This is a company with long term top line tailwinds, easing input costs, and a best-in-class balance sheet operating in an industry that is consolidating. Yesterday, Keith bought Sanderson Farms in the Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio. Favorable supply metrics are driving pricing in the chicken market higher.  Corn is also going lower.  We’ve seen in the past that these two factors occurring coincidentally tend to drive the stock to outperform the market.


There are seasonal factors to be aware of in terms of how the name trades, but SAFM is a strong trade idea (three weeks or less).  We defer to Keith’s quantitative model, but seasonality in the stock suggests that it may be worth keeping this one on a leash that stretches, at most, from here to late-June.


Fundamental Outlook

The key to our call on Sanderson Farms is chicken pricing and the supply dynamics within the chicken processing industry that largely drive that factor.  By tracking pullet placements, we can understand the supply cycle within the chicken industry and compare that to the performance of Sanderson Farms’ stock versus the broader equity market.  Chicken pricing responds positively to reductions in supply, as the chart below shows.  In general, when the chicken supply cycle goes into liquidation – as pullet placements turn negative, prices begin to recover, and the stock recovers along with it.  The long term correlation between Sanderson Farms’ stock and Whole Chicken Prices (1995 to present) is 0.91.


IDEA ALERT: LONG SAFM - pullets v pricing



Corn prices are crucial for this company’s margins and the top line benefits of strong chicken pricing are best translated into profit growth when feed costs are favorable.  The chart below highlights the year-over-year decline in corn.  If the dollar continues to strengthen, corn is likely – at least in the near term – to continue to come down. 





Examining the trend in the annual change in pullet placements, we can break down the longer term cycle versus the relative performance of Sanderson Farms’ stock versus the broader equity market, or S&P 500.  As the first chart of this post highlighted, pullet placements declining typically drive higher chicken prices.  Historically, the liquidation stage of the chicken supply cycle has proven to be a prescient time to buy Sanderson Farms’ stock.  As the charts below indicate, buying SAFM as pullet placements contract can yield significant rewards relative to the S&P 500.


IDEA ALERT: LONG SAFM - pullets vs safm rel 97


IDEA ALERT: LONG SAFM - pullets vs safm rel 01


IDEA ALERT: LONG SAFM - pullets vs safm rel 07


IDEA ALERT: LONG SAFM - pullets safm rel 07 bad


The Tail (three years or less) View

The chart below highlights the potential for Sanderson Farms to outperform the S&P 500 over the next 2-3 years as the impact of supply contraction continues to drive pricing.  We have been cautious to tailor our view on Sanderson Farms to fit our macro team’s view on commodities and corn specifically.  If corn prices continue to move lower, we expect the benefits of higher chicken pricing to translate to improved earnings and stock price appreciation.  The beginnings of the current liquidation cycle has coincided with strong outperformance versus the S&P 500 (March 2011 to present) of 15% but we see further upside given the magnitude of the draw down in chicken supply and the implications of similarly large liquidations historically. A major difference between this liquidation cycle and prior cycles is that it is taking place in the midst of a much weaker economic period than prior cycles.  However, we believe that SAFM is a staple, certainly relative to the S&P 500, and expect this name to outperform significantly over the next two-three years.


IDEA ALERT: LONG SAFM - pullet vs corn SAFM outperf1


Quantitative Levels for SAFM








Howard Penney

Managing Director


Rory Green




Claims Headwinds to Persist for Another Two Months

Initial jobless claims fell by 6k last week to 377k. Incorporating the 6k upward revision to the prior week's data (389k vs 383k), claims were lower by 12k. Four-week rolling claims rose 1.75k to 378k. For reference, rolling claims bottomed on a YTD basis at 355k on 2/25/12. The upward drift in the 3+ months since then has been 23k. We would expect another 10-15k in upward drift over the next two months before the trend begins to reverse. 


Overall, sentiment around employment remains weak. The most recent jobs report was unequivocally weak and the broader trend in claims has been negative. This trend will continue through July/August before reversing in September.


To be clear, the underlying trend in claims is positive. We look at the YoY trend in NSA claims to avoid the faulty seasonal adjustment factors. NSA claims continue to trend approximately 10% lower on a YoY basis. 
















Meanwhile, the Yield Curve Continues to Pancake

The 2-10 spread widened 5 bps versus last week to 140 bps as of yesterday.  The ten-year yield increased 4 bps to 166 bps. To put this in perspective, if spreads hold where they are now, the 3Q12 sequential change will rival what we saw in 3Q11, an ominous sign for bank margins. With Operation Twist set to end on June 30, all eyes will be on Bernanke at 10am this morning for clues on the next round of curve manipulation.






Financial Subsector Performance

The table below shows the stock performance of each Financial subsector over four durations. 


INITIAL CLAIMS: TWO MONTHS TO GO - Subsector Performance




Joshua Steiner, CFA


Robert Belsky


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Market Hangovers

This note was originally published at 8am on May 24, 2012. INVESTOR and RISK MANAGER SUBSCRIBERS have access to the EARLY LOOK (published by 8am every trading day) and PORTFOLIO IDEAS in real-time.

“You come home, and you party. But after that, you get a hangover. Everything about that is negative.”
-Mike Tyson


Yesterday Keith, myself, and our head of consulting, Michael Lintell, had a meeting with one of our long term subscribers in our New Haven office.  Not only does this client have a great long term track record in their respective market (which happens to be Europe), but they are massively outperforming this year as well.  I won’t get into the intricacies of our discussion, but at the end of the meeting we all collectively agreed that this is not the type of market that you want to trade with a hangover.


For those that have never had a hangover before, Wikipedia defines a hangover as follows:


“A hangover is the experience of various unpleasant physiological effects following heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages. The most commonly reported characteristics of a hangover include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, diarrhea, and thirst, typically after the intoxicating effect of the alcohol begins to wear off. While a hangover can be experienced at any time, generally speaking a hangover is experienced the morning after a night of heavy drinking. In addition to the physical symptoms, a hangover may also induce psychological symptoms including heightened feelings of depression and anxiety." 


Arguably the way the market is trading currently, with the SP500 down 5.7% for month to date, it is creating feelings of depression and anxiety in many stock market operators.  In effect, a market hangover over that is akin to taking down too many Jägerbombs the night before (for you old timers a Jägerbomb involves dropping a shot of Jägermeister into a glass of Red Bull and then chugging it).


The last five days of trading are prime examples as to why you need all of your wits about you.  Yes, some investors with true long term duration don’t have to adjust exposures and worry about monthly or quarterly performance, but the reality is that most of us do have to worry about short term performance.  In a market like this, the only way to really capture marginal performance, especially when correlations are heightened, is to “buy ‘em” when other people are selling and “sell ‘em” when other people are buying.


In the Chart of the Day, we emphasize the volatility of the last week.  The SP500 started the period at 1,328 then traded down to 1,295 then ripped up to 1,331 and then dropped back to 1,300.  Much like a hangover, that kind of short term volatility can be nauseating.  We actually look at it in a positive light and use it as an opportunity to adjust exposures accordingly, and gain performance edge.  While everyone’s strategy is unique, email our head of consulting at if you want some help developing a more proactive risk management strategy for your portfolio.


Obviously the key driver of recent volatility in equities is Europe.  This morning we are getting more of the same.  On one hand European equities are at the highs of the day and respecting yesterday’s late day rip in U.S. equities.  On the other hand, there remains little chance of resolution to the sovereign debt mess in Europe, especially given the shifting politics.


Currently, the positive sentiment is centered on increased chances of Euro-area deposit insurances and the growing likelihood of Eurobonds that were supposedly discussed at yesterday’s summit.  In reality, though, no new progress was made and the next summit is not until June 28th.  Frankly, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi probably summarized it best yesterday when he said:


“Euro bonds make sense when you have a fiscal union, otherwise they don't make sense. They are the first step towards a fiscal union.”


We have said it many times, a monetary union is no union at all without a strong political and fiscal union.  Until that occurs, the Euro is doomed to fail.


The one global macro market that is slowly shifting from being in hangover mode to recovery mode is natural gas.  In our best ideas call yesterday, we emphasized our shift from being long term natural gas bears to getting more constructive on natty. Some of the key reasons are as follows:


1.   Bottoms are processes, not points. And after a 3.5 year bear market in gas that saw the front-month NYMEX contract fall 80%, we think that bottoming process is in motion; front-month gas has bounced convincingly off the $2/Mcf level, gaining 30% in a month to trade over $2.60/Mcf, and has regained its TRADE and TREND lines on our quantitative model.


2.   Production growth is slowing, and will continue to slow. Gas production is already slowing on the margin: +4% YoY in early May versus +9% in 4Q11. We see that decline accelerating as oil prices move lower. Our research indicates that the average full-cycle cost to produce 1 Mcf of gas in North America is ~$5.50/Mcf ($2 cash cost and $3.50 PD FD&A cost), which suggests that producers in aggregate are well below breakeven.


3.   Demand from the power sector is surging and won’t stop. The U.S. power sector has responded to the low gas price by increasing consumption 44%, or 7.5 Bcf/d, YoY in the first week of May, taking market share away from coal, nuclear, and hydro in a short amount of time.


4.   The 2012 storage issue is priced-in. We will hit storage capacity this fall. That is probably the most consensus opinion on natural gas there is in the market right now. In fact, in an April 2012 survey of investors and industry professionals, 78% said that we will hit storage capacity this year.


5.   From a long-term perspective, sentiment is still bearish on natural gas. From 1995 – 2006, non-commercial traders (hedge funds, mutual funds, etc.) were net neutral on natural gas. Only since 2007 have non-commercial traders been heavily, consistently, and correctly short the commodity.


Just like real hangovers, most hung over markets will eventually recover.  We believe natural gas is one of those markets.


Keep your head up and stick on the ice,


Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research


Market Hangovers - CotDay


Market Hangovers - VPP

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Stand Ready?

"We must also stand ready to do even more if needed to best achieve our statutory goals of maximum employment and price stability."

–John Williams


Who is John Williams?


That’s a question that would most definitely make Atlas shrug. Not to be confused with all-American pianist and composer John Towner Williams (Star Wars, ET, Sunday Night Football, etc.), this is the lackey Williams who runs the San Francisco Fed alongside his Vice Chair of American Economic Central Planning and Economic Cycle Smoothing, Janet Yellen.


Both of these charlatans were out in full force yesterday ramping up expectations for more of what has not worked – Policies To Inflate commodity and asset prices (Qe). So, thanks to who I am sure your Founding Fathers foresaw as being the leaders of your centrally planned market life, today’s risk management question is will he (Bernanke) or will he not deliver the drugs?


Back to the Global Macro Grind..


So far, my real-time market signals are actually telling me the answer to the question is no. That doesn’t mean the market has it right this morning. But someone always knows something – and, sadly, that’s actually the game that both Bush and Obama have signed off on in this country for the last 12 years – the game within the game.


I work on the inside of the game. But I don’t have the inside information itself. I deal with some of the most sophisticated and accomplished investors in the game. I don’t deal with Washington’s academic elite and/or those with political power. My job is to boil it down to the truth and be right. In the end, from a market pricing perspective, truth trumps storytelling.


The truth is that Janet Yellen might be even worse than Ben Bernanke from a forecasting perspective. That’s saying something. She’s been on the Fed’s Board of Governors since 1994! That makes her very special. Never mind the Housing bubble, she’s overseen a hat trick of Fed sponsored bubbles: Tech, Housing, and now Commodities.


Back to what Bernanke will or will not do today…  


Bernanke, of course, is not politicized, but today’s Joint Economic Committee meeting has been completely politicized. He is supposed to be delivering an accountable explanation as to why his economic forecasts are wrong at least 2/3 of the time. Instead, Yellen is pressuring him to whisper sweet nothings about Quantitative Easing.


To review, the Fed’s Congressional mandate is twofold:

  1. Full Employment
  2. Price Stability

Instead, their perpetual Big Government Interventions in our markets are delivering:

  1. Shortened Economic Cycles
  2. Amplified Market Volatilities

Boom, bust. Boooom, bust. Then, kaboooom!


That last part is what we have been making a call on since launching our Q2 Macro Themes of Fed Fighting (The Last War) and Bernanke’s Bubbles (Commodities). Janet Yellen 3 for 3, baby – Tech, bust; Housing, bust; Commodities ka-booom!


I “stand ready” to present 35 slides today in Dallas, Texas (at The Money Show) on why Commodity Bubbles in oil and food in particular are going to continue to pop as the Fed’s broken promises continue to fail.


There is a massive movement in this country towards arresting doing more of what has not worked. And, if you all need a Canadian and his American family to stand on the front lines of this policy making war, get me a red-white-and-blue jersey (and helmet) – I’m already there.


Before I go, I’ll leave you with the real-time signals that are suggesting Bernanke may not deliver on hope today:

  1. Chinese Equities closed down -0.7% (ahead of their rate cut, which implies growth is really slowing)
  2. European Equities are up but failing at their most immediate-term TRADE lines of resistance (DAX, CAC, and IBEX)
  3. Oil prices are down
  4. Gold is down
  5. Copper is down
  6. US Dollar is barely down

The only thing that’s complicated about analyzing all of this at this point is how Bernanke is going to attempt to explain it.


Stand Ready for another Qe. This man is fighting for his political life (Romney says he will fire him). If Bernanke goes there, he’ll put his short-term political career risk ahead of the country’s long-term risk management position. Qe3 will cause Dollar Debauchery. Oil will rise again, and real (inflation adjusted) US, Chinese, and European growth will slow further.


My immediate-term support and resistance ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, EUR/USD, and the SP500 are now $1, $95.77-102.97, $82.11-82.65, $1.22-1.25, and 1, respectively.


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Stand Ready? - Chart of the Day


Stand Ready? - Virtual Portfolio


The Macau Metro Monitor, June 7, 2012




The 1-year lending and deposit rate will be cut by 25bps, effective June 8.  Banks will also be allowed to lend at 20% below the current floor for lending rates, greater than the previous 10% allowance. 



LVS is getting investment-grade treatment from banks.  Lenders participating in a S$4.6 billion ($3.6 billion) credit facility for MBS dropped demands that LVS use any excess cash at the end of its financial year to reduce the loan’s outstanding balance.  Typically, only high-grade borrowers are awarded such terms.


The loan will pay interest at a rate of 185bps more than the Singapore dollar swap offered rate.  The margin is 40bps narrower than what the company paid to borrow $3.2 billion in November, and 65bps less than its cost for $1.4 billion in 2010. Proceeds will be used to refinance debt and the loan may be split into a S$4.1 billion term facility that matures in six years and a S$500 million revolving credit facility due in 5.5 years.

investing ideas

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