a sales perspective, combined with the price increase taken in May, operating margin should get better in the second quarter.


Mr. Vivian also outlined some potential issues, which he referred to as “black clouds”:


Europe…the company is not yet seeing any pressure that he could link directly to the recent issues in Europe.


The Gulf…Longer term, he is more concerned with the potential impact of a slowdown in drilling, particularly in Texas, which is an important state for the company from a sales perspective.



Howard Penney

Managing Director


The Macau Metro Monitor, June 9th, 2010



During the 2010 Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia), 75% of gaming experts surveyed believe the torrid growth in GGR will last at least until 2013.  Also, Galaxy's Deputy Chairman, Francis Lui, warned of the unsustainable growth in VIP gaming and suggested operators focus on the Chinese middle class, whose spending power may almost triple by 2025.  Furthermore, according to Hong Kong-based consultant Gary Pinge, the Chinese mass-market players will keep coming to neighboring Macau, not to Singapore. “The cannibalisation of these two hubs will be very limited,” assured Pinge. “Only the VIP gamers will fluctuate between different markets,” he explained.


Many experts believe Japan will be the 2nd largest casino market in Asia during the next decade.



Manuel Joaquim das Neves, the director of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, told Reuters in an interview that GGRs are likely to increase by 30% YoY for 2010.  The previous forecast was a growth rate of 10-15%.



Early Look

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The S&P finished 1.1% higher on a choppy day.  The parts of the market that are leveraged to the RECOVERY trade bounced from an intermediate term oversold condition.  The MACRO headwinds that drove the S&P 500 down 12.7% from the peak remain a constraining factor in our models, as it was a relatively quiet day on the US economic calendar. 


After the close, the ABC Consumer Confidence print was -43 for the week ending June 6th vs. -44 last week.  On Friday, we will get a look at the preliminary U. Of Michigan consumer confidence number, this is expected to improve to 74.5 vs. 73.6.    


Also overnight, China was up 2.8% (down 21.1% YTD) on a Reuters report that the country’s May CPI rose 3.1% year-over-year, May exports grew 50% vs. Bloomberg consensus of 32%, and May new loans were CNY630B vs. Bloomberg CNY600B. The official figures are to be released on June 11th.  China remains a growth story on sale, but timing and price remain important.


Treasuries were weaker yesterday with the focus on this week's auctions, while the dollar index was basically flat on the day.  The Risk Management models have the following levels for the USD – Buy Trade (87.32) and Sell Trade (88.51).  The VIX was down 7.8% and is still in a bullish formation.  The Hedgeye Risk Management models have the following levels for the VIX – Buy Trade (31.91) and Sell Trade (38.34).


The Euro saw a late-morning bounce, but gave back the bulk of its run-up fairly quickly, closing up 0.16% on the day.  The Euro is trading down again today as there is a healthy degree of skepticism regarding EU efforts to restore fiscal credibility in the region.  The Hedgeye Risk Management models have the following levels for the EURO – Buy Trade (1.18) and Sell Trade (1.21).


Commodity equities were among the best performers today, while financials also fared well with a run-up in the banking group led by the regional names.  The Materials (XLB) was the best performer today, rising 2.3%.  Gold continues to move higher with the XAU up 1.3% on the day. While copper is still in a BEARISH formation, the industrial metals names outperformed, with the copper centric names SCCO up 6.3% and FCX up 4.8% leading the way.  Steel stocks snapped a four-day selloff with the S&P Steel Index up 2.7%. DD rose 4.1% led the chemicals group higher after the company reaffirmed FY10 guidance.  The Hedgeye Risk Management Quant models have the following levels for COPPER – Buy Trade (2.69) and Sell Trade (2.97). 


Despite the deepwater drilling issues, the Energy sector outperformed.  Coal and E&P names were among some of the notable gainers despite the pullback in natural gas. Natural gas has rallied sharply over the last couple of weeks, up 13.2% in the past week.  The oil services group was a laggard, but still managed a decent bounce with the OSX +0.8%. The deepwater drillers suffered with RIG down 5.8%, DO down 3.8% and NE down 1.4%.


Today OPEC said it will need to pump less crude than previously thought this year as production from outside the group increased more than forecast.  The Hedgeye Risk Management models have the following levels for OIL – Buy Trade (70.64) and Sell Trade (74.83).


Technology (XLK) was the worst performer sector yesterday; the XLK declined 4.6% on Friday and Monday.  The semi group has been under considerable pressure, though yesterday it finished well off its worst levels for the session with the SOX down 0.4%.  Upbeat corporate commentary from ALTR +0.1%, which raised the low-end of its Q2 revenue growth guidance range, failed to provide any support


The Hedgeye Risk Management models have the following levels for GOLD – Buy Trade (1,221) and Sell Trade (1,242).   


As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 37 points or 2.0% (1,041) downside and 1.5% (1,078) upside.  The Mortgage Bankers Association’s application index dropped 12% last week; the refinancing gauge dropped 14%, while purchases fell 5.7% to the lowest level since February 1997.  We continue to be bearish on Housing in 2H10.


Howard Penney













Avoiding Leverage

“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”

-Albert Einstein


There is a big difference between levered and unlevered growth. There is an even bigger difference between growth manufactured by a levered government dollar and private one. Leverage can work both ways. Leverage can also blow you up.


There is a time to take on leverage. There is a time to avoid it. The Fiat Fools of a failed Keynesian ideology of massive government debt financed deficit spending are learning this lesson the hard way. An American or Greek professional politician will tell you he can solve this problem. A wise risk manager will tell you to get out of the way.


If President Obama, Ben Bernanke, and Timmy Geithner don’t start getting serious about America’s leverage ratios, this country is heading down a European style road to perdition. Avoiding Leverage should be the leadership message in this country, not daring us to take on more of it.


The good news is that Western professional politicians don’t have to take my word for it. On the East side of this interconnected global economy, the Chinese, Indians, and Australians are leading by example. They continue to tighten the screws on lending. They continue to teach their citizenry to respect the cost of capital. They continue to remind their people that borrowing short to finance long term debt liabilities is bad.


Consider the explicit warning coming out of our favorite central banker in the world, Glenn Stevens, this morning. At a business meeting of the minds in Sydney, the Chief of the Reserve Bank of Australia delivered the following messages:

  1. “However well households have coped with the events of recent years, further big increases in indebtedness could increase their vulnerability to shocks – such as a fall in income – to a greater extent than would be prudent.”
  2. “Australia’s budgetary position is very different from those in Europe and, for that matter, most countries”
  3. “Public debt is low and budget deficits are under control and already scheduled to decline.”

Notwithstanding that Australia’s housing sector continues to see huge price increases year-over-year, Australians continue to listen to their leadership. Home loan approvals have dropped -25% in the most recent 6 months, diverging big time from the nominal cost of those homes. Why? The cost to finance a home has gone straight up because Stevens raised rates 6 times during what was the world’s cyclical V-shaped recovery!


This is the critical lesson that Stevens is teaching his people – RESPECT THE COST OF CAPITAL – and whatever hard earned capital you sink into these fertile Australian grounds won’t be burned at the stake of some Fiat Fool currency policy.


Moving on…


I don’t know what sadistic calculations the US government is using for my children for either 2011 deficit/GDP or debt/GDP, but however clever these professional politicians pretend to be, I don’t get paid to buy their storytelling. Much like the Japanese, we are being trained to not respect the cost of capital in this country and, as a result, capital will avoid coming to us in the end.


Just to prove that I am not living in the land of nod on this, here are the results of what Americans think:


USA Today/Gallup Poll on top “Perceived Threats to US Future Well Being”

  1. Terrorism = 40%
  2. Federal US Debt = 40%
  3. Healthcare Costs = 37%

Bingo. When it comes to slapping Wall Street’s hands, Americans have been there, done that. They don’t care about professional politicians going for that win as much as they care about the physical and financial safety of their families. Duh.


Finishing in 4th place was Unemployment at 33%, so what’s the calculus to understand here? The clever politicians attempt to solve #3 (Healthcare) and #4 (Unemployment) by levering up #2 (Federal Debt). Nice.


God help us all if another exogenous event like #1 (Terrorism) comes to these American shores, because we have put our country’s balance sheet in an extremely precarious position whereby we can’t finance war without blowing out our deficit well beyond the ratios of Spain or Greece. What we’ve been wise enough to avoid can quickly become a problem.


My immediate term support and resistance lines for the SP500 are now 1041 and 1078, respectively. The stock market is finally getting Bearish Enough on this political mess. It should be. Hopefully we’ll find some change in this country via this market vote.


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Avoiding Leverage - Pic

Stock market dives: leading economic indicator, or recurring false alarm?

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 80.43%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.34%