Retail

  • 15 Jun
    U.S.-China trade war could really hurt WMT

    U.S.-China trade war could really hurt WMT

    This morning marked the opening of yet another chapter in the drama that is U.S. trade diplomacy. The Trump administration announced this morning that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin to collect tariffs on the first $34 billion worth of Chines imported goods on July 6. This is the next step in the implementation of duties first announced in March of this year on approximately 1,300 different finished goods imported to the U.S. by its largest trading partner. The final $16 billion of a proposed $50 billion total of tariffs is still under review.

    This is a clear escalation of the two nation’s ongoing trade dispute, and not surprisingly China responded quickly, saying that they will act quickly to “take necessary measures to defend our legitimate rights and interests.” They have previously threatened their own set of tariffs on a wide ranging list of U.S. product ranging from soybeans and meat to whiskey, airplanes and cars.



    It’s one thing to watch the news and listen to talking heads wring their hands and bemoan the negative effects that an extended trade war would have on economic growth. And that’s not to say that they’re wrong; over the long-term, a trade war could bleed into virtually every part of the U.S. economy. Keep in mind that virtually every kind of finished product uses steel or aluminum, which is the basis for the first round of tariffs that Trump first started talking about three months ago. The real question for the average American is where those negative effects are most likely to be seen hitting their wallet. I think one of the first, and most vulnerable places can be found not far from where you live. Walmart Inc. (WMT) sources 75% of its merchandise from China, and that puts one of the largest retailers in the country literally on the cutting edge of what is happening right now.

    This isn’t an unrealistic argument; one of the ways WMT has always differentiated itself from its competitors is as the low-cost leader for consumers. The longer a trade war takes to find a resolution, the more their costs on the vast majority of goods that fill their shelves are going to rise. As you’ll see below, WMT simply doesn’t have much ability to absorb those costs to keep them from passing through to their customers. That begs a question that only each customer can answer: if that item – whether it be a shirt, a power tool, a toy, or an electronic gadget – that you’re used to getting from WMT costs 25% or more than it used to, are you going to be more or less likely to buy it?

    Current consumer trends suggest that in the case of luxury items – say, an $80 shirt – a lot of consumers that are already willing to pay that much for a shirt will probably also pay $90 to $100 for the same item. That is usually less true when the conversation shifts instead to bargain-priced items, like a $20 shirt. That puts WMT in the very difficult position of watching its operating margins erode even more by absorbing increasing costs to keep sales high or pass those costs to their customers, who may simply choose not to make the same purchases they used to. Neither scenario works out very favorably for the company’s bottom line.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Walmart Inc., formerly Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is engaged in the operation of retail, wholesale and other units in various formats around the world. The Company offers an assortment of merchandise and services at everyday low prices (EDLP). The Company operates through three segments: Walmart U.S., Walmart International and Sam’s Club. The Walmart U.S. segment includes the Company’s mass merchant concept in the United States operating under the Walmart brands, as well as digital retail. The Walmart International segment consists of the Company’s operations outside of the United States, including various retail Websites. The Sam’s Club segment includes the warehouse membership clubs in the United States, as well as samsclub.com. The Company operates approximately 11,600 stores under 59 banners in 28 countries and e-commerce Websites in 11 countries. WMT has a current market cap of $246 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased by 14%, while sales grew a little over 4%. It’s hard for a company to grow earnings faster than sales, and generally not sustainable over time. I do take the difference, however as a good sign that management is doing a good job of maximizing their business operations. Diving a little deeper, however provides a good look at the reason you should be concerned about increasing costs from tariffs on Chinese goods. As of the company’s last earnings report, WMT had more than $500 billion in revenue, with net income of almost $9 billion. Net income is calculated by subtracting the costs of doing business from revenues, which it means it provides the baseline for the earnings per share number you and I use to measure a stock’s profitability. Comparing net income to total revenues gives you an idea about what kind of profit margin the company is working with. For WMT, that number is only 1.77%, a very low number that implies they work with very narrow operating margins.
    • Operating Trends: WMT has been doing a great job of growing revenues, and since late 2014 they’ve grown from about $470 billion to their current level of a little over $500 billion. Over the same period, the reverse is true about their net income, which has dropped more than 50% from a high a little above $17 billion to just under $9 billion currently. That negative trend is also reflected in the decline of net income as percentage of revenue, which was about 3.6% at the end of 2013 but, as already observed is now only 1.77%. The company’s margins have already been under considerable pressure for some time, which further bolsters the argument they just don’t have a lot of wiggle room to work with.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is .46, which is low and should generally be quite manageable. WMT has also done a good job decreasing their total long-term debt since the first quarter of 2014, from more than $45 billion to a current level of about $29.4 billion.
    • Dividend: WMT pays an annual dividend of $2.08 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 2.49% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for WMT is $26.44 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 3.15. This is below the industry average, which is 4.0, but inline with the stock’s historical average, which to me suggests the stock is fairly value right now, with limited upside potential in the long-term.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

    • Current Price Action: The stock has declined from a high around $110 in January to its current level around $83. That’s a drop of more than 25%, which at first blush might look pretty good for a stock that a lot of value investors would say has a lot of stickiness; that is, they will continue to generate high revenues even if a healthy economy begins to struggle, because consumers will continue to spend their money there. That is a true statement when it comes to WMT, but as observed above, I think the risk comes from what will happen as their costs increase. Will they continue to generate attractive profits, or will their margins erode? The risk is much higher they will erode.
    • Trends and Pivots: I’ve drawn two lines to illustrate where I think the stock’s real downside lies right now. The horizontal red line is just below the stock’s current level at about $82 and appears to be acting as good support right now. The horizontal blue line is drawn at the stock’s multi-year low, which was reached in February of last year at around $66. The red bidirectional arrow emphasizing the $16 per share difference between the stock’s current price and that low point is, I think a clear indication of investor risk right now. That’s a downside risk of just a little less than 20% right now. I also see little reason – fundamental or technical – to suggest the stock should reverse the intermediate-term downward trend anytime soon, which means that risk right now is much higher than any potential reward.
    • Near-term Keys: Watch the stock’s movement carefully over the next few days. A move to $90 would mark a reversal the intermediate trend’s downward strength and would act as a good signal point for a good bullish trade, either by buying the stock or working with call options. On the other hand, a drop below $82 would mark a major support break, with a drop to the aforementioned $66 level likely before any new significant support is reached.


  • 12 Jun
    Why Best Buy (BBY) is more like a “bust buy” right now for investors

    Why Best Buy (BBY) is more like a “bust buy” right now for investors

    We all love seeing stocks go up. When a stock’s upward trend lasts for several months, a year, or more, that movement usually translates to big-profit, “home run” trades for those who had the sense to jump in early. BBY is a great example of exactly that kind of trade. It’s a stock that, as of this writing is trading only a few dollars per share away from its all-time high and has more than doubled in price over the last two years. If you weren’t one of those fortunate few who saw the opportunity to get in two years ago, but you saw the strength of the stock’s long-term trend, you’d probably be tempted to consider buying in. The question is, how much opportunity is left, and how much risk do you have be willing to accept for whatever upside remains? Let’s take a look.

    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Best Buy Co., Inc. is a provider of technology products, services and solutions. The Company offers products and services to the customers visiting its stores, engaging with Geek Squad agents, or using its Websites or mobile applications. It has operations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Company operates through two segments: Domestic and International. The Domestic segment consists of the operations in all states, districts and territories of the United States, under various brand names, including Best Buy, bestbuy.com, Best Buy Mobile, Best Buy Direct, Best Buy Express, Geek Squad, Magnolia Home Theater, and Pacific Kitchen and Home. The International segment consists of all operations in Canada and Mexico under the brand names, Best Buy, bestbuy.com.ca, bestbuy.com.mx, Best Buy Express, Best Buy Mobile and Geek Squad. As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated 1,200 large-format and 400 small-format stores throughout its Domestic and International segments. BBY’s market cap is $20.6 billion.



    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings decreased by about 36%, while sales grew modestly. It’s generally difficult for a company to grow earnings faster than sales, and in the long term can’t be expected to continue, but it is also a positive sign of management’s ability to maximize their business operations.
    • Free Cash Flow: Free Cash Flow has declined since the first quarter of 2017 but remains healthy at more than $1.3 billion over the past twelve months.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is .23, a very low number that is very positive, especially when the norm for the industry is about three times higher. While operating profits are more than adequate to service debt, their total cash and liquid assets also exceed their total long-term debt by more than 4x.
    • Dividend: BBY pays an annual dividend of $1.80 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 2.43% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for BBY is $12.13 per share. This number has declined in every quarter from a peak at around 15 at the beginning of 2017. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 6.09. The industry average is higher, at a little over 12, but their historical average is only 2.9, which means the stock is trading twice as high as it has historically done from a valuation standpoint. At par with that historical average, the stock’s price would be only $35, which I think underscores the kind of risk investors who want to jump in now could be exposed to.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

    • Current Price Action: Over the last week or so, BBY rallied strongly off of support at around $69 per share. The stock’s all-time highs were reached a little below $80 just last month, followed by a rapid sell off that drove the stock down to its latest pivot low. It is showing strong momentum at the moment as it fills the gap that came when the stock dropped from a bit above $75 to below $71 on an overnight basis late last month. That momentum is likely to be tested between $75 and $76.
    • Trends and Pivots: I’ve drawn two diagonal lines to illustrate the shift in the stock’s intermediate trend. The blue dotted line represents the trend up to the stock’s mid-May drop. Before that point, the trend provided good support that helped the stock rally to its January high and even establish a new all-time high price at nearly $80 per share; however the stock’s drop at the end of the month below that line, with new pivot low support at around $69, forced a redraw of that trend, illustrated by the dotted green line. The more gradual angle of that line implies a weakening of the intermediate trend, and a break below that support point would mark a major trend reversal that should see the stock drop to at least $62 before finding new support. The horizontal orange line at around $75 indicates where I think the stock is likely to find its next resistance point, and the red horizontal line is near the stock’s all-time highs. In order to extend the stock’s long-term trend further, it would need to break this level. For the time being, this is also where I believe the stock’s maximum foreseeable upside is. That puts the potential upside right now at $7, with downside at $11. That’s a reward: risk ratio of .63:1; smart traders and investors look for this ratio to be 2.5 or 3:1 at minimum.
    • Near-term Keys: Watch the stock’s movement carefully. If the stock manages to push above $80, it would establish new all-time highs and force a complete reevaluation of the reward: risk profile I just outlined. On the other hand, a break below $69 – which I believe is more likely – would see the stock drop as low as $62 per share in the near term, which might offer an attractive bearish trade, either by shorting the stock or using put options.


    By Thomas Moore Investiv Daily Retail
  • 16 Nov
    These Two Chinese Retail Giants Could Deliver HUGE Returns

    These Two Chinese Retail Giants Could Deliver HUGE Returns

    • I’ve created simple models that estimate future earnings and stock price potential for two of China’s biggest retailers, JD.com and Alibaba.
    • In addition to their potential, we’ll also discuss their risks.
    • I recommend checking out yesterday’s article about the Chinese e-commerce market before jumping into today’s.



    Introduction

    Yesterday we discussed the Chinese retail environment and discussed what to look for when searching for a good investment.

    Today, I’ll dig deeper into specific investments in order to apply my theory. I’ll dig into the biggest Chinese e-commerce players, look at what the real value they offer is at current prices, and look at the risks and rewards at this point in time. More →

  • 15 Nov
    Want To Invest In The Next Amazon? Look To China

    Want To Invest In The Next Amazon? Look To China

    • The Chinese e-commerce environment has been booming and is expected to continue to do so.
    • I’ll describe the most important trends to look for in potential investments.
    • It’s highly likely that a rising tide will raise many boats, but run when it shifts.



    Introduction

    E-commerce has been developing the world over in the past 20 years, and the clear winner in the game has been Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). AMZN’s stock performance has also been stellar. More →

    By Sven Carlin China Investiv Daily Retail
  • 30 Oct
    They May Be Cheap, But Don’t Buy Retail Stocks Now – Here’s Why

    They May Be Cheap, But Don’t Buy Retail Stocks Now – Here’s Why

    • Don’t look at past figures and expect them to suddenly reappear. Retail is a tough business with tight margins.
    • Retailers have experienced a margin decline recently. But there’s still plenty of room for them to fall further and the situation may get really ugly.
    • Some will win, but who can identify the winners now?



    Introduction

    Retail stocks keep getting cheaper and cheaper, and many investors look at current valuations and think they are too cheap to be true. In today’s article, we’ll dig into the sector, see if there is value, or if the “too cheap to be true” retailers are all just Potemkin’s villages.

    Before digging into specifics, I want to share a retail example from my neighborhood. More →

  • 13 Aug
    Sunday Edition: Wearing A Polo? You’ll Like This Buying Opportunity

    Sunday Edition: Wearing A Polo? You’ll Like This Buying Opportunity

    When reading about the fraught retail sector, I usually find myself wondering about how iconic American brands are doing. Those longstanding brands that really embody and define American style.

    This week had me thinking about Ralph Lauren (NYSE: RL).

    For several years, it has seemed that Ralph Lauren has been in the same boat with Michael Kors and Coach, with their products being found mostly at outlet malls and on discount racks at departments stores. More →

  • 03 May
    Think Only Brick & Mortar Retail Is In Trouble? Think Again.

    Think Only Brick & Mortar Retail Is In Trouble? Think Again.

    • The number of bankruptcies in retail is increasing and the probability of new bankruptcies is still high.
    • In the online environment, the competition is intensifying their efforts precisely at the moment when Amazon has finally reached some kind of profitability.
    • Price wars could make the whole online growth story a bad experience for investors. We’ll use Wayfair as an example.

    Introduction

    We’re seeing significant structural shifts in the retail environment where companies that were once considered blue chips are slowly going bankrupt, think Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD), while online retailer Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is crushing it.

    The question many ask is: are retailers cheap now and online retailers expensive, or is it the other way around? To answer this question, it’s extremely important to look at how the competition in the online space will affect margins. We’ll look at some situations and try to come to the best option for your portfolio. More →

    By Sven Carlin Amazon Investiv Daily Retail
  • 01 May
    What You Can Learn From Under Armour

    What You Can Learn From Under Armour

    • There’s a divergence between Under Armour’s fundamentals and its stock price.
    • Every growth story is bound to end or at least slow down at some point, and at that point the stock usually gets hammered.
    • However, sentiment must not be underestimated as an $0.03 earnings beat can send the stock up 10%.

    Crazy Stock Movement

    Under Armour’s (NYSE: UAA, UA) stock has had a wild ride in the last four years. It went from $12 in 2013 to highs above $50 in 2015 only to fall to the current lows around $19. More →

  • 16 Apr
    Sunday Edition: Would John Templeton Buy This Sector?

    Sunday Edition: Would John Templeton Buy This Sector?

    When a market is as overvalued as the S&P 500, it’s best to be defensive, rather than being 100% invested, trying to eek out every last drop of potential gain.

    I don’t care if the market moves another 10% or even 15% higher based on momentum.  When you compare the potential for another 5% to 15% upside against the risk of a 50% or greater crash, it seems like a foolish move to me.

    At the top of a business cycle (we are there now), the most successful investors will typically hold much larger than normal cash balances and only commit new money to sectors which are truly undervalued – and trading at a point of maximum pessimism with a nice margin of safety. More →

  • 21 Mar
    When It Comes To Retail, Forget Buy & Hold – Buy The Trend

    When It Comes To Retail, Forget Buy & Hold – Buy The Trend

    • Retail is a dangerous business as there is always a new player on the block.
    • Traditional retailers see declining sales and margins while E-commerce retailers see growing sales and declining margins. This is not a good combo for investors.
    • As always, there will be many opportunities to make money, but be sure to know what you’re doing and forget about moats and long term buy and hold investments.

    Introduction

    In Buffett’s biography, The Snowball, retail is described as a marathon business where you have a new, fresh runner joining the race at every mile.

    One of Buffett’s first retail investments was a holding company, Diversified Retailing Company Inc. (DRC), formed by Buffett, Munger, and Gottesman in 1966 with the goal of acquiring retail businesses. Their first acquisition was Hochschild-Kohn, which on paper looked like a great buy due to its substantial discount from book value, good management, unrecorded real estate values, and a significant LIFO cushion. Despite the good fundamentals, they sold three years later at no profit. Selling without losing money might not seem all that bad to you, but it’s a terrible thing for Buffett because it means he has missed opportunities to better allocate capital. More →