R3: Toning, Kmart, Uniqlo, & 3D


October 4, 2010


Efforts to ride the toning wave continue with the addition of Fila and Crocs entering the competitive fray.  





  • According to an Internet Retailer survey, nearly 9% of retail organizations operate a mobile commerce site, but 53% expect to launch one within the next 12-months. Perhaps a reflection of another study out of Coda Research Consultancy, which expects U.S. mobile commerce sales to grow roughly 10x over the next 5-years on a base of $2.4Bn in 2010. With expectations high for the channel, retailers feeling that they have come up short in their e-Commerce efforts may have renewed interest in stepping up mobile initiatives.


  • Japanese retailer, Superdry, continues its U.S. expansion with the opening of the company’s third stateside location in San Francisco.  Recall that the Abercrombie-esque retailer has two existing locations, one in NY and the other in LA.


  • With holiday shopping now underway, Kmart is expanding its layaway program by expanding its program over 10-to-12 weeks from 8 weeks last year. In addition to extending the program, the company is also adding additional items including washers and dryers as well as other big-ticket items.



Belk's Rebranding Initiative - The $3.5 billion Belk Inc. wants to flaunt the hipper, modern side of its southern charm. “We are investing in our business in a big way and updating our image,” Tim Belk, chairman and chief executive officer of the nation’s largest private department store group, told WWD. “Branding will be a big deal. We don’t want to leave any customers behind. We are focusing the message and trying to make a more emotional connection with our customers.” It’s a matter of shifting priorities — and investing tens of millions in a new look. “The focus in the next two to three years will be on organic growth, getting our stores to be more productive,” Belk said. “If you look a little further than that, you will see new store growth in the next two or three years.” While it’s long excelled in cosmetics, the Charlotte, N.C.-based chain that operates 305 stores in 16 states seeks a better balance by pumping up a host of categories — shoes, jewelry and denim among them — that have lagged the times. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: After growing through acquisition from 2002 through 2007, management teams across the industry have been forced to take a hard look at organic growth. For a model like Belk, which relied heavily on layering on sales year over year, taking a hard look at existing store productivity is no longer an option. At this point, it’s the right move (perhaps the only move), but like the majority of these initiatives we suspect it will be more costly and time consuming than management anticipates.


Uniqlo Comps Struggle in Sept. - Unusually hot weather continued to bite into Uniqlo’s sales performance for the month of September, pushing comps down 24.7 percent. Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing said Monday that warm temperatures discouraged shoppers from snapping up fall apparel. The numbers only refer to Uniqlo’s business in Japan. The company similarly blamed the record-breaking heat wave for a 9.3 slump in August same-store sales. The Japan Department Store Association has also lamented the steamy summer’s impact on retail here. Its members posted a 3.2 percent decline in August comps. Fast Retailing’s sales have been uneven lately, but the September figures represent the largest monthly drop so far this year. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Expect to hear much of the same from underperforming domestic retailers come sales day on Thursday given an unseasonably warm end to September.  


Crocs Eyes $1Bn - Could Crocs Inc. become a billion-dollar company? Company President and CEO John McCarvel thinks so. To get there, the Niwot, Colo.-based firm, which has made strides to return to profitability, is stepping up its product range to woo an “extended population of consumers,” McCarvel said last week during a presentation to analysts at the brand’s Spring Street flagship. With that in mind, Crocs has diversified into toning — producing 12 to 16 styles of sandals, flip-flops and flats called CrocsTone, launching next month — and added sneakers and rainboots that all retail for less than $75. As it rolls out new looks, Crocs said it expects its core clog style to account for less of the revenue pie. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: The company has wasted little time refocusing on the top-line under McCarvel’s watch since taking the helm. While the portfolio has made significant strides towards becoming a real footwear company versus just a fad, we just hope management isn’t banking on toning to get it to the $1Bn mark.   


Fila Targets U.S. & Toning - Having raised nearly $100 million from its IPO last week, Fila Korea Ltd. now plans to use some of that money to help Fila USA grab market share. For starters, it will ramp up new product offerings. Next week, the brand will bow a line of toning apparel called Fila Body Toning System, said Jennifer Estabrook, EVP of business operations at Fila USA. And later this month, it will add a “grassroots performance basketball initiative” that will focus on footwear. For spring ’11, Fila’s product lineup includes a new range of performance tennis shoes, a line of training apparel for both men and women, and a footwear, accessories and apparel collection for its 100th anniversary, said Estabrook. “At this moment, the U.S. business is in a growth mode. The strategic changes made to the brand over the past three years have worked beyond expectations, leading the momentum that the brand is experiencing right now,” Fila USA said in a statement. “The IPO proceeds will help fund that growth.” <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: The latest newcomer to the toning category is what it is, but looking to the U.S. for growth across its portfolio is a natural for the brand. Given Fila’s growth in Korea of late, domestic brands will do well to mind the ‘not so new’-comer.  


MBT to Offer more Styles for Spring 2011 - MBT is on a new mission: to reinforce its wellness message to consumers, retailers and the media. Executives at the brand, distributed by Portsmouth, N.H.-based Masai USA, said they are aiming to stand out from all the new toning product. “There’s an onslaught of toning shoes [on the market],” said Sam Spears, VP of product and marketing at MBT. “We didn’t expect it. We don’t think of MBT as toning. We’ve thought of it as wellness.” According to Klaus Heidegger, a majority shareholder, MBT does not view today’s toning brands as competition because they don’t offer the same core health and wellness benefits as MBT. “It’s a different audience,” he said, adding that MBT has a more sophisticated consumer base. “Our footwear has an effect on the whole body. People will not compromise by going with a $100 brand.” Helping boost sales is more fashion-driven product, with 20 percent more styles in the collection for spring ’11 than a year earlier. “There’s more interest in lifestyle product,” said Spears. “There are lots of careers where people work on their feet, and they like the casual as well as dressy styles.” <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: After being eclipsed by the marketing prowess of Reebok and Skechers at warp speed, what else can you expect to hear from MBT? The key here is the simple fact that even more styles will be available in the category come Spring 2011.


New Fall Athletic Product - Calif.-based K-Swiss is expanding its lightweight running franchise with the spring ’11 introduction of the Kwicky Blade Light, a $130 men’s and women’s style. Featuring a low-profile outsole with side vents and a seam-free upper with welded overlays, the Kwicky Blade Light is also treated with P2i’s ion mask waterproofing technology, allowing the shoes to stay the same weight throughout races, according to the company. The shoe will deliver to running independents this January. Starting this holiday season, Canton, Mass.-based Reebok is expanding its EasyTone and ZigTech sneaker franchise into apparel. In November, EasyTone apparel will debut at mall-based athletic and sporting goods retailers. Like the resistance-adding EasyTone outsole, the apparel collection features stretchy plastic over- and underlays that the company calls “toning bands,” which provide extra resistance when the wearer is stretching or lifting. The women’s only styles include a tank (above) and a tee and shorts, capris and pants. Retail prices range from $55 to $75. In May, a men’s collection under the TrainTone label will launch with tops and briefs for $50 to $55. Also for spring ’11, Reebok is expanding its ZigTech sneakers into apparel for men and women. The collection will follow the distribution of the shoes into mall athletic and sporting goods stores. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Lightweight & Toning innovation will leave its mark on 2010 when all is said and done, but the next stage of the trend into apparel is a natural progression and hardly a surprise. Given the public response to toning footwear, we expect most retailers to reallocate some portion of their racks to the new lines come fall.


R3: Toning, Kmart, Uniqlo, & 3D - R3 10 4 10


3-D Sunglasses Coming to a Store Near You - With 3-D technology set to infiltrate multiple areas of everyday life, from iPhones to packaging, polarized designer 3-D specs that also function as regular shades are set to be the next big thing for the eyewear industry. That’s the prediction of Marchon executives, who at Vision Expo West this week in Las Vegas, will unveil polarized 3-D sunglass lines by Nike, ck Calvin Klein Eyewear, Nautica Eyewear and M3D Collection. Attending the recent edition of the Silmo eyewear salon here, Claudio Gottardi, president and chief executive of Marchon International, said the large quantities of passive-system 3-D technology-embedded TVs, laptops and games currently being shipped to stores for the holiday season could translate into a major volume increase for the industry. Getting into position, the firm in July created Marchon3D, in a joint venture with 3-D technology provider RealD Inc., the firm that developed the official 3-D specs used for “Avatar” screenings. <WWD>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: With 3-D flat-screen televisions still running at a significant premium to their 2D counterparts, the market size/opportunity appears limited. However, it’s been a while since sunglasses have experienced a significant technological innovation – perhaps this is the impetus for reinvigorated demand.




The Macau Metro Monitor, October 4th 2010



September GGR hit MOP 15.302 BN, growing 39.8% YoY.  YTD total GGR is MOP 133.237 BN, up 60.1% YoY.



During this year's National Day holiday (Oct 1-Oct 7), employees can take a week off; however, they must make up four of those days by working on the weekends before and after the holiday.  This holiday schedule took effect in 2008.


Financial Risk Monitor Summary (Across 3 Durations):

  • Short-term (WoW): Positive / 6 of 10 improved / 4 of 10 unchanged
  • Intermediate-term (MoM): Neutral / 3 of 10 improved / 3 of 10 worsened / 4 of 10 unchanged
  • Long-term (150 DMA): Negative / 5 of 10 worsened / 2 of 10 improved / 2 of 10 unchanged / 1 of 10 n/a

We are making two notable changes to the Risk Monitor this week. 


1) Durations – We now look at changes over three durations: short term (TRADE), intermediate term (TREND), and long term (TAIL). 

            Short term: week over week

            Intermediate: month over month

            Long term: 1-month slope of 150 DMA


2) New Series - We are adding two new series we believe are helpful in managing risk: the Baltic Dry Index, which measure shipping rates of bulk dry goods, and Sovereign CDS. 




1. US Financials CDS Monitor – Swaps were nearly all positive last week.  Swaps tightened for 28 of the 29 reference entities and remained unchanged for one (MBI).    Conclusion: Positive.


Tightened the most vs last week: MET, AIG, GNW

Tightened the least vs last week: BAC, CB, MBI

Tightened the most vs last month: SLM, MTG, AIG

Tightened the least vs last month: C, GS, PGR




2. European Financials CDS Monitor – In Europe, the pattern was similar. Swaps tightened for 34 of the 39 reference entities tightened and widened for the only 5.  After the Greek banks led the pack in CDS widening last week, two of the three were among the best performers this week. Conclusion: Positive.


Tightened the most vs last week: BNP Paribas, Alpha Bank A.E., National Bank of Greece

Widened the most vs last week: DnB NOR, Banco Espirito Santo, Banco Pastor

Widened the most vs last month: Bakinter S.A., Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo, Svenska Handelsbanken

Tightened the most vs last month: Bank of Ireland, DnB NOR, Banco Espirito Santo




3. Sovereign CDS Monitor  – Sovereign CDS fell 10 bps on average last week, led by Ireland, Portugal, and Greece. Conclusion: Positive.




4. High Yield (YTM) Monitor – High Yield rates fell last week, closing at 8.19 on Friday. Conclusion: Positive.




5. Leveraged Loan Index Monitor – The leveraged loan index rose 7.1 points last week.  Conclusion: Neutral.




6. TED Spread Monitor – Last week the TED spread fell slightly, closing at 14 bps. Conclusion: Neutral.




7. Journal of Commerce Commodity Price Index – Last week, the index rose 1.1 points, closing at 16.1 on Friday. Conclusion: Positive.




8. Greek Bond Yields Monitor – We chart the 10-year yield on Greek bonds.  Last week yields fell 90 bps, ending the week at 1015 bps versus 1105 bps the prior week.  Conclusion: Positive.




9. Markit MCDX Index Monitor – The Markit MCDX is a measure of municipal credit default swaps.  We believe this index is a useful indicator of pressure in state and local governments.  Markit publishes index values daily on four 5-year tenor baskets including 50 reference entities each. Each basket includes a diversified pool of revenue and GO bonds from a broad array of states. Our index is the average of their four indices.  Spreads were up slightly last week, closing at 217 versus 215 the prior week.  Conclusion: Neutral.




10. Baltic Dry Index – The Baltic Dry Index measures international shipping rates of dry bulk cargo, mostly commodities used for industrial production.  Higher demand for such goods, as manifested in higher shipping rates, indicates economic expansion.  Last week the index rose a hair, closing at 245. Conclusion: Neutral.




Joshua Steiner, CFA


Allison Kaptur

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What Makes It So Hard

“What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good.”

-Melvin Udall


In 1997, Jack Nicholson won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of an obsessive-compulsive Melvin Udall in “As Good As It Gets.” Particularly for anyone who has ever lived and worked in New York City, this movie really resonated. It was human.


As the Street makes its final push into year-end bonuses, this Melvin quote may not speak as loudly to some of us, but it’s ringing loud and clear across America. How else could the US stock market have its best September in 71 years and US Consumer Confidence readings go DOWN month-over-month? While Americans may not know what “QE” means, they’re pretty sure they should be pissed about it…


Let’s set aside the Manic Media begging Bernanke for more of what he himself has no idea will perpetuate and consider 3 intended consequences that make this so hard for common sense people to accept:

  1. Debauchery of America’s currency.
  2. Record low rates of return on savings accounts.
  3. Economic stagflation.

Now now, don’t get all in a heat here if you are in the perma-deflation camp. At lower prices, we’ll be right there with you. For now prices are inflating. Last week saw gold hit another record high. Oil and copper prices were up another +6.7% and +2.2% week-over-week, respectively.


Consequence #3 is a direct function of the US Federal Reserve being willfully blind to points #1 and #2.


What makes this so hard is the truth.


The truth is that Americans don’t have to buy into Officialdom’s portrayal of the truth. In “A Few Good Men”, Nicholson’s character tried pulling rank by suggesting “you can’t handle the truth!” Sometimes the “authorities” on critical American matters are wrong about the definition of truth.


Americans know the truth. Americans don’t like being lied to. The truth is marked-to-market on their desktop and in their bank accounts every single minute of the day.


For the 1st week in the last 5, the SP500 was down last week. It was barely down, but the point is that it was down. My submission on why is very straightforward. The Burning Buck starts to morph into a very bad thing, turning reflation into inflation, at a price.


Now slowing US economic growth + accelerating inflation growth = economic stagflation for those countries who have a higher nominal rate of inflation than they do economic growth. For countries that have to implement austerity measures, this problem will compound itself by real-wage growth starting to go negative year-over-year. The only thing worse than not having a job is getting a pay cut.


Back to a real-time update on the intended consequences of Bernanke’s plan:

  1. US Dollar = down another -1.64% last week; down for the 15th week out of the last 18; and down -11.8% since June!
  2. US Treasury Yields = down another -6.8% last week to 0.41% 2-yr yields; and down again this morning to a record low 0.40%

Again, that’s just the truth. And the truth is that a country has never devalued its way to prosperity. Sure, in the short term, inflation makes this good for some of us. But, in the long run, some of us need to remember that it’s the rest of us that matter most.


My immediate term support and resistance lines for the SP500 are now 1141 and 1155, respectively. I currently have a 52% position in Cash in the Asset Allocation Model (down from 55% on Friday as I added a 3% position in corn). In the Hedgeye Portfolio, I’ve moved to 13 long positions and 11 shorts.


Best of luck out there this week,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


What Makes It So Hard - 2yryield


TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP - October 4, 2010

As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 14 points or -0.46% downside to 1141 and 0.76% upside to 1155. Equity futures are trading below fair value in a subdued start to trading in a week which is likely to be dominated by the start of the Q3 earnings season, Friday's employment data and speculation surrounding the timing of any fresh QE.  Today's macro headlines include: August Pending Home sales and Factory Orders.


  • AT&T (T) agreed to pay $300m to the IRS in 4Q to settle disagreement over 2008 tax return
  • Dynamex (DDMX) agreed to be bought for $21.25 per share by Greenbriar Equity Group; 58% premium to average close over past 30 days
  • Icad (ICAD) filed to sell as much as $75m in common stock
  • Iridium Communications (IRDM) settled lawsuit filed by Motorola in February 2010; terms not disclosed
  • Barron’s - JPMorgan (JPM) may boost dividend next year and rise as much as 45% during next two years
  • Sunday Telegraph - New York Times (NYT) plans to pay back $250m loan from Carlos Slim three years ahead of schedule
  • Prudential Financial (PRU) got a term loan of as much as $3b to finance purchase of AIG Japan units
  • Barron’s - Snap-On (SNA) may rise as overseas automobile-repair growth boosts sales
  • Barron’s - United Technologies (UTX) may rise as much as 20% during next year on demand for elevators and escalators, improved profit at carrier air-conditioning unit
  • WD-40 (WDFC US) boosted Q dividend by 8% to $0.27 per share
  • Barron’s - World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) may decline as fans increasingly turn to mixed martial-arts rival Ultimate Fighting Championships instead


  • One day: Dow +0.39%, S&P +0.44%, Nasdaq +0.09%, Russell +0.47%
  • Month/Quarter-to-date: Dow +0.39%, S&P +0.44%, Nasdaq +0.09%, Russell +0.47%.
  • Year-to-date: Dow +3.85%, S&P +2.79%, Nasdaq +4.48%, Russell +8.62%


  • ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: 1113 (+1047)
  • VOLUME: NYSE - 1072.22 (-16.45%)  
  • SECTOR PERFORMANCE: Outsized strength in energy, materials and financials; tech lags as the space missed out on the afternoon rally.
  •  MARKET LEADING/LOOSING STOCKS YESTERDAY: Citi 4.87%, Metro PCS +4.49% and Freeport MC +3.38%/Tenet -4.03,Abercrombie -3.99% and Sears -3.35%
  • VIX: 22.50 -5.06% - YTD PERFORMANCE: (+3.87%)
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: 1.32 from 1.72, -24.96%


  • TED SPREAD: 13.75 -0.304 (-2.166%)
  • 3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: 0.16%
  • YIELD CURVE: 2.12 from 2.11


  • CRB: 285.69 -0.41% - first down day in seven
  • Oil: 81.58 +2.01% - up 6.65% last week
  • COPPER: 369.05 +1.07%
  • GOLD: 1,315.55 +0.61%


  • EURO: 1.3791, +1.25%
  • DOLLAR: 78.08 -0.80% - down 1.65% last week




  • European markets: FTSE 100: (0.70%); DAX (1.20%); CAC 40 (1.28%)
  • Major indices are weaker in a quiet start to the trading week with all sectors showing losses although Autos are underperforming (2.4%) amid speculation that improving economic data will reduce the need for governments to stimulate growth
  • Sanofi goes hostile in bid for Genzyme
  • Chinese Premier has restated that they do not intend to reduce their holdings of European government bonds
  • Eurozone Aug PPI +3.6% y/y vs consensus +3.6%



  • Asian markets: Nikkei (0.25%); Shanghai Composite (closed)
  • Markets were mixed in a follow-through to Friday's US data, but volumes remain light on account of the holiday in China.
  • The Nikkei initially traded lower, but finished the morning session higher as the euro strengthened vs the yen before giving back some earlier gains during the afternoon session.
  • The Hang Seng, which was closed Friday, saw resource stocks advance with higher commodity prices and property stocks higher after strong weekend sales 

Howard Penney


Managing Director 


THE DAILY OUTLOOK - levels and trends













WMT: Dispelling Analyst Day Hype

Wal-Mart’s analyst day is likely to yield less information about merchandising strategy and vendor pricing than in years past – at the precise time it’s needed most.  Furthermore, a smaller format urban location is likely to be more of a test than anything else- at least for now. There are simply too many new executives in new roles to have made any tangible progress in the effort to reverse the negative same store sales trend. 



Wal-Mart is set to host its 17th annual investor/analyst meeting in Bentonville on October 12th and 13th and this year is no different than year’s past. There’s much speculation brewing about what the world’s largest retailer is going to say and reveal.  This year’s topic du jour likely centers around two main areas, domestic store growth in the form a smaller, urban concept and a revamped merchandising strategy.  The former speculation arises out of ominous comments made from newly appointed Wal-Mart U.S CEO Bill Simon at a recent investor conference. 


Recall that Simon was quoted as saying, “We have lots of learnings around the world from Wal-Mart in small formats. Our group in Mexico and Central America, Latin America operates small formats very well and very profitably, and we are going to beg, borrow, steal and learn from them as quickly as we can, because it is important for our urban strategy.”   This in turn has led the media and some on the Street to expect a multi-hundred unit rollout of some convenience/grocery/dollar store hybrid in urban centers across the country.  We do not believe this will be the case.  While it possible that some new, smaller format (i.e 20k feet or less) will be announced, we believe it will only be in the context of a test or prototype.  History reminds us that both the Supercenter and Neighborhood Market were tested for several years before Wal-Mart made a full commitment to the format.  In fact, the Neighborhood Market is still more of a test than a viable growth contributor for the company.  We believe it is overly optimistic to expect an acceleration in U.S square footage growth in the near-term driven by a new and yet unnamed small store format.


Secondly on the topic of merchandising.  There is no question that Wal-Mart’s negative same store sales are in some part suffering from its unsuccessful efforts to drive purchases of non-consumable goods.  The leadership at the company has been in flux since June and has still yet to settle into their new roles.  Just this week alone, a CFO transition was announced, replacing a 10 year veteran with an internal promotion.  The names and faces of the executives coming and going is largely irrelevant in the near-term.  It’s not who is moving up and who is moving out, but rather that the world’s largest retailer is seemingly scrambling to make leadership changes in an effort to reverse the negative trend.  Change can be good, but it can also be unsettling in the near-term.  We do not believe that WMT will show (or convince) the Street that its merchandising strategy is fully baked and working at its meeting in Arkansas.  There are simply too many new faces in new roles for one to put forth a credible and cohesive strategy on such short notice.  Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that the suppliers and manufacturers could even produce enough product to meet WMT’s demands in such a short time before the holiday shopping season approaches.  If there is one thing we know, retailers of all sizes do not use the November/December time frame for taking big risks or making big, unproven changes.  Therefore, we’d expect the meeting to be centered on the “long-term”. Changes made in the next six months will impact the subsequent year.  We anticipate that this will be a long, drawn out process and one that still remains unproven.


Take a look at the following major management changes that have taken place since June alone:


  • 9/29- CFO promotion announced.  Former CFO, Tom Schowe, leaving company after 10 years.
  • 9/3- U.S CEO Bill Simon announces Chief Merchant position will not be filled.  Instead the company will operate with four merchants reporting to Simon.  Each one is responsible for a particular category.
  • 7/3- Chief Merchant John Fleming resigns a few days after new U.S. leadership is announced.  Role initially filled by two merchants on an interim basis.  Eventually each of these merchants is named to the team of four that replace Fleming on a permanent basis.
  • 6/29- Bill Simon, former COO of U.S, named to U.S. CEO role.  Replaces Eduardo Castro Wright who remains Vice Chairman and becomes head of and supply chain.  Castro Wright relocates to California.  COO role remains vacant.
  • 6/9- EVP/Corporate Secretary retires.  Position is filled by General Counsel, who assumes the additional role.   Ethics and global security responsibilities attached to Secretary role are reassigned within the organization.


The chronology above does not even scratch the surface of all the tertiary role changes within the U.S organization.  The bottom line here is that change is surely underway led primarily by people in new roles and an underlying approach which leaves nothing sacred.  For those expecting any major changes in top or bottom line results in the near to intermediate term, we caution that this is highly unlikely.  There simply has not been enough time yet for which the new team could have crafted and executed a revised merchandising strategy.  At best we believe this is 6 months out – but even then we need flawless execution.  So the many people that will attend the meeting looking for derivative plays out of suppliers will be also be disappointed. The same goes for insight on Wal Mart’s stance on passing through raw materials costs to customers and vendors. Expect less information than in the past (at the precise time when it is needed most). In the near-term those expecting some major announcements out of the investment meeting are also likely to be disappointed.  The strategy is still not defined, nor are the architects fully in place.


Eric Levine


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