Today - Wednesday, December 11, 2013
1:37 PMRetail shopping traffic poor last week: ShopperTrak
- Brick-and-mortar retail sales fell 2.9% Y/Y for the week following Black Friday, according to ShopperTrak.
- The mark is less than impressive with the compact holiday shopping season supposed to make the comparable to last year a bit easier. Even worse, the consumer research firm reports a 21.6% drop in retail shopper traffic for the week of December 2 to December 8.
- Though post-Cyber Monday letdown, wintry weather, and an early Hanukkah played a factor in the poor retail sales week, forward momentum appears lacking with only two weeks left before Christmas.
- Related ETFs: XLP, XLY, VDC, XRT, VCR, RTH, PBJ, RETL, PEJ, IYK, FXG, IYC, SCC, FXD, RHS, UCC, PMR, UGE, RCD, PSL, PSCC, SZK, FDIS, FSTA, PSCD, PEZ.
1:20 PMGM wins case over medical benefits for old Delphi subsidiary
- General Motors (GM -0.3%) doesn't owe $450M in medical benefits for Delphi Automotive retirees which it contracted for before it filed for bankruptcy, according to a new ruling.
- Though GM won the case, the judge did hint that the automaker might have a "moral obligation" to make good on the payment.
1:02 PMHispanic networks make some noise
- The latest batch of TV viewing data for the week ending on December 1 reveals an interesting trend.
- Four of the eight highest rated shows on Rentrak's Stickiness Index are from Hispanic networks.
- Broadcasters Univision and Telemundo (CMCSA) both had two shows on the list.
- Related: Univision mulls over IPO.
12:35 PMAmazonFresh launches in San Francisco
- As rumored, the AmazonFresh (AMZN -0.7%) same-day/grocery delivery service is launching in San Francisco. The $299/year service, which launched in L.A. in June and has been in Amazon's hometown of Seattle for some time, promises same-day or early morning delivery for 500K+ items for $35+ orders.
- With high population density and per capita income levels, and a very tech-savvy customer base, S.F. is a logical expansion market for AmazonFresh, which has been dubbed a "Trojan horse" meant to underpin Amazon's same-day delivery efforts. An NYC launch might happen in 2014.
- Google and eBay have already launched same-day services in S.F. Unlike Amazon, both companies are relying on partnerships with retail chains.
12:25 PMGannett ticks up on UBS Conference revenue, EPS commentary
- Gannett (GCI +1.2%) shares tick up after management provides a strategic update at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference: "Based on the trends thus far in the quarter ... we are comfortable with the higher end of [a $0.63-$0.67 estimate] range," CFO Victoria Harker said.
- The company also provided an update on Q4 broadcasting revenue expectations, forecasting a 20% Y/Y decline after excluding an additional week in Q4 2012. The Q4 comparison was "challenged by a record level of political spending in the fourth quarter last year." Stripping out political spend, broadcasting revenue is expected to be 17% higher Y/Y.
- As was previously announced, Gannett will expand a pilot program that integrated USA Today into print and e-editions of 4 local newspapers and was "embraced enthusiastically by subscribers" to 35 markets in early 2014.
11:44 AMWho isn't testing drones?
- Deutsche Post's DHL successfully tested drone delivery of one of its packages at a facility in Germany, according to Slashdot.
- Though Amazon (AMZN -0.2%) started a little bit of a firestorm when CEO Jeff Bezos brazenly predicted drone delivery within four or five years, the approach of the delivery giants (FDX, UPS) has been more tempered and pivots on using them at distribution centers or on campuses as a cost-cutter - instead of dropping deliveries at doors.
- Analysts can't quite figure out where Bezos' head is on the drone issue (FAA, privacy, terrorism, scale vs trucks) other than thinking every billionaire is allowed a pet project or two.
11:18 AMDon't count out Barbie
- Retailers appears confident that Barbie dolls will see a large rise in demand this holiday season as they return to stocking the long-time favorite.
- The blonde dolls were the number one imported toy this year, according to a report on the contents of shipping containers entering the U.S.
- Barbie ended a streak of sales losses for Mattel (MAT -1.3%) in Q3 with a moderate 3% gain and could post an even better number in Q4.
11:08 AMJewelry companies try to engage NFL viewers
- An expected rise in weddings next year could be a nice gift for Signet (SIG -0.9%), Zales (ZLC -0.8%), and Blue Nile (NILE -0.8%). Wedding-watcher site TheKnot.com maintains a surprising number of couples waited out having a wedding date ending in a "13" due to superstitions.
- The companies are using advertisement during NFL football to pitch their case with grooms-to-be. TV spending for the jewelry sellers is expected to show big growth in Q4 with the NFL a large focus.
10:54 AMStrong luxury sector has a few cracks
- Though most signs have pointed to strong demand from luxury buyers this holiday season, there are a few concerns about the Henrys. The set of spenders known as "High Earners Not Rich Yet" could be peeling back a little bit.
- China-focused Tiffany (TIF -0.4%) and brand-strong Michael Kors (KORS -0.9%) are expected to skate through just fine - but Nordstrom (JWN -0.1%), Ralph Lauren (RL +0.6%), and Coach (COH -0.2%) could feel a Henry-pinch.
10:30 AMSpecialty apparel retailers draw P-E interest
- Winter jacket maker Canada Goose sold off a majority of its share to Bain Capital for an undisclosed amount.
- The development follows a move by higher-end rival Moncler to list shares on the Milan stock exchange.
- What to watch: Bain isn't the only P-E firm taking an interest in specialty apparel retail as a number of other companies have been snapped up. The prospect of building global lifestyle companies off of strong brands is starting to draw even more interest. The trend could set up well for some beat-up names such as Lands' End (SHLD), L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, and Coldwater Creek (CWTR).
10:15 AMHydrogen fuel cells vs. electric vehicles: Too early to call
- Toyota (TM -0.8%) remains positive on the prospect that falling costs of fuel cell batteries will help it make the segment the future of eco-friendly cars.
- The automaker sees selling 5K-10K units when the FCV Concept goes on sale in 2015.
- In the long-term, Toyota thinks fuel cell vehicles will be competitive on price against zero-emission cars. The automaker targets 2030 as a date mass-production will be in place by.
- What to watch: 2014 could see a ramping up of the rhetoric between Tesla Motors (TSLA -0.5%) and hydrogen fuel cell backers such as Toyota, Hyundai (HYMLF), and Mercedes-Benz (DDAIF). Most automobile industry analysts see the confrontation as really an engineering battle with development too early in the game to accurately predict a winner.
10:02 AMSmith & Wesson execs see strong industry trends
- Smith & Wesson (SWHC +5%) trades higher following its FQ2 report and early look at FQ3 projections.
- Execs with the company say they expected the big drop in November for NCIS background checks, a trend they see continuing through May of next year. They note the upcoming comparables run up against an enormous period of demand and they still see industry trends as positive.
- Related stocks RGR, CAB.
- Earnings call transcript
9:49 AMThe uneasy relationship between Amazon and discount-tracking sites
- A niche industry of Amazon (AMZN -0.4%) deal-watching sites has popped up to give consumers yet another crack at squeezing the e-commerce giant for deals.
- Sites such as Camelcamelcamel.com, Keepa.com, and Thetracktor.com will alert users via e-mail when items hit a certain price and have more detailed data than larger well-known coupon sites like DealNews and Slickdeals.
- How does Amazon react to the margins-squeezers? The company provides sales data directly to the sites and pays a referral fee for purchases made from them.
- Execs with the retail upstarts realize the uneasy relationship with Amazon might not go on forever, but they have a neat back-up plan: Track Wal-Mart's (WMT +0.2%) deals and prices.
9:25 AMThe NRF pushes for quick passage of budget deal
- The National Retail Federation issues a statement in which it says it approves of the early (relatively) short-term budget agreement in Congress. The organization says it urges a quick passage of the legislation.
- The retail industry faces a significant risk if a budget stalemate were to occur. A swipe of President Obama's pen on the spending bill could offer some late holiday season support to consumer sentiment.
- Related ETFs: XLY, XRT, VCR, RTH, RETL, IYK, IYC, SCC, FXD, UCC, PMR, UGE, RCD, FDIS, SZK, PEZ, PSCD
9:15 AMAnalysis: A Discovery Communications-Scripps deal is no sure thing
- Sterne Agee doesn't think Discovery Communications (DISCA) will end up buying Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI).
- The investment firm rates the chances of a deal at 10% with the Variety report perhaps overstating the level of interest by Discovery to buck up.
- SNI has peeled back some of its gains with some of the bloom off the rose, up 5.9% premarket.