"McGough and Flavin do not like the go forward outlook for this stock. Shorting the Goldman upgrade on green.
TRADE and TREND converging above last price in the 36.56-36.98 range; immediate-term downside to $32.11." - KM
Position: We sold our position in the Gold ETF (GLD) earlier today.
Earlier today, we sold our position in the Gold ETF (GLD) for a small loss of -3.6% in the Virtual Portfolio. Obviously, it is never enjoyable to take a loss, but, as it relates to our decision making process, it is actually pretty simple: we change our views as our factors change.
In the instance of gold, the inverse correlation with the U.S. dollar index has recently heightened (going from +0.08 on the 30-day duration to -0.45 on the 15-day duration) and our King Dollar thesis (bullish on the U.S. dollar) has not changed. Thus, in the shorter term it seems dollar up is likely to mean gold down, which is obviously not good for the long gold position.
The key catalyst for us with this sale was the price of gold. As outlined in the chart below, gold broke its TREND line of support at $1,724, which, according to our quantitative models, establishes the TAIL line of $1,559 as the next key line of support.
Longer term, the key reasons to own gold are in tact. First, inflation from fiat currencies is still, and will likely remain, a key support for the price of gold, especially as the size and scale of European sovereign debt bailout increases. Second, and as outlined in the chart below, when real interest rates are at, or below, zero, it provides a favorable backdrop for gold as investors search for return. (Incidentally, we don’t see a meaningfully increase in U.S. rates at least while Bernanke is at the helm.) Finally, gold continues to be a hedge for geopolitical risk, which is only accelerating in the Middle East due to concerns over the Iranian nuclear program and uncertainty over upcoming elections in Egypt.
Unlike other asset classes, specifically bonds, real estate and equities, the challenge with gold is that it is difficult to value. As outlined above, it is typically used as a hedge against certain macroeconomic environments. That said, in the charts below, we took a look at gold versus WTI oil and the U.S. housing market.
On the first metric, gold can currently purchase ~17.3 barrels of oil. This is just above the long run average going back to 1983 of 15.7 and well off the highs of early 2009 when one ounce of gold could buy 25.7 barrels of oil. So, on this metric, gold is basically fairly priced, at least versus the last thirty years of data.
On the second metric relating gold and U.S. home prices, the data suggests gold may be more extended on valuation. Currently, a hundred ounces of gold will buy 1.06 houses in the U.S. based on the current median home prices. Almost ten years ago, a hundred ounces of gold would buys less than 0.19 of a U.S. house. This analysis, at least over the last decade, suggests that gold is at an elevated valuation. Longer term, going back to 1963 as highlighted in the second chart below, gold has traded higher versus U.S. home prices, so it actually remains well off its highs.
The key negative fundamental data point relating to gold is on the demand side of the equation. According to the most recent data from World Gold Council, global demand for gold was 919.8 tonnes in Q2 2011. This was down -17% on a volume basis from Q2 2010 and down -5% sequentially from Q1 2011. While the actual volumes were down, the dollar value actually increased year-over-year by 5% and sequentially by 2.8%. The implication for the recent demand figure is that there is some elasticity in demand and price increases.
Even if demand is more tepid at higher prices of gold, as long as interest rates in the U.S. remain near all time lows and Keynesian policies remain intact globally, the bullish TAIL position in gold should hold.
Daryl G. Jones
Director of Research
THE HEDGEYE BREAKFAST MONITOR
Notes below from CEO Keith McCullough
Intraday yesterday I made the 4th“Short Covering Opportunity” call I’ve made since August 4th:
Growth Slowing in Asia and the US combined w/ European Stagflation remains our fundamental Global Macro view on the topline.
JACK: Jack In The Box reported 4Q EPS of $0.49 versus consensus $0.41. Company same-store sales at Jack in the Box restaurants gained 5.8% in the quarter versus consensus of 2.0%. Qdoba system same-store sales came in at 3.7% versus consensus 4.1%. Margins continue to improve. Guidance for 1QFY12 same store sales indicates a high level of confidence in the top line. Same-store sales are expected to increase approximately 4 to 5% at Jack in the Box (consensus +1.5%) and 2 to 3% at Qdoba system restaurants versus consensus of 2.7%. Below is a chart of Jack in the Box company same-store sales including management’s guidance for 1Q12. Commodity costs for the full year FY12 are expected to be up 5% on FY11.
YUM: Yum! Brands’ Taco Bell has cut 105 jobs across the nation and at its Irvine headquarters, according to media reports. 30 of those jobs were open and unfilled and 75 were layoffs. Taco Bell Chief Executive Greg Creed said that the structural changes being made were necessary to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
CBRL: 1QFY12 EPS was reported at $1.03 versus Bloomberg consensus $1.05. Comparable store restaurant and retail sales were down -1.6% and -1.3%, respectively. The press release said that there was a sequential improvement in both metrics during the quarter. Food costs are expected to be up 5.5% to 6.5% versus FY11.
MSSR: McCormick and Schmick’s and Landry’s have announced that Landry’s tender offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of common stock of MSSR at $8.75 per share has commenced.
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Uninspiring fundamental results the quarter after a significant shift in strategy (i.e. aggressive store closures) is enacted is to be largely expected, but the reality is that PSS’ stock remains a waiting game for investors. We still think the break-up value is ~20%+ higher, but with the company under strategic review we need to have better confidence in a sale either in part or whole, or that a new CEO will raise the bar to take our estimates meaningfully higher. Until then, break-up value math is a simple smokescreen.
But the biggest question that we increasingly think needs to be answered is whether or not the Core Payless business deserves to exist at all. To determine a real margin of safety here, we have to evaluate the NPV assuming that it does not.
But we all know that we can’t simply make pretend that the business goes away with a special charge or two. It would be a painful exercise of absorbing losses in the Payless in order to get to the optimal store count. The question is whether that store count is 3,500, 2,500, 1,000, 500, or zero. We don’t think it’s zero. There are some Payless stores running at a margin well above 20%. But it’s probably not a number starting with a 3 – and perhaps not even a 2.
We don’t have the answer to this yet, and there’s no doubt that anyone that would step in as a buyer for the company would need to have done the work, or if there have been offers for PLG, then PSS will need that level of comfort for the Payless business that remains.
In looking at Q3 results, sales were mixed with domestic Payless coming in lighter than expected with comps down -4.5% along with a deceleration in International Payless offset in part by PLG wholesale coming in strong. A major point is that PLG accounted for 78% of aggregate operating profits in the quarter.
The biggest delta in the quarter is on the gross margin line coming in down -524bps reflecting the company’s new pricing strategy – offering more moderate price points. The issue here is that the strategy was implemented on legacy product purchased prior to the new strategy and intended to have a higher initial price (i.e. a great exercise in finger-pointing). We are reducing our gross margin estimates to down -325bps in Q4 as this disconnect will weigh on margins near-term and through Q1 in addition to reflecting like product cost increases of +10%.
While near-term fundamentals are mediocre at best, there is early (and we stress early) evidence to suggest the company’s new strategies are starting to show signs of progress. After a weak start in August, domestic Payless sales improved through the quarter from down high single-digits to flatish in response to the sharper pricing. While hardly a trend, it’s a trajectory worth noting. In addition, the company ramped the number of store closures by year-end to 350 from 315 of 475 over next 3-years as well as cut the associated costs (lease terminations, severance, etc.) to $25mm-$30mm reducing the high end of the range by $5mm. Taking the pain now is a positive and should accelerate the timing of a turn in profitability.
Assuming PSS continues to operate as it exists today (including store closures), we’re shaking out at $0.70 for F11 EPS and $1.14 for F12 EPS. This stock typically trades at 10-12x EPS and 5-7x EBITDA, which suggests a modest premium to where it is now. We get to a valuation of $12-$17 based on our bear case breakup analysis and can justify a valuation of the PLG business in the mid-teens to low 20s alone suggesting decent support at current levels, but we need better confidence in a sale either in part or whole, or that a new CEO will raise the bar to take our estimates meaningfully higher before we get more constructive on the name.
Below is the detailed analysis of the three potential outcomes noted above from our August 25thpost “PSS: The Decision Tree”
Our Take on Strategic Review Outcomes (from 8/25):
1) An all out sale of the company:
2) A sale of some part of the company:
3) No sale at all. Instead, the company names a new CEO and gets to work on closing stores:
The Macau Metro Monitor, November 22, 2011
GOVT EXPECTS MOP85 BILLION IN DIRECT TAXES FROM GAMING IN 2012 Macau Business
The Macau government is expecting to rake in MOP85 billion (US$10.6 billion) in 2012 as revenue from direct taxes on gaming. Local officials say they are expecting the city’s casinos to post an average monthly gross gaming revenue of MOP20 billion for the year. For 2012, the industry consensus is that the local casinos will post a year-on-year growth of 15 to 20%. Estimated government expenditure for 2012 stands at MOP77.4 billion while revenue is projected to go up to a record MOP115.2 billion.
SJM HAS NO PLAN TO ABANDON PONTE 16 THEME PARK Jornal do Cidadao,
Angela Leong, Executive Director of SJM Holdings, stressed that the company had not abandoned the plan to construct the Ponte 16 theme park in the O Porto Interior area, which was announced in 2002. She said the company could not get things done without support from the government and the public.
EMPLOYMENT SURVEY FOR THE 3RD QUARTER 2011 DSEC
Total labor force was 344,000 in 3Q 2011, comprising 335,000 employed and 8,900 unemployed. Analyzed by industry, 24.7% of the employed were engaging in Recreational, Cultural, Gaming & Other Services.
Taxi data suggests a strong October for Strip gaming volumes (ex Baccarat).
The Nevada Taxicab Authority recently reported that October taxi trips increased 8.2% YoY. A couple of weeks earlier, McCarran Airport reported the busiest single month for taxi traffic in the airport’s 63-year history as the taxi count was 322,322. These two data points bode well for non-baccarat gaming volumes in October. Of the gaming metrics—Slot Volume, Table Volume, Baccarat Volume, Total Volume ex Baccarat, and Total Volume—total volume ex Baccarat has the highest correlation with the taxi data. This is not surprising as baccarat players are usually chauffeured to the Vegas casinos.
The chart below shows year-on-year change for Vegas taxi trips and total volume ex Baccarat from January 2000 to Sept 2011. Correlation was 0.65 and the t-stat was 9.7, which signals that the variable is very statistically significant. Assuming Lady Luck is steady and baccarat doesn’t swing around too much, October could be a decent month in Vegas.
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