The Macau Metro Monitor, September 9th 2010



A spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) said, "We're investigating the provision of free transport by the IR operators. The IR operators will not be allowed to target the local market or provide incentives in any form for Singaporeans to patronise the casinos."  But RWS spokesman Robin Goh said the free services are the result of feedback and "the age-old perception that Sentosa was too far and inaccessible ... " The shuttle buses deliver about 2,500 people per day to the resort, and in surveys of passengers, more than 60% of them indicate they are not going to the casino, but to Universal Studios or "others", said Mr Goh.


The free shuttle of RWS are available at two spots in the Central Business District as well as 12 HDB town centres, including Ang Mo Kio, Jurong East, Tampines and Bedok.  MBS's free shuttle runs between the resort and Changi Airport and hotels in the Marina Bay area.  MBS recently introduced premium bus services to Orchard Road, the Central Business District and Chinatown.


Higher commissions may be driving the junket switch from the Peninsula to Cotai, but that doesn’t explain the Mass shift.



The following charts show monthly market share of Mass revenue, VIP revenue, and Rolling Chip volume generated on the Cotai Strip as a percentage of total Macau.  It is clear that Cotai has been gaining share sequentially throughout most of this year in all three categories.  The gains cannot be attributable to new supply since City of Dreams opened on June 1st, 2009.  The other major new supply actually opened off Cotai:  Wynn Encore, L’Arc, and Oceanus. 


The Cotai bears (mostly Wynn bulls) will point out that City of Dreams has probably been more generous in recent months with their junket commission rate and we would agree.  That certainly would pull VIP revenue away from the Peninsula since that is where most of that type of revenue is generated.  However, a higher junket commission rate at CoD does not explain the Mass shift.  The Cotai gains in Mass revenues have been as strong as the VIP shifts.  With more entertainment options and bigger facilities, could it be that Cotai is becoming the “in” place to congregate for the lucrative Mass customer?


We also included Wynn’s market share in each segment.  Wynn has lost a little Mass share this year, especially in August and we think in September thus far.  What’s surprising is that despite the opening of Encore in April, VIP and RC share has stayed fairly constant, after normalizing for the obvious hold volatility.  We would’ve expected better.







PVH: The Ultimate Consensus Long?

PVH: The Ultimate Consensus Long?


PVH is a consensus long. Period. The interesting thing is that the Tommy deal structurally makes sense, but the narrative behind how, why and when is not pretty by any means. While the world loves PVH, bears might have to wait another 3-quarters until the $300mm cookie jar is empty for some thesis validation.


This is one of those consensus longs that bugs me so many levels, but to fight the tape on a name that has a $300mm cookie jar to fuel earnings over the next year is a tough one. I love how management says that the Tommy Hilfiger deal will be $0.30-$0.35ps (10-12%) accretive, but this excludes $3.21 per share in integration costs. So let me get this straight… they’re going to INCLUDE the revenue and operating profit on the base business – but will EXCLUDE the costs to realize it. The only thing that’s worse is that the Street is taking the bait.


The irony here is that I actually think that the combination makes sense. It gives PVH significantly greater exposure to Europe – where the Tommy brand has always been exceptionally strong (despite its roller coaster ride in the US), and further diversifies PVH away from its legacy dress shirt business – which might be dominant with 46% share in department stores, but it is a price taker in a commodity category. Now the legacy biz is down to 10% of sales and 8% of EBIT vs. 23% and 22%, respectively last year (and over 75% before Calvin).


But as much as I can justify the deal, let’s not forget the fact that PVH NEEDED this. This is not Manny’s first rodeo. He saw what was coming. PVH is capping off a period where CK drove the business and then – like most other companies in retail – relied on extremely tight inventory management pushing peaky gross margins. Tack on a 4% decline in G&A due to corporate workforce cuts (400 positions at about $40mm) and write downs at Geoffrey Beane, and PVH realized 7% EBIT growth last year on a 4% sales decline.


Now, the company begins to go up against extremely tough compares on the gross margin and SG&A lines, and must rely on sales. But without the consumer showing up en masse, the company needs a PVH-specific product driver for the core business – and it would have needed to have been investing in that for the past 2-years. Either that, or it could have simply gone out and bought growth – a la Tommy.


The icing on the cake is a complete reclassification of the reporting segments. In all fairness, this is likely the proper thing to do as GAAP accounting states the company must report in a way that it runs its business – and the business structure has changed. But the reality is that the reclassification clouds the water as it relates to understanding the real trajectory of each of PVH’s units.


This note sounds like sour grapes. That’s not intended. I call the narrative for what it is, and will model it accordingly. Keith will guide with timing and sizing on either side. For now, this is a ‘Do Nothing’ stock -- though I have a fundamental bias to the downside 2-3 quarters out.



FYI: An interesting comment from management on the call about inventories. Good perspective. Sounds like the lynchpin is whether the department stores are correct in modeling 2-4% comp store sales.


I guess I'll speak on inventory levels at retail. I think the retailers -- we went through nine months starting in the third quarter of last year where retailers were chasing inventory consistently from suppliers and because of the availability of production piece goods, in that time frame you were able to react quicker. There was production availability. You were able to get it in. You were able to do what was necessary, fly goods, do whatever. There was transportation available. As demand really started to dramatically improve in the fourth quarter of last year, coming into 2010, clearly production started to fill up. You know all the stories about all the transportation issues. We were very clear with our retail partners. If you want goods, it's going to be very difficult to chase in the second half of 2010. You're going to have to get the orders. So the retailers were forced to really get ahead of the sales trend and they're buying into whatever their planned comps are. We're seeing that in our business and right now I would say to you inventories are in good position. We're in excellent shape at retail. The sales plans with our key customers seem to be running ahead. Clearly inventory's in good shape and they've bought into their 2% or 4% comp store increase depending whatever it is, the retailers have basically bought into that.


investing ideas

Risk Managed Long Term Investing for Pros

Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough handpicks the “best of the best” long and short ideas delivered to him by our team of over 30 research analysts across myriad sectors.


The chart was extracted from a note dubbed "HOPE FADING BUT ON ITS HOLD UNTIL DECEMBER" issued to Risk Manager Subscribers earlier today, September 8, 2010.




The chart below details where the unemployment rate would be if the labor force participation rate was at its ten-year average level of 66.1%; for the year-to-date, it has been averaging 64.8%.  This implies that many folks are losing heart and dropping out of the job hunt.



CHART: HOPE FADING... - chart1


Easy comparisons and a beneficial cost environment should translate into strong fiscal 1Q11 results.


Darden is scheduled to report its fiscal 1Q11 earnings after the market close on September 21st.  The company is lapping extremely easy blended same-store sales comparisons in the first half of the year of -5.3% and -4.7% in 1Q10 and 2Q10, respectively.  Of the three larger concepts, the comparisons are particularly easy at Red Lobster as comps declined 7.9% and 8.4% in 1Q10 and 2Q10, respectively. 


These easier comparisons should allow Darden to report positive comps during 1Q11 even if trends slow slightly on a two-year average basis.  That being said, given the current macroeconomic backdrop, I continue to think the company’s full-year same-store sales guidance of +2% to +3% could prove aggressive.  Lower food costs in 1H11, lower YOY labor costs as a percentage of sales, expected incremental cost savings initiatives of $10 to $15 million and accelerated share repurchase during fiscal 2011 leave me less concerned about the company’s ability to achieve its 14% to 17% EPS growth target.


For reference, casual dining same-store sales trends on a two-year average basis, as measured by Malcolm Knapp, slowed about 50 bps through the first two months of Darden’s fiscal 1Q11 (June and July) from the prior quarter.  Darden’s reported results will provide the first real glimpse of casual dining trends in August and insight into whether or not the industry was able to sustain the sequentially better results from July on a two-year average basis after posting declines for the prior three months.


Increased leverage from positive same-store sales growth, combined with the expected beneficial cost environment, should lift margins during the first quarter and for the entire first half of the year.  The company guided to continued food costs favorability during fiscal 1H11 but expects costs to level out during the second half of the year.  To that end, management has good visibility on its food costs through the first half of the year as it has contracted most of its commodity needs through December.


Also helping YOY margin growth during fiscal 2011 is the fact that the company is lapping significantly higher labor expenses as a percentage of sales from fiscal 2010, largely in the first half of the year.  Management attributed these higher labor costs in fiscal 2010 to sales deleveraging, increased benefit costs, wage rate inflation and higher manager bonuses.  For fiscal 2011, the company guided to lower labor costs as a percentage of sales and I would expect the biggest YOY benefit to come during 1H11.


Darden’s cash flow story remains intact.  The company recently increased its quarterly dividend 28% to $0.32 per share and expects to repurchase about $300 to $350 million of shares during FY11, up from $85 million in FY10. 


Howard Penney

Managing Director



With the current administration playing defense ahead of midterms in November, a positive bias to the jobs picture is all but assured as we head into the elections.  To be clear, the fudging of government data happens whatever party is in the ascendency, but politics will play a particularly significant role in government-reported statistics over the next few months.  This is the reality for GDP, inflation, and jobs.


This point has been made by various sources over the past few days but I think it speaks further to the theme of opacity, if not outright bias, in government numbers that we have been highlighting ad nauseum.  


There are two ways (maybe more) the government can manipulate the jobs data to make things look better than they appear.  The first way was highlighted in a post entitled, “FRIDAY MACRO MIXER: THE PAYROLL FUDGE FACTOR”, I discussed the implications of the Birth/Death model on the credibility (or lack thereof) of the payroll data.  As I wrote on Friday, the last benchmark revision released by the BLS indicated that the Birth/Death model numbers were grossly understating job losses and, as such, is not reliable. 


The second way the BLS distorts the numbers is through the headline unemployment rate, which is being deflated by changes in the Labor Force Participation Rate. 


Since BLS unemployment data begins, 1948, the proportion of the civilian population working or seeking work has generally been growing.  This is largely as a result of women entering the workplace and long-term growth in the U.S. economy through the 20th century.  The 1950’s saw year over year increases in the labor force participation rate of 210 bps – more than three standard deviations from the mean of all available data (January 1948 to present).  Recently, there has been a period of precipitous decline in labor force participation rate, peaking at a year-over-year decline of 120 bps – two standard deviations from the mean – which is important to note. 


The chart below details where the unemployment rate would be if the labor force participation rate was at its ten-year average level of 66.1%; for the year-to-date, it has been averaging 64.8%.  This implies that many folks are losing heart and dropping out of the job hunt.




An early indication the surprisingly positive labor market report from last week will not continue.  The ISM purchasing managers nonmanufacturing (services) survey for August showed a plunge in its employment component.  As seen in the chart below.




With the November elections right around the corner, the “spin” from both parties will reach fever pitch.  With respect to government data, we expect the numbers to remain close to consensus ahead of midterms.



Howard Penney

Managing Director

Daily Trading Ranges

20 Proprietary Risk Ranges

Daily Trading Ranges is designed to help you understand where you’re buying and selling within the risk range and help you make better sales at the top end of the range and purchases at the low end.