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R3: AEO, SKS, FOSL, TGT, DIY…

 

R3: REQUIRED RETAIL READING

August 26, 2010

 

M&A still rolling along with the proliferation of shopping apps.  This morning we get a deal from Kellwood and an app from Limited.

 

 

RESEARCH ANECDOTES

  • In a statement contrary to much of the industry with both sourcing and freight cost pressures key topics of discussion, American Eagle highlighted that costs were actually going down for them in the back half of the year. Explained as a better balance between ocean versus air freight internally, one has to question just how much the company relied on air freight for fulfillment last year.

 

  • Confirming that boots are again in high demand for fall of 2010, BWS suggested that retailer backlogs are likely to be overstated as retailers move up typical ordering schedules due to disruptions in the supply chain in the Far East. This goes to show that despite the importance of discount footwear retailers given their high volumes of light freight cargo, even ‘preferred’ customers are having to adjust.

 

  • In a sign that commercial real estate development may be on the rise, half of Shoe Carnival’s 2011 store growth plans for 20 locations are expected to come from new rather than redeveloped existing locations. With the company’s forecast based on current activity of new strip centers rather than simply development forecasts, this is encouraging for retailers whose growth has been stunted by a lack of new space – especially those largely based in strip center like Hibbetts.

 

OUR TAKE ON OVERNIGHT NEWS 

 

UK Retailers Optimistic as High Street Sales Lift in August - High street retail sales increased in August, and most retailers expect that to continue through September, according to the latest CBI Distributive Trades Survey. According to the report, 53% of the retailers polled said sales had increased compared to the same month last year and 18% reported a decline, resulting in a positive balance of 35%. This was similar to the pace of sales growth in July 33%, and is the fastest since April 2007. Clothing and footwear was one of the strongest performing sectors in August with a positive balance of 76% fashion retailers reporting an increase in sales volumes. The CBI said this uplift was likely to be a result of better weather at the beginning of August, strong summer Sales and increased spend during the school summer holidays. Looking to September, a positive balance of 39% of retailers said they expected sales volumes to be higher than a year ago. In wholesaling, sales volumes rose in August compared with a year ago, despite expectations that they would fall. Of those wholesalers polled, 41% said the volume of trade was up, while 18% said it was down, giving a positive balance of 23%. <drapersonline.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Regardless of what factors drove August sales higher in the UK, the disparity between 76% of retailers reporting net sales increases and a 39% prospective forecast from retailers for further increases in September suggest confidence remains tepid at best.

 

Consumers Pullback  on Home Renovations - Spending on home renovation for the 12 months ending Sept. 30 will fall 25 percent to $107.7 billion compared with the same period in 2007, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. The pullback is hurting companies large and small -- from Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos. to building contractors and interior design shops. “There are still consumers putting in new kitchens,” Robert Niblock, the chairman and chief executive officer of Lowe’s, said in a telephone interview. “But they’re doing it because they’re going to be in their homes longer. That’s the change from the go-go days.” Many homeowners are painting, caulking and re-carpeting, he said, and many are doing it themselves.  The two home-improvement chains LOW and HD are trying to counter a drop in big-ticket transactions, such as kitchen cabinets, that is depressing how much shoppers spend each visit. Home Depot is holding more DIY classes for customers online and in its stores. The retailer said attendance at “do-it- herself” classes for women climbed 20% in June, a sign homeowners are tackling projects they once paid others to do. <bloomberg.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: As we highlighted in our Housing Headwinds call in July, consumers have become increasingly empowered over the last several years while household maintenance services have declined, a trend we don’t expect to change anytime soon.

 

Express Locates Customers With an App - The apparel retailer steps into m-commerce with a geolocation app that serves up special promotions when customers are nearby. The marketing tool ties together the new mobile channel with bricks-and-mortar stores. <internetretailer.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Yet another example of ‘smart’ apps in retail. While the technology is certainly impressive, we wonder just how long it will take before consumers start pushing back on privacy matters as retailers literally track their every move.

 

Fossil Tops the List of Paid Search Rankings For Accessories - Fossil held the top position in the paid search rankings among Accessories merchants in Internet Retailer’s new 2011 Search Marketing Guide, garnering 102 total points. Zappos.com Inc. came in second with 97 points, with The Neiman Marcus Group (87) and Oakley Inc. and Ashford.com (50 each) rounding out the top five. Fossil topped the list by outbidding other retailers for the keywords: Belts, Wallets and Watches. Those keywords were among 16 in the Accessories category that were tested over nine weeks from late 2009 to early 2010. When those terms were searched again this week, Fossil came up within the top three paid positions for the three terms.

<internetretailer.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Paid search doesn’t come cheap, but the results don’t lie. With direct sales up +26% and +44% in Q1 and Q2 respectively, FOSL is among the leaders in dot.com growth within retail, a spot we would expect the company to maintain given its level of spend.

 

Kellwood To Acquire Contemporary Sportswear Brand - Kellwood Co. has inked a deal to acquire Adam, the six-year-old contemporary sportswear brand for men and women. Adam founder Adam Lippes will stay on at the brand. In comparison to earlier deals such as Vince in October 2006 and Isis in January, Michael Kramer, chief executive officer and president of Kellwood, said Adam’s volume falls between the two. “When we acquired Vince, it had annual wholesale volume of $30 million to $35 million. It will do $110 million to $115 million this year. We’re looking for more Vinces — firms in the upper and moderate price points that have room for growth as a brand. You can control your brand better in a wholesale environment, and you can complement your wholesale with other distribution channels in e-commerce and retail,” Kramer said, adding that Adam’s annual wholesale volume is around $20 million. <wwd.com/business-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Another bolt-on, but notably not a premium denim brand, which Kellwood has been coveting for years now.

 

Saks Opens Flagship - The designer Elie Tahari was greeted like a star when he arrived at the flagship for the ribbon cutting of his new 2,250-square-foot shop, the biggest on the fourth floor. Many of the guests, which included Saks and Tahari employees, wore “I [heart] Tahari” T-shirts, and some had accessorized with special “I [heart] ET” pins. Sadove referred to the Tahari space as the “cornerstone” of the new Wear department, which aims to provide customers with trend-right clothes at a more accessible price point. The Wear department offers European brands such as M Missoni, Red Valentino and Rivamonti. It’s still primarily geared to a woman who has a career, but it’s not mother career clothes. <wwd.com/retail-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Consistent with similar moves from other high-end retailers, increasing investments in a more concentrated portfolio of designers/labels continues to be a common theme as retailers look to reduce risk by placing bigger bets on better known entities.

 

Target Taps Designer Gaby Basora for Fashion Line - Designer Gaby Basora, known for her silk-printed blouses and dresses, will create Target's next limited-edition fashion line. The Go International collection, called Tucker for Target, will hit U.S. stores on Sept. 12. The women's apparel line will include tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear and knitwear. The collection, retailing from $19.99 to $79.99, will be available until Oct. 17.  <licensemag.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Other launches this month at Target include Mulberry’s handbag line and John Derian’s housewares.  Expect to see marketing pick up around all three collections.

 

Read Through From Trade Shows - Economic uncertainty cast a shadow across men’s vendors and retailers at the trade shows last week. Retail buyers sought to navigate price increases and lackluster fashion trends for spring. In addition to a stumbling recovery, key challenges for vendors in the back half of this year and in 2011 involve issues related to raw materials shortages, rising production costs in China and increased expenses for shipping internationally. Buyer traffic was uneven, appearing strong during some periods of the shows but sparse at other times. And attendees sent mixed messages about the outlook for spring, with some reporting an uptick in business but others less optimistic.  <wwd.com/retail-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: In summary, uncertainty appears to be the only consistent message across retail heading in the 2H, this we already know.

 

 


INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH

Rolling Claims Hit a New YTD High Despite Improvement in Reported Claims

Initial unemployment claims fell 31k last week (27k net of the prior week's revision up to 504k).  Rolling claims rose to 486.75k, an increase of 3.25k week over week and a new year-to-date high.  While the raw claims number today was a step in the right direction, there is a long way to go before reaching the range of 375-400k where unemployment can begin to meaningfully improve.

 

To reiterate, our firm is of the strong view that US economic growth is going to slow markedly in the back half of this year and into 2011. We think this will keep a lid on new hiring activity as management teams focus on cost control. All of this raises the risks that a prospective slowdown in GDP will precipitate an incremental slowdown in hiring/pickup in firings, which will, in turn, further pressure growth. We continue to look to claims as the best indicator for the job market, as they are real time and inflections in the series have signaled important turning points in the market in the past.

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH - rolling

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH - raw

 

In the table below, we chart US equity correlations with Initial Claims, the Dollar Index, and US 10Y Treasury yields on a weekly basis going back 3 months, 1 year, and 3 years.

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH - 1

 

As a reminder, May was the peak month of Census hiring, and it should now be a headwind through September as the Census continues to wind down.

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH - census chart

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA

 

Allison Kaptur


THE DAILY OUTLOOK

TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP - August 26, 2010

As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 28 points or 0.88% (1,040) downside and 1.77% (1,077) upside. 

Equity futures are trading modestly above fair value in a follow through to yesterday's late day rally and break a four-day losing streak.  Today's macro highlight in an otherwise quiet schedule will be the weekly jobless reading with consensus looking for a (10K) decline.

  • PERFORMANCE ONE DAY: Dow +0.20%, S&P +0.33%, Nasdaq +0.84%, Russell 2000 +1.56%
  • PERFORMANCE MONTH-TO-DATE: Dow (3.88%), S&P (4.20%), Nasdaq (5.02%), Russell (7.10%)
  • PERFORMANCE QUARTER-TO-DATE: Dow +2.93%, S&P +2.39%, Nasdaq +1.53%, Russell (0.79%)
  • PERFORMANCE YEAR-TO-DATE: Dow (3.72%), S&P (5.67%), Nasdaq (5.12%), Russell (3.31%)  
  • NCE/DECLINE LINE: +649 (+2220)
  • VOLUME: NYSE - 1115 (-5%)
  • SECTOR PERFORMANCE: 6 sectors traded higher - recovery trade lagged the market
  • MARKET LEADING/LOOSING STOCKS YESTERDAY: Harman +5.53%, Sears +4.95% and DR Horton +4.61%/Massey -3.38%, Dominion -2.84% and Cabot Oil/Gas -2.48%

EQUITY SENTIMENT:

  • VIX: 26.70 -2.77%            
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: 1.97 up from 0.87  

CREDIT/ECONOMIC MARKET LOOK:

  • TED SPREAD: 15.57 0.203 (1.321%)
  •  3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD .16% unchanged
  • YIELD CURVE: 2.01 from 2.00

COMMODITY/GROWTH EXPECTATION:

  • CRB: 261.80 -0.25% down 8 of the last 9 days
  • Oil: 72.52 +1.24% looking at a 2 day rally?
  • COPPER: 323.15 -0.94%
  • GOLD: 1,239 +0.77%

CURRENCIES:

  • EURO: 1.2665 -0.06%
  • DOLLAR: 83.261 +0.14%

OVERSEAS MARKETS:

  • ASIA - Most markets rose modestly on bargain-hunting and on the heels of the late session rally in the US, but gains were restrained by worries about US new-home-sales data. The weaker yen gave a boost to technology shares in Japan. 
  • EUROPE - Major indices are higher in a broad based recovery in response to Wall St's late session rally which has encouraged some short covering and a little bargain hunting although volume is light.
  • LATIN AMERICA - Argentina and Peru trading higher, while Chile and Brazil are trading down
Howard Penney
Managing Director
THE DAILY OUTLOOK - levels and trends

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - S P

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - VIX

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - DOLLAR

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - OIL

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - GOLD

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - COPPER


Early Look

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INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH; SPREADS COMPRESS FURTHER

Rolling Claims Hit a New YTD High Despite Improvement in Reported Claims

Initial unemployment claims fell 31k last week (27k net of the prior week's revision up to 504k).  Rolling claims rose to 486.75k, an increase of 3.25k week over week and a new year-to-date high.  While the raw claims number today was a step in the right direction, there is a long way to go before reaching the range of 375-400k where unemployment can begin to meaningfully improve.

 

To reiterate, our firm is of the strong view that US economic growth is going to slow markedly in the back half of this year and into 2011. We think this will keep a lid on new hiring activity as management teams focus on cost control. All of this raises the risks that a prospective slowdown in GDP will precipitate an incremental slowdown in hiring/pickup in firings, which will, in turn, further pressure growth. We continue to look to claims as the best indicator for the job market, as they are real time and inflections in the series have signaled important turning points in the market in the past.

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH; SPREADS COMPRESS FURTHER - rolling

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH; SPREADS COMPRESS FURTHER - raw

 

2-10 Spread Compresses Further

The following chart shows 2-10 spread by quarter while the chart below that shows the sequential change. The 2-10 spread (a proxy for NIM) has been collapsing in the past two quarters.  The current value of 201 bps compares to 214 last week.  

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH; SPREADS COMPRESS FURTHER - spread

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH; SPREADS COMPRESS FURTHER - spread QoQ

 

The table below shows the stock performance of each Financial subsector over four durations. 

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH; SPREADS COMPRESS FURTHER - perf table

 

Below we show the correlations between initial claims and each of the 30 Financial Subsectors. We have refreshed this table to reflect prices through the end of July. Using this updated measure, Credit Card and Payment Processing companies remain the most correlated to initial claims, with R-squared values of .63 and .65 over the last year, respectively. Surprisingly, some subsectors show a positive correlation coefficient to initial claims - i.e. Financials that go up as unemployment claims go up.  These names are concentrated in the Pacific Northwest Banks and Construction Banks, though these correlations are usually not very high.  

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH; SPREADS COMPRESS FURTHER - init. claims subsector correlation analysis as of 8.4.10

 

Astute investors will note that in some cases the R-squared doesn't seem to reconcile with the square of the correlation coefficient. This is a result of finding the correlation and then averaging. For example, Pacific Northwest Banks have an average correlation coefficient of .33 and an average R-squared of .52 (with CACB, CTBK, FTBK, and STSA strongly positively correlated and UMPQ strongly negatively correlated). The different directions have the effect of canceling out each other out when finding the average correlation coefficient, but do not cancel out when finding the average R-squared. 

 

The following table shows the most highly correlated stocks (both positively and negatively correlated) with initial claims. Note that the top 15 negatively correlated stocks have a much stronger correlation on average than the top 15 positively correlated stocks - as you would expect, given that most of the Financial space is pro-cyclical. 

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH; SPREADS COMPRESS FURTHER - init. claims company correlation analysis as of 8.4.10

 

As a reminder, May was the peak month of Census hiring, and it should now be a headwind through September as the Census continues to wind down.

 

INITIAL CLAIMS FALL BUT ROLLING AVERAGE HITS A NEW YTD HIGH; SPREADS COMPRESS FURTHER - census chart

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA

 

Allison Kaptur


Channeling Hammy

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”

-Alexander Hamilton

 

Keith is out this morning teaching a Risk Management class to MBA students at New York University’s Stern School, so I’ve been handed the quill on the Early Look.  I was fortunate to enjoy a week off last week, which afforded me some time to clear my head and do a little pleasure reading.  The first book I knocked off the list was Ron Chernow 856 page tomb, “Alexander Hamilton: A Biography”.

 

The story of Alexander Hamilton’s, or Hammy as his close friends affectionately called him, rapid rise from a dysfunctional family in the West Indies to becoming a confidant of General Washington during the Revolutionary War, to publishing the Federalist Papers, to finally becoming the first Secretary of the Treasury, is as rapid an ascension to influence that will likely ever be recorded in the annals of American history.

 

Hammy certainly had his faults, as we all do, but he was a learning machine that devoured books.  He also had a strong sense for right and wrong.  That is, he knew what he stood for.  In fact, he was so convicted in some of his beliefs that he ultimately died prematurely in a dual defending his honor against Aaron Burr.

 

Anyone that reads the missives coming out of the Hedgeye Research Juggernaut certainly understands very quickly that we know where we stand on our processes and our investment positions.   The goal in the investment business, though, is to be right, not obstinate.  The equivalent in our business of losing a dual is bad performance and client loss, so having conviction is fine if you are alive to trade another day.

 

While we have strong opinions, we aren't wedded to them and I think our track record speaks for itself on this intellectual flexibility. Since inception we've recommended 978 stock and ETF positions, 499 longs and 479 shorts, and have been right 85.6% on the longs and 83.9% on the shorts. But, I digress. Back to Hammy.

 

As Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton’s first objective was to pay back the heavy debt incurred to win the Revolutionary War.  As Hammy said, “The debt of the United States . . . was the price of liberty.” So, while this debt had its purpose, Hamilton also quickly realized that paying the debt back was critical in establishing confidence among other nations in the economic future of the United States.  This confidence would lead to support of the new American currency and a willingness of other nations to become trading partners.

 

We have been quite vociferous as to our thoughts on some important metrics relating to the national debt of a nation, specifically debt as percentage of GDP and deficit as a percentage of GDP. Another metric we would like to introduce today is debt as percentage of revenue. On a go-forward basis we will call this the National Coverage Ratio. That is, what is the ability, based on revenues generated, of a nation to both pay down its debt and cover its interest and principal payments, or cover these financial commitments.

 

In the chart below, we've highlighted the National Coverage Ratio for some relevant global economies.  While the United States screens negatively on the other debt ratios, especially on a projected basis, on this ratio it is actually an extreme outlier to the negative.  This tells a few things about the economic future of the United States from a policy perspective.  First, given current debt balances and revenue projections of the United States, it will be very difficult for the nation to support higher interest rates.  Second, and while we don't necessarily support this from an economic growth perspective, it seems likely that government revenues, i.e. taxes, will have to go higher. Neither of these points are very encouraging.

 

There is of course another option, an aggressive cut in future entitlements.  This is  perhaps what former Senator Alan Simpson, who is the co-chair of President Obama's Bi-partisan Debt Commission, meant when he described Social Security as a "milk cow with 310 million tits!" in an email.  Indeed.

 

As it relates to the shorter term though, over the past couple of days we have been covering our shorts and adding long exposure to the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio.  This is not because we have become overly bullish on equities, but rather the market has sold off dramatically over the past seven weeks and our key economic catalyst is now behind us, which was the abysmal housing numbers of the past couple days.

 

While we aren't wedded to our bearish views, both the fundamentals and quantitative set up continue to support this stance. So, perhaps the best way to think of it is that we've gone from being Growling Loud Equity Bears to Cuddly Bears.  As a result, we currently have 14 longs and 8 shorts in the virtual portfolio, which is great positioning for a Cuddly Bear.

 

If you are looking for an equity Bull to support your investment positioning through year end, look no further than Lazlo Birinyi.  This morning he is out with the call that the S&P500 will rally 16% into year-end to the level of 1,225.  Interestingly, that is below his March target of 1,325. Since this morning we are being Cuddly Bears, we aren't going to challenge Lazlo to a Hamiltonian Macro Economic Dual. Albeit we do question any process that produces a round target for an equity index through an arbitrary time frame, but perhaps that is just us.

 

As we look forward though, we are not sure how cuddly we will remain.  The combination of initial jobless claims this morning at 830 a.m., Chairman Bernanke speaking at Jackson Hole tomorrow, and the second release of GDP for Q2 tomorrow will all combine to set the stage heading into September.  While we are not convinced these events will have a negative impact on the market in the short term, they will provide incremental data to inform our view through year-end.

 

And who knows, if the data is bad enough, perhaps we will drop our SP500 target by EXACTLY 100 points, just like Lazlo.   That is unlikely, however, given our macro models don't have a factor which incorporates licking your finger and holding it up to see which way the wind is blowing.

 

In the chart of the day, we have inserted a cute picture that shows President Obama inadvertently giving Treasury Secretary Timmy Geithner the middle finger.  This is not what President Obama really thinks of Timmy, but the President would probably like to Channel Hammy.

 

Yours in risk management,

 

Daryl G. Jones

 

Channeling Hammy - hamm2


THE M3: GALAXY MACAU RECRUITMENT; MORE PROPERTY CURBS

The Macau Metro Monitor, August 26th 2010


 GALAXY WILL RECRUIT 7,700 WORKERS Macau Daily News

Galaxy said 7,700 workers will be recruited for the new opening of Galaxy Macau next year.  Recruitment will mainly be in gaming, F&B and hospitality sector.


NDRC SAYS TO FURTHER IMPLEMENT PROPERTY CURBS, NEWS REPORTS Business Week

According to China News Service, Zhang Ping, head of NDRC, said the nation will further implement property measures to control the real estate market and curb speculation. Zhang also believes home supply will continue to rise and that some real estate prices are still too high.


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 80.28%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.51%
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