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这三家零售企业不会被亚马逊打垮

Ryan Derousseau 2018年01月03日

从数据上看,实体零售还远远谈不上消亡。2017年,有87%的零售销量是在线下实现的。

要想了解消费者习惯的变化是怎样颠覆了整个零售行业的,你只需要看看奥兰多市的高端商场佛罗里达购物中心就可以了。这家商场是由商场界巨头西蒙地产集团控股的。几年前,由于它“主打”的几家百货商超客流下滑,佛罗里达购物中心便将一家Lord & Taylor百货店拆成了三家规模稍小的商店。三年前,在诺德斯特龙的租约到期后,迪克体育用品店进驻了它原来的位置。同时,另一家知名百货品牌萨克斯第五大道则变成了一个美食城。

穆迪投资者服务部的结构融资分析师鲍伯·帕尔茨认为,佛罗里达购物中心是研究消费者购物习惯转变的一个很好的案例。帕尔茨近日写道:“百货店已经不再像10到15年前那样是商场的‘客流担当’了。”包括佛罗里达购物中心在内的许多大型商场也在纷纷寻找其他零售商填补空白。

实体零售的日薄西山早已不是什么秘密。标普零售精选指数连续三年走势疲软,年均跌幅达到1%左右。根据破产数据网BankruptcyData的数据,从2017年初到12月中旬,虽然美国的总体破产数较去年下跌了37%之多,但仍有包括玩具反斗城在内的八家大型零售公司申请了破产保护。虽然随着圣诞购物季的到来,零售业的营收可能出现较大回升,但高纬物业公司的零售与房地产分析师加里克·布朗却悲观地表示,2018年的零售业只会跌向更寒冷的严冬,百货商超更是很多悲观人士的重点观察对象。

人们往往认为,传统零售之所以行将就木,原因是在线购物和实体购物本质上是一场零和游戏,在亚马逊等电商的虹吸效应下,实体店没有客源也就是顺理成章的事了。然而事实并非这样简单。从数据上看,实体零售还远远谈不上消亡。据福雷斯特研究公司估算,2017年,有87%的零售销量是在线下实现的。只不过消费者的忠诚度改变了。在这个网上能到买一切的时代,消费者更喜欢的是那些物价便宜而且还能提供线上选择的实体零售商。这种趋势当然给零售业带来了巨大的挑战,但对于投资者来说,他们现在也有了押宝一些非常便宜的零售股的机会。

一家零售商今天是盈利的,不代表它明天也能成功。俗话说“百足之虫,死而不僵”,现在的百货商超仍然能生产出大量的现金,足够他们保持“死而不僵”的状态几十年。美国最大的连锁百货商店梅西百货就存在这种风险。比如去年秋天,梅西百货称,1至9月该公司的净现金流强势增长了26%。消息一出,该公司的股票也跟着大涨。但是很多人没有注意到,梅西百货之所以取得这样抢眼的成绩,跟它之前关掉了大约100家店不无关系。这100家店约占梅西旗下门店总数的15%,面临长期的销售额下滑,这也是不得已的选择。另外梅西百货的债务与销售额之比已达27%,如果其销售额下滑的趋势加速,必将为企业带来严重问题。花旗银行分析师保罗·勒茹兹指出,为了削减债务,梅西百货很可能需要减少股市分红(其目前的股息为5.85%)。

对于那些想在零售板抄底的股民,一些分析师也给了一个相对简单的方法:找找那些债务相对较低,而且正在发展全渠道的公司——所谓“全渠道”是指零售商既可以在线下也可以在线上服务消费者。另外,股民也最好不要选择那些在90年代到00年代“商场热”期间把摊子铺得太快的公司。

从这些标准来看,总部位于西雅图的诺德斯特龙算是一家相当有竞争力的公司(虽然它在佛罗里达中心遭遇了一点挫折)。它是现在美国少量门店数量还在增加的百货商店之一,其平价品牌Nordstrom Rack也吸引了不少对折扣敏感的消费者。目前诺德斯特龙已有117家标准门店和216家Rack门店。另外诺德斯特龙也在不遗余力地进行线上投资,目前它的电商收入已经超过了公司总收入的20%,给了诺德斯特龙一个“创造未来的机会”。由于该品牌的创始家族试图将公司私有化的企图失败,诺德斯特龙的股票今年跌幅超过21%。不过以明年15倍的预期市盈率看,它的股票还是相当有吸引力的。

百货商超的全线溃退,却给一些特色商超营造了机会。五年前,投资者甚至不确定电子产品零售商百思买还能不能活下来。但是在降价、建立全渠道、削减支出等一系列改革后,百思买再度成了投资者的宠儿。虽然对电商的依赖使百思买的利润被吃掉了不少,但它的股票却在过去三年里上涨了75%。花旗银行分析师凯特·麦克沙恩认为,百思买的案例为其他身陷困境的零售商提供了“很好的蓝图”。百思买最近还宣布,要在四年内将营收提高9%——这对现下的实体店来说,可谓是相当可观的增长速度。而且它明年的预期市盈率也比标普500低了29%。

与沃尔玛相比,塔吉特百货的表现似乎要相对疲软些,这在一定程度上也是由于其生鲜食杂业务增长缓慢的缘故。不过在过去两年中,它的在线销售额年均增长近30%。另外塔吉特百货也在吸引从其他邻近的百货商超流失的消费者。同时,塔吉特百货还在对门店进行改建,在人口稠密地区建立了一些规模较小但容易找到的商店,而且它旗下的Cat & Jack童装等内部品牌也获得了一些成功。麦克沙恩表示,如果塔吉特百货的客流量继续以稳定、可持续的速度增长,她就会购入塔吉特的股票。同时她认为,塔吉特百货已经朝着零售的新时代迈出了正确的步伐。她表示:“他们非常专注于成为顾客的全渠道零售商。”(财富中文网)

本文的另一版本以《填补零售业的空白》为题载于2018年1月1日刊的《财富》杂志。

译者:贾政景

To see how changing consumer habits are disrupting the retail world, drop by the Florida Mall, an upscale complex in Orlando owned by mall giant Simon Property Group . A few years back, with traffic declining at its “anchor” department stores, the shopping center converted a Lord & Taylor into three separate, smaller shops. Then, three years ago, a Nordstrom was repurposed as a Dick’s Sporting Goods after its lease expired, while a former Saks Fifth Avenue became a food court.

Robb Paltz, a structured-finance analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, sees the Orlando complex as a case study in the evolution of shopping. “Department stores do not create the same draw as anchors that they did 10 to 15 years ago,” Paltz wrote in a recent note. And places like the Florida Mall are looking to other retailers to fill the vacuum.

It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar retail has been struggling. The S&P Retail Select index has been anemic for three years, falling an average of 1% annually. Over 2017 through mid-December, even as total bankruptcies fell 37%, eight big retailers, including Toys “R” Us, filed for Chapter 11, according to BankruptcyData. And despite a holiday shopping season in which spending is expected to rise sharply, 2018 could be worse, says Garrick Brown, a retail and real estate analyst at Cushman & Wakefield—with department stores high on many pessimists’ watch lists.

Conventional wisdom depicts this slump as the result of a zero-sum contest between online and in-person shopping, where Amazonand its ilk unstoppably siphon money away from stores. The reality is more nuanced. In-store shopping is hardly disappearing—Forrester Research estimates that 87% of retail sales in 2017 took place in stores. But shoppers are shifting their loyalties, seeking out retailers who can compete for their time with low prices and online options in the era of Jeff Bezos’s “everything store.” Those trends are creating daunting challenges for retailers—but they offer opportunities for investors who take a chance on what are now some very inexpensive stocks.

Just because a retailer is profitable today doesn’t mean it’s poised for success. Department stores still produce a tremendous amount of cash, enabling them to endure for “decades as a zombie retailer,” says Bill Dreher, an analyst at Susquehanna. Macy’s , the nation’s largest department store chain, runs that risk. This fall its stock jumped after the chain reported that it had boosted free cash flow 26% through the first nine months of the current fiscal year. But it obtained those results in part by arranging to close about 100 stores—15% of its total fleet—in the face of a long-term sales decline. And Macy’s balance sheet could become the tinder that burns down its clearance racks. The chain has a 27% debt-to-sales ratio, high enough to pose problems if its revenue decline accelerates. Citi analyst Paul Lejuez says the company will likely need to cut its dividend—it currently yields 5.85%—in order to pare down that debt.

For investors bargain hunting in the beleaguered sector, industry analysts recommend a relatively simple formula: Seek out companies that have low debt, that are growing their omnichannel presence (the term that is used to describe retailers’ ability to serve customers either in-person or online), and that didn’t expand too fast during the mall boom of the 1990s and 2000s.

By these measures, Seattle-based Nordstrom looks competitive (despite its setback at the Florida Mall). It’s one of the few retailers still growing store count, through its off-price brand Nordstrom Rack, which is helping it reach discount-conscious shoppers. The chain currently has 117 full-size stores and 216 Rack stores. Nordstrom has also aggressively invested in online shopping: E commerce now accounts for more than 20% of sales companywide, giving Nordstrom an “opportunity for a future,” says Dreher. The stock has fallen 21% in the past year, after a failed attempt by the founding family to take the chain private. But at 15 times its estimated earnings for next year, it’s trading at an attractive discount.

The stumbles of department stores are creating openings for the giants that anchor strip malls. Five years ago, investors weren’t sure electronics retailer Best Buy would survive. But after cutting prices, beefing up its omnichannel presence, and reducing expenses, it has become an investor darling. Although its growing reliance on e commerce has eaten into margins, its stock is up 75% over the past three years. Best Buy offers a “good blueprint” for other struggling retailers, says Citi analyst Kate McShane. It recently laid out plans to increase revenues 9% over four years—which counts as a robust pace in bricks and mortar. And its price-to-2018-earnings ratio remains 29% below the S&P 500’s.

Target has looked sluggish compared with Walmart, in part because of its slow growth in fresh groceries. But its online sales have risen nearly 30% annually over the past two years. Targethas also been focusing on wooing the customers nearby malls lose. It’s remodeling stores and building smaller, easily navigable shops in densely populated neighborhoods, and it has scored wins with in-house brands like kids’ clothing line Cat & Jack. McShane says she’s waiting to see store traffic grow at a steady, sustainable pace before buying in, but she sees Target making the right moves for the new retail era. “They’re very focused on being the right omnichannel retailer for their customers,” she says.

A version of this article appears in the Jan. 1, 2018 issue of Fortune with the headline “Filling Retail’s Empty Spaces.”

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