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September 30, 2010

M&A heats up with a rumored sale of Destination Maternity.  What’s interesting about this deal is the fact that the shares are at all-time highs, reflecting the company’s efforts to turn the business around.  Can’t fault the board for selling at the top. 


  • According to the NRF, this Halloween marks the highest percentage ever of Americans expecting to wear at costume. 40.1% of consumers expect to dress up vs. 33.4% last year. American’s also plan to spend 17% more this year on the holiday, for an average spend just over $66 on a costume, candy, and decorations. Clearly the consumer still likes to have some fun, despite the fact that spending overall remains in check.
  • Another day, another e-commerce launch. This time French luxury fashion house, Lanvin has launched its e-commerce site. Clearly the consumer (and the brands) have confirmed that shopping online can pretty much work across all price points, high and low.
  • Lawsuits regarding the effectiveness of Shape-Ups aren’t the only legal battle that SKX is facing. The latest suit, revealed by gossip site TMZ, was brought on by high profile photographer Richard Reinsdorf. The suit claims that Skechers has been using his work (multiple projects since 2006) well beyond its contractual life. He’s suing for $250 million! Stay tuned as this soap opera is likely to heat up.
  • Texans are getting annoyed with H&M’s latest marketing campaign featuring the Fall collection. It turns out that the fast-fashion retailer does not have a single store in the state, but yet continues to tease fashionistas with its latest wares. There is hope however, given that New Yorkers were also teased for years by Target, only to finally receive a location on the island of Manhattan.


Destination Maternity on the Block - Global M&A activity shot up to $599 billion in the third quarter, a rise of 35.6 percent from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters. It was the biggest August for wheeling and dealing in more than a decade. Although promising deals can go south quickly and the economy can turn on a dime, much of fashion seems to be up for grabs right now. The latest is Destination Maternity Corp., which is being shopped around by investment firm Peter J. Solomon Co., according to sources. Both the company and the investment bank declined to comment Wednesday. Destination Maternity could give somebody a big leg up in the moms-to-be market. The firm has an enterprise value of $225 million and 701 stores under the Motherhood Maternity, A Pea in the Pod and its namesake banners, as well as licensed businesses in Macy’s, Sears and Kmart. <wwd.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Different than most retail takeouts, DEST is sitting at all-time highs. Perhaps the opportunity to sell before things begin roll over is what’s tempting the board to find a buyer. 

Kohl's Store Openings - One day after J.C. Penney Co. Inc. revealed plans to open new stores, Kohl’s Corp. said it unveiled 21 units in 15 states on Wednesday. Kohl’s said the new stores will add 3,000 jobs in Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Kohl’s on Wednesday also opened a new customer and operations center in San Antonio for its charge card business and kohls.com, which saw a 38 percent jump in revenues last year. So far this year, Kohl’s has opened 30 stores, bringing the total units to 1,089 in 49 states. Both Penney’s and Kohl’s are remodeling stores with an emphasis on fashion. Kohl’s is targeting 85 stores for facelifts this year, a 66 percent increase from 2009. <wwd.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Kohl’s still has the edge here with its flexible, off-mall real estate strategy and opportunistic view on acquiring blocks of vacant stores. JCP is likely to struggle to open its stated 75 store goal by 2014, while KSS will surpass that amount of openings by then end of next year. 

Fisher Flops from Nike to Adi - Derek Fisher, the Los Angeles Lakers point guard and long-time Nike endorser, has signed a shoe endorsement contract with Adidas. Fisher, 36, was intrigued with the possibility of working with Adidas after his playing career ends, said Chris Grancio, Adidas head of global sports marketing, to the Oregonian. Fisher had previously endorsed Nike basketball shoes for 10 of his 14 years in the NBA <SportsOneSource>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: There’s been lot of shifting of athletes between endorsing brands of late, particularly in Basketball. What’s noteworthy here however, is the ESPN model of a ‘life after (pick your sport)’ pitch which becomes increasingly more valuable for ‘aging’ athletes in their 30s. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these clauses used as a strategic tool by brands.   

Employment Base at Wal-Mart to Grow - Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, plans to increase its workforce by 36 percent in the next five years as global economic growth boosts spending. New employees will be hired “mostly” outside the U.S., Susan Chambers, executive vice president for human resources, said in a speech at a conference in New Delhi today. “The opportunity for growth is not just in India but global,” she said, without providing more details on the hiring plans. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest listed company by sales, plans to have 3 million workers in five years from 2.2 million now, Chambers said. India may decide in three months whether to relax restrictions on investment in the retail industry by overseas companies including Wal-Mart, Carrefour SA and Tesco Plc, junior trade minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said Sept. 18. <Bloomberg>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: There’s no denying that adding 160K jobs per year is likely to be a key political positive as WMT marches across the globe.  If India relaxes foreign direct investment, we still believe the opportunity to have a meaningful business is many years away.   

Currency Reform for Free Trade Act Passes House - The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 2378)  by a vote of 349 –78 Wednesday, increasing pressure on the People's Republic of China to hasten the appreciation of its currency. In short, the bill clarifies that countervailing duties (CVD) may be imposed on imports to counter subsidies that are the result of the producing country’s fundamentally undervalued currency.  While the legislation does not specify China as the target of the legislation, the bill was clearly introduced and passed with the intention of forcing China to appreciate the renminbi, notes Alex Boian, director of trade policy at Outdoor Industry Association in a trade alert sent to members.  The bill provides direction to the U.S. Department of Commerce that undervalued currency must be considered when investigating countervailable subsidies. <SportsOneSource>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Lots of activity in the House yesterday. One can’t lose sight of the fact however, that a stronger renminbi will most likely result in even higher cost inflation out of China – an issue already plaguing retailers. Historians are also calling to attention the rise of the yen in the 80s, which failed to resolve the trade imbalance between the U.S. and Japan.

Organized Retail Crime Bill Passes the House - Congress took a step forward in cracking down on organized retail crime as the House passed a bill Tuesday night that would give federal law enforcement officials new funding to go after criminals. The House passed the legislation under fast-track rules that required a two-thirds majority. For the first time since the issue has gained attention on Capitol Hill, the House approved one of a total of five pending bills addressing organized retail crime. The fashion industry has a big stake in legislation combating the crime, which has been on the rise in recent years as criminals become more brazen and larger quantities of merchandise are being stolen at stores nationwide. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates organized retail crime costs U.S. merchants $15 billion to $30 billion annually. The bill would authorize $5 million per year for fiscal years 2011-2015 and direct the U.S. Attorney General to set up an organized retail theft and prosecution unit with the Department of Justice to help state and local law enforcement agencies investigate and prosecute the theft. <wwd.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: According to the NRF, retailers lose between $15Bn to $30Bn to crime annually on high demand easy to sell items that can be resold online or to pawn shops. While allocating $5Bn a year as proposed by the bill should help stem this activity, it will take some time before results are known. It will however, help fray costs for retailers that have tried to keep shrink under wraps themselves.

Change in Import Tariff Guideline Dropped - U.S. Customs & Border Protection officially withdrew a proposal today that would have raised duties on imported apparel, laying to rest an issue that stirred up a good amount of industry controversy when it was first raised. The proposal would have changed how Customs calculated import duties by altering the “First Sale Rule.” Under the rule, Customs pegged the value of imported finished goods to their cost at the first point of sale in the supply chain, such as when a product was sold by the factory to a wholesaler. Customs had proposed to change that to calculate value based on the final cost at the point where a product entered the U.S., typically the wholesale price. Opponents argued that changing the rule would increase duty rates because the value of products is higher further along the supply chain. Customs had backed off its proposed rule change as early as August 2008, but did not officially withdraw the proposal until Wednesday. <wwd.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: It’s good to see some voice of reason heard when it comes to new legislation. In what was originally proposed as a mark-to-market + premium model – the bottom-line is less money in government coffers and less pressure on the supply chain for retailers.

Influential 'Mom' Bloggers - Moms who blog have become important partners for many marketers -- but not just the moms who blog about motherhood and family issues. "Although blogs about parenting issues are the most common topic marketers think of when they hear the words 'mom' and 'blog,' in fact, the topics moms cover in blogs go far beyond that," said eMarketer senior analyst Debra Williamson. About 12.1 percent of all online moms in the U.S., or 3.9 million women with children under 18 write blogs, the firm reported. While many of them blog about parenting, most write about a range of subjects, from parenting to couponing to travel, automobiles or personal technology -- all of which is highly influential to the nearly 33 million moms who go online in the U.S., Williamson said. "While they share one thing in common -- having children -- they are a diverse group," she said. "This diversity is both a benefit and a challenge for marketers; creating a strong blogger outreach program takes time, effort and nurturing."  <Brandweek>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: While 12% doesn’t sound all that impressive, one could argue that the ‘mom’ shopper network is even more influential and more importantly sticky relative to their tech-savvy children. Smart retailers don’t forget who ultimately allocates the pocket book at the store. 

R3: DEST, KSS, NKE, and WMT - R3 9 30 10

Driving Force Behind e-Commerce Growth - Affluent consumers are the primary shoppers for many different online product categories and retailers, and their influence on ecommerce sales in general is heavy. Households with incomes of at least $100,000 made up about a third of all US retail ecommerce spending in Q2 2010, but they also accounted for two-thirds of ecommerce growth in that quarter, according to comScore. “Marketers who sell high-end goods must understand how the shopping behavior and attitudes of affluent consumers are evolving,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report “Affluent Shoppers and Luxury Brand Retailers Online.”  <emarketer.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: With many luxury brands still lacking sites that would be categorized as a superior online shopping experience, there is substantial opportunity for companies that step up to the plate. As more traditional luxury brands develop it will be interesting to see how the discount luxury site model i.e. Gilt Group, Rue La La, etc. evolves.  

R3: DEST, KSS, NKE, and WMT - R3 2 9 30 10


R3: DEST, KSS, NKE, and WMT - R3 3 9 30 10