AMZN: Selling

"McGough likes it closer to the long-term TAIL line of support ($191); TREND resistance remains intact at $217." -KM


AMZN: Selling - AMZN 10 28 11






Consumer Data


Personal Income growth in September came in at +0.1% versus expectations of +0.3% while Personal Spending came in at +0.6%, in line with Street expectations.  PCE Core came in at +1.6% y/y in September versus +1.7% expectations.  Consumers are decreasing their savings rate to spend.  This is not sustainable but, as we have seen in the past, stimuli can come via many different levers.  Nevertheless, the slow quarter-over-quarter personal income growth – worst since 2009 – is a looming cloud over the economic data this morning.



One of the top stories on Bloomberg this morning is titled “Restaurants Lift Prices to Catch Food-at Home Inflation”.  As we have been highlighting for some time, restaurants have some room to raise prices given the much bolder price hikes being taken in the grocery aisle.  The article is an interesting read, highlighting the “low cost entertainment” that eating out represents.





THE HBM: ARCO, EAT, MRT, CPKI - subsector fbr





ARCO: Arcos Dorados reported third quarter earnings and cut its revenue and EBITDA growth ranges.  Company sees full-year revenue growth 21-23% and adjusted EBITDA growth of 14-16%. 





EAT:  Brinker was the target of many skeptics over the past 24 or 36 hours.  Sterne Agee’s take on the stock was known yesterday but republished in Barron’s subsequently.  As we had suspected before seeing the details, caution on “Brinker’s ability to grow top line on a sustainable basis” is the reason behind the downgrade.  We take the other side of that bet, see our post from yesterday. 


MRT: Morton’s Restaurant Group reported a 3Q loss of -$0.11 versus expectations of -$0.112.  Comps came in at +5.1% which, as the chart below illustrates, implies a decline in two-year average trends.  On beef prices, Morton’s sees 5-10% inflation in 2012 but “have no real basis” for that number yet other than the bullishness they perceive from the beef processors on their pricing power.  Even as beef prices continue to go higher, MRT has 70% of beef needs for 2011 on a floating basis.  70% of 4Q needs are contracted, however.  In terms of demand and/or mix, Morton’s has not seen any substitution to seafood or other substitutes.  Of course, the consumer profile at Morton’s is not analogous to the general U.S. consumer but it is an interesting data point nonetheless that could indicate further pricing power for the brand.  Wall Street and Corporate America layoffs may be changing this however.





CPKI:  Golden Gate Capital has closed its latest fund at $3.5 billion, according to the NYT.  The fund had purchased a wide range of companies over the last twelve months, including California Pizza Kitchen.


THE HBM: ARCO, EAT, MRT, CPKI - stocks 1028




Howard Penney

Managing Director


Rory Green




TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP - October 28, 2011

We’ve just seen the biggest 4 week rip in US stocks in 40 years and that’s a long time.  As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 24 points or -1.45% downside to 1226 and 0.42% upside to 1290.



Keith traded SPY as well as he could have this week (short Monday at 1258, covered Wednesday 1227, re-shorted Thursday 1290) but got killed in the long US Dollar position:




THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - daily sector view


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - global performance




  • ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: +2321 (+482) 
  • VOLUME: NYSE 1430.62 (+28.99%)
  • VIX:  25.46 -14.74% YTD PERFORMANCE: +43.44%
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: 1.60 from 1.63 (-16.23%)



  • TED SPREAD: 41.79
  • 3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: 0.02%
  • 10-Year: 2.42 from 2.23    
  • YIELD CURVE: 2.11 from 1.95


MACRO DATA POINTS (Bloomberg Estimates):

  • 8:30 a.m.: Employment Cost Index: est. 0.6%, prior 0.7%
  • 8:30 a.m.: Personal income, est. 0.3%, prior -0.1%
  • 8:30 a.m.: Personal spending, est. 0.6%, prior 0.2%
  • 9:55 a.m.: UMich Confidence, est. 58.0, prior 57.5
  • 1 p.m.: Baker Hughes rig count



  • MF Global said to draw down its revolving credit lines this week
  • European officials are studying the potential for an IMF channel for money for their enlarged rescue fund, as China considers contributing
  • Sprint Nextel, Clearwire said to be near agreement to extend their existing network-sharing agreement for 3-5 yrs
  • HP CEO Meg Whitman abandoned Leo Apotheker’s proposal to spin off the personal computer unit


COMMODITY/GROWTH EXPECTATION                                             


COMMODITIES  - with USD down hard, I’m happy I wasn’t short anything Commodities yesterday, but looking at the short side again today as the core 3 lines of resistance (CRB Index TREND = 327, Oil’s TAIL of $93.87, and Copper’s TREND of 3.91 remain intact).


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - daily commodity view




  • Thai Floods Swamp Grand Palace as Bangkok River Reaches Record
  • Copper Traders See Rally Ending as China Use Slows: Commodities
  • S&P 500 Extends Best Month Since ’74, Euro Rises on Debt Accord
  • Cheapest Gas Spurs Canadian LNG Boom for Asia: Energy Markets
  • Oil Drops on Japan Output, Pares Biggest Weekly Gain Since March
  • Gold Heads for Best Week Since August After European Debt Accord
  • Thai Floods ‘Underestimated’ as Stocks Rally: Chart of the Day
  • Hello Kitty Coin Is New Weapon in Swiss Refiners’ Currency War
  • Copper Pares Biggest Weekly Advance Since 1986 on Japan Data
  • Vale Ready to Sell Iron Ore on Spot Market as Prices Slump
  • China’s Pork Imports May Rise to Record on Low U.S. Prices
  • COMMODITIES DAYBOOK: Crude Oil Declines After Japan Output Data
  • Wheat Drops on Higher Global Reserve Estimates, Corn Declines
  • Copper Falls in London After Japan’s Factory Output: LME Preview
  • Zinc May Rebound 30% on TD Buy Signal: Technical Analysis
  • China’s Hu Will Focus on EU Debt, Commodity Prices at G20: Cui
  • Palm Oil Drops as Investors Sell After Rally to One-Month High
  • Oil Drops, Paring Biggest Gain Since March on Japanese Output
  • Oil Rises to 3-Month High on U.S. Economy, European Debt Deal
  • Rubber Caps Best Week Since November as Growth Outlook Improves




US DOLLAR – closing below my 75.37 TREND line of support on a meltdown day for the US Dollar Index (squeeze in the Euro) is the #1 factor in all of my Global Macro model (the USD has a -0.95 and -0.97 inverse correlation to US and European stocks, respectively = one way risk that works both ways). If the USD can’t recover by TREND line in the next 3 weeks, I’m out.


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - daily currency view





THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - euro performance





ASIA – after closing down -4.7% last week, China closed up every day this week… having fun w/ the China is going away thesis yet? We have not been in that camp, but we do think Chinese GDP doesn’t bottom sequentially until Q1 of 2012, so watch the Shanghai Comp closely now that it has recovered it’s TRADE support line of 2411 (still bearish TREND up at 2563.


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - asia performance








The Hedgeye Macro Team

Howard Penney

Managing Director



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The Macau Metro Monitor, October 28, 2011




Prices of private residential properties increased by 1.3% in 3Q 2011, lower than the 2.0% rise in 2Q 2011.  This was the eighth consecutive quarter in which the rate of increase in overall private housing prices had moderated, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).


Cries of bad luck are starting to ring hollow.  So VIP hold needs to be adjusted but high Mass hold is normal?



Q3 was a strong one for LVS.  We don’t want to take away from that.  We’ll leave the question of whether it was as good as the whisper expectations.  However, the company’s recent pattern of providing hold adjusted EBITDA adjusted only for VIP hold is misleading, in our opinion.  Swings in Mass hold can be impactful too, even more so on profitability given the higher flow through. 


So despite all the talk of low hold, we estimate “bad luck” only impacted EBITDA by $6MM across all 3 regions.  That might matter for a company like Isle of Capri but for LVS with over $900 million of quarterly property level EBITDA, was it even worth a discussion?


So let’s move on to what does matter.  Singapore VIP volumes were terrific and the October commentary was impressive.  However, despite the conference call drooling by the bullish analysts, should the Q3 numbers really be a surprise?  LVS indicated at their analyst day that they had already eclipsed Q2 VIP volume levels by the end of August.  With that math in mind, it wouldn’t have been a stretch if Q3 volumes grew 50% QoQ.  They actually grew 36%.


Macau beat our estimate due primarily to a higher percentage of Direct VIP business which is good for margins.  Of course, as they try to stem the market share declines in junket VIP, margins may suffer.  However, if they are successful, the revenue upside should more than offset the margin decline.  We think Venetian/Four Seasons has already begun to advance junket commissions on a two month basis (versus 15-30 days) to boost the business.  November should be telling.


Here is our detailed commentary on Q3:







Property net revenue across LVS’s 3 casinos came in 2% above our estimate while EBITDA came in 7% stronger.  Despite Sheldon’s assertion that EBITDA would have been $11MM higher if not for poor hold, when you adjust for higher than ‘normal’ Mass hold, we estimate that hold only negatively impacted EBITDA by $1MM and revenue by $3MM.


Sands Macao

Sands net revenue was $12MM lower than our estimate and EBITDA was $10MM lower due to what appears to be higher fixed expenses but was likely due to an unlucky mix (i.e. lower hold on the RC junket play).

  • Despite $9MM of higher gross gaming revenues, net gaming revenue was $11MM lower than we estimated due to higher rebates 
    • VIP gross win of $210MM was $9MM better than we estimated but net revenues were lower by $10MM. Either rebates went up in the quarter or Sands started offering some rebates to mass players
      • The rebate rate was 1.04% or 39.4% of win - much higher than Sand’s run rate of 33% and our estimate
      • Direct play in the quarter increased to 15% from 12% last quarter 
      • The win rate was 3bps better than we estimated and drop volume was 3% higher than our estimate
      • Low hold cost Sands $16MM in gross revenue, $9MM of net revenue and $4MM of EBITDA
    • Mass win was $1MM below our estimate while slot win was $1MM better
  • Net non-casino revenue was $1MM below our estimate
    • Promotional expenditures were 60% of non-gaming revenue
  • Implied fixed expenses appear to be $59MM, up 13% YoY and up $12MM sequentially.  We suspect that aside from playing generally unlucky, Sands also held worse on its RC junket business.

Venetian Macao

Venetian’s net revenues were 3% above our estimate while EBITDA was 11% better than we estimated.  While VIP hold was low, we suspect that the mix may have been favorable and Mass held better than ‘normal’.  Net/net we don’t think that hold had any impact on EBITDA this quarter at the Venetian.

  • Net gaming revenue was 1% ($7MM) better than we estimated
    • Net VIP win was $3MM higher than we estimated
      • Direct play in the quarter increased to 24% up from 22% last quarter and contributed to a lower commission rate than we estimated given the higher margin of this business
      • Hold was 3bps lower than we estimated due to higher direct play which resulted in 4% higher RC volume vs. our estimate
      • The rebate rate was 83bps or 31% of hold - just 2bps or 1% higher than we estimated
      • Low VIP hold cost the property $17MM of net revenue and $5MM of EBITDA
    • Mass win was $5MM better than our estimate due to better hold
      •  Mass hold was 60bps higher than the property’s 12 month trailing average and 1.2% higher than the last 6 quarter’s average.  If we take the mid-point of the 12 and 6 quarter average, higher hold on the mass business benefited revenue by $10MM and EBITDA by $5MM – offsetting bad luck on VIP
    • Slot win was $1MM lower than our estimate
  • Net non-casino revenue were $10MM above our estimate
    • Promotional expenditures were 21% of non-gaming revenue
    • Higher non-casino was driven by $5MM of better room revenue and $5MM better retail revenue – which has particularly high flow-through (basically 100%) since the source of the beat is likely incentive rents kicking in
  • Implied fixed expenses appear to be $90MM, down 11% YoY and up $3MM sequentially.  We suspect that aside from playing generally unlucky, Venetian may have held a little better on RC junket business than hold implies.

Four Seasons/Plaza

Four Season’s net revenue was 9% above our estimate while EBITDA was $11MM higher or 22%.

  • Net gaming revenue was $10MM better than we estimated due to better hold
    • Net VIP win was $7MM higher than we estimated
      • Direct play in the quarter fell to 38% from 41% last quarter; as a result, hold was better than we estimated
      • Hold was 21bps higher than we estimated due to 4% lower RC volume and no downward adjustment vs. monthly estimates (the past 6 quarters averaged a 3% downward adjustment)
      • The rebate rate was 84bps or 33%
    • Mass win was in line with our estimate
      • Mass hold was between 4-7% higher than the property’s 12 month trailing and last 6 quarters average.  If we take the mid-point of the 12 and 6 quarter average, higher hold on the mass business benefited revenue by $6MM and EBITDA by $3MM.
    • Slot win was $2MM higher than our estimate
  • Net non-casino revenue were $6MM above our estimate
    • Driven equally by higher non-gaming revenue and lower promotional expense
    • Higher non-casino of $3MM was due to better retail revenue as incentive rents kicked in
  • Implied fixed expenses appear to be $19MM, down 12% YoY and flat QoQ




MBS revenues came in 1% above our estimate while EBITDA was 5% ($20MM) lower than we estimated - $6MM of which was due to one-time charges.   Despite EBITDA being lower than we estimated, we must admit that it’s hard not to be impressed by the massive growth in RC volumes and by the Sheldon’s assertion that October saw an acceleration in current trends.  On the flip side, the incremental revenues came at a cost – namely, much higher rebates, promotional expenses and higher fixed expenses.

  • Net gaming were $18MM above our estimate
    • VIP gross revenue was $46MM higher than we estimated, driven by massive growth in VIP RC growth – which was 14% above our estimate.  However, net VIP gaming revenues were only $10MM above our estimate due to a higher rebate rate.
      • Higher volumes were moderately offset by lower hold
      • Hold of 2.69% was 6bps below our estimate and 8bps below the 6 quarter trailing average (excluding the current quarter).  If we use 2.8% as the normal hold rate for the property, we estimate that revenue and EBITDA were negatively impacted by $18MM and $16MM, respectively.  If we assume 2.85% as ‘normal’ hold, then Sheldon’s assertion of a $24MM drag on EBITDA is indeed accurate
      • The rebate rate increased to 1.3% from 1.2% last quarter
    • Mass table revenue was $4MM below our estimate due to 4% lower drop and hold that was 60bps below our estimate
    • Slot revenue was 9% better than we estimated due to 11% higher handle
  • Net non-casino revenue was $11MM below our estimate due to much higher promotional expenses
    • Promotional expenses increased to 27% of non-gaming revenue
  • Implied fixed expenses were $228MM in the quarter - $6MM of the increase was due to one-time expenses.  Excluding the one-time items, there was a $20MM QoQ increase. 




Las Vegas revenues came in 10% above our estimate while EBITDA was 24% better

  • Net casino revenue was $20MM above our estimate 
    • Table win was $27MM better than our estimate due to strong growth in table drop and better hold
      • Higher than ‘normal hold’ on tables helped revenues by about $14MM and EBITDA by approx $11MM
        • 6 quarter trailing average hold was 18% and 17.5% over of the trailing 12 months
    • Slot win was $7MM better than we estimated due to 5% better handle
    • Better gross gaming revenue was somewhat offset by higher rebates that equaled 5.2% of GGR vs. our estimate of 3.3%
  • Net non-gaming revenues were $9MM above our estimate driven by better RevPAR
  • Property level expenses, excluding taxes increased 9% YoY to $243MM compared to $232MM last quarter 

Irrational Expectations

This note was originally published at 8am on October 25, 2011. INVESTOR and RISK MANAGER SUBSCRIBERS have access to the EARLY LOOK (published by 8am every trading day) and PORTFOLIO IDEAS in real-time.

“Hope is nature’s veil for hiding truth’s nakedness.”

-Alfred Nobel


In one of the more ironic moments of 2011, Professor Tom Sargent from New York University won the Nobel Prize of Economics.   Sargent was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on rational expectations.  In effect, this is the theory that postulates that policy makers cannot systematically influence the economy via predictable policy changes.


This idea, of course, flies in the face of the current philosophy of the leading central bankers around the world and, in particular, Chairman Bernanke.  In the guise of transparency, not only does Chairman Bernanke foreshadow most of his moves, but he now also holds a quarterly press conference to further alert the market as to his future intentions.  Undoubtedly, wherever he is now, Alfred Nobel is finding this moment in economic history somewhat ironic.


The concept of “too big to fail” has now wholly pervaded the economic landscape.  Sargent, as the key proponent of rational expectations, has some interesting thoughts related to failure.  His views likely do not reflect “the conscience of a liberal”, like those of his Nobel Laureate counterpart Paul Krugman, but they do offer some interesting counterpoints to the current debates in economic policy circles.  In a June 2010 interview with the Minnesota Fed, Sargent made a number of noteworthy comments relating to the European debt situation, specifically:


“Remember that under the gold standard, there was no law that restricted your debt-GDP ratio or deficit-GDP ratio. Feasibility and credit markets did the job.


Here is what went haywire. In the 2000s, France and Germany, the two key countries at the center of the Union, violated the fiscal rules year after year.


So, a number of countries at the European Union economic periphery—Greece, in particular—violated the rules convincingly enough to unleash the threat of unpleasant arithmetic in those countries. The telltale signs were persistently rising debt-GDP ratios in those countries.


The banks located in the center of the euro area, France and Germany, hold Greek-denominated debt, so a threat of default on Greek government debt threatens the portfolios of those banks in other European countries. Because it is the lender of last resort, now it is the ECB’s business.


France and Germany stay “holier than thou” from beginning to end, and always respect the fiscal limits imposed by the Maastricht Treaty. They thereby acquire the moral authority to lead by example, and the central core of euro-area countries are running budgets that without doubt are balanced in a present-value sense. Therefore, the euro is strong. The banks of the core countries,  so the banks in France and Germany are not holding any dodgy bonds issued by governments of dubious peripheral countries that have adopted the euro but that flirt with violating the Maastricht Treaty rules.


In this virtual history, the ECB could play tough and let the Greek government default on its creditors by renegotiating terms of the debt. For the euro, letting the Greek bondholders suffer would actually be therapeutic; it would strengthen the euro by teaching peripheral countries that the ECB means business.”


In Sargent’s models the threat of failure is critical, whether it be for institutions, countries, or individuals, because it is exactly this threat that will shape future behavior and reform.


Relate to Sargent’s comments, one of the more surprising global macro moves since the start of October has been the sharp rally in the EUR-USD going from a low of 1.31 in early October to 1.39 this morning.  This is an expedited move of more than 6% in about three weeks.  In the highly correlated world of global markets, this expedited move has had an impact. In the same period,

  • Brent Crude Oil is up +11.9%;
  • West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil is up +21%;
  • Copper is up +14.1%;
  • SP500 is up +14.1%; and
  • Euro Stoxx 50 is up +12.1%

One of our key three themes for Q4 is Correlation Crash.  So far, on the expedited move up in the Euro, and down move in the dollar, the crash has been to the upside this quarter.  The more accelerated the move to the upside, though, the more increased the risk for an eventual correction to the downside.  A risk that heightens every day in our notebooks.


Our view has been that the recent surge in the EUR-USD is a function of both short covering, which obviously builds upon itself, and also Irrational Expectations as it relates to outcomes in Europe.  The best fundamental support we can point for our views is in comparing yields on Italian 5-year government bonds versus the comparable duration German bunds.  Given this spread is at its widest point in the last decade, the read-through, despite some recent manic moves in global markets, is that the European situation is far from solved.


The theory of rational expectations would suggest that by bailing out Europe in ever-growing increments, market participants will begin to expect ever-growing bailouts, which, over time, should negatively impact the EUR-USD.  Further, the continued safety net created by European officials won’t adequately underscore the fiscal sobriety that is ultimately required in Europe for a truly healthy currency.  It is akin to bringing a drunk friend water and comfort food every morning after his drinking binge.  In doing so, you are not exactly encouraging his or her sobriety.


In the short term, market prices can bring us hope, but they are often “hiding truth’s nakedness.”


Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research


Irrational Expectations - Chart of the Day


Irrational Expectations - Virtual Portfolio


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