Who knew what, when?
The old adage in NFL product licensing is that “Reebok owns Sunday (pro), Nike owns Saturday (college), and Under Armour owns Friday (high school).” Well, get ready to rewrite the calendar. Reebok’s 10-year deal with the NFL expires in 2012, and the lion’s share is ending up in Nike’s hands. Nike is a winner here. But let’s face it…these deals are getting expensive. The biggest winners might very well be the retailers.
A few thoughts…
1) Nike will absolutely blanket both the collegiate circuit as well as the NFL.
2) A decade ago, this deal did not make sense for Nike (it was just emerging from a VERY ugly period when the contract -- which it owned -- came due). Today, it makes all the sense in the world. This synchs perfectly with the company’s focus to go deep into specific categories – US Football being one of them.
3) It’s not on the cheap. We’re still waiting on numbers, but it’s safe to say that it will be well above the $30mm/year paid by Reebok. This deal will also have some up front payment that is likely to flow through the P&L. The interesting point here, however, is that even if it were $60 per year, we’re only talking 2% of Nike’s Demand Creation budget. If there was never a single dollar of sales associated with this deal, it would only hurt margins by 30bps. Clearly, that’s not the plan…but it shows the size and scale Nike has vs. its’ competition.
4) Let’s give credit where it’s due to AdiBok for not chasing this puppy. But what does it do now? The $300mm was an extremely poor investment for Reebok – one of the worst in recent memory for any company in this space. But Adidas now has a powerful $30mm/year weapon on its P&L. Will it use it in another sport in the US? Will it go after specific athletes? Our bet is that it will up the ante for European Football. Nike will not have the luxury of ignoring this.
5) Under Armour is more likely to get Tom Brady (see our 10/7 post – Tom Brady – Free Agent). That would be somewhat of a loss for Nike – even though he has not had great commercial value. The traditional Nike mindset would be to keep him anyway (they'd let pride get in the way). If they let him go, it will impress me as it relates to Nike letting its ego go and focusing on the highest ROI uses of capital. That said, while cutting Brady loose might make sense on paper, what happens if UA steals market share because they use him more effectively? Decisions, decisions... I just argued both sides in a simple paragraph. Can you imagine what the debate is like internally?
6) Foot Locker is likely to benefit as well. Note that Nike has co-branded NBA shops with FL. FL would love NFL shops, but AdiBok wasn’t exactly the best partner. That will change.
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Conclusion: We are becoming increasingly convinced that that the Republicans will take back the Senate, which is supported by new data from Intrade. Further, a major Republican win is clearly becoming priced into equity markets.
As Election Day 2010 looms in less than a month, the proverbial gloves are being dropped across the nation with political rhetoric from both sides taking a more aggressive tone. In particular, the Democrats seem to be turning up the volume in terms of negativity. Strategically, this may actually be a decent strategy, as the Democrats currently appear to be in dire straits. Not only do the Democrats continue to lag in key polls, which we’ll touch on, but some of their large supporters from recent years seem to be losing interest in supporting politics.
In particular, we would highlight this quote yesterday about George Soros in the New York Times:
“Mr. Soros, a champion of liberal causes, has been directing his money to groups that work on health care and the environment, rather than electoral politics. Asked if the prospect of Republican control of one or both houses of Congress concerned him, he said: “It does, because I think they are pushing the wrong policies, but I’m not in a position to stop it. I don’t believe in standing in the way of an avalanche.”
Avalanche does indeed seem like the appropriate adjective given the results from some recent polls.
The polls we focus on most consistently in terms of predicting a potential upside surprise for the Republicans are the Generic Congressional Polls. This is a poll that measures the generic preferences of Likely Voters. Real Clear Politics aggregates all of the polling companies into an average (which is charted below). Currently, the Generic Congressional Poll is as wide as it has been in this electoral cycle for the Republicans with 48.1% of those polled likely to vote for the Republican and 41.3% of those polled likely to vote for the Democrat.
Additionally, Intrade has open futures contracts on both the Senate and House. Currently, the contract for the Republicans taking the House is trading at 78.7, which is basically its highest point of this election cycle. The contract for whether the Democrats will keep the Senate is also now leaning Republican, as it closed below the 50 level last night with a closing price of 48.5. This contract has seen a dramatic decline in the last few weeks as the likelihood of the Democrats maintaining the Senate seems more and more unlikely based on recent data.
In terms of the race for the Senate, the Real Clear Politics poll averages currently have the Democrats holding 48 seats, the Republicans winning 46 seats, and 6 seats currently too close to call. Interestingly, over at Pollster.com the Republicans are doing even better with 48 seats, while the Democrats have 47 seats with the remaining seats too close to call. The most noteworthy race to recently shift categories is the Senatorial race in California between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina, which has gone from Leaning Democrat to Too Close To Call, as Fiorina has narrowed the gap.
As we stated from the outset, the continued shift of the date towards the Republicans seems to have heightened the rhetoric of the Democrats. As part of our research process, we receive campaign emails from both Democrats and Republicans and were somewhat interested to receive an email this weekend with this statement inserted:
"This is a threat to our democracy... And if we just stand by and allow the special interests to silence anybody who's got the guts to stand up to them, our country's going to be a very different place.
That's what the President just said about the Chamber of Commerce, a right-wing group spending $75 million to beat Democrats this fall, and reportedly taking money from foreign corporations -- some even owned by foreign governments.”
This statement from President Obama was made in conjunction with the video below, which attempts to tie the Chamber of Commerce, to President George W. Bush, and to foreign sources of money:
We were somewhat surprised to see President Obama, specifically, target the Chamber of Commerce, but to be fair the Chamber of Commerce has aggressively ramped up its lobbying efforts in the last decade. In fact, in 2009 the Chamber of Commerce spent $144.5MM, up from $18.7MM in 2000, and is now the largest spending lobbyist by a factor of 5 (next is Exxon Mobil). The vast majority goes towards Republican causes and candidates.
As we stated above, strategically it does make sense for the Democrats to amp up the volume on their attacks and try to bring back into focus the economic track record of the Bush administration. There is also risk in this strategy, though, as the Chamber of Commerce, despite its lobbying efforts, legitimately represents more than 3 million U.S. businesses and, based on many polls, is a widely respected organization.
Regardless, with the Democrats facing an avalanche, as per George Soros, the next couple weeks should lead to an acceleration of aggressive attacks. While there is potential that these attacks narrow the gap, there is also some probability that these attacks push voters further away from the Democrat party in the upcoming midterm.
Daryl G. Jones
Conclusion: As opposed to Germany, we expect to see a significantly higher level of inflation in the UK over the intermediate term TREND. PM David Cameron and his government are in a tough place as stagflation sets in. Today we bought Germany via the etf EWG in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio as the DAX tested and held both its TRADE and TREND lines of support.
This morning in the Early Look Keith noted some very important demand drivers of long-term secular inflation, namely:
To further contextualize the inflation/deflation debate, below we show a chart of UK and Greek inflation, two countries that are experiencing inflation above their European peers. Importantly, you’ll note the spread over German inflation, with CPI at +1.3%. And the UK’s Retail Price Index, the very goods and service that households consume, is up +4.6% year-over-year or +0.4% month-over-month in September.
As we noted in a post on 10/8 titled “UK and Inflation’s Ugly Head”, PM David Cameron and his government are now at a crossroads as austerity measures in the UK (and throughout Europe) squeeze the consumer via higher VAT and growth slows into year-end and in 2011. Now Cameron and Co. must address the broader economy from a fiscal and/or monetary perspective in the next months:
While we are not going to speculate on the action of the divided Bank of England, we expect to see significantly higher inflation in the UK over the intermediate term TREND. Like in the US, an environment of declining growth and expanding inflation (stagflation) should fuel the unemployment picture.
We’re steering clear of the UK economy on the long side. We bought back our position in Germany (EWG) today on a pullback as it held its TRADE line of support at 6,230 and TREND support of 6,112. We’re currently short Italy (EWI) in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio.
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