Sputnik's Bone

“Man’s tongue is soft, and bone doth lack; yet a stroke therewith may break a man’s back.”

-Benjamin Franklin


Sputnik was a Russian space program that launched its first satellite into orbit on October 4th, 1957. A month later, since the Russian translation for the word literally means “travelling companion”, the animal rights folks from Siberia sent a female dog named “Laika” along for the ride.


Notwithstanding that Sputnik was originally designed to carry nuclear weaponry, I found it somewhat ridiculous altogether that the President of the United States tried his best to say this country is having its “Sputnik moment” last night, with a straight face.


No mention of the US Dollar. No mention of inflation. Just space dogs and spending…


There is no doubt that we have an outstanding orator leading this country. When it comes to differentiating between Bush and Obama, that might be it – both of them are all about Big Government Intervention, Big Government Spending, and Big Time US Dollar Debauchery – Obama just makes government “investing” (spending) sound a lot more hopeful.


Hope is not an investment or risk management process.


Back to the interconnected global market’s take on this, the most important real-time market quote I was watching throughout last night’s speech and this morning’s Global Macro trading (which includes currency and bond markets) was the US Dollar Index.


Sputnik, we have a problem. The Bone is Burning again.


As a reminder, given that a country’s currency reflects the overall health of its economy (including employment), monetary policy (including inflation), and fiscal strategy, both the President of the United States and the Fiat Fools who advise him are best served watching what America’s currency is doing both into and out of this speech (down for 4 of the last 5 weeks into it).


Here’s your real-time price and risk management update for Obama’s Burning Bone (quoted down -15bps this morning at $77.80):

  1. Immediate-term TRADE line of resistance = $79.64
  2. Intermediate-term TREND line of resistance = $78.66
  3. Long-term TAIL line of resistance = $81.62

In summary, this means the Burning Bone is bearish (broken) across all 3 of Hedgeye’s core risk management durations (TRADE, TREND, and TAIL). This is not good. And I’ll be selling my US Dollar long position today as a result (we bought it on November 4th when fiscal reform was being promised).


Remember, for some people, the inflation is good.


As Ludwig von Mises said in Argentina in 1959, “if one devalues the currency and the workers are not clever enough to realize it, they will not offer resistance against a drop in real wages, as long as nominal wage rates remain the same.”


That’s America today. High-Low Society 2.0.


And again, I get it – I am long inflation (short bonds) and I will, alongside America’s affluent, get paid on that today.

  1. We’re long Healthcare Inflation (XLV), which your government says is only 6.5% of your CPI basket (not a joke)
  2. We’re long Oil (OIL), which is rallying this morning as the Bone Burns
  3. We’re long Canadian and Chinese currency (FXC and CYB) which track with a positive correlation to global inflation

But the other HALF of Americans who don’t own a damn thing that’s levered to inflation can take Obama’s Burning Bone to the gas pump this morning and rotate on the idea that this is good for them.


Sure, Washington’s dogmatic aristocracy of policy making thinks they are “clever enough” to pull this off. They must think Americans are as stupid as the “investing” ideas of the 112th Congress. If you call Big Government Spending “good for business”, maybe they’ll all sing sweet nothings to each other around their fire places tonight and pray for Lassie to come home.


*Note: this morning’s weekly readings on the US Consumer confidence (after a +91% stock market inflation):

  1. ABC Consumer Confidence drops for the 2nd week in a row to minus -44 (versus minus -40 two-weeks ago)
  2. MBA weekly mortgage applications drop another -8.7% this week (vs. -1.9% last wk) as mortgage rates push higher

In the end, inflation kills stocks and bonds. It’s already killing emerging market stocks and US Bonds. And, yes, Egypt’s +12% reported inflation rate is massively understated by a politically oppressive government and that’s contributing to this morning’s civil unrest.


The Bone Burners will tell you that rising US Treasury Yields this morning (2-year UST yields are breaking out above their immediate-term TRADE line of resistance of 0.61%) are all about “growth.”


The Chinese, Indians, and Brazilians, will tell you that rising Municipal and UST bond yields also have something to do with both Burning Bone driven inflation and US credit quality risk.


As India’s sober central banking Governor, Subbarao, said last night, “monetary policy works most efficiently while dealing with an inflationary situation, when the fiscal situation is under control.”


Sorry, Mr. President – good oration of the speech, but you’re not in the area code of enough spending cuts to keep Sputnik’s Bone from looking like it wants to be buried alongside the already broken promises of America’s Mid-term elections.


My immediate-term TRADE lines of support and resistance for the SP500 are now 1286 and 1295, respectively.


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Sputnik's Bone - egypt


TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP - January 26, 2011

Equity futures are trading above fair value in a continuation of Tuesday's late day rally which erased declines in the last hour. Overnight, global markets have reacted positively to President Obama's State of the Union address in which he highlighted the need to cut corporate tax rates, and pledged to freeze domestic spending.  As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 9 points or -0.40% downside to 1286 and +0.30% upside to 1295.



  • MBA Mortgage Index Sinks to Lowest Since Nov. 2008 MBA mortgage applications index fell 12.9% week ended Jan. 21. Refi’s sank 15.3%, lowest in a yr Purchases fell 8.7%, lowest since Oct.
  • Avg. 30-yr fixed rose to 4.80% from 4.77% prior week; rate hit 4.21% in Oct., lowest since group’s records began in 1990
  • Almost 60% of global investors predict at least one nation will leave euro-area within five years and a majority also says that Greece and Ireland will default, Bloomberg Global Poll shows as World Economic Forum’s annual meeting gets underway in Davos.
  • Spain will impose core capital requirement of as much as 10% on lenders that don’t have private investors and depend on wholesale funding, Finance Minister Elena Salgado
  • EFSF will need more cash to take on role of bond buybacks that ministers are discussing; would require as much as EU280b, more than rules currently allow it to disburse, for rescue program focused on Greece,
  • 10 a.m.: New home sales, Dec., est. 3.5% M/m gain to 300k, prior 290k, 5.5% gain
  • 10:30 a.m.: DOE inventories, Jan. 21
  • 11:30 a.m.: U.S. sells $25b 56-day cash management bills; 1 p.m.: sells $35b 5-yr notes
  • 3 p.m.: USDA broiler eggs set, Jan. 21


  • Altera (ALTR) forecast 1Q rev. down 1%-5% sequentially, implies sales $527.6m-$549.8m vs est. $523.2m
  • DeVry (DV) reported 2Q EPS $1.25 vs est. $1.19
  • Gilead Sciences (GILD) got “refuse to file” notification from FDA on Truvada/TMC278 NDA
  • Juniper Networks (JNPR) forecast 1Q rev. $1.06b-$1.11b vs. est. $1.09b
  • Keynote Systems (KEYN) forecast 2Q rev. $23m-$24m vs. est. $21.5m (3 ests.)
  • Lowe’s Cos. (LOW) plans to cut 1,700 management Jobs, hire 8k-10k more weekend staff
  • Molex (MOLX) forecast 3Q EPS 39c-43c vs est. 40c
  • RF Micro Devices (RFMD) forecast 4Q rev. down 10%-15% (implies $237.2-$251.1m), vs est. $259.4m
  • Stryker (SYK) said 2011 EPS may be as low as $3.65, vs est. $3.69; reported 4Q adj. EPS 93c, est. 91c
  • WMS Industries (WMS) forecast 3Q rev. $209m-$215m vs est. $219.5m
  • Yahoo! (YHOO) forecast 1Q rev. ex-TAC $1.02b-$1.08b vs est. $1.14b
  • Wellpoint (WLP) 6 a.m., $1.22
  • Praxair (PX) 6:02 a.m., $1.23
  • Textron (TXT) 6:30 a.m., $0.26
  • Xerox (XRX) 6:45 a.m., $0.28
  • MeadWestvaco (MWV) 6:50 a.m., $0.39
  • Eastman Kodak (EK) 6:52 a.m., $0.05
  • Legg Mason (LM) 7 a.m., $0.46
  • McCormick (MKC) 7 a.m., $0.96
  • Rockwell Automation (ROK) 7 a.m., $0.88
  • United Technologies (UTX) 7 a.m., $1.29
  • United Continental Holdings (UAL) 7:03 a.m., $0.24
  • Allegheny Technologies (ATI) 7:30 a.m., $0.29
  • Automatic Data Processing (ADP) 7:30 a.m., $0.61
  • Boeing (BA) 7:30 a.m., $1.11
  • Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (CP CN) 7:30 a.m., $1.08
  • General Dynamics (GD) 7:30 a.m., $1.85
  • Hess (HES) 7:30 a.m., $1.23
  • Southern Co (SO) 7:30 a.m., $0.18
  • St Jude Medical (STJ) 7:30 a.m., $0.74
  • Occidental Petroleum (OXY) 7:35 a.m., $1.54
  • Abbott Laboratories (ABT) 7:44 a.m., $1.29
  • Valero Energy (VLO) 7:44 a.m., $0.34
  • Cooper Industries PLC (CBE) 8 a.m., $0.85
  • Exelon (EXC) 8 a.m., $0.92
  • New York Community Ban (NYB) 8 a.m., $0.32
  • ConocoPhillips (COP) 8:30 a.m., $1.31
  • US Airways Group (LCC) 8:30 a.m., $0.06 
  • Qualcomm (QCOM) 4 p.m., $0.72
  • Varian Medical Systems (VAR) 4 p.m., $0.73
  • Harris (HRS) 4:03 p.m., $1.11
  • Starbucks (SBUX) 4:03 p.m., $0.39
  • Crown Castle International (CCI) 4:04 p.m., $0.08
  • Amylin Pharmaceuticals (AMLN) 4:05 p.m., $(0.31)
  • Citrix Systems (CTXS) 4:05 p.m., $0.60
  • E*Trade Financial (ETFC) 4:05 p.m., $0.04
  • Lam Research (LRCX) 4:05 p.m., $1.57
  • NetFlix (NFLX) 4:05 p.m., $0.71
  • Owens-Illinois (OI) 4:05 p.m., $0.47
  • Symantec (SYMC) 4:05 p.m., $0.33
  • Motorola Mobility Holdings (MMI) 4:15 p.m., $0.37
  • Alcon (ACL) 4:15 p.m., $1.69
  • Murphy Oil (MUR) 4:47 p.m., $1.00
  • Noble (NE) 5:02 p.m., $0.32


The XLB remains the only sector that is broken on the Hedgeye TRADE - 8 of 9 sectors positive on TRADE and 9 of 9 sectors positive on TREND.

  • One day: Dow (0.03%), S&P +0.03%, Nasdaq +0.06%, Russell 2000 +0.09%
  • Last Week: Dow +0.72%, S&P -0.76%, Nasdaq -2.39%, Russell -4.26%
  • Year-to-date: Dow +3.45%, S&P +2.67%, Nasdaq +2.50%, Russell (0.47%)
  • Sector Performance - (4 sectors up and 4 down and 1 flat): - Tech +0.46%, Consumer Spls +0.32%, Materials +0.13%, Consumer Disc 0.05%, Healthcare (0.00%), Utilities (0.15%), Industrials (0.12%), Financials (0.20%), Energy (0.29%)


  • ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: 219 (-1001)  
  • VOLUME: NYSE 1046.43 (+8.78%)
  • VIX:  17.59 -0.36% YTD PERFORMANCE: -0.90%
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: 2.44 from 2.06 (-18.19%)


Treasuries were higher yesterday with the weakness in stocks throughout much of the day.

  • TED SPREAD: 15.63 -0.304 (-1.910%)
  • 3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: 0.16%      
  • YIELD CURVE: 2.73 from 2.78


  • CRB: 327.570 -1.54%  
  • Oil: 86.19 -1.91% - trading +0.66% in the AM
  • COPPER: 422.60 -2.82% - trading +0.96% in the AM  
  • GOLD: 1,333.07 -0.79% - trading +0.25% in the AM  


  • Crude oil fell to its lowest price in eight weeks on signs that the economies of the U.S. and the U.K. are struggling to recover, curbing demand growth for fuels. 
  • Natural gas futures fell, marking their biggest two-day drop since November, on declines in other commodities and speculation that U.S. supplies are adequate to meet winter-heating demand.
  • India plans to invest $3 billion to build a steel plant in Indonesia and buy coal from the Southeast Asian nation as part of an initial accord.
  • Gold futures fell to the lowest in almost three months as demand waned for precious metals as alternative investments.  Global investors are becoming more confident about the economic outlook, according to a quarterly poll of 1,000 Bloomberg subscribers.
  • Copper prices fell to their lowest level in a month on Tuesday as another sharp build in London inventories and inflation fears in Asian consuming countries cast some doubts over the red metal's near-term demand outlook.
  • U.S. corn futures closed lower for the second consecutive day Tuesday as the market pulled back from 30-month highs.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture will give traders their next update on corn demand when it issues weekly export sales data Thursday.
  • Wheat futures rose, capping the longest rally in six months, on signs that demand is increasing for U.S. supplies as adverse weather threatens global output.
  • U.S. hog futures surged Tuesday on a plan by South Korea to remove its tariff on pork imports through June, likely boosting pork exports from the U.S.  Animal-health officials in South Korea have been battling numerous outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease


  • EURO: 1.3642  - trading +0.39% in the AM
  • DOLLAR: 78.002 -0.06% - trading -0.21% in the AM 


  • FTSE 100: +1.31%; DAX: 1.25%; CAC 40: +0.90% (AS OF 6:45 AM EST)
  • European markets opened higher and extended gains to currently trade around session highs, buoyed by broadly higher markets across Asia and US futures trade higher.
  • European Automobile Manufacturers' Association Dec Commercial Vehicles Registrations in the EU +12.5% y/y
  • BOE minutes: MPC voted 7-2 to hold rates at 0.5%, voted 8-1 to keep QE total at £200B; BOE policy maker Martin Weale joined Andrew Sentance in voting for an interest-rate increase this month as officials said the balance of risks to inflation had moved “upwards,” minutes show.
  • UK Dec Mortgage Approvals 28,726 vs prior 29,696
  • Germany reported import price inflation 12% vs est. 10.8%, fastest pace in 29 years. German two-year government note yields rose to the highest in a year as data raises inflation expectations.
  • Spain reported home loans down 14.6% Y/y in Nov., seventh month of declines.
  • Italy reported Nov. retail sales down 0.3% M/m vs est. gain 0.1%
  • Spanish, Greek, Portuguese 10-yr bonds all decline


  • Nikkei (0.60)%; Hang Seng +0.23%; Shanghai Composite +1.17%
  • Asian markets were mixed this morning.
  • China up 1.17% and Indonesia up 1.97%
  • South Korea rose 1.14% when Q4 GDP growth beat expectations although slowed sequentially.  GDP rose 0.5% vs 0.7% last quarter.  The median estimate of 12 economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 0.4%.  Year-over-year GDP increased 4.8%.
  • Taiwan rose +0.71%.
  • Japan declined (0.60%) on a weak showing by Wall Street and uninspiring US earnings. Japan December corporate services price index (1.3%) y/y to 96.4.
  • Australia is closed for Australia Day.


Howard Penney

Managing Director




WMS seems to be a victim of their own aggressive guidance this quarter with both results and guidance plagued by delays of product and jurisdiction launches.



WMS seems to be a victim of their own aggressive guidance this quarter, with both results and guidance plagued with delays of product and jurisdiction launches.  While we like the long term story here, we’ve felt that lately the company has become aggressive in what it promises the Street and this game usually doesn’t end well.  Gaming is a highly regulated business and delays are to be expected – this quarter demonstrated that. Coupled with the earlier known delays in IL, we also found out that WMS’s launch in Italy was delayed as was the timing of the commercialization of their portal application, coupled with slight delays in launching gaming ops titles.


Regarding the quarter, the real miss in our mind was on the game operation side.  Based on the Godfather launch and the launch of Great and Powerful Oz, New Monopoly refresh we thought that units would be moderately up. While they also missed our product sale revenues, this the miss was small and entirely due to the higher mix of used game sales at lower prices (~$5.3k vs. $8.5k last quarter). 




  • "Reiterated its fiscal 2011 annual revenue guidance of $830-to-$850 million and revised its annual operating margin guidance to 20.5%-to-21.0% to reflect first-half fiscal 2011 results, lower contribution from gaming operations and the continuing impact from higher-than-anticipated, low-margin used gaming machine sales."
  • "Fiscal 2011 third quarter revenue guidance of $209-to-$215 million... with an expected operating margin of 20.5%-to-21.0%."
  • "Global new unit shipments of 6,310 units, an 8% increase in the average selling price to $16,620"
    • "New unit shipments in the U.S. and Canada...totaled 3,921 units"
    • "Replacement market shipments were essentially flat at 3,200 gaming machines" 
    • "International product shipments of 2,389 units represented 38% of total global shipments ...Growth in Mexico and Australia, coupled with modest growth in Asia and Latin America, more than offset lower shipments to Europe, which remains impacted by the challenging economic environment."
    • "Primarily reflecting a product sales mix that benefited from 23% of shipments being premium-featured, higher-priced Bluebird xD units. Bluebird2 and Bluebird xD units represented 96% of total global new unit sales"
    • "Mechanical reel products were 25% of global new unit shipments"
  • "Approximately 3,100 used gaming machines were sold in the December 2010 quarter at lower prices, reflecting both a greater year-over-year impact from trade-ins of lower-value competitor units and an increase in used Bluebird gaming machine sales"
  • "Sales of approximately 2,000 hardware and game conversion kits"


  •  xD will reach parity margins with BB2 by June 2011.
  • Expect growth in the install base in 2H011 given the launch of numerous participation titles, believe that the average install base will be a few hundred above 2010 but slightly below their guidance range
  • Continue to believe that customer budgets will be similar to slightly better than 2010
  • They are experiencing some delays with Italy and IL getting pushed to FY2012 which impacted their guidance
  • Expect to be a couple hundred dollars above their original guidance for ASP and in-line with their guidance on global unit shipments
  • Demand for xD has exceeded their expectations
  • Over 50% of their used gaming machines were WMS machines
  • Most of the decline in their install base is due to old machines rolling off ahead of the launch of their new game titles in the back half of the year
  • Expect to achieve higher average revenue per day on their install base and achieve their original guidance parameters
  • Lower overall margins reflects the higher mix of product sales as a % of total sales and the higher % mix of used games
  • They also had slightly higher licensing expenses and higher WAP jackpot expenses in the quarter
  • Expect to see further increases in the D&A expense in the back half of the year
  • Expect to realize quarterly margin improvements in the March and June quarters
  • Reinstatement of the R&D tax credit resulted in a 2 cent EPS benefit. The 100% bonus depreciation benefit reduces their deferred tax liability adding $10MM of FCF. In the March and June quarter the tax rate should be in the 35-36% given the increase in the IL state income tax rate.
  • TTM return on invested capital was 14%
  • Growth in receivables is due to Mexico -where contracts have longer payment terms
  • Write-offs have historically been 0.5%
  • 2H growth drivers:
    • ASP growth
    • Install base growth
    • Growth in new markets like Mexico and New South Wales
    • Launch of new businesses like portal applications and i-gaming portal
  • ICE trade show feedback has been very favorable on their portfolio. Expect to realize greater penetration internationally with their BB cabinet.  Feel like the environment in Europe is stabilizing and should improve in the latter half of their fiscal year.
  • Concession with Cogetech - will place units in early September
  • Expect to hear who was awarded the systems contract in IL shortly
  • Great and Powerful Oz is exhibiting strong performance (was launched late in the quarter)
  • Recently started to ramp their marketing efforts in UK for their online casino site
  • Players Life - unique logins stand at 250,000. Have an additional 44 games in the pipeline with Players Life capabilities -2 of which launched this quarter
  • Portal applications being tested in 8 casinos - (Jackpot explosion) average coin-in increase has been about 35%. Regulatory approval has taken longer than expected - to late March- and expect to double their beta sites. Will launch a beta site in Vegas. Revenues will be minor in 2011 but should build in F2012.



  • Believe that their ship share is in the 30% range globally
  • 27.5% of their product came from xD in the F1H2011
  • Average revenue per participation unit decreased YoY, why?
    • Difficult Wizard of Oz
    • Economy
    • Delayed launches of new games into the back half of 2011
  • Average order size was 26 this quarter, ticked up a little bit
  • Wagenet pricing: will be a combination of fixed fee and recurring fee and will depend on the size of the installation
  • NA shipments:
    • Portion of the Perryville units; small # of Cosmo units; Gun Lake

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 80.43%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.35%

Obama's Message Bullish or Bearish? (VIDEO)


According to ICSC, chain store sales continued their weak start to 2011. In the latest week, sales fell 1.2% although year-over-year growth improved to 2.8%.  This was the third straight decline and the second largest one and since wintry weather has hit us (again), the inclement conditions were to blame for the weakness.  While growth of 2.8% was the second weakest in seven weeks, it was well above the prior week's 1.4%.


As a result of the weakness, the ICSC lowered its forecast for growth in January to about 2%. It was previously forecasting growth of about 2.5%, below December's 3.1% and the slowest growth since October.  Consistent with our view of consumer spending in 1H11, comparisons remain difficult.  While the Social Security tax cut provides upside risk to this outlook, the timing depends on how quickly the changes can be implemented.


On the positive side consumer confidence rose in January to the highest level in eight months! The Conference Board’s index of sentiment increased to 60.6 from a revised 53.3.  While this is a net positive today, a continued improvement in optimism and an improving labor market are needed to keep the momentum going. 


Is it sustainable?


Working against the potential for continuous improvement in confidence and consumer spending are declining home prices.  As our Financials analyst, Josh Steiner, noted in a note this morning, home prices are falling and he expects this to persist at an accelerating year-over-year rate through July 2011, and will continue to fall in absolute terms thereafter.


While the sales numbers may have been slowed by snowy weather in large parts of the country, overall sales trends remained constrained by weak-but-improving consumer fundamentals.  Specifically, the moderation in private sector job growth in the last two months highlighted that the labor market remains a drag on spending despite the drop in unemployment in December.


Meanwhile, wage income is generally improving, but only gradually and from a low base and most consumers are, voluntarily or involuntarily, not accessing credit to finance consumption.  As a result, expedited improvement in the labor market is needed to generate the necessary wage income to support spending.


Inflation is also a risk.  Gasoline prices continue to rise and are a drag on spending.  The average price gasoline has risen for eight straight weeks and was $3.16 per gallon last week.  Higher energy prices particularly hurt lower-income households who spend more disposable income on energy needs.


One of the key tenets of our Consumer Cannonball theme was the phasing out of government supported income payment.  While the government contribution to income growth dropped to essentially zero at the end of 2010, this has changed in early 2011 when Social Security withholding declined as a result of the tax bill. 


It is now consensus that sales growth in 2011 will accelerate thanks to the renewed government support.  Despite the uptick in confidence, weak fundamentals will remain a constraint and the government support will have a fading impact as we go through 2011, keeping consumers cautious and putting a governor on growth.  Furthermore, the decline in home prices is likely to dampen sentiment, particularly in the event that rates increase.


Despite today’s uptick in confidence, consumers will not lead the recovery in the near or intermediate term.


THE CONSUMER’S MIXED SIGNALS - housing vs consumer


Howard Penney

Managing Director

Daily Trading Ranges

20 Proprietary Risk Ranges

Daily Trading Ranges is designed to help you understand where you’re buying and selling within the risk range and help you make better sales at the top end of the range and purchases at the low end.