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August 19, 2010

Lots of noise here today across the global supply chain with issues both new and existing... 


- Substantial traffic increases at TJX continue to be the main driver of same store sales, although the company is now anniversary these gains in the back half.  As a result, the company will be spending incremental marketing dollars in an effort to lap these tough traffic compares.  Expect to see even more ads on TV.


- In one of the worst category performances so far this earnings seasons, BJ's TV sales comped down 25% in the quarter.  This weakness is consistent across most retailers however the magnitude here is noteworthy.  Management is expecting further asp declines to help spark demand over the back half.  A tax-free event this past weekend in MA was noted to have helped sales in the category.


- From goth to Justin Bieber, Hot Topic admits that in the process of trying to determine what style it wants to embody its customers are in two distinct camps – pop and more alternative/goth (what HOTT has been known for historically). Noting that the “pop camp” is winning out, expect to see a new Hot Topic going forward from what we have come to know.


China Anti-Dumping Victory Over EU - The WTO has disapproved the EU’s imposition of extra duties on imports from China, which may bring broad implications to the EU trade policy. Sources said that the WTO panel will say that the EU discriminated against Chinese exporters of screws and bolts compared to exporters from other countries when it applied a single anti-dumping duty based on the national principle. In future, the EU will have to set individual duties for companies on case-by-case basis in order to comply with the WTO position rather than a blanket duty for the whole country. The EU already uses the individual duty model in cases of countries it considers not to be market economies, such as Cuba, Albania or Vietnam.  <fashionnetasia.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: More important than many are likely to realize at first blush as this may be the first step of several such measures. Recall that China brought another case against the EU regarding duties on footwear back in May 2010.

Bangladesh Labor Unrest May Divert Garment Orders to India - Bangladesh’s ongoing labor strife over minimum wages may cause some of the country’s garment orders to be switched to its neighboring India. In 2009-10, India lost out to its neighbor in apparel exports as the minimum wages of $100 per month were no match to the monthly $24 paid in Bangladesh. However, the recent labor strife forced Bangladesh to increase wages of its garment workers by 80% to $43 per month. The wages are further set to rise as despite the hike leaving India with the opportunity to overtake Bangladesh. The optimism in the industry stems from the recent enquiries coming from new retailers like Tricot (Chilie), Puntroma (Spain), Aibonito (Spain), Distri-Center (France), apart from the likes of Wal-Mart and M&S. <fashionnetasia.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: While the target wage rate at $75 is still below India, it matters little as customers place a premium on avoiding supply disruptions. Expect increased interest in India to accelerate a resolution to this issue.

South African Outbreak Halts Raw Wool and Mohair Exports to China - An outbreak of Rift Valley Fever among South African livestock has forced the country to halt exports of raw wool and mohair to China. South Africa is the world’s second-largest supplier of apparel wool and the leading supplier of mohair, which comes from the fleece of the Angora goat. The country exports about 4 mm kilograms of mohair wool a year, roughly 70% of the world’s supply. China is the country’s biggest customer. Wool and mohair exports have continued to other countries, including the U.K., Germany, India and Taiwan. A spokeswoman for Cape Wools, the executive arm of the Wool Industry Forum of South Africa, said the loss of China as an export market could have serious repercussions on the price of wool and worldwide supply.  <wwd.com/business-news>

 Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Cost increases in cotton, disruptions in wool supply – will 2011 mark the return of polyester?

Adidas Launches Flagship Online Store on Taobao - Adidas has opened a flagship online store (http://adidas.taobao.com/) on China's Taobao Mall, the business-to-consumer (B2C) platform within Taobao. The adidas store on Taobao Mall will be its only official online retail channel in China.  <sportsonesource.com/news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: A bit slow to the party, but it’s a start. We expect the focus here to ramp significantly.

Levi Strauss Creates Asian Brand Denizen Targeting Youthful Emerging Middle Class - Levi Strauss & Co. is embarking on an aggressive expansion in China. The brand, named Denizen, is a first for Levi Strauss, the iconic purveyor of Americana that introduced jeans in the U.S. in 1837. It is rolling out in China, Singapore and South Korea with 50 stores by the end of the year, marking the first time the company has started a brand outside the U.S. Levi’s has opened more than 600 branded stores across the country and has a considerable presence in China’s key retail districts. The company joins Hermès International in the rush to develop a brand in China.  <wwd.com/retail-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: A great example of what a retailer can do once it has roots placed firmly in foreign soil. Let the U.S.-based denim battle begin with VF also intently focused on the opportunity to grow in China.

Industry Executives Praise Toning and Boot Categories - Industry executives praised the toning and boot categories as key growth areas in footwear right now in a discussion at FN Platform. The panel included Debbie Ferrée, vice chairman of DSW Inc.; Scott Prentice, VP of sales at Jimlar Corp.; Tom Romeo, president and CEO of Bearpaw; Sonny Shar, CEO of Pentland USA; Cliff Sifford, EVP and GMM of Shoe Carnival Inc.; and Diane Sullivan, president of Brown Shoe Co. Despite upcoming price increases and issues with delivery from China, panelists agreed that the toning category has been good for sales. Sullivan added that the whole wellness category has exploded, with the success of barefoot product demonstrating a consumer interest in fitness and innovation. The panelists also said boots would continue to drive the market going into the next season. “Early reads [on boots] have been extremely positive,” said Sullivan. “The shift we’ve seen is almost as though the consumer goes directly from sandals to boots. That closed-up category is more [difficult].” <wwd.com/footwear-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Mirroring the buzz out of MAGIC, it appears that boots are indeed back again this year after a major return and resurgence last year increasing shoe chains’ chances to comp.

Modell's and REI: Sporting Goods Continue to Expand Store Base - Modell's Sporting Goods gave its flagship store location at West 42nd Street in Times Square New York City a major facelift as the next step its its "Rebirth" store renovation strategy. It also announced plans to open its first stores on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc) plans to open a new store in Santa Barbara, CA and relocate its current location in Santa Ana, Calif. to The Market Place in Tustin, CA.  <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: One down, many many more renovations to go at Modells. We still think Sports Authority files for IPO before year end.

Levi's Workwear by Bill Reid - The limited edition capsule collection that Billy Reid designed with Levi’s combines Southern-flavored tailoring and rugged workwear, and will bear the label Levi’s Workwear by Billy Reid. The line, handcrafted in the U.S., will launch in September at 14 Bloomingdale’s stores, including the New York flagship, as well as five Billy Reid stores, bloomingdales.com and billyreid.com. Among the 10 styles in the range are cotton jersey, crewneck pieces with a “Calabama” graphic, a melding of Levi’s California headquarters and Alabama, where Reid lives. Prices range from $45 for the Calabama T-shirt to $295 for a heavy twill hunting coat with detachable apron. <wwd.com/retail-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: The latest apparel offering from this solid American brand, which has struggled to get it right. Hat’s off to taking another cut at it – results to TBD.

Vans Shows Some New Styles - Slim silhouettes are the style prescription this spring from Cypress, Calif.-based Vans, a division of VF Corp. Low-profile girls' sneaker looks appear both in both low and midcuts (and, in a surprising departure, hard soles), but the brand’s laid-back surf DNA remains the inspiration, with the color palette including cool neutrals, whimsical prints and bold stripes. Styles range from $45 to $60 and retail at mall-based stores, boutique accounts and at Vans.com. <wwd.com/footwear-news>

 Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Vans going preppy? Perhaps another sign that skate has slowed.

R3: TVs, HOTT, Levi’s, supply chain disruptions, etc… - 1