Lombardi: Stock Market Commentary & Forecasts, Financial & Economic Analysis Since 1986

U.S. Retail Sector Now at Worst Level Since Summer 2009

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
By for Profit Confidential

U.S. Retail SectorThe retail sector reports that sales for June, for stores open at least one year, gained an anemic 0.1%, the slowest rise since August 2009.

This was the third month in a row of significant weakness in the retail sector!

When compared to the 6.7% rise in sales in the same period last year for the retail sector, this 0.1% rise in retail sales from last month reveals how weak consumer spending in this supposed economic recovery is. Remember, dear reader: 70% of gross domestic product (GDP) is composed of consumer spending.

The retail sector uses this measure—stores open at least one year—because stores that are shutting down and new store openings tend to skew the data, so taking stores that are open for at least a year provides a more accurate reading of the retail sector and consumer spending patterns.

At least 15 of the 20 big U.S. retailers within the retail sector missed their sales estimates for the month of June, highlighting the weakness in consumer spending.

Some of the retail sector companies reporting weak results include Target Corporation (NYSE/TGT), Walgreen Co. (NYSE/WAG), and Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ/COST).

  • 100% Profit in Your Pocket Every 14 Days or Less with This Never-Ending Winning Streak

    Any stocks in your portfolio make you 100% or more this year? Let me tell you about 25 of them! In 2013, 25 of our positions reached gains in excess of 100% each. Average profit per pick at their high was 215.6%!

    Our 100% Letter could make you more money in 2014 than ever before! Learn about it here.

Clothing discount stores and low-end retailers within the retail sector, such as Ross Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ/ROST), experienced stronger growth in their sales numbers, as consumer spending hampered by low real discretionary income meant that people sought more bargains. (Source: New York Times, July 5, 2012.)

The management at Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE/FDO) noted that more and more of its customers were living paycheck to paycheck. This is why the low-end retailers are performing better within the retail sector and why consumer spending will have a very difficult time growing as we move into the second half of 2012.

Of course, if consumer spending is non-existent, this will not only affect the retail sector, but also the economy in general. For the second quarter of 2012, 94 companies within the S&P 500 have provided downside earnings preannouncements, while only 26 companies have provided upside surprises. (Source: The Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2012.)

According to Thomson Reuters, which tracks the number of upside to downside surprises, this was the worst showing since 2001!

As I’ve been warning in recent issues of Profit Confidential, the area these negative preannouncements are centered on is weaker revenue growth.

Consumer spending patterns and the retail sector are telling us that corporate revenue growth will continue to be weaker, putting into the question the economic recovery and turning the conversation to a possible recession here in the U.S.

Be careful with that stock market. The talk in some circles is about how cheap it is selling at. But if more and more companies, including those in the retail sector, come in with weaker earnings, the stock market will look expensive very quickly.

Michael’s Personal Notes:

Only a week after the City of Stockton, California, declared bankruptcy, the small ski resort town of Mammoth Lakes, California, filed for bankruptcy.

The city’s largest creditor, Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition, won a court judgment for $43.0 million, which meant the city needed to come up with the money immediately. The city of Mammoth Lakes could not pay due to its expanding budget deficit and so bankruptcy was the only alternative left.

Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition offered the City of Mammoth Lakes a 30-year repayment option at $2.7 million per year, but the budget deficit at Mammoth Lakes is so impossible to close that the city felt it had no option but to finally leave it to the courts to decide how to fix the budget deficit.

More cities in California are becoming desperate, as their budget deficits threaten to lead them down the same path as Stockton and Mammoth Lakes.

Obviously, the biggest revenue generator for Californian municipalities consists of taxes from homeowners. Since the housing market disintegrated in 2008, these tax revenues have been cut dramatically, worsening the budget deficits.

Now California’s Fontana, Ontario, and San Bernardino County have jointly decided on a new approach to the housing market in hopes of closing out their budget deficits. This new approach simply highlights the desperation on the part of municipalities to increase tax revenue and so close out their budget deficits.

The municipalities want to take the mortgages within the housing market that are currently at less than the value of the home from the banks, have the courts decide what the value of the home currently is, force the banks to take the principal loss on the home, and resell a new mortgage to the current homeowner at the reduced price. (Source: The Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2012.)

This means, for example, taking a $300,000 mortgage, forcing the banks to take a $100,000 loss on it and allowing the homeowners to remain in the home with a new $200,000 mortgage, which would reflect current prices in the housing market.

The banks, of course, are not happy about this idea. Others proclaim that it will prevent further lending by the banks in the housing market and will depress housing prices further.

The housing market needs relief and reducing principal is certainly an excellent way of helping revitalize the housing market. However, arguments won’t matter in this case, because to be eligible, homeowners within the housing market must be current on their mortgage payments and they must hold mortgages that are not federally guaranteed.

Only 10% of all mortgages in the U.S. are not federally guaranteed within the housing market.

As this represents such a small portion of the housing market, debate is irrelevant. What’s worse is that those behind on their mortgage payments are the ones who need the principal relief within the housing market.

Regardless, this highlights the desperation among municipalities to increase their revenue bases to cover their budget deficits and also dispels the myth that the housing market is recovering.

Reducing principal in the housing market is one of the only ways to revitalize it, but this plan has such limited scope that it will have very little effect, especially as there is no obligation to accept such programs.

Where the Market Stands; Where it’s Headed:

Slowly, very slowly, the stock market moves lower. The bulls are calling for higher stock prices, because stocks are trading “cheaply” based on price-earnings multiples.

The bears like me are calling for lower stock prices because of a brewing global recession that will sharply reduce the earnings of American corporations.

The only thing left is for the Fed to announce a third round of quantitative easing (QE3). But at this point, I don’t know if the stock market’s reaction to such a move would be overly positive.

What He Said:

“Interest rates at a 40-year low: The Fed has made borrowing as easy as possible, resulting in a huge appetite for loans and mortgages. We are nearing a debt crisis.” Michael Lombardi in Profit Confidential, April 8, 2004. Michael first started warning about the negative repercussions of then Fed Chairman Greenspan’s low-interest-rate policy when the Fed first dropped interest rates to one percent in 2004.

VN:D [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:D [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
U.S. Retail Sector Now at Worst Level Since Summer 2009, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
  • Mark Matis

    You say:
    "<i>As this represents such a small portion of the housing market, debate is irrelevant</i>"

    Wanna make a bet that some of the Right People in those three counties meet those conditions?

  • Mark Matis

    You say "As this represents such a small portion of the housing market, debate is irrelevant."

    Wanna bet that the Right People in those three counties have mortgages which meet those pre-conditions? After all, this IS California that you are talking about. Not that it would be any different in Illinois or New York or…

This is an entirely free service. No credit card required.

We hate spam as much as you do.
Check out our privacy policy.

Michael Lombardi - Economist, Financial AdvisorMichael bought his first stock when he was 17 years old. He quickly saw $2,000 of savings from summer jobs turn into $1,000. Determined not to lose money again on a stock, Michael started researching the market intensely, reading every book he could find on the topic and taking every course he could afford. It didn’t take long for Michael to start making money with stocks, and that led Michael to launch a newsletter on the stock market. Some of the stock recommendations in Michael's various financial newsletters have posted gains in excess of 500%! Michael has authored and published over one thousand articles on investment and money management. Michael became an active investor in real estate, art, precious metals and various businesses. Readers of the daily Profit Confidential e-letter are offered the benefit of the expertise Michael has gained in these sectors. Michael believes in successful stock picking as an important wealth accumulation tool. Married with two children, Michael received his Chartered Financial Planner designation from the Financial Planners Standards Council of Canada and his MBA from the Graduate Business School, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. Follow Michael and the latest from Profit Confidential on Twitter or Add Michael Lombardi to your Google+ circles

The Great Crash of 2014

A stock market crash bigger than what happened in 2008 and early 2009 is headed our way.

In fact, we are predicting this crash will be even more devastating than the 1929 crash…

…the ramifications of which will hit the economy and Americans deeper than anything we’ve ever seen.

Our 27-year-old research firm feels so strongly about this, we’ve just produced a video to warn investors called, “The Great Crash of 2014.”

In case you are not familiar with our research work on the stock market:

In late 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11, we told our clients to buy small-cap stocks. They rose about 100% after we made that call.

We were one of the first major advisors to turn bullish on gold.

Throughout 2002, we urged our readers to buy gold stocks; many of which doubled and even tripled in price.

In November of 2007, we started begging our customers to get out of the stock market. Shortly afterwards, it was widely recognized that October 2007 was the top for stocks.

We correctly predicted the crash in the stock market of 2008 and early 2009.

And in March of 2009, we started telling our readers to jump into small caps. The Russell 2000 gained about 175% from when we made that call in 2009 to today.

Many investors will find our next prediction hard to believe until they see all the proof we have to back it up.

Even if you don’t own stocks, what’s about to happen will affect you!

I urge you to be among the first to get our next major prediction.
See it here now in this just-released alarming video.