Thursday PM (1/30), AMZN reported Q4 results, beating on revenue and margins across each of its three segments. On a consolidated basis, AMZN beat revenue by 1.5% and margins by 130bps. AMZN also provided Q1 2020 guidance, which came in 1% below consensus for revenue and 60bps below for margins even with a favorable adj. to depreciation lives. Shares were +7% Friday versus S&P of -2%.
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With concerns over the Coronavirus spreading, we think US Retailers will likely be viewed as near-term relative safe-haven stocks given limited direct exposure to China. However, should the virus spread into a pandemic, especially in China, we see a greater impact to US retailers from indirect supply chain exposure or US GDP growth.
While we believe the street was braced for a miss on EBIT as a result of rising shipping investments, we suspect the Q4 revenue guide was lower than most were braced for. Amazon was quick to point out a historical 300bps of seasonal degradation in Q4 vs Q3; y/y), coupled with an issue with Int’l comparisons in Q4 driving an 80bps headwind vs a 40bps tailwind in Q3. The 4Q19 guide implies EBIT% of 2.5% at the mid-point (-270bps y/y vs prior Street estimates of -40bps y/y). Even though the shipping investment headwinds have been more or less digested by investors at this point, the magnitude of the 4Q guide down will likely pressure the stock.
Two weeks ago, we assumed broader coverage of Hardlines and Internet Retail and issued four deep dive reports including a downgrade of LOW to Peer Perform and reiterated HD, BBY, and W at Outperform. We also assumed coverage of AMZN, ULTA, WSM, RH, TSCO, and SHW (see our 1-page tear sheets here). Finally, we utilized the broader coverage as an opportunity to reposition our legacy auto part retail coverage and downgrade AAP to Underperform and upgraded ORLY to Outperform.
Today (10/07/19) we are assuming broader coverage of hardlines and internet retail with deep-dive reports on four companies, including a LOW downgrade to PP. We also have two ratings changes from our existing retail coverage (AAP to UP and ORLY to OP), and assuming coverage of six additional retail names with concise 1-page investment tear sheets.
We had the opportunity to spend some time with both Dollar General (DG, Outperform, Target Price $165) and Tractor Supply (TSCO, Peer Perform, Fair Value $106) senior management teams (CEO, CFO and IR), as well as walk through the stores on Tuesday in Nashville.
Our Walmart CPG price tracker through last week shows a continuation of price cuts, especially in Food. Our Food basket is flat sequentially and down 1.1% y/y, while our HPC basket is down 0.3% sequentially and up 0.9% y/y. For U.S. based food companies, we continue to see risk around the pricing environment if Walmart reinstates a new round of price cuts.
Topics this week…
Consumables Corner – 1) Walmart appears to be implementing prices cuts, 2) CPI and PPI data continues to spell bad news for grocery retailers, and 3) SPTN earnings preview
Walmart’s World – WMT earnings preview
Quotes of the Week – Grocery Outlet (GO, Not Covered) Vice Chairman, MacGregor Read, on store expansion
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