February 8, 2023
Amazon’s 4Q22 sales came in above guidance, increasing 9% to $149.20 billion. Excluding the unfavorable impact of foreign exchange rates, sales would have increased 12%. Amazon Web Services (AWS) continued to perform the strongest, increasing 20%; however, it also showed signs of slowing after being up 33% earlier in the year. Third-party sellers also increased 20% while Physical store sales increased 6%. However, Amazon’s largest segment, online stores, representing 43% of the consolidated business, contracted 2% mainly due to the foreign exchange rate. In line with recent trends, operating income decreased to around a 2% margin primarily due to costs increasing faster than sales. Operating income was negative for all segments except AWS. Management further confirmed it has paused Amazon Fresh expansion until it has figured out the "equation with differentiation and economic value" that it likes. Amazon’s balance sheet is supported by $70 billion of cash and marketable securities.
Dollar General reported 3Q22 sales growth of 11%, with comps improving 7%; YTD sales were up 8%. The Company is guiding to full year revenue growth of 11% and comps in the 4% to 4.5% range. With a recent opening in Joplin, MO, the Company now has 19,000 stores and continues to add roughly 1,000 new stores annually. In Fall 2022, Dollar General opened two new storage and warehouse facilities in Texas and Georgia, which added about two million square feet of capacity. The facilities serve as intermediary locations between import points and the rest of the Company's facility network. Four more warehouses are in development (Blair, NE, North Little Rock, AR, Aurora, CO, and Salem, OR).
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This week, Bed Bath & Beyond announced a proposed underwritten public offering of (i) shares of the Company's Series A convertible preferred stock, (ii) warrants to purchase shares of Series A Convertible Preferred Stock and (iii) warrants to purchase the Company's common stock. The Company has acknowledged that if these transactions are not consummated in accordance with their terms, there will be no credit facility amendment, and missed interest on the notes will not be paid, accelerating the entire amount outstanding. Thus, without the necessary financial resources, the Company expects that it will likely file for bankruptcy protection and that its assets will likely be liquidated.
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Grocery Outlet is continuing its East Coast expansion with the opening of a new location in Hazlet, NJ, near the Jersey Shore; stores average about 18,000 square feet. Last year, the Company opened 28 new stores and now has more than 430 locations, in California, Idaho, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Maryland. See the map below for recent openings and closings
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McDonald’s reported 4Q22 sales declined 1.4% to $5.93 billion, with the decline softer than expected due to higher menu prices and a 12.6% global comp increase, including a 10.3% increase in the U.S. The Company said it plans to open 1,900 new locations this year, of which more than 900 will be in China, 400 will be in the U.S. and internationally operated markets (Germany, Canada, France, Australia, Canada, and the U.K.), and 600 will be in other development licensee and subsidiary markets. It aims to spend $2.20 billion – $2.40 billion on capex, half of which will be for new restaurant development in the U.S. and international operated markets.
Aldi completed its 564,000 square-foot regional headquarters and distribution center in Loxley, AL, which will serve as many as 100 stores in the Gulf Coast region (Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle). This is the sixth regional site to be opened in the southern U.S. and it will support the Company’s rapid expansion in the area. Aldi is now operating 30 stores on the Gulf Coast, with 20 added in 2022. This year, there are plans to add another 13 stores in the region.
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Kroger opened the previously announced 60,000 square-foot spoke facility in Groveland, FL; it serves as a lastmile, cross-dock location to extend the reach of its 375,000 square-foot Ocado-powered customer fulfillment center (CFC) in Groveland, FL that has been in operation since June 2021. The spoke facility expands Kroger’s delivery service in the Miami area between Port St. Lucie and Homestead. In addition to its Groveland CFC, the Company operates fulfillment centers in Monroe, OH; Forest Park, GA; Pleasant Prairie, WI; Dallas, TX; Romulus, MI; and Aurora, CA. More facilities are slated to open in California; the Northeast; Frederick, MD; Phoenix, AZ; Cleveland, OH; and Charlotte, NC.
A lawsuit filed in California last week seeks to stop the planned merger between Albertsons and Kroger. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 25 consumers in states including California, Texas and Florida who alleged the merger "will be used to increase prices for groceries, decrease the quality of food, eliminate jobs, close stores and offer less choice for consumers." U.S. antitrust law lets private consumers sue over proposed mergers and acquisitions, apart from any enforcement action brought by a state or federal agency policing competition laws
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Sally Beauty's 1Q23 sales fell 2.4%, to $957 million, on 395 fewer stores versus the prior-year period, while comps rose 1.1%. During the quarter, the Company continued to see strong digital sales growth, with online sales increasing 14% to 9.5% of sales. While gross margin was flat from last year, increased labor costs continued to drive up SG&A, resulting in a 170 bps drop in EBITDA margin. Looking ahead, the Company expects that $50 million in savings from its store optimization plan will help partially offset higher labor costs for the remainder of FY23. As part of the plan, the Company closed 296 stores in 1Q23 (293 SBS and 3 BSG), ending the quarter with 4,498 locations. The Company also closed two of its smaller distribution centers. In its guidance for FY23, management maintained that it is expecting comps to grow low single digits with a stable gross margin. As of December 31, 2022, Sally Beauty had $99 million in cash, up sequentially from $70.6 million 4Q22, but down from $298 million in the prior-year period, as it used excess cash to fund the repayment of $300 million in notes. As a result, total debt decreased 17% to $1.15 billion. The Company maintains a $500 million asset-based revolving credit facility with $65 million in outstanding borrowings.
Hudson’s Bay is planning to permanently close two stores this August; both locations are in Alberta, one in Banff and the other in the Londonderry Mall in Edmonton. The Company currently operates 85 Hudson’s Bay stores in Canada.
Skechers reported record FY22 sales of $7.40 billion, up $1.10 billion, or 18%, from the prior year due to four quarterly sales records, including 4Q22 sales of $1.88 billion. 4Q growth was driven by a 16% increase in Wholesale, reflecting double-digit growth in the U.S., international distributors, Germany, India, Mexico, and Spain. Direct-to-Consumer sales grew 11% on strength from domestic sales, partially offset by a 23% decrease in sales from China where Covid-related restrictions impacted results (more than 1,000 Skechers stores were temporarily closed in November). The Company continues to work towards its goal of $10 billion in sales by 2026. 4Q22 gross margin slipped 40 bps on higher cost per unit and increased promotions, partially offset by average selling price increases. Operating income fell 51.5% to $546.7 million, and operating margin dropped to 7.3% from 9.5%. Skechers ended the year with 4,537 stores, including 539 domestic, 905 international, and 3,093 franchised stores.
Starbucks reported consolidated 1Q23 sales were up 8% to a record $8.70 billion, with global comps up 5% on a 7% increase in average ticket, partially offset by a 2% decline in comparable transactions. The Company opened 459 net new stores, ending with 36,170 stores globally. Operating margin decreased 20 bps to 14.4%, driven by previously committed investments in labor, partially offset by strategic pricing in North America.
Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage's 1Q23 sales increased 1.1% due to comp gains of 0.5%; three-year comps are up 17.6%. With little sales gains despite inflation running around 8%, margins and profits took a hit. Gross margin decreased 30 bps to 28.1% primarily due to higher shrink and distribution expenses. Meanwhile, EBITDA fell about 30% as increased labor rates and expenses were not offset with sales gains. Despite generating somewhat soft results, management noted performance was in line with expectations and affirmed its FY23 guidance including comparable store sales of -2% to 1%. During the period, the Company opened one new store, with plans to open another three to five stores in FY23. Natural Grocers’ balance sheet and liquidity is also strong, supported by about $65 million in liquid resources.
Gap closed its Gap store in Minnesota’s Mall of America, but its other banner stores at the shopping center, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Athleta, remain open, at least for now. The news came on the heels of other Company stores closing earlier in January. Three Banana Republic locations were shuttered in Stamford, CT, Kentwood, MI, and Harrisburg, PA; and two Old Navy units closed in Solon, OH and Chicago, IL. In October 2020, the clothing retailer announced that it would close approximately 350 units by the end of 2023.
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Equinox has remained challenged since the pandemic. Membership is now returning; however, it is only expected to reach 90% of FY19 levels by FY22. The Company has also faced multiple cash crunches over the last few years, forcing it to raise capital in the form of debt and equity. Despite this, cash was only $48 million as of the end of 3Q22, and with minimal liquidity and a levered balance sheet, the Company is likely to require another capital raise in the very near future to avoid a restructuring. Beyond that, Equinox is facing multiple lawsuits on missed rent payments totaling more than $160 million. The Company also has approximately $1.40 billion of debt due in 2024, which will be a huge hurdle at this recovery pace.
During the last 12 months, Regis' franchisees constructed 19 and closed 393 franchise salons, while purchasing 17 salons from the Company during the same period. Looking ahead, we note that Regis' sales recovery remains challenged by stylist shortages and lower customer counts. Management guided that due to the timing of its investments in stylist recruiting and retention, it expects EBITDA for the next few quarters to be below 1Q23. Regis ended 2Q23 with $175 million in debt (down 10% YOY) and $9.4 million in cash, down from $35.4 million in 2Q22. Cash levels are expected to stabilize, as the transition to a franchise model has essentially been completed. After amending its credit agreement in August, the Company maintains a $180 million term loan and a $55 million revolving credit facility that both mature on August 31, 2025. At quarter end, Regis had $34.3 million in revolver availability, resulting in total liquidity of $43.7 million.
Lowe’s Companies completed the sale of its Canadian retail business to Sycamore Partners, for $400 million in cash and undisclosed performance-based deferred consideration. The transaction was originally announced in November 2022. The Company is now focused on growing its U.S. business.
On January 27, Conn’s opened a 27,000 square-foot HomePlus store in Fayetteville, GA, its seventh in the state. Earlier last month it also opened a 30,000 square-foot unit in Jacksonville, FL, its 15th in Florida. The Company now operates 168 locations in 15 states. As we reported last month, there has been speculation that Franchise Group is evaluating a potential acquisition of Conn’s, which has a market cap of roughly $215 million.
Sprouts Farmers Market is going to pilot an in-store boba tea concept called Percolate at a store in Los Angeles, CA. Founded in 2017, Percolate offers a wide variety of teas as well as smoothies and coffee drinks for delivery or take out from two locations in Southern California. Sprouts is also testing out another in-store beverage concept, Press Coffee, in a Phoenix, AZ location.
Giant Eagle’s c-store banner GetGo Café + Market opened its first new-build location featuring a drive-thru lane in Mentor, OH, east of Cleveland. The store offers a full made-to-order menu at the drive-thru, as well as a wide selection of store products and packaged beverages and food available from the drive-thru’s touchscreen kiosk. The Company intends to add more drive-thru windows to its existing locations and has 20 locations in development throughout Ohio that will be opening in the next two years. There are more than 270 GetGo units operating throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland, and Indiana.
16 Handles signed four franchise agreements to significantly expand its presence outside its home market of New York. The first location is due to open in Boston, MA in Spring 2023; additional locations will open in Naples and Englewood, FL and Jersey City, NJ. The Company is expected to announce further multi-unit expansion across the East Coast and Texas in the coming months.
Publix opened a new 48,000 square-foot location in Jefferson, GA, about an hour north of Atlanta. This is the third Publix to open this year, following openings in Covington, GA and Pembroke Pines. FL. The Company currently operates 1,325 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, and has plans to expand to Kentucky with its first Louisville location later this year.
Salad and Go is opening two stores this month in San Tan Valley and Glendale, AZ, marking its 49th and 50th locations in the state and bringing its total store count to over 80 across Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nevada.
JD Sports will spend £3 billion (US$3.70 billion) to open up to 1,750 stores over the next five years. This represents about £500 million to £600 million per year, of which up to 60% will go towards the opening of 250 to 350 stores annually. The expansion will be focused on growing JD Sports’ share in the U.S., France, Italy, Germany, and Spain to above 10%. In the US, the JD banner is expected to grow to up to 800 U.S. stores (134 current), including Finish Line conversions. The Company also plans to continue making acquisitions, and is targeting an average of 10% revenue growth over the five-year period.
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