Analyst David Katz at Jefferies has downgraded shares of Gaylord Entertainment to 'hold' from 'buy' and a number of other hotel operators because of the choppy economic waters we're navigating. The market turmoil and conflicting data, he said, has him "less confident in our estimates than we had been a short time ago." Katz's target for Gaylord (Ticker: GET) is now $27, down from $40.
In between bouts of slagging off Europe's politicians for not getting to grips with their debt crisis, economic pundits are admitting the soft patch is much more serious than they had forecast. The focus is on the slowing job creation and fading consumer spending, but there are some who question how the American consumer can trim more after the horrors of '08-'09. Mike Mandel has some numbers.
If we don’t adjust for size and other variables, Americans are spending 12.7% more on televisions today compared to 2006. Total personal consumption outlays on televisions, according to the BEA: About $40 billion, pretty much all imported. Do you really need an even bigger TV?
Nissan North America sold more than 84,600 cars and trucks in July, an increase of 2.7 percent from a year ago. But it was a story of two brands: Nissan vehicles posted growth of 6.4 percent while Infiniti sales slid by almost a quarter from the summer of 2010. The top-selling Altima led the way and the Frontier and Pathfinder also showed nice growth. Sales of the electric Leaf, though, fell by half from June.
The good news keeps coming for Genesco shareholders, who got another boost Thursday from upbeat June sales figures from fellow apparel retailers T.J. Maxx, Ross Stores and Limited Brands, among others. Genesco, which last month said its Q2 sales also are looking very good, rose 5.7 percent to another all-time high. Year to date, the company's shares (Ticker: GCO) are up 50 percent.
Avondale Partners analyst Mark Montagna is still pounding the table for Dollar General, which last month disappointed the market with its fiscal Q3 numbers and outlook. In a note yesterday, Montagna wrote that a 102-item price basket comparison between Dollar General and Walmart shows the local company's goods to be right in line with the world's largest retailer after adjusting for package size. That, he says, is why so many shoppers are migrating to Dollar General and why its strategy of holding the line on price increases longer than others is helping build market share.
"This should continue the two-plus year trend of market share gains at the expense of grocery/drug stores to dollar stores as consumers seek low-cost retailers of name brand items and comparable private label quality at a better value than is offered by grocery and drug stores. Dollar General is the best positioned dollar store for this likely permanent consumer dynamic."
Almost half of the people polled recently by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal say we're headed for another recession. That suggests consumer spending won't rebound much if at all in the coming quarters, which means the "soft patch" we're in looks set to only get squishier, right?
May sales of Nissan cars and trucks fell 9 percent from a year ago as the auto maker and its peers continue to deal with supply-chain shocks caused by the March earthquake in Japan. Especially hard hit during the month — which also featured two fewer sales days than last year's — was the luxury Infiniti division, where sales were off more than 20 percent. Among the positives: the top-selling Altima maintained its strong sales pace and more than 1,200 Leafs were shipped. That's a pace Nissan execs are comfortable with.
For what it's worth, Toyota and Honda both posted much steeper drops.
Seeking Alpha columnist Consumer Contrarian paints a bleak picture for shares of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, which he says are 'vulnerable' ahead of the company's first-quarter earnings report next week. Among the biggest red flags, Contrarian writes, is the fact that consumers are steadily abandoning Cracker Barrel.
Steadily declining guest counts at Cracker Barrel show few signs of reversal in FY 11. Traffic levels, down 12% over the past five years, are in response to an average check that has climbed a similar 12% (to $9.16 from $8.20). Won over by lower priced quick service rivals, a more competitive breakfast day-part industry-wide, and C-stores offering broader lines of prepared meals, much of CBRL’s lost customer base may not return.
Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke last week told analysts many of his customers are curtailing their purchases at his stores toward the end of the month. That is likely to result in more visits to Dollar General stores and other deep-value chains, says Avi Salzman.
More than ever, Middle Tennessee consumers are spending more of their money in the counties that surround Nashville: Newly updated numbers from the MTSU Business & Economic Research Center. show that sales tax collected — a proxy for total retail sales — rose just 0.2 percent in Metro in the year end Feb. 28. Contrast that with Rutherford and Williamson counties, where growth has topped 6 percent. Sumner's numbers, meanwhile, climbed more than 3 percent in the past year, while Wilson's are up 6.2 percent.
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