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Macro Consumer

“I have often, this past decade, wished that there was a formal and well-established discipline called macro-consumer.”

-Rama Bijapurkar

 

That quote is from the author of a book that one of our sharpest Global Macro clients sent me recently titled “We Are Like That OnlyUnderstanding The Logic of Consumer India.” That’s what I’m reading this week. It’s an excellent perspective on the real-time global economy.

 

What is the real-time Global Macro economy? Is it different than the traditional Bachelor of Arts view of the US economy? What is Keynesian economics? And what, if anything, have central planners of Fiat Fool Kingdoms learned about how their short-term decisions impact currencies, commodities, and the Macro Consumer since Rama Bijapurkar made the aforementioned wish in 2007?

 

These are critical questions concerning both Global Macro-Economic Context and Causality. Instead of a few days of vacation, I could probably take off for a few years and write a book of my own considering the answers. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to do that, yet.

 

What I do have time for this morning is throwing some of these questions right back to President Obama. Today, Obama’s economic group-thinkers are going to be huddled in the conference room fielding questions in a wanna be “town hall” on Twitter @ #AskObama. So if you want to know if he calls Geithner his pet Squirrel Hunter in Chief, here’s your chance.

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

  1. Global Equity markets like Deflating The Inflation (China, Germany, and USA all holding TREND line support)
  2. The Macro Consumer likes Deflating The Inflation (MBA mortgage applications UP finally this week, +4.8% w/w in the US)
  3.  If President Obama wants to Deflate The Inflation, he’s going to have to do a lot more than tap the SPR

He’s going to have to get out of the way.

 

A lot of people whine that critics of US Congress “don’t have a solution.” That’s a crock. There is a very simple solution to this Macro Consumer mess:

 

A)     Strengthen the US Dollar with a credibility bid to get government out of the business of trying to make things happen

B)      Then just let it ride

 

Ride on the back of the biggest Global Macro Consumption Engine created in the history of mankind – the American Consumer… ride Cowboy Obama, ride!

 

Tapping the SPR only taps on peoples’ nerves that Big Government Intervention is here to stay. Getting someone like Stan Druckenmiller or Michael Bloomberg to run the US Treasury instead of The Squirrely One would have the opposite effect. The last thing Americans want is Geithner’s smug smirk whispering about the 14th Amendment powers of The President. What they want is change.

 

Change starts with stopping what isn’t working. Change in Global Macro markets is marked-to-market - not to some cochamamy Keynesian concept that’s attempting not to die in a Princeton textbook.

 

Just look at what Deflating The Inflation (a 21% peak-to-trough decline in oil prices from late April to the end of June) has done for Global Equities and Global Consumption. It stopped both from going down!

 

The last 48 hours of Global Macro data has been percolating on this score - and bullishly so:

  1. German Service PMI for the month of June was up sequentially to 56.7 versus 56.1 in May
  2. India’s Services PMI for the month of June was up sequentially to 56.1 versus 55.0 in May
  3. Indonesia’s Consumer Confidence for the month of June was up sequentially to 91.8 versus 90.6 in May

But, again, these are June numbers – and in June, the US Dollar arrested its decline and oil prices were falling. Today is July the 6th, and it’s not clear, yet, if there is a political spine to strengthen the US Dollar sustainably. The Chinese raising interest rates one last time should help.

 

We shorted oil for the first time in a long time yesterday in the Hedgeye Portfolio. So that means there is an interconnected chance here folks. There really is a chance that the US Dollar Index continues to make a series of higher-lows and busts a bigger move to the upside in the coming months.

 

If that happens, you will see:

  1. A continued selloff in Oil’s price down to its long-term TAIL of support ($90.51/barrel, or -7% downside from here)
  2. A continued short squeeze in Global Equities from China to Indiana
  3. A continued deleveraging of the Global Hedge Fund community’s carry trading of Geithner’s Down Dollar policies

“We are like that only” in America, Canada, and Germany too. We like to buy gas and food when they are on sale.

 

My immediate-term support and resistance ranges for Gold, Oil, and the SP500 are now $1, $90.51-97.11, and 1, respectively.

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Macro Consumer - Chart of the Day

 

Macro Consumer - Virtual Portfolio


Q2 HOTEL TRANSACTIONS UPDATE

Hotel transaction market continues to chug along at a good pace.

 

 

Market M&A Trends for Q2

  • Q2 US hotel transaction volume neared $4BN, lower than the ~$5BN seen in 1Q but enough to surpass all of 2010’s total volume.
    • Q2 US Upper Upscale Hotel Volume declined 30% QoQ but the number of transactions doubled and Average Price per Key grew 12% QoQ in Q2.
  • No surprise, REITs continued to dominate the M&A market in Q2; however, we did see a handful of transactions by Hyatt and Starwood.
  • There were more portfolio deals relative to Q1.
  • Hotel delinquencies have stabilized. The latest data from Fitch showed Q2, as of May, hotel delinquencies hit 13.9%, a little better than Q1’s 14.3%.
    • CMBS loans are seeing 60-70% LTV with 5-year terms of between 5.5% and 6.5%.
    • Rates on three- to five-year, fixed-rate deals, with 50% to 65% LTV, are in the 5% range. 
    • Lenders were more likely to fund longer-term (10-year) deals.

Luxury Segment

  • Average Price per Key
    • Q2 2011 Global average: $546,628
      • US average: $611,871 (5 transactions)
    • Q1 2011 Global average: $279,697
      • US average:  $289,733 (4 transactions)

Upper Upscale Segment

  • Average Price per Key
    • Q2 2011 Global average:  $320,937
      • US average: $327,187 (13 transactions)
    • Q1 2011 Global average: $257,295
      • US average: $291,945 (7 transactions)
Q2 HOTEL TRANSACTIONS UPDATE - hotel transaction1

THE M3: CHINA

The Macau Metro Monitor, July 6, 2011

 

CHINA RAISES INTEREST RATES WSJ

The People's Bank of China said it will raise its benchmark deposit and lending rates by 0.25% point to 6.56% and 3.5% respectively.  This is the third rate increase this year and its fifth rate increase in the latest round of tightening.  The move comes after the PBOC announced increases in its benchmark lending and deposit rates on April 5 and February 8 this year.  The PBOC also raised banks' reserve requirement ratio six times in 2010 and six times so far in 2011.

 

NEW LOANS IN CHINA THIS YEAR MAY BE ONLY CNY 6.67T China Securities Journal

According to a preliminary estimate, new loans in China for June reached CNY500 Billion, which implies CNY4 Trillion loans for the 1st half of 2011.  Using a 3:3:2:2 ratio for quarterly lending,  this would imply CNY6.67 Trillion for 2011, below the widely reported but never officially announced target of CNY 7-7.5 Trillion.

 

 

 


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BWLD - IN THE RED ZONE

In the May 27th issues of the Hedgeye Edge I included BWLD as one of my top ideas.  While it’s still a name I like, we need to start looking at taking some of the chips off the table. 

 

Within the Casual Dining names, year-to-date, BWLD is the third-best performing name after RRGB and BJRI, up 52.7%.  This outperformance has been driven by the company being revalued in the marketplace; over the past 6 months BWLD has seen consensus EPS rise 7.5% (RRGB, MRT, DIN and EAT all had even better revision trends than BWLD) and its forward NTM P/E multiple 45%.  At the very least, the performance of BWLD is telling you that the NFL lockout will end soon and not disrupt sales trends in 4Q11. 

 

The sell-side sentiment monitor still stands at a bullish reading of 58.8% buys (was 55.6% in January 2011; while the buy-side sentiment reading (Bloomberg short-interest ratio) has decline from 8.47 in January to 7.29 currently (was 12.44 last August).   

 

Year-to-date the stock has worked with very little support from the sell-side and the shorts have been covering on the back of better-than-expected sales and earnings driven in part by lower food coast, among other things.  Trading at 9.1x EV/EBITDA, there is about $7.06 (10.7%) of upside if the market revalues the stock to 10.1X EV/EBITDA (and there is no more upward revisions to EPS).   

 

BWLD - IN THE RED ZONE  - bwld evebitda

 

 

We have been pointing out recently that the top-line is, by far, the most important metric investors are considering at the moment and, with respect to this view, we believe BWLD will report a strong 2Q11.  Depending on how strong comparable restaurant sales are for 2Q, 3Q could see a sequential deceleration on one- and two-year average trends.

 

Regarding food costs, BWLD will be lapping the benefit of lower chicken wing prices in approximately six months.  Below, I discuss more in depth the sales and margin trends.

 

 

BWLD same-store sales trends:

 

Although April same-store sales trends were up an impressive +5.3%, it is important to remember that the company was lapping an easy comparison from April 2010, when comparable sales declined -3.7%.  This +5.3% growth implies a 120 bp slowdown in two-year average trends from two-year average trends in the first quarter.   I would expect to see two-year trends slow somewhat during the second quarter, given the slower start to the quarter and the decreased level of pricing during 2Q11 of 1.9% relative to 2.4% in 1Q11. 

 

BWLD - IN THE RED ZONE  - bwld pod 1

 

 

Management also stated that incremental gift card redemptions benefited same-store sales growth by about 60 bps during the first quarter, which will likely not be as beneficial going forward.  That being said, the same-store sales growth comparison gets easier in 2Q11, so comparable sales growth should continue to be strong on a one-year basis.  I am currently modeling a +3.0% comp for the second quarter. 

 

The year-over-year comparison gets increasingly more difficult come the third quarter and if the company does not implement another price increase (management said it has not yet decided whether it will take any further menu price increases), pricing will decrease to +1.3% in the second half of the year.  Assuming no disruption to the NFL season, I am currently modeling a 1.5% comp for the third quarter and +4% growth during 4Q11.

 

During the first quarter, average weekly sales at company units outpaced same-store sales growth by 390 bps.  I would expect company average weekly sales to continue to outpace comparable sales growth as management continues to close underperforming restaurants (the company said it will close or relocate 8 older units) and new unit performance is strong.

 

 

BWLD Restaurant-level Operating Margins:

 

Restaurant-level margins improved about 360 bps YOY during the first quarter.  The bulk of that YOY growth was driven by lower traditional wing prices (traditional wings accounted for 20% of sales), which were down 36% YOY during the quarter.  Accelerated same-store sales growth on both a one-year and two-year average basis also contributed to the company’s increased operating leverage. 

 

BWLD - IN THE RED ZONE  - bwld pod 2

 

 

Given that traditional wing prices averaged $1.02 per pound during the first two months of the second quarter (down 33% YOY from 2Q10’s $1.51 per pound cost and down nearly 22% on a two-year average basis), BWLD should continue to see significant favorability on the COGS line for the remainder of the year.  As a percentage of sales, the YOY favorability should moderate, however, as traditional wing prices peaked during 1Q10.

 

BWLD - IN THE RED ZONE  - chicken wings 75

 

 

Partially offsetting the COGS benefit, BWLD experienced higher labor expenses during the first quarter which management attributed to higher training costs related to its new menu rollout and increased hourly wages as the company invested in speed of service initiatives.  The incremental training costs will roll off during the second quarter but management still expects to experience higher hourly expenses; though it said continued leverage of management wages should result in flat YOY labor expenses as a percentage of sales.  I am modeling some slight deleveraging of the labor expense line during the second quarter given my assumption that same-store sales trends will moderate slightly from the first quarter on a two-year average basis.

 

All in, I think restaurant level margins will continue to improve for the remainder of the year; though 1Q11 should prove to be the high point from a YOY basis point growth standpoint.  Management’s full-year EPS target of more than 18% growth should be easily achieved, assuming no major NFL disruptions (I currently forecasting full-year EPS growth of nearly 22%).  I would not be surprised to see 2Q and 3Q11 earnings fall short of that annual goal, however, largely as a result of the expected significant YOY jump in preopening expenses during those quarters.

 

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

 

Rory Green

Analyst


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