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MAY KNAPP TRACK (CORRECTED)

The Knapp Track release for casual dining trends in May suggests that casual dining trends sequentially slowed from April to May.  Comparing the Blackbox data to Knapp Track, it seems that a slowdown in Darden’s comps could be on the cards.

 

* Earlier today, we published a note titled "MAY KNAPP TRACK"  that, in part discussed a slowdown that could be inferred from the spread between the Knapp Track and Blackbox casual dining comparable sales data sets. Our wording of that conclusion could have been better; discrepancies between the two data sets mean that such a conclusion cannot be definitively drawn. Given the size of Darden's system, however, we believe that the opinion is likely (but not certainly) correct. The text below has been revised from an earlier version to reflect this.

 

Malcolm Knapp released his Knapp Track casual dining sales numbers for May this weekend.  The May 2012 comparable restaurant sales change was -1.3% and the comparable restaurant guest count change was -3.9%.  The sequential change from April to May, in terms of the two-year average trend in Knapp Track casual dining comparable restaurant sales, was -80 bps.  For Knapp Track casual dining guest counts in May, the sequential change from April was -85 bps. 

 

The comparable store sales growth decline in May was the second in three months and implies that casual dining is still a group that investors should handle with care.  We have been advocating a cautious stance toward the casual dining group since mid-April.

 

Takeaways

 

Darden is emerging as a stock that could be emerging as a short or, at least, a stock that should not be bought. The Knapp-Blackbox spread has declined over the course of the last three months, indicating that Darden could be seeing increased softness over the past few weeks (not included in Blackbox data but included in Knapp Track).  There are several differences between the Knapp Track and Blackbox data sets so the spread is not a sure-fire indicator of a slowdown in Darden comps but, given the size of the Darden system, we believe that the spread between Knapp Track and Blackbox is likely relevant for Darden’s top line trends.  The spread has gone from +0.8% in February to -0.5%, -0.6%, and -0.9% in March, April, and May, respectively. 

 

Besides the broader casual dining group, for Darden and Brinker this result is especially meaningful since those companies’ systems represent a large portion of the unit base from which the numbers are calculated.

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

 

Rory Green

Analyst


MACAU: FINALLY A DECENT WEEK (FOR LVS TOO)

Raising our June projection to HK$23-24.5 billion (14-22% YoY growth)

 

 

This week’s average daily table revenues (ADTR) increased 21% YoY to HK$750 million.  We are raising the top end of our full month June projection to HK$23.0-24.5 billion, which would represent YoY growth of 14-22%.  The June numbers continue to confirm our expectation of a June rebound from May’s disappointing 7% growth.

 

 MACAU:  FINALLY A DECENT WEEK (FOR LVS TOO) - macau1

 

LVS finally made a move toward justifying its big investment in Sands Cotai Central (SCC).  It’s only one week of data and 20% share is probably not sustainable – at least not yet – but this was a good week for LVS.  We’ve been writing that not only will June be better overall for the market but also for LVS.  LVS’s share thus far in June is way higher from the recent 17% share.  We expect the next few months to shake out in the 18-19% range for LVS followed by another step up later in the year when the additional amenities open.

 

MGM is also having a good month while SJM is the big loser so far in June.  Wynn’s performance continues to underwhelm.  Here are the numbers: 

 

MACAU:  FINALLY A DECENT WEEK (FOR LVS TOO) - MACAU2


MAY KNAPP TRACK

The Knapp Track release for casual dining trends in May suggests that casual dining trends sequentially slowed from April to May.  Comparing the Blackbox data to Knapp Track, we can infer that trends at Darden continued to slow through May.

 

Malcolm Knapp released his Knapp Track casual dining sales numbers for May this weekend.  The May 2012 comparable restaurant sales change was -1.3% and the comparable restaurant guest count change was -3.9%.  The sequential change from April to May, in terms of the two-year average trend in Knapp Track casual dining comparable restaurant sales, was -80 bps.  For Knapp Track casual dining guest counts in May, the sequential change from April was -85 bps. 

 

The comparable store sales growth decline in May was the second in three months and implies that casual dining is still a group that investors should handle with care.  We have been advocating a cautious stance toward the casual dining group since mid-April.

 

Takeaways

 

Darden is emerging as a stock that could be emerging as a short or, at least, a stock that should not be bought.  The Knapp-Blackbox spread has declined over the course of the last three months, indicating that Darden (not included in Blackbox data but included in Knapp Track).  The spread has gone from +0.8% in February to -0.5%, -0.6%, and -0.9% in March, April, and May, respectively.

 

Besides the broader casual dining group, for Darden and Brinker this result is especially meaningful since those companies’ systems represent a large portion of the unit base from which the numbers are calculated.

 

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

 

Rory Green

Analyst


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MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS

Key Highlights

 

*  Spanish bank bailout expectations prompted across-the-board tightening for EU peripheral countries, EU banks and US global and credit-sensitive banks.

 

* On the other side of the trade, Germany's swaps widened (the only country in the EU to show this) as did swaps of US insurers, as expectations for low rates persisting longer than previously expected rose.

 

* Spanish bank bailout euphoria also rippled across junk bonds, leveraged loans and munis, with both indices showing improvement week-over-week.

 

* Our Macro team’s quantitative setup in the XLF shows 1.9% upside to TRADE resistance of $14.41 and 6.1% downside to TRADE support of $13.28.

 

Financial Risk Monitor Summary  

• Short-term(WoW): Negative / 3 of 12 improved / 4 out of 12 worsened / 6 of 12 unchanged  

• Intermediate-term(WoW): Negative / 1 of 12 improved / 10 out of 12 worsened / 2 of 12 unchanged  

• Long-term(WoW): Negative / 3 of 12 improved / 5 out of 12 worsened / 5 of 12 unchanged

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - Summary

 

1. US Financials CDS  – Insurance swaps widened out last week, with 12 of 16 reference entities wider. On the other side were global banks and consumer lenders, which all tightened, reflecting anticipation of the Spanish bank bailout and expectations that a US "coupling" recession was less likely. 

 

Overall, swaps tightened for 15 of 27 major domestic financial company reference entities last week.   

Tightened the most WoW: WFC, MS, AXP

Widened the most WoW: PRU, UNM, XL

Tightened the most/ widened the least MoM: BAC, MS, RDN

Widened the most MoM: JPM, XL, MMC

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - American CDS table

 

2. European Financial CDS - French banks, still the canary in the coal mine, showed the biggest WoW improvement in swaps. Across Europe last week, 37 of the 39 reference entities we track showed spreads tighten. The median tightening was 4.7% (16 bps).  

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - European Financials

 

3. Asian Financial CDS -  Japanese, Indian and Chinese banks swaps were all tighter last week. Bank of China tightened by 55 bps to 173 bps. The median tightening was -12.2%. 

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - Asian Financials

 

4. Sovereign CDS – Expectations for a Spanish bank bailout led to tightening across the EU periphery. Portugal was down 110 bps to 1,071 bps, while Spain and Italy were tighter by 44 bps and 35 bps, respectively (to 526 bps and 569 bps). Interestingly, Germany's swaps widened by 5 bps - the only major market to widen. As the risk in the periphery gets transferred to Germany's shoulders, Germany's creditworthiness is starting to reflect the deterioration. 

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - Sov Table

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - Sov 1

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - Sov 2

 

5. High Yield (YTM) Monitor – High Yield rates fell 16 bps last week, ending the week at 7.93% versus 8.09% the prior week.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - HY

 

6. Leveraged Loan Index Monitor – The Leveraged Loan Index rose 1.66 points last week, ending at 1641.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - LLI

 

7. TED Spread Monitor – The TED spread fell 1.0 bps last week, ending the week at 38.9 bps this week versus the prior week print of 39.9 bps.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - TED

 

8. Journal of Commerce Commodity Price Index – The JOC index fell 1.5 points, ending the week at -15.2 versus -13.7 the prior week.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - JOC

 

9. Euribor-OIS spread – The Euribor-OIS spread (the difference between the euro interbank lending rate and overnight indexed swaps) measures bank counterparty risk in the Eurozone. The OIS is analogous to the effective Fed Funds rate in the United States.  Banks lending at the OIS do not swap principal, so counterparty risk in the OIS is minimal.  By contrast, the Euribor rate is the rate offered for unsecured interbank lending.  Thus, the spread between the two isolates counterparty risk. The Euribor-OIS spread held flat at 40 bps.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - Euribor OIS

 

10. ECB Liquidity Recourse to the Deposit Facility – The ECB Liquidity Recourse to the Deposit Facility measures banks’ overnight deposits with the ECB.  Taken in conjunction with excess reserves, the ECB deposit facility measures excess liquidity in the Euro banking system.  An increase in this metric shows that banks are borrowing from the ECB.  In other words, the deposit facility measures one element of the ECB response to the crisis.  

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - ECB recourse to the deposit

 

11. Markit MCDX Index Monitor – The Markit MCDX is a measure of municipal credit default swaps. We believe this index is a useful indicator of pressure in state and local governments. Markit publishes index values daily on six 5-year tenor baskets including 50 reference entities each. Each basket includes a diversified pool of revenue and GO bonds from a broad array of states. We track the 14-V1. Last week spreads tightened 16 bps, ending the week at 169 bps versus 185 bps the prior week.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - MCDX

 

 

12. Chinese Steel - We use Chinese steel rebar prices to gauge Chinese construction activity. We look at the average Chinese rebar spot price. Steel prices in China fell 0.15% last week, or 6 yuan/ton, to 4,068 yuan/ton. Notably, Chinese steel rebar prices have been generally moving lower since August of last year.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - Chinese Steel

 

13. 2-10 Spread – We track the 2-10 spread as an indicator of bank margin pressure.  Last week the 2-10 spread widened to 136 bps, 16 bps wider than a week ago.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - 2 10  risk monitor

 

14. XLF Macro Quantitative Setup – Our Macro team’s quantitative setup in the XLF shows 1.9% upside to TRADE resistance and 6.1% downside to TRADE support.

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - XLF 

 

Margin Debt - April: +0.93 standard deviations 

We publish NYSE Margin Debt every month when it’s released. NYSE Margin debt hit its post-2007 peak in April of 2011 at $320.7 billion. The chart below shows the S&P 500 overlaid against NYSE margin debt going back to 1997. In this chart both the S&P 500 and margin debt have been inflation adjusted (back to 1990 dollar levels), and we’re showing margin debt levels in standard deviations relative to the mean covering the period 1. While this may sound complicated, the message is really quite simple. First, when margin debt gets to 1.5 standard deviations or greater, as it did last April, it has historically been a signal of extreme risk in the equity market - the last two times it did this the equity market lost half its value in the ensuing period. We flagged this for the first time back in May 2011. The second point is that margin debt trends tend to exhibit high degrees of autocorrelation. In other words, the last few months’ change in margin debt is the best predictor of the change we’ll see in the next few months. We would need to see it approach -0.5 to -1.0 standard deviations before the trend runs its course. There’s plenty of room for short/intermediate term reversals within this broader secular move. Overall, however, this setup represents a long-term headwind for the market. One limitation of this series is that it is reported on a lag.  

 

The chart shows data through April. 

 

MONDAY MORNING RISK MONITOR: GERMANY & US INSURERS WIDEN WHILE REST OF WORLD TIGHTENS - Margin Debt

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA

 

Robert Belsky

 

Having trouble viewing the charts in this email?  Please click the link at the bottom of the note to view in your browser. 

 



Teaspoon Bailout

“I could as easily bail out the Potomac River with a teaspoon as attend to all the details of the army.”

-Abraham Lincoln

 

So, in the last 3 trading days, you’ve had begging for Bernanke, a Chinese rate cut, and now another European bank bailout. Nice. Sounds like this must have been the bull case all along. Losers win.

 

To Lincoln’s point, these people have issues. Bigger issues than a 9 handle pre-market rally in the S&P Futures are going to solve (it was 16 handles on the “news” last night). Piling more debt-upon-debt-upon-debt is the last thing that global consumers need.

 

As a reminder, short-term Big Government Interventions (money printing and debt leverage) stoke commodity (oil) price inflations. Policies To Inflate then slow global economic growth. They also eradicate whatever is left of investor trust.

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

Without credible markets, you don’t solve the #1 issue people have with Global Macro markets right now – trust. Without trust, conflicted and compromised politicians will do just about anything to attempt to save their short-term political career risk. That’s no long-term economic plan for prosperity.

 

This Teaspoon Bailout strategy is not new obviously. You only have to go back to 2008 when ex-Goldman CEO (and credit derivatives market leader), Hank Paulson, brought out the US Bank Bailout Bazooka. The market rallied into the event (inside information), then rallied for about a nanosecond on the “news” to lower-highs, then resumed its decline.

 

Then, the former Dartmouth football player (Hank) was seen puking in his garbage can…

 

Have no fear however, Timmy is still here. There is no question in my mind that central planning pool boy in Chief, Tim Geithner, advised the Europeans to do the same thing he advised America’s politically compromised back then. Having never worked a day outside of Washington’s political elite in his born life, this is what Geithner was sent by his god on this earth to do – bailout banks.

 

This concentration of conflicted political power gets scarier when you think about how close Geithner is to both the President of the United States and the Washington based (and US tax payer backed) IMF. Geithner is fighting for his short-term political life. And, in the long-run, my grand-children are not yet dead.

 

As a reminder, Big Government Interventions in what were our free-markets:

  1. Shorten Economic Cycles (through short-term asset price inflations)
  2. Amplify Market Volatility (through made-up bailouts and rules mid-game)

That’s just a bit off versus the Fed’s Congressional mandate for:

  1. Full Employment
  2. Price Stability

Regardless, in exchange for a 9 handle pop in the US futures and Spanish stocks going from down -31% from their YTD peak to -24% (i.e. still crashing), global consumers get themselves a nice pop in taxes, back up to $100/barrel Brent oil.

 

Dollar down, Euro up, Oil up. Nice.

 

Just when I was starting to get bullish, from a price (1283 long-term TAIL support), the #1 factor that made for our #GrowthSlowing call in February-March, gets put back on the table via Bernanke begging and Europe bailing. There is nothing that slows real (inflation adjusted) growth faster than food/energy prices rising.

 

Now if you are in the March 2012 bull market camp that “this time is different” and the world is “de-coupling”, that’s perfectly fine. That’s what makes a market. Piling more debt-upon-debt in Europe is only going to make this structurally low-growth and no-trust market environment worse.

 

Into and out of the Bernanke Begging last week, we cut our US Equity asset allocation back down to 0%. After starting the week at 12% US Equity allocation, that made for a good week. That puts our current Hedgeye Asset Allocation Model in the following pre-game position:

  1. Cash = 76% (down from 82% last Monday)
  2. International Currency = 12% (all US Dollar, all the time = UUP)
  3. Fixed Income = 12% (US Treasuries and German Bunds = TLT and BUNL)
  4. US Equities = 0%
  5. International Equities = 0%
  6. Commodities = 0%

In other words, we’re already losing today. And we expect to be held accountable for those losses.

 

While I could say what I would have done if I had this Spanish inside information on Friday afternoon, I won’t. I won’t say that if some conflicted and compromised politician in Washington called me with a look-see that I’d pick up the phone either.

 

Last I checked, in most parts of the country, cheating and bailing out banks is still un-American.

 

My immediate-term support and resistance ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, and EUR/USD, and the SP500 are now $1, $95.61-100.91, $80.02-82.63, $1.24-1.27, and 1, respectively.

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Teaspoon Bailout - Chart of the Day

 

Teaspoon Bailout - Virtual Portfolio


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