Bankruptcy Code Section 4:20. Just kidding...the bankruptcy code isn't available for folks who make money off of weed.
Busted Tech. Answers.com takes a stray bullet in this piece about IAC's plans to shut down About.com. The fact that About.com has actually still been running this whole time renders us - yes, even us - speechless. Meanwhile, more busted tech is coming...soon. On the flip side, Quora is now a unicorn so who the hell really knows?
Canada. Housing is looking like an oncoming disaster - particularly in Toronto - and blood is appearing in the water.
Casual Dining. Quietly, a NYC mainstay is disappearing.
Dead Malls/Investing. David Simon's optimism notwithstanding (see above), everyone is all over the "short the malls" thesis - now even extending it to the "A Malls" that, prior to recently, were generally considered to be impervious to this retail malaise (note: there's over $1b of short interest on SPG currently). And this guy from Alder Hill Management LP is the poster child. (Let us know if you want his report: PETITION has it.) Some are throwing shade all over this hype. Finally, according to this, maybe we should all be doing a better job to ensure that algorithmic shopping doesn't gain more ground and malls actually DO survive.
Oil & Gas. Nothing like a good old corruption allegation that embroils multiple law firms and a private equity shop to help push a company (here, Cobalt International Energy) closer to bankruptcy (paywall).
Oil & Gas II. Wait. So now we're at an oil and gas deficit?!
Retail II (Jamming like a Boss). While Gibson Brands was able to refinance its debt and push out issues, Guitar Center is looking increasingly troubled. Given that the company is private equity-owned, undoubtedly there is an over-leverage story here (like with all other PE-owned retail), but we wonder whether the show-room trend is particularly applicable to this kind of business. We asked our artsy friends and one of them openly admitted to strapping in at the local GC and then purchasing on Amazon. The pricing was the same and he didn't have to worry about lugging it home. We find the in-store lessons narrative dubious as well. There are countless online resources for learning guitar - YouTube, most notably. Meanwhile, we enjoyed this decidedly millennial take on the death of retail.
Retail (Canadian Lumber Edition). Kidding, more like Canadian cashmere. Washable cashmere company Kit and Ace is restructuring in an additional acknowledgement that brick-and-mortar retail is tough - even if you're a VERY proven founder of successful apparel companies (in this case, Lululemon). Choice quote within: "Really it was just another store." Something tells us "Just another store" won't be part of the restructured company's marketing strategy.
Solar. SunEdison. Sungevity. Suniva. Verengo. SolarCity. Okay, just kidding about the last one but who knows what would've happened sans Elon Musk's Tesla/Solarcity merger shenanigans. Now Heliopower. We know many of you know the solar story: too much subsidy, too much debt, flooded supply from China pressuring margins, yadda yadda yadda. But we wonder if any of you have a notion with respect to a potential successful business model. We're serious: we're crowdsourcing your view here...
Taxis. Calling for a bailout.
The Profit. That's what Marcus Lemonis calls his CNBC show and now we'll get to see whether he can make some with the Camping World-led purchase of select portions of the Gander Mountain business in bankruptcy.
Fast Forward (Beauty). Uh oh. We noted last week that beauty category has been largely e-commerce resistant. Well, maybe not.
Rewind I (Bueller, Bueller). Get on with it already. Takata has become the new Westinghouse. Lots of noise. Just a matter of when. And, shocker! iHeartMedia's proposed subscription service with Napster - YES, NAPSTER - hasn't helped generate enough revenue to counteract $20b of debt.
Rewind II (Literally): We are as guilty as anyone hyping up the potential of autonomous cars but if anything is indicative of the wholesale difficulty to achieve 100% adoption, it's this piece about surviving Blockbuster franchises. Suffice it to say, there won't be driverless cars rocking the streets of Alaska anytime soon.
Rewind III (Shipping): We all know that the shipping industry hasn't been immune to its fair share of troubles the past year or so. Notably, Hanjin, Toisa, Daewoo, Ezra, and International Shipholding have all seen themselves in bankruptcy court. And, of course, Algeco Scotsman restructured as did Modular Space Corporation, as container companies, naturally, have also felt the effects. So, we thought this use case for surplus modular containers was interesting and we're dying for one of our readers in, say, Texas, to get one of these and report back.
Rewind IV (Apologies...More on the Retail Apocalypse): Last week we highlighted Jeff Jordan's early 2014 call on retail. Subsequently, he dove into the mall scene: you can read it here. The below excerpt should be particularly interesting to PETITION readers as we've been saying for some time that restructuring pros who continue to claim that Bonobos and Warby Parker will fill the retail void are, quite plainly, making a$$es out of themselves. As are, quite notably, REIT CEOs. Nothing has changed since JJ wrote this...
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FROM THE PAST THREE WEEKS (PLAYING CATCH-UP EDITION)
- Distressed Investing Hindsight. Avaya. Phone systems? Who would've guessed this could go wrong? Psssst: don't tell anyone but apparently Avaya and Goodman Networks are apparently in 30-day grace periods.
- Fintech. Cracks in P2P lending by way of bankruptcy (Argon Credit).
- Fraud. Theranos announced that it's letting go 41% of its work force - which we believe is a precursor to bankruptcy. Why file? To sell IP. If they actually even have any. And address litigation. Meanwhile, Snapchat, on the heals of a possible IPO, is being sued for misleading investors. Toss in ethical issues around Hampton Creek and others and we may start seeing some fraud-related bankruptcies a la 2001.
- Grocery. Is Kroger's buyout announcement another leading indicator of future distress?
- Media. Ev Williams, founder of Twitter and Medium, acknowledges that the ad-supported media model is broken while significantly cutting headcount. It seems that $150mm VC funding can't help produce a new business model.
- Retail. It looks like the Trump Job Preservation Tour forgot to schedule stops at KMart, Sears and Macy's (meanwhile Sears unloaded Craftsman and JC Penney shed its HQ). Next up: Kohl's? Ugly 20% drop after a nasty comp store sales drop and forecast cut. Apparently, omnichannel customers are the key to the riddle. Meanwhile, Amazon is sniffing around American Apparel (as is Forever 21, reportedly) and Boohoo is focused on Nasty Gal. Gap - mostly due to a 12% comp sales increase at Old Navy - showed positive signs while Neiman Marcus cancelled its IPO, a clear negative.
- Taxi Companies. Uber is the death of traditional taxi companies and new tech companies that support the taxi companies (Karhoo). Which means those companies must really suck since Uber burned $3b in '16.
- Wearables. Pebble. "Acquired." Vinaya. Bankrupt. Does someone want to raise us a Jawbone?
- Fast Forward: With Amazon and Apple in the mix, music streaming services are struggling to make money and Soundcloud may be the closest victim. Restructuring professionals will remember that Rdio already went through bankruptcy and sold to Pandora.
- Fast Forward II: Remember Exco?
- Rewind I: Platinum Partners. It's amazing how funds get away with this nonsense: 17% returns for 13 years.
- Rewind II: Athleisure. Financials-related Uh oh (Finish Line). And bankruptcy-related uh oh (Yogasmoga). But like most things, Amazon gives zero $&%s.
- Rewind III: Coal. Maybe Trump will help the "clean coal" industry after all. And yet solar continues to progress, as does wind (in the UK and elsewhere). Ps, $361 billion is an awfully large number. And now things are progressing on the storage side thanks to Elon Musk.
- Chart of the Week: