Lots of Busted #Retail Narratives

Get em' a body bag. This is getting ugly. A few counter-narratives got napalmed this week in the retail space. It was a solid flameout, but, by the end of the week, there were some relative positives...

First, the narrative that discounted apparel retailers are doing just fine. Well BAM! Then The TJX Companies Inc. ($TJX) reported totally lackluster numbers for its T.J. Maxx and Marshall's brands. The floor fell out from under the stock in response. (To be fair, though, Ross Stores Inc. ($ROST) reported revenue and earnings growth though, still, at a slower pace).

Second, that "there will be winners from the bankruptcies." Well, that narrative got absolutely dumped on when Dick's Sporting Goods ($DKS) reported numbers. We're old enough to remember the bump that Dick's was supposed to get from The Sports Authority liquidation. Well, the stock got no such bump on its way to a 14% decline (though, there could be some credence to the argument that this is short term pain once the COB sales of recently liquidated competitors, e.g., Gander Mountain, end).

Can Super Hipster save the day? No, no, of course not. His jeans are too frikken tight...as evidenced by the bloodshed that was Urban Outfitters ($URBN) earnings report.

Okay, enough doom and gloom already: footwear is clearly safe. Wait. No. No its not. Foot Locker ($FL) reported and the stock immediately got pummeled. Apparently the white Adidas thing is over. Next?

Now, on the flip side, Target ($T) busted expectations favorably despite declining numbers across the board (other than a fairly meaningful increase in e-commerce); Ralph Lauren ($RL) exceeded pretty low expectations, though same stores sales comps declined 11%; Gap Inc. ($GPS) generally surprised all around and saw its stock rewarded. And then there was Walmart ($WMT). The behemoth reported growth in revenue and same store sales numbers and a KICKA$$ 63% sales growth figure for e-commerce (though this perhaps shows they were starting from virtually nothing).

Some narratives that DID hold: consumers don't want to spend discretionary income to be a walking billboard for brand. Apropos, American Eagle Outfitters' numbers were bloody. And women's specialty retail continues to be beaten down: Ascena Retail Group ($ASNA) - better known for brands like Dress Barn and Ann Taylor - offered horrible guidance and subsequently traded down 29%. Bon-Ton Stores showed same store sales down 8.8% and a net loss of nearly $60mm. Fresh off of getting a target painted on its back by the ratings agencies, big and tall men's apparel retailer Destination XL Group Inc. ($DXLG) announced some pretty bearish guidance. Finally, Florida-based department store Stein Mart Inc. ($SMRT) got OBLITERATED by the perfect storm of massive discounts and light foot traffic on its way to suspending its dividend and a massive stock plummet (though e-commerce showed improvement). 

Did you get all of that?

News for the Week of 12/04/16

Filings down this week so packing in the news...

  • Aeropostale. Cascading effect. American Eagle Outfitters blames Aeropostale's going-out-of-business sales for same store sales declines and lowered forward guidance. Seems, however, that the pain is more widespread than that: this week mall retailer Express Inc.'s stock got trounced after reporting YOY net and comp sales declines (silver lining: e-commerce sales were up 15%). E-commerce isn't immune to downtrends either: Bodybuilding.com laid off 90 workers this week with minority owner Ryan DeLuca stating the VERY obvious, "E-commerce is tough and getting tougher with competition from Amazon and thousands of others." 
  • Salus Capital. The zombie that was once Salus Capital is in the news again as it funds the Chapter 11 wind-down of Hampshire Group.
  • Sobey's. Another deadbeat (Canadian) grocer. Apparently the synergies expected from buying Safeway's Canadian stores haven't come to fruition.
  • Solar. A synopsis of the industry's convergence with restructuring and challenges that lay ahead.
  • Fast Forward: Many are now starting to call Uber's business model into question: an argument made easier by a $1.2b cash burn loss in the first six months of '16. 
  • Rewind I: Cosi Inc. was unable to find a new buyer, settling, in the end, on a $10mm sale to the original stalking horse bidder (including a credit bid).
  • Rewind II: Nasty Gal. If this report is true, there is something strangely disturbing about a company called "Boohoo" buying another called "Nasty Gal." 
  • Rewind III: Bennu Oil & Gas, LLC filed for Chapter 7 weeks after the involuntary chapter 11 filing against its subsidiary, Bennu Titan. Last week we discussed feasibility and the (seeming) proliferation of Chapter 22s. This story is too brutal to even be a 22.  
  • Chart of the Week: This International Energy Agency chart forecasts that we've reached peak oil demand. Still, tepid interest in Verengo Inc.'s SoCal solar assets (no bid topping stalking horse: effectively sold for credit bid).

Chart of the Week IINike. The sneaker manufacturer announced this week that it would skip conventional wholesale channels like Dicks Sporting Goods, Foot Locker and others and sell its self-tying $720 HyperAdapt sneakers BtoC via its Nike+ app and at the NYC retail store. Clearly, Nike is paying attention to these recent consumer trends: