R3: Athletic Trends Refreshed


July 9, 2010


After another slowdown across the athletic specialty channel and the third straight deceleration in the trailing 3-week trend for both apparel and footwear, this week confirms a near-term slowdown ahead of BTS – a concern that we had alluded to last week.





After another slowdown across the athletic specialty channel and the third straight deceleration in the trailing 3-week trend for both apparel and footwear, this week confirms a near-term slowdown ahead of BTS – a concern that we had alluded to last week. With episodic events likely to contribute to near-term variability (e.g. World Cup finals, NBA free agency signings, etc.), one this is certain – last year’s trough-low the week of June 14th where apparel and footwear were each down -6.8% and -17.3% respectively on a trailing 3-week basis is now in the rearview. While still favorable, our point is that compares will be less so on the margin going forward. This is the type of environment in which the names that have been proactively investing in their growth (UA & NKE) should start to standout.


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- In an effort to drive sales and cross market to the largest consumer segment interested in denim and smartphones, American Eagle is offering a promotion for a free phone if you try on a pair of denim. Not only do customers get a coupon for a phone, but they will also receive a $25 American Eagle gift card (which of course is only valid after one signs a two year phone contract!). Yes it’s gimmicky, but we admire the effort to stem the weak topline. Isn’t a monthly phone bill (even if the phone is free) more like a tax than a gift?


- With all the talk about Facebook and efforts to monetize social media networks, it’s probably not good news to hear that domestic user growth barely increased during June. After adding 7.8 million users in May, Facebook added only 320,800 new users in June. Active users stand at 125 million here in the U.S. or just a bit more than those that shop Wal-Mart each week.


- The Keds are here, the Keds are here. After an announcement back in February, the collaboration between PSS’ Ked’s brand and Gap has finally arrived. The collaborative offering for both men and women is now online and in some stores. We continue to believe this high profile collaboration will be a win for PSS at is continues to turn the iconic, but perpetually struggling, canvas sneaker brand around.





Footwear Companies Better Positioned Than Apparel Due To Boots - Going into the third quarter, footwear companies are better positioned than apparel firms even as consumers continue searching for bargains. Strong demand for boots in the upcoming back-to-school season will help shoe companies weather what has been a volatile sales year. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: While boots will be a key BTS item, we remind ourselves that a strong boot season rarely occurs two years in a row.  Come Fall/Winter it will be touch to lap 2009’s boot performance.           


Retail Real Estate Market Picks Up - Some high-profile signings in prime shopping areas led to a city-wide decline in availability, including in the Madison Avenue submarket, where availability fell to 10% from 12.8% in the first quarter. “Retailers are in a managed expansion mode, and with many owners offering attractive pricing, many retailers have found this to be the right time to make commitments,” said Joseph Harbert, COO of the New York metro region for Cushman & Wakefield. “With numerous deals in the pipeline, we expect to see activity continue into the second half of this year, leading to additional declines in availability.” On Madison Avenue, average rents for ground floor space were $831 per square foot at mid-year 2010, up 0.4 percent from the first quarter. Along upper Fifth Avenue, from 49th Street to 60th Street, rents rose 3.2 percent to $2,100 per square foot. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Not surprisingly now that the dust has settled, strategic expansion is picking up.  Unfortunately for those that rely on new developments for growth, there is still a void in the market.  Re-use properties will remain in focus. 


World Cup Win May Provide Economic Boost by Spurring Consumers - The real winner after this weekend’s World Cup final may be the economy of the champion, as either Spain or the Netherlands will get a boost from victory in the world’s most-watched soccer match, economists say. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Spain could certainly use some help if this holds true.  However, with an unemployment rate in the teens, it’s unlikely a win does much to set the country back on track. 


Adidas CEO Fights Back Against World Cup Soccer Ball Claims - Adidas AG Chief Executive Officer Herbert Hainer said criticism of his company’s World Cup soccer ball has “definitely” not harmed the sporting goods maker. Players have said that Jabulani ball is unpredictable in the air and is hard to control, accounting for some of the early mistakes made at the tournament in South Africa. For the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Adidas will try to make the ball easier to control, while maintaining its speed, Hainer said. Adidas has provided the tournament match ball since 1970. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Controversy=attention=brand awareness.  Looks like FIFA will be busy over the next four years working on instant replay and making sure 2014’s ball is not a key topic of discussion.                                                        


UK's John Lewis Sales Benefit From England’s World Cup Exit - Fashion was the strongest category for department store group John Lewis last week with an 18.1% year-on-year rise. After a slow start, shoppers came out in force during the period to July 3. Fashion sales growth of 18.1% outpaced  home sales 12% advance. However England’s World Cup demise brought a TV sales boom to an end and electricals and home technology edged up 0.7%. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:   Good news/bad news.  After Sunday, all things World Cup will fade.  For now, UK retailers should be feeling pretty good about the boost given the disappointing result from the country’s much-hyped team. 


BGFV Preannounces Negative - Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. cut its second-quarter earnings guidance as it posted a surprise 0.5% drop in same-store sales. The regional sporting-goods retailer now expects earnings of 20 cents to 23 cents a share, compared with May's view of 24 cents to 30 cents. It had also expected same-store sales to rise by the low-single digits on a percentage basis. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  After a very sluggish start to the quarter, sales trends were unable to recoup early losses that coincided with tough weather.  Recent trends are said to have improves, especially over the July 4th weekend. 


Tariff Bill Would Provide Less Duty Relief for Outdoor Footwear - Outdoor footwear retailers and vendors got mixed news Thursday when the House Ways & Means Committee posted a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill that would restore duty relief on trail runners and other outdoor products retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, but at higher rates than stipulated in the bill that expired last year.  <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Inflation. 


Former Lady Foot Locker CEO to Head Lane Bryant Outlet - Charming Shoppes, Inc. appointed Marla C. Anderson as the president of its Lane Bryant Outlet business, effective July 12, 2010. Most recently, she was the president and chief executive officer of Lady Foot Locker from 2005 through early 2010. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Note that Lady Footlocker is already under new leadership and this announcement has little relevance to the efforts underway at FL.   Recall that the all women’s concept is one of the most improved of all sub-brands in terms of merchandise improvements and changes.


QVC Sets Ambitious Goals - With a goal to build one of the largest e-commerce transactional platforms in the world, QVC set ambitious goals this week. Plans to continue its online as well as overall growth through a three-part strategy: Building on sales from existing customers through a major upgrade of its technology platform, including new e-commerce technology that will make it easier for QVC to offer new, innovative shopping experiences and respond more quickly online to changes in customer demand; and continuing to expand its breadth of brands and product categories, including local, independent brands that it will take national and international. Building on the 22% of new revenue garnered from new customers over the past year, in large part by attracting new shoppers through social media and mobile commerce. Expanding its presence in international markets, with a planned launch of QVC Italy this October that will extend its worldwide customer base to more than 200 million households. QVC’s new e-commerce technology platform will, among other things, improve the retailer’s ability to provide extensive behind-the-scenes content that complement its shopping videos with additional product videos, blogs, forums and other features. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Smart move to go on offense as tv-induced shopping is likely to gradually shrink over time.  If anything, a content rich e-commerce experience should improve the already powerful platform and potentially reduce production costs over time.


Sneaker Trends: New Blue - Sneaker companies are embracing a blue mood for fall ’10, with sapphire and deep navy looks giving men a fresh alternative to black and brown kicks. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  A boost in the sales of fashion footwear could be a source of upside as performance/technical shoes have been driving the trend so far this year.  Good news for companies like GCO if this trend holds.


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Global Growth Acceleration? Keep Your Eye on The Dry

This may be one of the shorter research notes of my lengthy global macro career.   Yesterday, the IMF announced that it is taking up GDP growth rates globally and that it expects economic growth to accelerate going into the back half of this year, raising its full year GDP growth forecast to 4.6% from 4.2% in its prior forecast from April.


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There are many proxies or leading indicators for economic activity, but one very telling one is simply the cost to transport dry bulked goods around the globe.  If economic activity is set to accelerate so should the volume of dry bulked goods (think coal, iron ore, cement, grain, etc.) being transported.  And with this, the rate at which these goods can be shipped, which is reflected in the Baltic Dry Index below.  (We’ve also pasted a picture of The Sabrina, a bulk carrier, directly below for reference.)


The chart below about says it all.  The price for shipping dry bulk goods is at a year-to-date low, and back to the same level we saw in 2003.


Nope, we aren’t seeing this acceleration in growth coming.


Daryl G. Jones

Managing Director


Global Growth Acceleration? Keep Your Eye on The Dry - Baltic Dry Index


Strong gains across the board for restaurants.  The divergence between quick service and casual dining was sustained over the past week.


The table below shows that restaurant stocks have performed strongly over the past week.  Yesterday was a particularly strong day with QSR stocks rising an average of 1.5% and casual dining stocks (albeit buoyed by RT’s 13% gain) rising an average of 2.1%.  Over the past week, however, quick service has outperformed casual dining by 100 bps. 


Some pertinent news items this morning include:

  • DPZ, PZZA, SBUX, CAKE:  A second bill aimed at steadying milk prices, the “Dairy Price Stabilization Act of 2010”, was recently introduced in Congress. 
  • MCD:  Same-store sales in Japan declined 1.4% in June.
  • YUM:  The company stated that it is expecting $100m profit from their Indian operations by 2015.  Estimates raised by JMS Research. 
  • RT:  News of an upgrade emerged yesterday.
  • COSI: 2Q comparable store sales numbers were released yesterday.  Company-owned comparable store sales were up 3.3%.  June’s number was an encouraging +5.5% and traffic for the quarter was up 3.1% vs -5.6% in 1Q.

TALES OF THE TAPE - stocks79


Howard Penney

Managing Director

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Yesterday, the S&P 500 finished higher by 0.9%, bringing the three day rally to 4.6%.  It should be noted that volume has declined by 9% during the same time period.  The Hedgeye sector models now have three (XLV, XLP and XLU) sectors positive on TRADE and one positive (XLU) on TREND.


While the three sectors that are positive on TRADE are low beta sectors, the past three days have seen a pickup in the RISK trade.  While the MACRO data of late clearly points to slowing global growth, yesterday’s “headline” initial jobless claims print was positive.  While Initial claims this week fell 21k (18k net of the revision), the positive print continued the volatile pattern of the last four weeks, in which the week-over-week change has been more than 15k up or down each week.  Importantly, the more notable four-week rolling average decreased, by only 1k, to 466k.  For another week, claims remain in the 450-470k range they've occupied for most of the year, well above the 375-400k range needed for unemployment to materially improve.  


In addition, although the IMF upgraded its 2010 global growth forecast, it also noted downside risks to the path of recovery from the Euro zone debt crisis. The ECB left its key policy rate unchanged at 1%, as was expected. Economists highlighted a slightly more optimistic tone from ECB President Trichet, who downplayed double-dip and financial instability concerns.  As a result, the euro climbed above $1.27 for the first time since May.  The Hedgeye Risk Management models have the following levels for the euro – Buy Trade (1.22) and Sell Trade (1.28).


For the second day in a row, treasuries were weaker with the dampened risk aversion in the markets and the VIX declined 4.2% yesterday. The Hedgeye Risk Management models have the following levels for the VIX – Buy Trade (24.29) and Sell Trade (29.76).


The dollar index traded in a tight range yesterday and closed flat on the day.  The Hedgeye Risk Management models have the following levels for the USD – Buy Trade (83.52) and Sell Trade (83.98).


While the June same-store sales data appeared to be strong on the surface, the trends failed to provide any meaningful overall direction for the market or consumer centric stocks.  The Thompson Reuters Same Store Sales Index posted a +3.1% comp in June, just below the +3.2% consensus.  Importantly, there were no hints in the June data that would alleviate the 2H10 concerns surrounding difficult comps and discounting trends.


Also yesterday, as noted by our Financials analyst Josh Steiner, “the government released its G-19 data, which measures non-mortgage consumer credit (credit card, auto and student loan debt). The May data remained staunchly negative for the Financials (XLF) industry. Revolving consumer credit (card debt) declined 10.5% in May, marking the 20th sequential month of decline.  Last month, we highlighted the flattening of overall non-mortgage debt, but the most recent data revision wiped out that silver lining. “


The best performing sectors yesterday were the ones levered to the RISK/RECOVERY trade - Materials (XLB) and Energy (ELE).  Mixed in with the RECOVERY trade, the Consumer Staples rose 1.5% on the day.  Tobacco stocks provided some upside leadership for the sector (RAI +2.7%, LO +2.3%, PM +2.1% and MO +2.1%).  The drug stores were another bright spot today with RAD +6.7% and WAG +3.6% outperforming. 


Significant concerns about global growth continue to keep copper from rallying.  The Hedgeye Risk Management Quant models have the following levels for COPPER – Buy Trade (2.95) and Sell Trade (3.09).


Gold is heading for a third straight weekly decline, on speculation that a rebound in the euro will reduce demand.  The Hedgeye Risk Management models have the following levels for GOLD – Buy Trade (1,083) and Sell Trade (1,220). 


Crude oil rose to a one-week high as U.S. inventories tumbled after Hurricane Alex disrupted output and deliveries in the Gulf of Mexico.   The Hedgeye Risk Management models have the following levels for OIL – Buy Trade (70.48) and Sell Trade (78.78).  


As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 71 points or 6.1% (1,005) downside and 0.5% (1,076) upside.   Equity futures are trading mixed to fair value after the S&P 500 0.9% gain yesterday.  Today is light on headline MACRO news with only Wholesale Inventories and Wholesale Sales to be reported. 


Howard Penney














The Macau Metro Monitor, July 9th, 2010


GOVERNMENT CUTS GALAXY 1,000 WORKERS Macau Daily Times, Inside Asian Gaming

Coordinator of the HR Office (GRH) Wong Chi Hong said at the Legislative Assembly that the Labor Affairs Bureau (DSAL) has decided to cut 1/3 of Galaxy’s imported labour quotas for its Cotai construction because Galaxy failed to comply with the 1:1 labor policy.  As a result, nearly 1,000 non-local workers will be leaving Macau.


Wong also said the Venetian has been placing recruitment notices seeking Macau workers at the DSAL for sites 5 & 6.  Although he has previously confirmed that the Venetian has already filed an imported construction worker application, he stressed yesterday that the GRH will only say yes according to the recruitment results at the DSAL.


According to IAG, Galaxy had known for some weeks that it had a potential labor problem and was privately advising 3rd parties of possible 'adjustments' to the Q1 2011 opening date. 



Macao Dragon's weekday single economy fare from Hong Kong to the Pac On Ferry Terminal at Taipa, is HKD88, a steep discount to CotaiJet's HKD134, TurboJET's HKD134, and New World First Ferry's HKD133 for the same route.  IAG believes this could initiate a ferry price war.


It's possible that Macao Dragon may team up with a casino operator.  CotaiJet is a Sands China entity; TurboJET is operated by Pansy Ho's Shun Tak Holdings; New World First Ferry Services Ltd is owned by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd, whose Chairman, Cheng Yu-tung, was a L'Arc investor.



Total deposits with the banking sector dropped 0.7% MoM.  Domestic loans to the private sector grew 2% MoM.  The loan-to-deposit ratio rose 1.0% MoM.

Senatorial Manipulators

“When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown.”

-Stephen Jay Gould


If you have their email addresses, take a minute this weekend and send a US Senatorial Manipulator this message: STOP with the “China is a manipulator” fear-mongering; LOOK in the mirror; and FOCUS on fixing the problems with your own currency, deficit, and balance sheet.


Last night, after Timmy Geithner made his best policy decision as US Treasury Secretary to-date by not calling our largest creditor names, it was an American donkey race between Schumer, Hatch, and Baucus to see who could prove their analytical incompetence on global macro matters first.


Now most readers of the Early Look know that I am not a Geithner fan, but I am a fan of giving credit where credit is due. Geithner had the political spine to fight the protectionist wind on this issue because he finally understands the alternative. If the US continues to aggravate its Big Creditor, and China decides to unload the nuclear economic option (selling US Treasuries), the US economy would be blown to smithereens.


We’ve been hammering on this since we introduced our Q3 Macro theme of American Austerity last week (email if you’d like the 35 slide presentation with our US GDP model), but its important to repeat and review 3 critical factors in the US economic model that are changing:

  1. GDP growth
  2. Deficit spending
  3. Debt accumulation

Jokes about these ridiculous IMF assumptions for US GDP growth aside, we are finally starting to see some rational macro economists take down their US GDP growth targets for the back half of the year. At the same time, the Krugmanites of ‘feed a man a fish for a day’ (as opposed to teaching him to respect the cost of capital and access to it for life) are begging for more US government spending handouts as the US debt balance climbs.


Clearly some in Congress don’t get the relationship between debt and compounding interest expense, or they wouldn’t be mooning their Chinese landlord. If China starts selling US Treasuries, rates will rise sharply and so will America’s interest expense line. Ask the Greeks how this math works.


US Balance Sheet Update: here are the most recent data points on the debt accumulation that Senatorial Manipulators have been signing off on:

  1. US National Debt leapt $166 billion in a single day last week, the third-largest one day increase in U.S. history
  2. The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet expanded another $1.6B week-over-week to $2.34 TRILLION DOLLARS

Chuck Schumer is the modern day version of a Senator from Rome circa 71BC. He waves his orator’s plumage from upon high and purges the citizenry’s life savings as he feeds on his fish ponds of entitlements that he and his professional politician friends in Washington have created for themselves.


Hearing Schumer fear-monger Rumsfeld style about “great depressions” and the lack of Chinese transparency as he gorges himself on the fruits of this great nation’s legacy is over the top. This is the Senatorial Manipulator from New York who oversaw the biggest gong shows in US financial history. Madoff, Lehman, AIG? Wake-up dude.


In other news… President Obama’s approval rating from “independents” surveyed in the Gallup poll has dropped below the 40% line for the first time ever. With only 38% of theoretically independent votes telling us that they don’t think the President of the United States gets it, it’s probably time he puts a muzzle on some of his economic storytellers. Americans think politicians are lying to them and our deficit and debt math supports that claim.


All of this keeps us as bearish as we can be on the US Dollar (short UUP). Politicians may lie; but markets don’t - and we think that with the US Dollar Index down for the 5th consecutive week, we are onto something here that our Professional Politicians need to be paying acute attention to.


Despite the US stock market putting on a 3-day rally from its July 2nd YTD low, from its October 2007 and April 2010 ZERO-percent-money-cycle peaks, the SP500 is down -31.6% and -12.1%, respectively. We’re not currently short the SP500 (SPY) but we are waiting and watching for our selling opportunity.


Our immediate term TRADE lines of support and resistance are now 1006 and 1076, respectively.


Have a great weekend and best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Senatorial Manipulators - SEN

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