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R3: Adi, SKX, KCP, VLCM, and SHLD


October 20, 2010


Adi enters the competitive arena for hoops with new kicks for Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard.  We continue to believe the biggest beneficiaries of new product launches are the retailers, which will not only benefit from new SKU’s but also stepped up marketing from the brands. 




- In the never ending quest to effectively market and ultimately sell plus sized apparel, Forever 21 is rebranding its efforts in this category.  The company has changed its plus size sub-brand from Faith 21 to Forever 21+.  The merchandise remains the same.


- Toys R Us continues its expansion efforts in a-typical sites.  Not long after announcing a major holiday effort to open 600 pop-up shops, the company is also opening in outlet centers.  The Shops of Grand River in Leeds, Alabama will be the site of the company’s newest location.


- According to a study by RightNow, consumers will pay more for a superior customer experience.  In fact, 85% of those surveyed say they would pay more over standard prices for such an experience.  More than half would actually pay 10% or greater.  55% of consumers have also become customers of a particular brand because of that brand’s customer service reputation.  With costs on the rise, we wonder if adding service back into the stores could be the answer to combating the increases.





Adidas Launches Signature Shoes for Rose and Howard - Adidas launched signature basketball shoes for NBA stars Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard. Rose, of the Chicago Bulls, will wear adidas adiZero Rose while Howard, of the Orlando Magic, will wear adidas Beast. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  With Nike pushing LeBron and Kobe, UA launching Brandon Jennings, Reebok betting on John Wall, it was only a matter of time before Adi got more visible with its basketball efforts.  Good for retailers, especially FL and FINL.


Adidas Expands its Partnership with Sennheiser - Audio specialist Sennheiser and sporting goods manufacturer adidas are extending their joint headphone line with the addition of the CX 680i Sports, MX 680i Sports, OMX 680i Sports and PMX 680i Sports models, designed for use with the iPhone. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  As technology and sport continue to blend, it’s no surprise that efforts continue to move forward to capitalize on the iPhone’s popularity.  Both Nike and Adi have long partnered with CE manufacturers to co-brand products including headphones and mp3 players.


Shape-ups Campaign to Star Karl Malone - Skechers USA, Inc. announced that the company is launching a series of Shape-ups fitness footwear television spots starring NBA basketball legend Karl Malone along with guest star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The spots follow Shape-up commercials featuring NFL legend Joe Montana. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  We wonder if SKX is having trouble finding athletes that are actually still playing or if this marks a clear targeting effort towards 40+ year old men?  Upon further review, it’s likely the latter.  Either way, we still believe the men’s formula will be far tougher to crack given that competition for the male wallet is entrenched with the traditional sporting goods brands rooted in authenticity.


KCP Ends Women's Sportswear Collection Licensing Agreement Early - Kenneth Cole Productions has ended its five-year licensing agreement with Bernard Chaus Inc. for the Kenneth Cole New York women’s sportswear collection, effective June 1, and will take the line in-house.The Chaus agreement was scheduled to expire in June 2012. KCP claims the move was strategic, bringing women’s sportswear in-house to leverage existing capabilities and build their women’s business. Kenneth Cole has been designing, developing and sourcing women’s sportswear in-house for the product that is sold in its own stores, outlets and online. The Kenneth Cole New York collection, developed by Chaus, was primarily geared to department and specialty stores such as Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s and Belk, with some carried in Kenneth Cole stores. Kenneth Cole will start making all the women’s merchandise, beginning with the fall 2011 season. Chaus will manufacture and market the line through spring 2011. Going forward, the entire Kenneth Cole New York collection will be under the design supervision of Ingo Wilts, senior vice president, creative director of Kenneth Cole. <wwd.com/retail-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:    This likely has as much to do with Chaus’ struggles as it does with going on offense to “own” the women’s sportswear collection.  Either way, this will not be an easy task.


Volcom to Distribute in Spain - Volcom, Inc. intends to directly distribute the company's products in Spain having acquired strategic assets from its current distributor in the region. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Looks like VLCM is on track for a traditional global expansion effort, one which eventually buys back distributorships after the seeds have been planted in a particular region.


Another Revamp For Sears.com - For a second time this year, the e-commerce site gets a new look, this time with a fresh logo and increased emphasis on user-generated content. The retailer also has launched a service that enables shoppers to see ratings and reviews and create a public profile. <internetretailer.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Facebook married with Sears?  Even that won’t help stem the market share losses. 


Modell's Launches Winter Shops - Modell's Sporting Goods launched their first ever Winter Shop to be featured in each of the chain's 146 stores this holiday season. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Smart move to finally put all the fleece, hats, gloves, and outerwear all in one place.  In the past, product was dispersed within each brand pad, making shopping for seasonal gear more difficult and time consuming.


FiveFingers YouAreTheTechnology.com Named Site of the Day - FWA (Favorite Website Awards) awarded Vibram FiveFingers' YouAreTheTechnology microsite with the coveted Site of the Day award. The site illustrates the "naked truth" about running, by underscoring the power and 'natural technology' of the human body. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: The barefoot running shoe is gaining traction and a killer website certainly helps. This website explores the naked truth, literally… http://www.youarethetechnology.com/


NBA Bans Shoe on Claims of Enhanced Performance - For the first time in its 64-year history, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has banned a new line of shoes based on the league's rule against an "unfair competitive advantage" that increases a player’s vertical leap. The league’s ban on Athletic Propulsion Labs' Concept 1 confirms the company’s claims that the shoe, with its Load ‘N Launch™ Technology, performs as advertised. No professional player will be allowed to wear the product in games for the upcoming 2010-2011 NBA season. Prior to the ban, the Concept 1 shoe had already attracted the interest of NBA players, including a raft of rookies, some of whom have tested them in non-NBA settings. Retailing for $300, the shoes continue to be sold primarily through APL’s website, and the company is exploring a potential expansion into select athletic footwear and sporting goods retailers. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: At $300 this specialty shoe isn’t a mass market product, but with its shoes now banned by the NBA, it’s time for Athletic Propulsion Labs to find new applications – we may have another player in the toning category before long here and one with credible technology.


Outdoor Sales Slow to Recover, Slight Uptick - Rebounding slightly from a stagnant August, outdoor product retail sales growth increased at a snail’s pace in September, tied to still-warm weather patterns, lingering weakness in the economy and continued lack of consumer confidence.  <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Despite an unseasonably warm September and tough comps in October, a cold snap lead to a 44% increase in outdoor sales in the first week of October. With Outdoor Outerwear up +35% again last week, Q4 is off to a strong start – something we’re likely to receive confirmation of on VFC’s Q3 call tomorrow.


Eurozone Retail Headwinds - Transport strikes in Paris and London this month have not only brought misery to thousands of commuters, but reflect widespread public anxiety about the impact of government measures to stem ballooning budget deficits. Economists predict the austerity measures being implemented across the Eurozone will dampen household morale throughout the second half, causing consumer spending to slow — although the majority think a double-dip recession is unlikely. The prospect of widespread public sector spending cuts has already begun to send shivers through the U.K. retail sector, while French households are struggling to emerge from the doldrums despite brightening job prospects. Repeated strikes in France risk further harm to an already tepid retail outlook. As consumers head into the crucial holiday spending season, growth in Germany, the currency area’s biggest economy, is far outstripping that of debt-laden peripheral countries like Spain, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Greece. <wwd.com/business-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: At best, these strikes are a multi-day disruption, but could have lasting effects on the Eurozone as consumer confidence deteriorates. Our expectation for a downturn in consumer spending domestically in the 2H does not impact the U.S. alone.


Shoppers Take a Nonlinear Path to Purchase - A lingering recession, coupled with consumers’ rapid adoption of digital tools, has inexorably altered shopping behavior in categories like groceries, home electronics, apparel and quick-service restaurants. Consumers engage with a variety of digital platforms as they research small and large purchases, when they’re in physical stores and during post-shop activities such as product reviews and referrals. Further, the path to purchase is increasingly nonlinear, according to the findings of a global retail study conducted by Microsoft Advertising and Carat. The study, conducted in March 2010, examined how the recession has changed shoppers’ purchasing habits and how different media touchpoints affect consumer shopping behavior, including the way people learn about, research and discuss their purchase decisions. This shift has altered the traditional purchase funnel whereby marketers move consumers from awareness to sales to include digital media. For example, consumers may first learn about a product based on a tweet from a friend or a post on a social network, then go online via computer or smartphone to research the product, search for the product and consult product reviews.  <emarketer.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: As e-commerce sites evolve, consumers can now act on referral based leads, compare price and rifle shoot purchasing more than ever – a much improved process relative to the old shotgun approach. The shift of the ‘traditional purchase funnel’ has likely changed for good.




TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP - October 20, 2010

As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 15 points or -0.93% downside to 1155 and 0.35% upside to 1170. Equity futures are trading above fair value and close to session peaks as markets recover some of their poise in the wake of yesterday's decline.


Earnings remain a key focus this morning, while the Beige Book will provide the main economic focus.

  • Cree (CREE) 2Q sales forecast missed est.
  • Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) 3Q rev. missed est.
  • Juniper Networks (JNPR) 4Q sales, adj. EPS may beat est. 
  • Stryker (SYK) 2010 EPS forecast exceeds est., raises FY EPS bottom end forecast
  • Western Digital (WDC) 1Q adj. EPS beat est.
  • Yahoo! (YHOO) forecast 4Q sales below est.


  • One day: Dow (1.48%), S&P (1.59%), Nasdaq (1.76%), Russell 2000 (2.25%)
  • Month/Quarter-to-date: Dow +1.77%, S&P +2.16%, Nasdaq +2.88%, Russell +2.66%
  • Year-to-date: Dow +5.28%, S&P +4.56%, Nasdaq +7.39%, Russell +10.99%
  • Sector Performance: Materials (2.56%), Energy (1.99%), , Healthcare (1.88%), Consumer Disc (1.81%), Tech (1.77%), Industrials (1.33%), Financials (1.39%), Consumer Spls (1.22%), Utilities 0.19%.


  • ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: -1977 (-2961)
  • VOLUME: NYSE - 1271.64 (+27.65%)
  • MARKET LEADING/LAGGING STOCKS YESTERDAY: Massey Energy +4.98%, Capital One +4.11% and Parker Hannifin +3.67%/Supervalue -14.92%, Harley Davidson -6.74% and Urban Outfitters -6.12%.
  • VIX: 20.63 +8.41% - YTD PERFORMANCE: (-4.84%)
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: 1.46 from 1.45 +0.86%


  • TED SPREAD: 15.66 -0.265 (-1.664%)
  • 3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: 0.14% -0.01%  
  • YIELD CURVE: 2.13 from 2.14


  • CRB: 292.98 -1.93%
  • Oil: 79.49 -4.32% - BULLISH
  • COPPER: 375.75 -2.53% - OVERBOUGHT
  • GOLD: 1,341.00 -2.21% - BULLISH


  • EURO: 1.3812 -1.27% - BULLISH
  • DOLLAR: 77.752 +1.62%  - BEARISH



European markets:

  • FTSE 100: +0.33%; DAX +0.19%; CAC 40 +0.21%
  • Major indices have reversed opening losses to trade in the black helped by a recovery in financials and firmer metals prices which has helped drive mining shares higher.
  • BASF (BAS.GR) hiked its 2010 forecasts.
  • UK BoE minutes show MPC split on QE, Chancellor Osborne to give a statement on Spending Review.
  • German Govt forecasts growth of +3.4% in 2010 and +1.8% in 2011
  • Germany Sep PPI +3.9% y/y vs cons +3.8%

Asian markets:

  • Nikkei (1.65%); Hang Seng (0.87%); Shanghai Composite +0.07%
  • Regional markets closed lower, with metals and resources stocks leading declines on China’s interest-rate hike.
  • China reversed an initial 1.8% drop to close in positive territory, though property stocks showed substantial losses.
  • Blue chips traded lower in Japan, and China-related stocks fell significantly as all 33 sectors fell.
  • Gold miners fell in Australia on lower prices 
Howard Penney
Managing Director

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - outlook image













China's Team

“Leadership is getting someone to do what they don't want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.”

-Tom Landry


Per our friends at Wikipedia, “the term America’s Team is a popular nickname in American sports that often refers to the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. The nickname originated with the team’s 1978 highlight film, where the narrator opens with the following introduction:”


“They appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, America's Team."


Tom Landry was the accountable leader and coach of America’s team. His teams won 2 Super Bowls, 5 NFC titles, and 13 Divisional titles and his 20 career playoff wins are still the most ever by an NFL coach. Ever, as we like to say at Hedgeye, is a very long time…


This year, America’s Team looks like it’s being coached by Ben Bernanke. The Dallas Cowboys have started the season at 1-4. Leadership is lacking and teams playing against them aren’t going to quantitatively ease what they want to achieve in spite of them.


Who is China’s Team? Who are their leaders playing for? Are they willing to do what they need to do to achieve what they want to achieve? Yesterday, China’s Team continued to do exactly what a politicized and feeble American leadership team has not, and will not, have the spine to do – respect the cost of capital and fight inflation.


China raised interest rates because they see what we see. It’s priced in copper, corn, and cows. Until yesterday, it was all staring every real-time risk manager in the face. Before yesterday’s -2% selloff, the CRB Commodities Index (a basket of 19 commodities) hit a fresh YTD high. The score is a stickler that way. It doesn’t lie; politicians do.


Yesterday morning, as Wall Street’s latest leadership lemming was talking about the “power of the franchise” at Bank of America while his stock was hitting a fresh 52-week low, I started laughing out loud in my office…


I wasn’t laughing because my Managing Director of Financials, Josh Steiner, has had me short BAC 9 times (profitably) since late 2009. I was laughing at Brian Moynihan like I would any coach or player who seriously has no idea how badly he is losing.


As the day progressed and the US stock market selloff picked up momentum, breaking a critical immediate term TRADE line of support (1170 on the SP500), it was hard to discern which factor was the driving force…

  1. Was it Apple?
  2. Was it Gold?
  3. Was it Bank of America?

Or was it fear that China’s Team was providing some leadership to this global economic system by doing something that US-centric stock market investors didn’t want them to do? China doesn’t want to hold the bag of inflation risk associated with Bernanke’s Quantitative Guessing.


Notwithstanding that the fear of raising interest rates is a narrative fallacy unique to CNBC watchers (Chinese stocks closed up overnight on news of their rate hike, fyi), this morning’s manic media in America will be right back at it beating the drum of losers.


In yesterday’s missive I wrote that America’s markets are turning into the sort of soft and qualitative excuse making zones where losers find comfort and coddling.


Read these two headlines this morning and you tell me – are we winners or losers?

  1. “Bank of America says it is not responsible for the poor performance of loans due to the bad economy” –CNBC
  2. “Dollar weakens on prospects of Fed officials to signal easing” –Bloomberg

Sadly, I think we have completely lost touch with what America’s Team should stand for. Whether it’s total abdication of responsibility from an Investment Banking Inc. CEO or a Blind Belief that Big Government Intervention is the only way out – it’s driving the winners in this country to trust China’s Team more than they trust their own.


Do you blame them? At the same time that Chinese, Brazilian, and Australian central bankers were proactively addressing inflation risk, the President of the Chicago Fed (Evans), who has never seen a commodity price go up that he’d call inflationary, was “reiterating his belief that the Fed should reassess how it measures inflation.” America, this is embarrassing. Flat out embarrassing.


After waiting and watching, we re-shorted America’s stock market team (SPY) last Wednesday, October 13th at 11:54AM EST. We shorted its conflicted and compromised currency (UUP) on Monday, June 7th at 3:38PM EST.


The losers in this country can call what my team does whatever they want – we call it being on the winning side of this leadership mess. We are Hedgeye Risk Management and we support this message.


My immediate term support and resistance lines for the SP500 are now 1155 and 1170, respectively. On weakness yesterday, we added another 3% to the long Germany (EWG) position in the Hedgeye Asset Allocation Model. Germany’s Team is winning too.


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

China's Team - china

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The Macau Metro Monitor, October 20th 2010


In the first nine months of 2010, Macau’s total public revenue (not including autonomous agencies) rose by 37.3% to MOP55.82 billion (US$7 billion).  Direct taxes from gaming was up by 60.5% to MOP 46.56 billion.  A fiscal surplus of MOP31.91 billion was recorded in the first nine months of 2010, up by 56.7% as compared with the same period last year.


As we wrote last week, we expect a sizeable Q3 beat out of PENN tomorrow. In preparation for the PENN Q3, we’ve put together the pertinent forward looking commentary from the Q2 earnings release/call and subsequent conferences.


Post Earnings Conference Commentary

  • We’ve got some properties doing exceptionally well, mostly surrounding table games, but other than that, I would say that the consumer is still struggling. And we don’t forecast for next year that, that’s going to change, well at least, we’re going to operate under the assumption that the consumer is going to continue to spend at the current levels of their spending at, and knock on wood, they don’t actually struggle anymore.”
  • “We are very happy with what’s happening with table games in West Virginia, and we know that these percentages will be coming down. So, next year, I don’t believe we’ll have any property north of 20% of our EBITDA.”
  • “Our table games went live in July, it’s been just a staggering success. We’ve been incredibly happy with the results in Charles Town.  Normally, we estimated our table games play to be a function of what our slots revenues were, and candidly, our best property before this was Lawrenceburg and Charles Town. I think Lawrenceburg was in the 15% range, and Charles Town has been averaging somewhere around 25%.”
  • “Penn National’s results have been very good.”
  • “We now own two of the racetracks in Ohio. It’s a bit of a hedge. We’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen with VLTs in Ohio. At this point, it doesn’t look like anything is going to happen before the election. And quite candidly, we think it’s going to be obviously a more focused discussion post-election time”
  • “Our view on Texas is, it is, we believe, very likely that gaming will come to Texas – I don’t know if it’s very likely, certainly north of 50%. And we want to be a part of it. And we wanted to be a part of it from -- in a way that gave us standing to participate in the process.”
  • “If gaming does come to Texas, it’s our belief that it will almost undoubtedly – if gaming comes, we’ll undoubtedly include gaming at the racetrack. That doesn’t mean that they won’t have other standalone facilities in the state, but we are convinced that if they do in fact come up with a measure in Texas for gaming, that tracks would be included.”
  • “It also gives us the ability to have standing in terms of being able to lobby in the State of Texas with credibility; that’s incredibly important.”
  • [Perryville] “Our margins are clearly going to be challenged somewhere in the low-to-mid-teens perhaps potentially we can do a little better for a while. But I think that’s probably closer to where we’re thinking.”
  • “Relative to guidance, nothing has changed.”


Q2 Conference Call:

  • “I guess I could characterize our business as, well, not wonderful but it’s stable and there are some bright spots that we will highlight further through our presentation.”
  • “We’re still seeing the same kind of consumer trends that we saw in prior quarters. It hasn’t gotten any better; it hasn’t gotten any worse. As you look at the unemployment levels around the markets we operate in and you look at the housing prices, I mean we’re still seeing softness on both of those macroeconomic fronts and it’s reflective in our consumer.”

Li-Ning: Picking up the Pace


“Discovering the enemy's dispositions and remaining invisible ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated, while the enemy's must be divided.” – Sun Tzu



If U.S. based athletic footwear and apparel branded companies aren’t familiar with the ancient Chinese military general and author of The Art of War quoted above, we suggest they pick up a copy – perhaps then Li-Ning’s strategy wouldn’t be such a mystery. Since opening its design office in Nike’s back yard back in January 2008, China’s largest athletic footwear company has taken a methodical and understated approach to entering the U.S. athletic footwear/apparel market – this week’s launch of the company’s first lightweight running shoe is no different. Likely positive for retailers like FL, FINL, DKS and HIBB in the intermediate-term, potentially more competitive for NKE and UA long-term.


Given Li-Ning’s more public efforts over the past 2-months, we’ve taken a step back to put its development in context – consider the following:

  • Consistent with prior launches, partnerships, and corporate developments, Li-Ning officially launched the lightweight Freemont running shoe yesterday unbeknownst to just about everyone. While not the first foray into running (the F2 Runner launched in August), the Freemont confirms Li-Ning is both serious about entering the category and a legitimate innovator of technical footwear. The Freemont weighs ~7 ounces (nearly 15% lighter than Nike’s Free) and the F2 Runner features molded foam construction (think Crocs-like material, not look). We expect future launches to be similarly covert.
  • Li-Ning is no longer just a foreign-based basketball brand. With the addition of running, the company is quickly building out its product portfolio. There is talk of a lifestyle collaboration with NBA’er Baron Davis and along with other ‘off-the-court’ offerings.  Recall that Baron Davis is one of the higher profile endorsers of the brand beginning this season, along with rookie Evan Turner.  Similar to its approach in basketball, we anticipate additional high profile athlete endorsements in the coming months to promote new category extensions – stay tuned.
  • With an inherent low-cost structural advantage stemming from manufacturing assets and a low cost of capital, Li-Ning may actually have cost advantage on its domestic competition.  So far, product has been introduced at low-to-moderate price points. With basketball shoes selling from $65-$100 and the F2 Runner at $59.99, we wonder what happens if the company ups the ante with premium/technical offering at prices well below the current $100-$160 premium price point norms?  This point becomes more relevant as the brand does.
  • Few appreciate the size of Li-Ning and therefore, the backing behind these initiatives – the company reported sales of $1.3Bn USD in FY09 growing at a 2-year CAGR of ~40%. With roughly a 50/50 split between footwear and apparel revenues, the company’s footwear business is nearly 5x that of Under Armour by comparison. More importantly, besides having an R&D budget likely exceeding UA’s, the brand’s footwear heritage, team, and existing China infrastructure should enable it to test and adjust to underperforming initiatives rapidly.
  • Lastly, new product extensions are positive for domestic athletic footwear retailers. Given its existing exclusive relationship with FL’s Champ’s division in basketball (the Baron Davis line is exclusive), we expect Foot Locker to be a primary beneficiary of future develpments. It’s important to note, that the company is currently targeting specialty run shops for its new lightweight shoe. The key here remains how the brand ultimately decides to tier product by channel, with a clear differentiation between price points, technical features, and design. With it’s first foray into the market at sub-premium price points, we suspect price is being used a way to entice consumer trials.  Over time however, the jury is still out as to where the brand may sit on the shoe wall at any given retailer.

After studying its competition for more than 2-years now, Li-Ning is taking precise steps to enter select markets, which so far include basketball, running footwear, and compression apparel (they just acquired a high-end UA like compression company based in Australia) – for now. While the company has done a commendable job in staying largely ‘invisible’ to its competition, the accelerating product/event timeline below suggests the competitive threat on domestic soil is mounting.



Li-Ning: Freemont

Li-Ning: Picking up the Pace - LiNing Running 2 10 19 10


Li-Ning: F2 Runner

Li-Ning: Picking up the Pace - LiNing Running 1 10 19 10


Li-Ning: Picking up the Pace - LiNing USTimeline 10 19 10


Casey Flavin


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20 Proprietary Risk Ranges

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