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Some news items and notable stock price moves in the restaurant space.

  • Starbucks gained on strong volume yesterday.  The Kraft issues are, in my view, insignificant for the longer term prospects of the company.  One blog, arounddublinblog.com, is running a story about Starbucks being rumored to be buying Peet’s Coffee. 
  • WEN down on strong volume and underperforming peers over past week.
  • SONC upgraded today.
  • RT up 5.6% on strong volume.
  • BWLD also up on strong volume – we will have a note out on this name shortly.
  • MRT continues to perform well, better than any casual dining competitors over the past week.
  • Story in the WSJ about new wage and tipping rules in restaurants tells how the Department of Labor is mandating a hike in minimum wages and other procedural changes in the hospitality industry starting January 1st.  The move is likely to be met with stiff legal opposition.
  • If you thought fried chicken was important in Asian markets, you were right.  In South Korea, Lotte Mart undercut the market for fried chicken by 60 per cent.  This led to three-hour lines, street protests, a regulatory investigation, and some input from the office of the President on the issue.  View the story here.




Howard Penney

Managing Director


The Macau Metro Monitor, December 17th, 2010



According to a person familiar with the matter, the Macau government has rejected SJM's application for sites 7 and 8, as the two sites require a public tender.  The source said SJM is likely to secure land rights for another plot of land on Cotai in the 1Q 2011.  SJM CEO Ambrose So had forecasted that land rights for planned casino projects in Cotai would likely be granted to SJM, Wynn Macau and MGM Macau by the end of 2010.


SJM is talking with Macau Theme Park and Resort Ltd, who is owned by Angela Leong, to see if they can integrate their sites on Cotai.  Macau Theme Park and Resort has already acquired a 200,000 square metre site, and Leong said the park would not include gaming facilities.  The integrated resort project will be developed in three phases and each of them will take about two and a half to three years to complete.  In the meantime, SJM has already applied for a piece of land of some 70,000 square metres also next to the Macau Dome. 


Ambrose So predicts GGR will reach MOP 190 BN this year, slightly above his first forecast of MOP 180 BN.  “I am still bullish about next year.  I still believe Macau’s [gaming revenues] will grow at least 15 to 20%. I think we [SJM] will keep growing together with the market and gain a few percentage points more in market [share] like we did in the past," he said.


TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP - December 17, 2010

As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 14 points or -0.71% downside to 1234 and 0.41% upside to 1248.  Equity futures are trading little changed to fair value following Thursday's positive finish, which saw the S&P close at its highest level since Sep 2008 to prolong the December rally. The main catalyst for the move was largely better-than-expected economic data.


News coming out of the EU Council summit is that members have agreed to create a permanent crisis-management mechanism by 2013 but specifics are thin. Germany's Chancellor Merkel has ruled out expanding the EFSF/ESM, which would have allowed the EFSF to buy governments' bonds. Today's macro highlight will be Novembers's Leading Indicators.

  • Accenture (ACN) raised FY2011 adj. EPS forecast; 1Q rev. beat est.
  • Cousins Properties (CUZ) rated new neutral at JPMorgan
  • Gilead Sciences (GILD) said DOJ decided not to “intervene” in a lawsuit filed by a former employee of CV Therapeutics regarding the promotion of Ranexa
  • Lockheed Martin (LMT)’s F-22 jets suffer corrosion, U.S. report says
  • Oracle (ORCL) sees 3Q adj. EPS above est.
  • Quiksilver (ZQK) 4Q adj EPS, rev. beat est.
  • Research in Motion (RIMM) 3Q rev. beat est.
  • Steelcase Inc. (SCS) 3Q adj. EPS, rev. top est.
  • Sonic (SONC) repurchased $62.5m of debt, will recognize gain of ~$5m
  • Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO): Quarterly adj. EPS, rev. beat ests. Will sell 10m shrs via Credit Suisse.


  • One day: Dow +0.36%, S&P +0.62%, Nasdaq +0.77%, Russell 2000 +1.07%
  • Last Week:  Dow +0.25%, S&P +01.28%, Nasdaq +1.78%, Russell +2.70%
  • Month-to-date: Dow +4.48%, S&P +5.28%, Nasdaq +5.57%, Russell +6.82%
  • Quarter-to-date: Dow +6.59%, S&P +8.91%, Nasdaq +11.34%, Russell +14.85%
  • Year-to-date: Dow +10.27%, S&P +11.46%, Nasdaq +16.22%, Russell +24.17%
  • Sector Performance: +1.1%, Materials +1.1%, Utilities +0.9%, Consumer Spls +0.9%, Consumer Disc +0.8%, Healthcare +0.7%, Energy +0.7%, Financials +0.2%, Tech +0.2%  


  • ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: 1072 (+2037)  
  • VOLUME: NYSE 989.84 (-10.91%)
  • VIX:  17.39 -3.07% YTD PERFORMANCE: -19.79%
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: 1.10 from 1.12 -1.97%  


  • TED SPREAD: 17.70 -0.203 (-1.132%)
  • 3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: 0.13% -0.01%  
  • YIELD CURVE: 2.81 from 2.85


  • CRB: 317.34 -0.47%
  • Oil: 87.70 -1.04%
  • COPPER: 411.60 -0.40%
  • GOLD: 1,371.91 -1.04%%


  • EURO: 1.3233 -0.32%
  • DOLLAR: 79.797 -0.10%




  • European markets have traded in a narrow range, with major indices mainly in slightly positive territory, and peripheral markets pressured by Moody's downgrade of Ireland's sovereign credit rating to Baa1 from Aa2 and negative outlook.
  • EU leaders agreed to set up a permanent bailout mechanism from 2013, though details were limited, and there will be no enlargement of the current temporary rescue fund. Leaders also indicated they would do whatever was necessary to protect the euro.
  • Advancing sectors lead decliners 12-6 with basic resources and technology shares leading gainers, while telecom and healthcare lag.
  • France December manufacturing Business Conf 103 vs consensus 101
  • Germany is trading lower by -0.11%  - Dec IFO Business Climate Index 109.9 vs consensus 109.1
  • European Automobile Manufacturers' Association Nov Commercial Vehicles Registrations in EU+EFTA countries +7.5% y/y
  • The UK is trading down -0.16% - The pound was pressured by Nationwide's Nov Consumer confidence index 45 vs prior 52, its lowest reading since Mar 2009 and BOE report that said UK banks were vulnerable to the debt turmoil in Europe


  • Asian markets were mixed today.
  • South Korea rose 0.85% - Post-close, Daewoo Engineering & Construction said it was considering selling a stake in Korea Express.
  • A broad-based rise sent Taiwan +0.41% to a new 31-month high. Chimei Innolux edged up on news that it will build a new factory in China.
  • Hong Kong rose slightly +0.20%. Cosco International rose 3% after saying it will sell its 17% stake in Sino-Ocean Land, which jumped 6% on the news.  China Datang Corp Renewable Power dropped 6% on its trading debut after considerably cutting back the size of its IPO.
  • Japan closed down -0.07%, with trading-house losses being balanced by rises in big banks and real-estate companies. Square Enix plunged 10% after reducing its FY net profit outlook. Sharp rose 3% on a report it will spend ¥100B on production lines for small and midsize LCDs. Mitsui & Co fell 2% on fears that the US government’s suing BP may lead to bigger oil-spill losses than predicted.
  • Australia finished down -0.44%, with Hills Holdings plunging 12% on a profit warning.
  • Thailand declined -0.69% - Thai Airways fell 1% on saying it expects revenues to grow 10% next year.

Howard Penney
Managing Director

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - levels and trends













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The Golden Haze

“A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”

-Albert Einstein


Per our friends at Wikipedia, “haze is traditionally an atmospheric phenomenon where dust, smoke, and other dry particles obscure the clarity of the sky.” That just about summarizes what I think about the US stock market right here and now.


When I say now, I mean yesterday’s closing price. The SP500 inched up another point above its YTD closing high, taking its YTD gain to +11.4%. If you’re looking at this market price through The Golden Haze of ‘everything is going to be ok’ from here, you must be saying that higher-highs in a market price are bullish. They are, until they aren’t.


Up until 2 weeks ago, The Golden Haze was quite tranquilizing in another asset class market price – Gold. Then the music of bullish price momentum started to fade away. It didn’t stop suddenly. It didn’t stop hastily. It just started to stop…


The price of gold is now hitting a 2-week low this morning and is officially broken on my immediate-term TRADE duration. What were bullish higher-highs before December the 6th can now be considered bearish lower-highs. Again, until they aren’t.


Since I sold our entire gold position on December 6th  (+3.4% higher at $138.55 GLD), I suppose I have some credibility in attempting to make another “call” on gold from here. So let’s take a shot at this and consider the why and where from here:


Why is Gold down?

  1. CORRELATION RISK: Over the long term, Gold tends to underperform when real interest rates are positive.
  2. RELATIVE STRENGTH: Real-interest rates (domestic and global bond yields) have been blasting to the upside since November.
  3. CURRENCY COMPETITION: Don’t look now, but the US Dollar is up in 6 of the last 7 weeks as Fed Fighting becomes fashionable.

Where does Gold go from here?

  1. Immediate term TRADE: as of this morning my immediate term TRADE lines of support and resistance are $1362 and $1391, respectively. Trade the range.
  2. Intermediate term TREND: I introduced this line to investors in Calgary and Vancouver in a slide presentation on December 5th and 6th and the TREND line hasn’t changed. There’s intermediate term mean-reversion risk in the price of gold down to $1313.
  3. Long-term TAIL: there is a world full of support down in the $1 range and I’d love to buy back my gold there.

Now anyone who knows me well knows that I probably won’t have the patience to wait for $1230 gold on my buyback program. Heck, I may not have the patience to wait for $1313 either. But, provided that I remain bullish on the US Dollar (long UUP) and US Treasury Yields (short SHY), I’ll have a very hard time explaining why I’d buy back gold anytime soon. Being short gold on the next rally to lower-highs may be the better bet. We’ll see.


Back to The Golden Haze that is being long US Equities here… I think it’s instructive to think through the same CORRELATION RISK, RELATIVE STRENGTH, and CURRENCY COMPETITION scenario analysis that I went through for gold.

  1. CORRELATION RISK: using an intermediate-term TREND duration (6 months), the SP500 has an inverse correlation to the US Dollar Index of -0.77 and an r-square of 0.60. In other words, sustained USD strength should be bearish for US equities.
  2. RELATIVE STRENGTH: since March of 2009, the SP500 has outperformed gold by a lot (SP500 is +83.7% from its March lows, whereas gold is up 53%). So if Gold can go down in the face of Fed Fighting (competing with higher real interest rates), US stocks can.
  3. CURRENCY COMPETITION:  seasonal spikes in the US Dollar Index have happened in both of the last 2 years (2009 and 2010). It wasn’t cool to be levered-long US Equities in either of those January-February periods.

Never mind the obscurity of making the “valuation” case for stocks here; valuation isn’t a catalyst. Never mind the atmospheric phenomenon of short-term politicking and its effect on stoking “growth” hopes in the US economy either. That’s now consensus.


Take the “call” to sell US stocks here from a man who is already -3.37% too early in his short position (that would be me), as every Big Broker’s “strategist” is now officially calling for the US stock market to be up next year.


My immediate term support and resistance levels for the SP500 are now 1234 and 1248, respectively. If the SP500 makes another higher-high in the coming weeks, look for me to short it again. Yesterday I moved to a 70% position in Cash in the Hedgeye Asset Allocation Model.


Enjoy your weekend and best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


The Golden Haze - 1

The Enemy of Growth

This note was originally published at 8am on December 16, 2010. INVESTOR and RISK MANAGER SUBSCRIBERS have access to the EARLY LOOK (published by 8am every trading day) and PORTFOLIO IDEAS in real-time.

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”

-John F. Kennedy

I’ve heard a lot about “growth” in recent weeks. After a March 2009 trough to December 2010 peak rally in the SP500 of +83%, the US centric stock market bulls say “growth is back.” As a result, conforming to an institutionalized consensus weeks before our profession receives its year-end bonus check is a mounting pressure in my inbox. I’ve seen this movie before.


The Enemy of Growth isn’t going away. It’s called debt. Sovereign debt. And, no matter where you go in the new year, there will be more and more of it…


You don’t have to take my word for it on this. The longest of long-term data series we can find on sovereign debt default cycles and their correlations to fiat currency issued debts and structural inflation can be found in Reinhart & Rogoff’s “This Time Is Different.”


No, this is not a new thesis this morning. It’s a critical reminder. Because US stock market consensus is choosing to ignore it for a few more weeks doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.


The Enemy of Growth isn’t a Thunder Bay bear. It’s marked-to-market on your globally interconnected macro screens every day. While it’s convenient to assume that a +10% YTD return in the SP500 is a leading indicator for growth, one can easily argue that US style Jobless Stagflation won’t lead America to sustainable economic growth in 2011.


Remember, “inflation is a policy.” Or at least that’s what an ole school Austrian economist by the name of Ludwig von Mises said. Before your big Keynesian cheerleader of a global liquidity trap leads you to believe otherwise, don’t forget that it was von Mises who already called out Bernanke’s strategy to inflate 50 years ago when he said:


“The fact is that, in the not very long run, inflation doesn’t cure unemployment.” (Economic Policy, 4th Lecture, “Inflation”, page 53).


The Enemy of Growth is inflation. We know that, much like Jimmy Carter and then Fed Head, Arthur Burns, once tried to argue in the 1970s, some people think inflation is cool for some people. Some of those people aren’t the poor or middle-class however.


Currently, there is no more obvious threat to Global Growth Slowing than what you are seeing in emerging markets. Heck, some of these markets (like Hong Kong) might not even be considered “emerging” anymore. That’s not the point – what’s happening on the global macro scoreboard to emerging market stocks and bonds in the last 6 weeks is…


Since the beginning of November, here’s the score:

  1. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has dropped -8.1% since November the 8th.
  2. India’s BSE Sensex Index has dropped -8.3% since November the 5th.
  3. Brazil’s Bovespa Index has dropped -7.1% since November the 4th.

Now, the first thing you’ll hear coming out of US-centric stock market bulls right now has nothing to do with:

  1. Spiking Sovereign Debt Yields in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, America, etc…
  2. US Treasury and Global Commodity markets flashing clean cut inflation signals.
  3. The BRIC’s (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) falling, well, like bricks.

No, no, no. It’s all about a short-term year-end bonus “pop” in US growth associated with cutting taxes so that the world worries more and more about America’s long-term sovereign debt risk. Short term political resolve perpetuating long term systemic risk. Nice trade.


Markets “pop” then “drop”… most emerging stock and bond markets are already dropping…


Like the broken European promises of reducing their deficit/GDP ratios when European bond yields started breaking out in December of last year (when Hedgeye introduced our “Sovereign Debt Dichotomy” Macro Theme), now professional US politicians are promising you this time is different. This time it’s all about “growth”…


This time, The Enemy of Growth is a government inflation policy itself.


My immediate term support and resistance levels for the SP500 are now 1232 and 1246, respectively. I continue to be a seller of bonds, reducing my asset allocation to bonds from 6% to 3% as of yesterday’s close. Inflation is bad for bonds.


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


The Enemy of Growth - 1

Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.46%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.35%