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SHFL: I-DEAL? I-DON’T

Management’s justification for abandoning its pure lease model was that it could expedite cash flow by creating a replacement cycle. A continuous release of new shufflers and proprietary table games (PTG) would spur replacement of previously sold products. That model didn’t work out as planned and the company recently communicated to the Street that it would move back to the lease model. However, as illustrated in my 7/31/08 post, “SHFL: LET ME KNOW WHEN THEY STOP SELLING STUFF”, SHFL continues to sell both shufflers and PTGs.

The company’s latest shuffler, i-Deal, was released in the fall of 2007 to replace 1999’s ACE shuffler. Unfortunately, placements thus far have been minimal. As a response, presumably, SHFL notified its customers that it would no longer service the ACE shuffler, thus attempting to force casinos into buying or leasing the i-Deal. This begs at least two questions: Did SHFL hurt customer relations with this stuff job and do casinos really need the i-Deal? Considering the low volume of placements to date the answer to the second question may be no. We did, however, get positive feedback on the i-Deal from one table game manager although his casino had not yet purchased the product.

SHFL has sold a lot of product over the past two years. Despite the talk, the numbers show the company hasn’t fully re-embraced the lease model. Without a pipeline of new PTGs, replacement demand in the entertainment segment looks limited. Thus far, on the utility side, the i-Deal has not been the replacement driver the company expected. That fateful decision over 2 years ago to adopt a partial for-sale model continues to haunt SHFL. The recurring revenues from a pure lease model would’ve smoothed out this new product trough.


i-Deal: Replacement savior?

Eye On Putin Power...

Putin's puppet, Dmitry Medvedev, will be meeting with China's leader, Hu Jintao, today. Post the Georgian attacks, what will come of this meeting? What are Russia's ambitions? Geopolitical tail risk is what it is - and the outcomes from this meeting should be watched very closely.
KM

This Is What Happens To Growth Stocks When They Slow

Today the Shanghai Securities News broke down some of the aggregate listed company profitability metrics for 2008 to date. For the 73% of companies who have reported, profits have put in a perfect Chinese Olympic nosedive. According to Xinhua, "reports showed they earned 323.14 billion yuan (47.2 billion U.S. dollars) in all, up 30.9 percent year-on-year. The year-earlier growth rate was 70 percent." If you are a mo mo global "growth" investor, and growth goes from great to good, watch out below.
  • China's stock market lost another -0.34% last night, taking the cummulative swan dive to -61% since the October 2007 highs.
    KM
chart courtesy of stockcharts.com

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DSW: I'm Not Making This Up...

As I flipped around through different company web sites checking out store additions in troubled states (CA, NV, AZ, FL), guess what started at me on the DSW homepage? Yes, the image below. I'm not joking. They continue to pay up for real estate that is way too expensive for a format that is way too large at margin and asset turn structures that are way too low.

"Trend" vs "Trade" factors aside, this is as flawed a business model as I've seen in a while.

BWLD - Relevant data points on wing prices

According to SAFM, prices for jumbo wings have remained very weak into the summer months. Jumbo wings averaged $0.812 per pound, down 30.1% from the average of $1.16 per pound last year. Wing prices are typically weak through the summer, but prices this summer reflect weaker than usual demand from distributors and casual dining customers. Currently, the market price for jumbo wings stands at $0.83 per pound. SAFM and others hope the kick off of football season will improve demand for wings.

I love this quote from SAFM’s senior management regarding the week leading into Labor Day “we came in Monday, and it was soft everywhere, very low demand for anything. You’d think they’d be hollering for wings, wings and chicken tenders for what we call the watering holes, where they serve beer and hot wings and chicken tenders…not much at retail and just kind of a blah week.”

In 1H08, fresh chicken wings accounted for 21.5% of BWLD’s restaurant cost of sales. In 2Q08, fresh wings were 20.4% of cost of sales. Despite SAFM’s macro comments, BWLD’s same-store sales have remained above industry trends. Above average sales trends and favorable wing pricing should fuel better margins in the near term. Over time, I would still expect chicken prices to move higher as chicken producers are forced to further cut production.

Famous Footwear: Cartography 101

Don't the strat planners at Famous Footwear use mapping software for competitive proximity analysis? If not, have 'em call Zach Brown at Research Edge.

Notice the tone from Famous Footwear management on performance by region on its 2Q call. Clearly lacking confidence about why certain markets are underperforming. The sad thing is that so many are saying the same thing in the same states. Famous Footwear's store adds in CA, NV, AZ, and FL are underperforming. Well guess what? Same thing goes for Payless, DSW and even Sports Authority. Dick's is adding stores in 3 out of 4 of these states too. Texas would be high on this list too if oil was not over $100.

I don't care what anybody tells me, but as too many retailers add stores in new states at the same time, it simply is not good. I think that the cycle shifting back to athletic footwear will support this for the athletic space, but for the casual/fashion footwear space this means trouble.
Click on map to enlarge and read text.

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