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A weekly look at commodity trends pertaining to our space.  Over the last week, dollar strength and concerns surrounding economic growth have helped drive overall commodity prices lower.

SUMMARY

Proteins moved higher, week-over-week, despite strength in the dollar and a fall off in grain prices.  Coffee was the most notable mover of the week, declining -5.8%, but remain high on an absolute basis, as the chart below shows.

WEEKLY COMMODITY MONITOR - commod 914

GENERAL CALLOUT

The CRB Foodstuffs Index is currently 9.25% above the July 2008 peak while WTI crude oil is trading 37% below its 2008 peak (Brent is down 23% from its 2008 peak).  Retail gasoline prices in the U.S., on the other hand, are down 11.5% versus the ’08 peak, despite the decline this summer.

WEEKLY COMMODITY MONITOR - crb foodstuffs

COFFEE

Coffee prices declining over the last week may be rooted in speculation that demand from roasters is weakening because of higher prices and increased supply.  Despite the recent drop, coffee prices remain up 42% and 16% on a year-over-year and year-to-date basis, respectively.  Emerging market demand for coffee also remains strong.  Bloomberg reported today that emerging market and producing countries will account for more than 50% of all the coffee consumed in the world by 2020, according to P&A Marketing International. 

WEEKLY COMMODITY MONITOR - coffee 914

Below is a selection of comments from management teams pertaining to coffee prices from recent earnings calls.

PEET (8/2/11): “As we indicated, in our first quarter call, we had to buy a small amount of our calendar 2011 coffee beans at significantly higher prices and this coffee will roll into our P&L during the third and fourth quarter.”

“Higher priced coffee resulted in gross margins this quarter being 290 basis points below prior year. In our first quarter conference call, we indicated that in addition to the overall higher price coffee market, we had to buy a small amount of coffee this year at significantly higher prices. And as a result, we expected our coffee cost to be 40% higher in fiscal 2011.”

HEDGEYE:  Peet’s is a company with a very competent management team that manages coffee costs extremely well.  Its higher-end, loyal customer base makes the price elasticity of demand more inelastic than for other coffee concepts’ products.

SBUX (7/28/11):  “As I mentioned earlier, are absolutely a headwind for us in the full business and that's most acutely impactful on margins in CPG as it's a much more coffee intensive cost structure, as you know. I can tell you that the decline as I spoke about it earlier from about 30% operating margin in CPG this year down to the target 25% next year is really all explained by commodities. Absent commodity inflation we'd be at or improving our margin in the coming year.”

“As we had anticipated, in recent weeks, coffee prices have retreated significantly from a high of more than $3 per pound just a couple of months ago to levels now near $2.40 per pound. As prices have been falling we continue locking up our needs for fiscal '12 and now have virtually the full year price protected.”

HEDGEYE: Starbucks is aligning itself with the right partners to gain more control of its coffee costs to provide investors with more certainty going forward and to protect its margins as global coffee demand continues to rise.

GMCR (7/27/2011): “However, what we've said is that should coffee prices or other material costs spike, we will certainly consider price increases as necessary. We certainly hope that we do not have to cover one again next year. But our objective long-term is attempting to maintain our gross margin as we would see input costs come along.”

HEDGEYE:  GMCR hedges out 6-9 months in advance.  Strength in the dollar has helped bring coffee prices lower but whether or not dollar strength will continue or not will be a significant factor in future price action in coffee.  Growing demand, globally, is bullish for coffee prices over the long term.

GRAINS

Wheat and corn prices came down week-over-week.  Today, wheat futures are rebounding from a five-week low on speculation that demand will increase from livestock producers seeking an alternative to higher-prices corn as a feed grain. 

WEEKLY COMMODITY MONITOR - what 914

WEEKLY COMMODITY MONITOR - corn 914

Below is a selection of comments from management teams pertaining to grain prices from recent earnings calls.

PNRA (7/27/11): “Just to note on the cost of wheat, in 2011 overall, the per-bushel cost will be about the same as 2010 due to our laddering purchasing strategy.”

“We are going to take price in the fourth quarter. This price will offset dollar for dollar the per-bushel inflation of wheat of approximately $3 a quarter that we're going to see in the fourth quarter of this year and then across next year”

“We do continue to expect significant inflationary pressures in 2012, 4% to 5% food inflation, $10 million of unfavorability on wheat costs, which means that we don't expect operating margin much better than flat to full-year 2011 in 2012.”

HEDGEYE:  Wheat costs have come down but it remains unclear whether or not the current easing of grain prices will continue.  Weak global demand and a stronger dollar are currently trumping the adverse impact on supply due to weather and fires in the U.S.  Slowing demand may also mean lower sales for PNRA, so it remains to be seen if margins improve from this effect, even if high wheat costs come down.

DPZ (7/26/11): “We're fairly locked in on our chicken, locked in on our wheat into – partway into next year.”

PZZA (8/4/11): “We're actually covered through Q1 from a contract standpoint. So from a supply chain disruption or even significant price impact we don't anticipate anything between now and the end of the year.”

CHICKEN WINGS

Chicken wing prices are up 20% from the year-to-date low in June.  On a longer term basis, there is plenty of room for chicken wing prices to run higher, as the second chart below shows.  It is likely, unless the increase in prices escalates further from here, that chicken wing price growth will remain negative, year-over-year, until the second half of 2012.  BWLD has reaped significant rewards from declining wing prices over the last year but this tailwind could be in the process of turning around at this point.

WEEKLY COMMODITY MONITOR - chicken wings 914

WEEKLY COMMODITY MONITOR - chicken wing prices long term

Howard Penney

Managing Director

Rory Green

Analyst