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EPS guidance was back-loaded for 2012 as coffee costs are expected to depress margins in the near term.  The top-line remains as impressive as ever.


Starbucks posted EPS of $0.37 for the fiscal fourth quarter of 2011 versus consensus expectations of $0.36.  U.S. comps came in at +10% versus expectations of 7%.  International comps gained +6% during the quarter versus the Street at +4.5%.   CPG revenues came slightly below the Street at $242.2mm but operating margin was 31.4% versus 28.4% expectations.


Starbucks remains one of our favorite long names and we continue to be long the stock in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio. 


Below are out top ten takeaways for the quarter: 

  1. EPS guidance was lowered for the first half of 2012 but full-year EPS was maintained.  Management emphasized that this was due solely to coffee cost pressures.  We view this as a slight negative but expect the company to achieve FY12 EPS guidance.
  2. Starbucks’ top-line remains strong and we would expect that to continue in FY12 as management diligently identifies and attacks new media of growth.  The My Starbucks Rewards program is gaining more and more traction.  There are now over 3.6 million active members, nearly 2 million of whom are gold level members.  In FY11, over $1.1 billion in purchases was paid for using the Starbucks card.  The mobile apps (iPhone and Android) are also gaining users.  At the end of September almost 1 million smartphones had registered Starbucks cards associated with them.  We believe that the mobile apps and other initiatives that add to the customer experience will continue to differentiate Starbucks and help boost sales.
  3. The U.S. business remains strong despite the soft economy, as the results show.  The fall promotions featuring Pumpkin Spice Latte and Salted Caramel Mocha and Taizo Chai tea beverage platforms helped drive 4Q sales.  Sales of the Pumpkin Spice Latte grew 44% year-over-year.
  4. In FY12 the company will open 200 locations and remodel 1,700 stores in the U.S.  This is the largest number of remodels ever carried out in one year. 
  5. The international business continues to present the company with growth opportunity as the company operates over 6,200 stores in 55 international markets.  Last week the 500thStarbucks was opened in China and the company still aims to have 1,500 stores open in China by 2015.  The pace of new unit opening will accelerate in 2012.  Margins in China are expected to continue to be in the near-30% range.
  6. The company is bullish on the prospects of its new bagged coffee offering, Starbucks Blonde Roast.  The company believes there is demand from roughly 54 million (40% of U.S. Coffee drinkers) domestic coffee drinkers who want Starbucks quality in a lighter, super premium roast coffee.
  7. The company is equally bullish on the prospects of its K-Cup business, which is expected to launch next week.  Management acknowledged that some cannibalization of the CPG business is likely but sees any impact as small and expects both businesses to growth over time.  Particular to single serve, the company noted that about 8% of households in the U.S. have a single serve brewer in their homes.  Their expectation is that that number will grow over the next five years, perhaps even triple. Starbucks anticipates that K-Cups will represent a greater-than-$1 billion business over time.
  8. Business in Canada had been soft earlier in the year but the fourth fiscal quarter brought a strong uptick for the company’s roughly 800 locations north of the border. 
  9. Business in Europe continues to be “a bit soft”.  “Over-time”, however, management expects the EMEA locations to progress toward mid-teen margins.
  10. Management’s projection for global store growth remains unchanged at 800 net new stores.  Roughly 400 of those will be in the Americas regions with licensed stores comprising roughly half of the new additions.  300 will be in China and Asia-Pacific (licensed will be 1/3 to 1/2 of new additions) and 100 will be in EMEA (licensed will be 2/3 of new additions).







Howard Penney

Managing Director


Rory Green




Weekly Latin America Risk Monitor: Heavy Lies the Crown

Conclusion: While a bullish catalyst in the long term (lower commodity-based inflation), King Dollar is weighing on Latin American economies and financial markets in the short term.



Latin America equity markets are getting rocked week-to-date, closing down -2.3% on a median basis. Declines are being led by Argentina (-7.3%), which remains our highest-conviction bearish thesis throughout the region’s equity markets. Latin American currencies are dropping as well, declining -1.5% week-to-date on a median basis vs. the USD. The Mexican peso (MXN) – a currency we’ve remained bearish on for 2+ quarters - is leading declines on both a short and intermediate term basis (down -3% wk-to-date; -13.6% in the last 6mo).


There hasn’t been much movement across Latin American fixed income markets in the week-to-date, though the broad-based declines in 10s/2s spreads is a signal to us that Slowing Growth hasn’t been fully priced in. Additionally, the -7bps week-to-date decline in Brazil’s 2yr sovereign debt yields on top of another -11bps decline in the country’s 1yr on-shore interest rate swaps signals to us that more rate cuts are likely on the way in Brazil. To that tune, the same 1yr swaps are trading a full -122bps below the 11.5% benchmark Selic rate. Colombia, which hasn’t begun to ease monetary policy after hiking +150bps YTD, are seeing their 1yr interest rate swaps trade down -26bps week-to-date – a full -311bps below the benchmark 4.5% minimum repo policy rate. All told, monetary easing across this region is incrementally supportive of our King Dollar thesis.


From a credit risk perspective, Latin American 5yr CDS are widening across the board, up +12.5% on a median basis in percentage terms. Deterioration is being led by Mexico, whose swaps have widened +14.2% (+18bps).



Rather than delineate these data points by country, given the varying size and importance of these economies, we thought we’d try something different by grouping them by theme. Ideally, this should make it easier to absorb and contextualize anything of significance. Lastly, the callouts below are from the prior seven days:


Global Growth Slowing:

  • Brazilian industrial production growth slowed in September to -2% YoY vs. -0.1% prior, led by declines in durable and capital goods (down -9% and -5.5%, respectively).

King Dollar:

  • Brazilian giant Fibria Celulose SA, the world’s largest pulpmaker, posted the worst quarterly loss in company history in 3Q as the real’s (BRL) -16.9% decline vs. the U.S. dollar during the quarter increased the cost of servicing dollar-denominated debt in local currency terms. We’ve been aggressively hitting on the global side effects of a bullish buck breakout and Fibria’s 3Q earnings report is merely a microcosm of what’s happening internationally (see: Vale, Bharti Airtel, Turkish Airlines, etc.). Emerging market commodity-heavy and capital-intensive industries remain at most risk of underperformance, due to the double squeeze on revenues and debt service expenses. The latest YTD price action across the MSCI EM sector indices is supportive of our view.
  • The capital flight situation in Argentina has taken a turn for the worse, largely due to the recent spate of Big Government Intervention (forced corporate repatriation and banning certain forms of dollar purchases and requiring approval for others at a ~15% acceptance rate) following Fernandez’s landslide presidential victory. As an aside, in a effort to secure victory, she literally doubled public spending in September ahead of the October election. Slowing peso depreciation via selling dollars has pushed the country’s FX reserves down nearly -10% YTD to $47.4 billion – threatening to dramatically constrict the Fernandez’s plan to use $5.7 billion of these reserves to service international debt payments in 2012. As of now, Argentina’s “free and available reserves” (as defined by statute) are only $2.5 billion. The peso needs to drop another -7% from the current spot rate (holding the monetary base and FX reserves flat) to make her debt service scheme legally permissible – unless she decides to change the rules again!

Sticky Stagflation:

  • Peruvian CPI accelerated in October to +4.2% YoY vs. +3.7% prior. Recall that when we put out our note titled, “Shorting Peru” in mid-July, we said that Peru is one of the few economies globally that could have inflation accelerating through the end of the year. That still looks to be the case now.


  • Brazil’s manufacturing PMI ticked up in October to 46.5 vs. 45.5. Contracting still, but at a slower rate, which is positive on the margin.
  • Chilean industrial production growth and retail sales both accelerated on the margin in September to +5.2% YoY (vs. +1.7% prior) and +9.6% YoY (vs. +9.1% prior), respectively. Too bad it’s November and global crude prices have increased +6.5% since then (Brent). Thank Fed-head Tarullo for his late-October QE3 comments. 

Darius Dale



Weekly Latin America Risk Monitor: Heavy Lies the Crown - 1


Weekly Latin America Risk Monitor: Heavy Lies the Crown - 2


Weekly Latin America Risk Monitor: Heavy Lies the Crown - 3


Weekly Latin America Risk Monitor: Heavy Lies the Crown - 4


Weekly Latin America Risk Monitor: Heavy Lies the Crown - 5


Weekly Latin America Risk Monitor: Heavy Lies the Crown - 6


Is this the most underappreciated company in gaming?



“Ameristar had another record-breaking quarterly financial performance, with new high water marks hit for Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EPS in a third quarter and the best trailing 12-month Adjusted EBITDA in the Company’s history,”


Gordon Kanofsky, CEO




  • Had river flooding in the quarter at Council Bluff
  • Excluding the buyback, their EPS would still have been up 11 cents or 52% YoY
  • Reduced their promotional expenses significantly which has helped the flow-through at their properties
  • Guided to a 25% tax rate last quarter which they weren't unable to take and it's unclear that they will be able to take them.  Their tax rate this quarter was fairly normal.
  • Retired $63MM of debt in the quarter
  • Used 65% of their Adjusted EBITDA to buyback debt
  • 3.83% interest rate at quarter end based on the leverage grid
  • $10-11MM non-cash interest expenses in 4Q
  • Will only make one mandatory principal repayment at 4Q given their seasonal FCF needs in the quarter



  • Corporate OH - why so high in the quarter and why is next quarter stock comp expense so high?
    • Had some one time refinancing expenses and some personnel changes that occurred. 
    • 4Q stock comp expense is also at a higher than normal run rate.  Board has made a decision to extend options from 7 years to 10 years which adds a $3MM charge in the 4Q. The board has also seen fit to establish a retirement program for options which also added $3MM of one time expense 
  • They have cut $60MM of expenses permanently from their cost structure and believe that is why they are seeing such good flowthrough. Have seen some modest net revenue growth.
  • There are some hold changes that caused the volatility in East Chicago - the fact that the slot floor is fresh helps them. The new casino is 40 miles away.
  • There are some "copycats" out there in regard to their marketing campaigns but it's clearly not impacting them. Having better and fresher product helps. 
  • Kansas City is 25 miles from their property - they haven't made comments on the anticipated impact from that opening



  • "The year-over year improvement in net income is mostly attributable to efficient revenue flow-through driven by operating and marketing initiatives."
  • "Notably, Council Bluffs improved year-over-year Adjusted EBITDA by $1.7 million (11.1%) on net revenue growth of $1.9 million (4.9%) while overcoming some operational inconveniences from flood conditions."
  • "Our East Chicago property achieved a 16.1% year-over-year increase in Adjusted EBITDA despite a new competitor opening in Des Plaines, Illinois during the quarter."
  • Net Leverage was 5.15x
  • 3Q Capex: $19.1MM
  • Stock buyback: Repurchased $0.2MM shares at $2.7MM in the 3rd Q and $0.3MM shares for $5.1MM from 10/1-11/2
  • Guidance for FY11:
    • D&A: $104.2 to $105.2MM
    • Interest expense, net of capitalized interest: $106.4 to $107.4MM (incl. non-cash  expense of approx $6.3MM)
    • Tax rate: 41-43% (also for the 4Q)
    • Capex: $65-70MM (predominately maintenance)
    • Non-cash stock-based compensation expense: $22.3 to $23.3MM

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.

Draghi Acts in Hot Seat

Positions in Europe: Short France (EWQ)

The ECB surprised and cut 25bps in the main interest rate to 1.25% this morning in the first meeting of newly-minted ECB President Mario Draghi. In many ways, his comments on inflation were a continuation of Trichet’s, namely that inflation is likely to stay above 2% for many months, but come down to below 2% in 2012; ongoing tensions in financial markets are likely to dampen the pace of economic growth in 2H11 and in 2012 and make downside revisions to growth forecasts, especially in 2012, "very likely"; and the pace of monetary expansion continues to be moderate.


For the full press statement, see:



Some key points of the Q&A included:

  • the 25bps cut decision was unanimous.
  • the Bank is monitoring the Greek situation, but maintains that a “Sovereign Signature” is the pillar for financial stability, meaning each member state is responsible for enacting fiscal policy to minimize budget imbalances, grow GDP, and reduce unemployment.   
  • the SMP remains a temporary and limited facility that is justified by monetary policy considerations. It will continue to buy secondary issuance alongside a continued assessment of conditions.
  • On Greece leaving the Eurozone, Draghi maintains that it’s not in the treaty for a country to leave, therefore it cannot be envisaged by the Bank.
  • He expects a mild recession in Europe over the medium term with a weakening business cycle that should dampen wages and prices, and therein lower overall inflation; however he does not see the threat of deflation.
  • On Italian spreads breaking out, Draghi noted that for many years leading up to the last three, spreads across European countries were very thin, but were not reflecting true differences across growth, employment, competitiveness. Now, since the global recession, there’s been a heightened risk aversion trade as more analysis has revealed the greater risk (imbalances) across countries.   Yet he believes whereas risk spreads may have undershot in earlier years, over recent years they may be overshooting. That said, individual states, and not the ECB, are responsible for alleviating these imbalances through prudent fiscal policy.
  • On China bailing out the Eurozone?  -No Comment.
  • On his policy positioning versus the Bundesbank? - Draghi stated he has great admiration for the Bundesbank, but only time will tell how closely he follows that model.

Overall Draghi had very direct and contained answered to many of the questions asked, but like Trichet simply ignored questions surround the state of Greece – from bailout needs to Greece leaving the Eurozone. Stubbornly, like Trichet, he views the ECB with the sole mandate of price stability through monetary policy. What’s clear is that fiscal assistance is needed for many member countries –meaning they can’t do it “alone” through fiscal tightening—yet the one institution with the credibility and balance sheet (including through printing money), the ECB, remains with its back turned.


We view the structure of joining uneven countries under one currency and monetary policy as highly compromised. Given the existing environment in Europe, we'd expect the ECB to bend off its mandate and help alleviate the run-away risk confronting the region over the last months.  


Matthew Hedrick

Senior Analyst


In-line wasn't good enough for Q3 but Q4 off to strong start


"Our forward booking trends remain strong both for our consumer retail segments and corporate events.”


Jim Murren, MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO




  • Continue to see consistency in this recovery
  • 13% RevPAR growth beat their forecast for 10% RevPAR growth - outperformance due to better results in FIT and Leisure segments
  • Convention business is particularly strong.  September was one of their best booking months ever. 
  • October was the most profitable month that they have ever had in Las Vegas and a record month in Macau
  • Cotai: Resort would have 1600 rooms and suites, 2500 slot machines and 500 tables.  No specific date when they expect to receive their land grant issuance. 
  • US Congress is considering efforts to legalize online gaming.  They announced a joint agreement with Bwin.Party and Boyd gaming.  The poker business will be about scale and this opportunity will be the best one to capitalize on any legalization of online poker.
  • M Life continues to gain traction.  Active customers in their database increased 12% YoY this quarter.  Have also seen tier advancement - specifically a 13% increase in their platinum players and a 7% increase in their NOIR players (highest tier). 
  • Have 17 projects at MGM Hospitality at various stages of development.  First one is opening in a few months.  Just announced a development in Mumbai. 
  • Low hold impacted their CF by $16MM- Aria held high, helping them by $5MM.  Net net their EBITDA would have been $255MM if they held at the mid-point of 'normal'.
  • Table game volume ex Strip was up 1-2%
  • Net RevPOR grew a little more than 3% in the Q.  Retail room rates experienced the best increase - up double digits. 
  • Late November/early Dec opening of their VIP in-house gaming area in Macau
  • Spent $78MM of capex (excluding $14MM in MGM China)
  • Expect to spend $275MM in capex in 2011 - completion of room remodel in Bellagio
  • Luxor and Excalibur are in the process of opening 8 new F&B - 3rd party operated partners
  • City Center:
    • Aria: Hotel revenues were up 20%, F+B revs increased 11%, table game volume ex bacc were up 6% and slot was up 24% YoY
    • 2012 and beyond booking pace continues to strengthen
    • Vdara: $131 RevPAR
    • Crystals: SS sales up 27% YoY - 2nd highest sales per SQFT. 86% is under lease. DG is scheduled to open early next year
    • 374 units are leased for residential inventory
    • Feb 4, 2013 trial date vs. Perini
    • $100MM of pre-payments to the credit facility in September and October
  • Have a lot of events in the 4Q which should help them - have 2 new nightclubs openings.  Feel comfortable that RevPAR will increase 10% in the 4Q.  With best gains in FIT.
  • Expect to see an acceleration of CF growth in 2012. 



  • 2012: 1Q is a tough convention comp. They expect FY 12' to be at or slightly above where they are in 2011. Pricing is up but volume is down in 1Q.
  • Bellagio is having a tremendous 4Q for RevPAR
  • Aria - up 40% for 2012 Convention Bookings
  • MGM Macau - Since the completion of their construction of the new lounge, they have seen 12-13% improvements per square foot yields.  Still seeing very strong growth in VIP revenues which should continue as they bring on new direct VIP area. 
  • EBITDA impact for rooms out of service at the Bellagio? 
    • At least $1MM of CF impact from 300 rooms out of service
    • Selling rate for the renovated rooms are $30/night higher
    • Renovations for 2,570 rooms
    • $70MM Capex project
  • MGM Grand remodel program is starting now: $160MM remodel program - 4,300 rooms.  700 rooms out of service at any point in time.  Expect to get a $10-20 increase in ADR.
  • MGM Grand benefits during the summer because of their pool.  Also had a lot of events at the property.
  • FIT numbers are still materially lower than peak and a little below last year.  60% flowthrough is pretty good. If they held better, the flowthrough would have been better.
  • M Life should also help them going forward
  • 2012 will be even better from an event standpoint than 2011
  • Highest priority is for MGM to improve the balance sheet. The refinance gives them maximum flexibility - to issue $300MM more of secured paper (removed a cumbersome covenant).  High priority on lowering their cost of capital. Refinancing Macau's credit facility is also a top priority.
    • At a high level - every point of interest savings is $100MM of FCF to them 
    • Will save a lot when they redo their credit facility next Q
    • Will retire the NY notes which are at 13%
    • Expect to see a dramatic reduction on their interest
  • Last year's hold % for Aria was 23% and this year it was 27%
  • MGM China dividend?
    • Will be debt free in that operation this quarter.  Clearly an objective of the board to balance growth and shareholder returns at MGM China.  Will have numerous opportunities to dividend back money to shareholders and to investment in Macau.
  • Flow through on mid-single digit range revenue growth.  Objective is to keep their costs flatish in 2012. 
  • Decrease in baccarat volumes in the quarter?
    • Just a matter of when their players come in. The tone of that travel is strong. Think it was just a timing issue
    • Expect strong baccarat play in 4Q and 1Q12'
  • October strong Vegas performance was broadly based: strong casino play, Bellagio had strong revenue growth
  • No comment on Cotai costs.  Given the size of the property, just look at the recent comps like Galaxy.
  • Shovel ready in Cotai?
    • Ready to do site work right away as long as they get permission
  • Convention mix in 3Q was 12% and will be about 14% in 4Q; YE at 14.5%; 15% in 2012; while Aria's convention mix will be about 16.5%.
  • Bellagio is up double digits even on unrenovated rooms at Bellagio
  • Leisure mix was around 40% and expect it to stay around there in 2012.  Trying to squeeze the gap between FIT and Leisure.  Commissions on leisure still the same.
  • Just completed planning the Luxor, Excalibur, and NY - but mostly in the public areas for those properties
  • Post MGM Grand, they will do the spa Tower at Bellagio (built in 04') Luxor/Excalibor, and the Hotel at Mandalay Bay.  Expect that rooms will be out of service for a while. 



  • $2.2BN of consolidated net revenue and $444MM adjusted EBITDA
  • Las Vegas Strip resorts saw a 13% RevPAR increase
  • "The overall table games hold percentage in the third quarter of 2011 was near the low end of the Company’s normal range of 19% to 23%. The overall table games hold percentage in the prior year was near the mid-point of the Company’s normal range.  Slots revenue increased 4% compared to the prior year quarter, with an increase of 6% at the Company’s Las Vegas Strip resorts."
  • "In the current quarter, the Company recorded an impairment charge of $80 million (or $0.11 per share, net of tax) related to Circus Circus Reno... related to the carrying value of its long-lived assets"
  • MGM China: Adjusted Property EBITDA $139MM
    • "We are extremely pleased with our Cotai development plans while at the same time have some exciting expansion opportunities within our existing MGM Macau property.”
  • CC Adjusted Property EBITDA: $50MM
    • Net revenue: $255MM
    • Aria Adjusted Property EBITDA: $40MM
      • "Hold percentage was above the high end of its normal range in the current quarter, but lower than the prior year hold percentage by approximately 400 basis points"
      • RevPAR: $173 (ADR: $200/ Occ: 87%)
    • Vdara: $5MM of adjusted property EBITDA
    • Crystals: $6MM of adjusted property EBITDA
  • "In September 2011, the Company borrowed an additional $879 million under its senior credit facility to increase its capacity for issuing additional secured indebtedness; these borrowings were repaid immediately after quarter end. As a result, the Company had a higher than normal cash balance at September 30, 2011 of $1.8 billion, which also included approximately $494 million of cash and cash equivalents related to MGM China."
    • At 9/30: $551MM outstanding on MGM Macau's R/C 

Retail: Q4 Vortex


This morning’s sales reports reinforce our standing view that Q3 is setting up to be the worst in two-years. Following a choppy August BTS season, September sales came in better than expected setting the stage for what turned out to be a very disappointing October to cap off Q3. Perhaps the biggest callout out of October numbers is the swing in top-line trends. This is stating the obvious – we realize; however, recall that sales came in stronger than expected, but weren’t translating to commensurate bottom-line growth last month. Now both top-line AND bottom-line trends are rolling heading into Q4. The result is widespread revisions for both Q3 as well as for the full-year. In addition to continued weakness in low-to-mid tier markets, the spread between high-end outperformance relative to the low-end narrowed in October reflecting incremental weakness at the high-end. Despite the chink in high-end demand, the low-to-mid-tier retailers (e.g. BONT, SSI, JCP, etc.) are slowing at a faster rate. We still firmly think there will be an increased bifurcation between upward and downward revisions in retail over the next quarter and into 2012.


A few additional callouts in October:

  • The High/Low-end performance spread has narrowed. Within department stores,  Neimans +8% and JWN +5.4%continue to post solid results while SKS +1.8% and M +2.2% came in weaker than expected and more in-line with KSS, +3.9%, TJX +3%, and SSI +0.8%. The clear underperformers were JCP -2.6% and BONT -10.2%.
  • Consistent with recent months, Discounters continue to be among the strongest performing segment of retail. This is likely due to greater grocery exposure, which continues to be a key category. Retailers with exposure there (TGT up low-teen and COST up DD) fared better than most with COST betting expectations and TGT coming in light, though still up +3.3%.
  • JCP was again a clear negative callout. While the company didn’t revise its guidance, it should have and we expect it to when they report next week with Q3 comps coming in down -1.6%. The Street’s at $1.19 for Q4, we’re shaking out under a buck. A consistent disappointment of late is the company’s e-commerce, which posted its third straight decline down -4.5% with comps ahead only getting tougher. This continues to defy explanation as e-commerce is one of the few positive channels for any retailer not named JCP.
  • Lastly, we have to callout HBI admitting that it got its forecasting wrong on last night’s call. Compounding the error, they also highlighted that after a tough August, strong sales in September and October should reaccelerate order demand. Perhaps they should have held the call until after retailers reported October sales as that certainly doesn’t appear to be the case. 

The bottom-line is that sales are now getting weaker across the board – including at the high-end. However, the domestic mid-tier market continues to experience a more aggressive roll in both  top and bottom line results setting up for increased volatility heading into year-end. We would still avoid most names that touch the domestic mid-tier market. 


Shorts: JCP, HBI, UA, GIL

Longs: LIZ, WMT, NKE


Retail: Q4 Vortex  - SSS BeatMiss 11 11


Retail: Q4 Vortex  - SSS Mo Seasonality 11 11


Retail: Q4 Vortex  - total SSS 11 3 11


Retail: Q4 Vortex  - SSS one year comps 11 3 11


Retail: Q4 Vortex  - SSS two year comps 11 3 11


Retail: Q4 Vortex  - Equal Weighted SSS 11 3 11


Casey Flavin




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