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President Obama's Reelection Chances

*Note: last week’s 58.2% reading was revised down to 57.6% post our latest update of the multiple regression model. Also, 58.7% is good for the highest reading since mid-MAY.

 

As the fundraising battle heats up and we head into August, President Obama continues to stay ahead according to the Hedgeye Election Indicator. Week-over-week, the President’s chances of being reelected rose 1.1% to 58.7%

 

Hedgeye developed the HEI to understand the relationship between key market and economic data and the US Presidential Election. After rigorous back testing, Hedgeye has determined that there are a short list of real time market-based indicators, that move ahead of President Obama’s position in conventional polls or other measures of sentiment.

 

Based on our analysis, market prices will adjust in real-time ahead of economic conditions, which will ultimately shape voters’ perception of the Obama Presidency, the Republican candidates and influence the probability of an Obama reelection.  The model assumes that the Presidential election would be held today against any Republican candidate. Our model is indifferent toward who the Republican candidate is as the sentiment for Obama and for any Republican opponent is imputed in the market prices that determine the HEI. The HEI is based on a scale of 0 – 200, with 100 equating to a 50% probability that President Obama would win or lose if the election were held today.

 

President Obama’s reelection chances reached a peak of 62.3% on March 26, according to the HEI. Hedgeye will release the HEI every Tuesday at 7am ET until election day November 6.

 

 

President Obama's Reelection Chances - HEI


WMS 2Q 2012 REPORT CARD

In an effort to evaluate performance and as a follow up to our YouTube, we compare how the quarter measured up to previous management commentary and guidance

 

 

OVERALL

  • WORSE:  Better results on the game sales side were offset by continued poor gaming operations performance.  Investments in the interactive crushed margins, leading to an EPS miss.  Guidance of basically flat YoY EPS, which is 23% below consensus estimates has got to be hugely disappointing.

OVERALL PERFORMANCE IN F4Q

  • WORSE:  Gaming operations produced yet another miss.  Despite increases in the EOP install base, the average install base actually decreased. So much for the backlog.
  • PREVIOUSLY: “Typically we see our Q4 ramping up to be our seasonally busiest quarter of the year. It goes Q4, Q3, Q2, Q1. And so I think April, the month of April was a little bit softer than we would like in our gaming operations business. But our order book is building dramatically, so that offsets that.”

FY4Q REVENUE AND MARGIN PERFORMANCE

  • WORSE:  Revenues were down 4% YoY but operating margins also decreased from 34.1% to 33.9% YoY
  • PREVIOUSLY: “We expect total revenues in the June 2012 quarter to be modestly below year-ago June quarterly revenues, while our operating margin is expected to improve on a year-over-year basis, adjusting out the net impact of restructuring, impairment and other charges in the prior year.”

12-24 MONTH OUTLOOK FOR GAMING OPS

  • WORSE:  WMS still expects growth in the their participation install base in 2013 although given the heightened competition they're not sure of what churn will look like
  • PREVIOUSLY: “We believe that WMS has turned the corner on our efforts to restore growth in our gaming operations business. Looking out over the next few quarters, we expect our normalized flow of innovative new products for our product sales and participation operations scheduled to launch during the next 12 to 24 months.”

INSTALL BASE GROWTH

  • WORSE:  End of period units increased but that did little to help the quarter since the average install base was still down QoQ due to high churn.  Revenue per day was also down.  WMS remains hopeful for growth in the install base in FY13, but the talk on the call was definitely toned down from last quarter.
  • PREVIOUSLY: “With current open orders for now over 2,100 units and five new participation games expected to receive their regulatory approvals this quarter…. and with our improving product performance, we expect further growth in the installed participation base and revenue per day in the June quarter and beyond.  We're confident that the unusually high number of refreshes in the last several quarters will moderate over the next several quarters and slowly return to more historical rates. 

2012 NEW OPENING FLOOR SHARE

  • SAME: Floor share of new casinos openings was in the high-teens as expected
  • PREVIOUSLY:  “Our floor share for new casino openings this year is expected to be in the high teens”

SHIP SHARE OUTLOOK

  • WORSE:  WMS guided to modest growth in ship share in the US & Canada which we do not believe is good enough to get to mid-20's ship share
  • PREVIOUSLY: “We expect over time to recapture ship share and reestablish our fair share of the market.  I would expect us to get back to more the mid-20%s here in fiscal 2013 based on the performance of our content and we're very excited”

NEW UNIT PRICING

  • SAME:  ASPs came in just under $16k.  WMS expects continued pricing pressures into next year. They do not expect any ASP growth with VLT mix offsetting the impact of their new cabinet in late FY13.
  • PREVIOUSLY: “I would think that from a modeling standpoint, you'd probably want to use the last three quarters or so as a more typical ASP price going forward. I think given the competitive pressures, you're not going see us have great pricing leverage in the next two to three quarters, but I think it will be a more normalized run rate going forward, call it the $16,000 range.”

ASP OUTLOOK

  • WORSE:  Given the current market place environment coupled with the expected range of VLT pricing from ongoing market pressures, ASPs in FY13 are likely to exhibit greater variability on a quarterly sequential basis depending on the product mix in the given quarter.  Their new cabinet release in 2H13 is not likely to be able to offset pricing pressures in 1H13.
  • PREVIOUSLY:  “I think that going forward, you're going to continue to see us be competitive with pricing. I wouldn't use the word aggressive but we're going to be competitive.  We have several premium for sale products coming out in fiscal 2013 that we hope will drive ASP.” 

COMMERCIALIZATION OF CPU-NXT3

  • SAME:  WMS launched their first 2 games in the June quarter on their new platform
  • PREVIOUSLY: “I am excited by the prospects to reenergize our customer slot floors with the innovation and potential that will come with the launch of our first games, our next-generation CPU-NXT3 operating system…We are on track to commercialize this new operating system on the Sensory Immersion 2.0 platform, with initial approvals and the launch of the Aladdin & Magic Quest game in the latter part of the June quarter.”

MY POKER UPDATE

  • SAME:  Expect to ship a few hundred My Poker units in the December 2012 quarter
  • PREVIOUSLY: “Another driver of revenue by the end of calendar 2012 will come from the expected launch of My Poker video poker platform.”

IL & ITALY UPDATE

  • WORSE:  IL is still expected to benefit 2013 but there was no mention of Italy
  • PREVIOUSLY: “We anticipate the placements of VLTs in Illinois and Italy, which we expect to begin in fiscal 2013, may result in a greater amount of operating leases, which will require gaming operations capital.”

FY13 CAPEX GUIDANCE

  • SAME:  WMS expects a 20% YoY decline in aggregate capex spending- mostly on the PP&E side
  • PREVIOUSLY: “Looking to fiscal 2013, we expect capital expenditures for property plant and equipment to decline as we'll complete two significant projects over the next few months.”

4Q CAPEX

  • WORSE:  Capex was $58MM - up a lot QoQ
  • PREVIOUSLY: “June quarter… it's likely that CapEx in gaming operations is going to be at or a little above what it was in Q3 as we now get to the point of … incrementing the installed base:”

CZR 2Q 2012 REPORT CARD

In an effort to evaluate performance and as a follow up to our YouTube, we compare how the quarter measured up to previous management commentary and guidance

 

 

OVERALL

  • WORSE:  Soft gaming revenues in Vegas and worse than expected margins drove an EBITDA miss.  Management was much more cautious about the demand environment.

 

REVPAR GROWTH IN LAS VEGAS

  • SAME:  Las Vegas REVPAR growth came in at +4.4% YoY, with occupancies falling 2.6% and cash ADR rising 4.5%.
  • PREVIOUSLY: "Our Company in the past couple of quarters has enjoyed all-time occupancy highs here in Las Vegas. What we hope to achieve is improving mix over time and … less of a reliance on wholesale operators which for us right now stands at 10% or less of our room nights. Continuing to shift that mix into FIT and gaming customers …. will drive RevPAR growth, not really … occupancy growth. Occupancy is not going to be a big driver for us. In terms of thinking about RevPAR growth…. the low to mid-single digit RevPAR growth… we'd be comfortable with that number.”

 

MARGINS IN THE MIDWEST & SOUTH REGION

  • WORSE:  Margins fell YoY at all the Midwest/South properties.
  • PREVIOUSLY: "There is certainly room to increase those margins....Our margins should be able to grow even in the face of flat revenues because of the delivery of the savings from our Project Renewal program."

MANAGED, INTERNATIONAL & OTHER PERFORMANCE

  • BETTER:  Managed, international, & other segment revenues grew YoY in each category. Playtika particularly outperformed.
  • PREVIOUSLY: "Our online business which is growing nicely is in that category… London Clubs and Punta del Este as well as our managed properties are growing nicely."

AC PROPERTY TAX

  • SAME:  AC 2Q results benefited from a ~$7MM decrease in property tax expense due to lower property tax assessments
  • PREVIOUSLY: "One element which drove improvement in Atlantic City was the elimination or severe reduction of our property taxes in that market and that will continue to deliver the benefit throughout the year and into next year as well."

AC ENVIRONMENT

  • WORSE:  Margins fell by more than 200bps YoY as the AC market remains extremely competitive and battered
  • PREVIOUSLY: "The environment in Atlantic City... continues to be challenging and we remain focused on modifying our cost structure there to realize appropriate returns."

ONLINE GAMING

  • SAME:  In the state-by-state route for online gaming, CZR has been proactive in California, Nevada, and Delaware.
  • PREVIOUSLY: "There will be online gaming here in Nevada by the end of the year and potentially some other states as well, and we're getting ready for that. I expect a favorable result in New Jersey, but probably not immediately.”

LINQ UPDATE

  • SAME:  Retail portion of Linq will be open before 2013, while the Wheel of Linq will open in 2Q 2014
  • PREVIOUSLY: "The Linq will open in phases beginning in mid to late 2013. We'll begin to announce some of the tenants for this project in the next several months. O'Shea's will reopen with a prominent new space when the Linq is completed."

NOBU TOWER

  • SAME:  On track to open at the end of 2012
  • PREVIOUSLY: "Nobu Tower will open at the end of 2012. Cost is $30 million with about 280 rooms"

Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.64%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.61%

CZR 2Q CONF CALL NOTES

Rough Q, cautious outlook.  Las Vegas was the biggest miss

 

 

"After a strong first quarter, difficult economic conditions led to lower visitation in several regions, impacting our core operating results in the second quarter.  While the economy may continue to pose challenges, we remain focused on controlling costs, investing in growth opportunities and our core brands and strengthening our capital structure.  Our alliance with Rock Gaming LLC opened Ohio's first casino, Horseshoe Cleveland, and is ahead of schedule on construction of Horseshoe Cincinnati, which is expected to open early next year. Horseshoe Cleveland has drawn larger than expected crowds and enrolled more than 50,000 new members in our Total Rewards loyalty-program during the quarter."

 

- Gary Loveman, CEO and President of CZR 

 

 

CONF CALL NOTES

  • Weakening US economy led to a more challenging environment in 2Q
  • Visitation/occupancy held up in Vegas but gaming revenues were weak
  • Horseshoe Cleveland: now has reached a total of million visitors
  • Horseshoe Cincinnati opening: Spring 2013
  • Linq Vegas project progressing well
  • Nobu tower will open at end of 2012; will take reservations in October
  • Harrah's Baltimore opening: 2Q 2014
  • Playtika performing well
  • Nevada granted two online gaming applications recently; CZR has submitted an application to be an online operator
  • $21.7 billion debt; $985 MM cash ex restricted cash
  • Systemwide rated spend per trip down 1.9%; hotel ADR was flat; cash ADR rose 2.7%; systemwide hotel REVPAR increased 3.8%
  • Las Vegas: VIP segment particularly weak across the board; Hotel REVPAR up 4.4% YoY (occu down 2.6%, cash ADR rising 4.5%)
  • Atlantic City:  additional supply has not grown the market
  • IL/IN: continue to experience competitive pressures which is offset in flood-related property closures last year
  • Managed/International/Other: strong performance from social gaming segment; received mgmt fees from Horseshoe Cleveland.

Q&A

  • Guarded outlook? Yes. Economic conditions around the world have gotten more worse.
  • CMBS maturity: has an extension option in 2013 and in 2014; 50 bps fee associated with the extension; can elect to extend 6 months before the extension period.
  • Search for CFO will not affect future capital market transactions
  • No material hold impact in Vegas in 2Q
  • Lower spend per visit in Vegas not affected by hold
  • Atlantic City: margins under tremendous pressure
  • Federal online gaming:  cannot legalize gaming if Congress can't even act on fiscal cliff issues
    • Has been more active on Delaware and California on the state-by-state route
  • Retail portion of Linq will be open before 2013
  • Wheel of Linq will open in 2Q 2014
  • Harrah's Baltimore:  54% will be owned by Caesars; will be financed with project specific debt
  • Revolver was undrawn;
  • Consolidated cash balance: 985MM
    • CEOC: 658MM; CMBS: 206MM; remainder at parent
  • Consumers are cautious in spending
  • Expect weak general macro conditions to persist
  • Late arriving portion of customers have been weaker in 2012. 2013 should be more encouraging.
  • Difficult to predict what will happen in Maryland
    • Either sees nothing happens or table games will be granted
  • Massachusetts: sees two gaming proposal sites to be decided in late 2013
  • St. Louis proceeds to fund capex : renovation/development capital
    • Any leftover St. Louis proceeds to buy back 1st lien OpCo debt
  • Will try to repurchase junior CMBS debt if the opportunity arises
  • Debt equity swaps: $8 in stock price is not compelling right now
  • NV Online gaming pool of states? Yes. It's possible. Other states would have to have own independent approval.
  • Maryland Live!, Revel, PA, and Genting New York all impacting AC
  • Social Gaming: Playtika has had a great mobile strategy
  • Online Interpretation: NY resident holding phone in Las Vegas will be able to gamble on the phone
  • Are cost cuts from Project Renewal (target $400MM/year) being offset by higher costs elsewhere?
    • $42MM savings in 2Q; $147MM savings left in the program
  • Issued 15,000 shares and purchased $5MM of debt in addition to CMBS purchase

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM RELEASE

CZR 2Q CONF CALL NOTES - CZR

  • Harrah's St. Louis:  The sale is expected to close in 2H 2012. CZR will use proceeds to fund CEOC capital expenditures or to repurchase certain outstanding debt obligations of CEOC. As a result of the transaction, its assets and liabilities are classified as discontinued ops.  
  • Atlantic City: lower casino revenues caused in part by a decline in trips. However, spend per trip metrics for both lodger and non-lodger segments did not decline significantly compared with prior year. Expects the market to continue to be challenged by local and regional competition in future quarters.
  • IA/MO: decline in casino revenues resulting from fewer trips partly attributable to increased competition in the region; however, spend per trip increased.
  • IN/IL: While trips rose slightly in 2012 compared to 2011 there was a decline in spend per trip.
  • "In Las Vegas, we will begin taking reservations in October for the Nobu Tower at Caesars Place, and expect to announce soon some of the key anchor tenants for the $550 million Linq retail, dining and entertainment experience across from Caesars on the Las Vegas Strip."

WMS F4Q12 CONF CALL NOTES

Strong NA unit sales but game ops were very disappointing. Guidance of flat fiscal 2013 EPS is disappointing.

 

 

“We have returned to a normalized rate of new product introductions; and our newest for-sale and participation products are providing customers with the strong performance historically associated with WMS products. As we continue to introduce creative and differentiated new products, we expect to grow our product sales ship share, as well as our installed participation base."

-  Brian R. Gamache, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

 

 

CONF CALL NOTES

  • Floor share of new casinos was in the high teens in NA
  • Pricing is more important now to customers than over the last decade
  • For the second year in a row top management will not receive a bonus, however, they decided that they could not go another year without giving their other employees a small bonus
  • Have upgraded 2/3rds of their install base at this point
  • Used their balance sheet to help their customers purchase equipment and expect to continue granting credit.  Bad debt expense remains under control
  • Interactive initiatives:  Believe that their investments will drive significant growth for WMS in the future. 
    • UK Jackpot Party
    • Group Partouche collaboration for an online casino in Belgium
    • Jadestone: multi-player skill based gaming. Plan to put all their content on Jadestone's websites
    • Phantom EFX: entrance into social gaming 
    • 888 Partnership
    • Initial results are exceeding expectations - also expect to expand their investment in their efforts
  • Don't expect any meaningful improvement in the replacement market and expect a reduction in new casino openings and expansion. They do expect some offset though from VLT market growth 
  • Expect "greater variability" in ASP's in FY13 given the higher VLT mix
  • Will remain open to certain selective alliances and licensing opportunities in FY13
  • Will be showcasing more product than ever before at G2E this year

 

Q&A

  • Competitive pressures have never been more aggressive on the participation side. Their new content is working well but given the macro and that 70% of their games are on variable pricing its tough to show improvement
  • Think that they had about 20% share for in the quarter - which is pretty good given that they don't have a new hardware platform (coming out soon). Don't expect any major up or downtick in pricing from here until their new platform comes out next year. 
  • Why was their average install base lower than the EOP install base last Q? Units came out in the beginning of the Q and then they grew starting in June. Expect to exceed their peak install base in FY13. Not sure how their churn will look like Q to Q next year. So they may continue to experience fluctuation in their average install base
  • Expect their new products to be margin neutral next year
  • Yes  - their guidance implies flatish EPS
  • A lot of the expense growth is head count related. Think that their FY13 outlook has potential for upside
  • To be conservative, there is very limited upside for ASP's next year. Don't think that their new products will be able to offset low pricing on VLTs
  • Higher R&D and SG&A expense are the largest reason for the YoY increases. Some of it also relates to consolidation of their M&A deals
  • Vendor financing has been going on since 2009. Initially it was for large NA operators. Then it was for markets like Mexico and Australia.  Now other international markets are also expecting it. Bad debt expense has stayed below 1%. Collected $8MM on those receiveables as well
  • My Poker STN deal is for a few hundred units at the start 
  • Doesn't seem like their incremental capex is contributing to better Game ops performance. So the spend is more defensive. If they don't spend on it that business will be in jeopardy
  • The 20% decrease in capex will have more of an impact on PP&E rather than gaming operations spend. Last 1/3 of their install base will be replaced over the next few years. IL will be an area of investment since they believe that at least part of those units will be leased. The capital spending on their new Chicago facility and Oracle investing will go away next year
  • Their biggest opportunity is replacing their BB1's that they no longer support
  • Have no Ohio VLTs in their FY13 guidance 
  • 3,900 replacements was across all the jurisdictions
  • This quarter they had a higher margin on used gaming machine sales and a lot of conversion kits which also helped margins

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE RELEASE

  • FY2013:
    • "The Company expects the general economic environment to remain unchanged in the next twelve months, as customers’ capital spending plans are likely to remain relatively flat throughout the remainder of calendar 2012 and into calendar 2013."
    • Revenue growth in FY2013 is expected to reflect: 
      • modest growth in product sales ship share in the U.S. and Canada and in the installed participation base
      • the introduction of innovative new gaming content, platforms and cabinets
      • an increased contribution from the ongoing commercialization of the Company’s networked gaming system and portal game applications
      • an increase in revenues from the Company’s interactive products and services  
      • higher VLT replacement demand from Canadian VLT operators that will partially offset lower domestic new casino and expansion unit demand, but at lower average selling prices as VLT’s typically are lower priced than gaming machines sold to new casino openings and expansions. 
    • WMS also expects that it will begin to ship units to the Illinois VLT market, with a portion of these units being operating leases. 
    • F1Q13 revenues to be down a bit YoY with "growth occurring in the second half of the fiscal year."
    • R&D spending: 15-16% of revenues (higher spend on interactive)
    • SG&A will rise as a % of revenue YoY due to interactive investments
    • D&A: "Increase primarily reflecting the Company’s investment in expanding its gaming operations installed base with newer cabinets and upgraded equipment throughout fiscal 2012 and incremental depreciation associated with property, plant and equipment resulting from two significant projects being placed in service early in fiscal 2013."
    • "Increased gross profit contribution from higher revenues mostly will be offset by higher operating expenses in fiscal 2013"
    • "Consistent with fiscal 2012, quarterly revenues and operating margin are anticipated to be lowest in the September 2012 quarter and increase in each subsequent quarter with the highest revenue levels and operating margin in the June 2013 quarter."
  • Product sales: 
    • 6,146 global new units shipped
      • US & Canada shipments: 4,672 (including 3,900 replacement units and 775 new units)
      • International: 1,474 ("Demand in Australia, Mexico and Europe continues to lag prior-year levels")
    • ASP: $15,982
      • "Reflecting the effect of larger-volume orders that carry higher volume discounts, a lower mix of premium games in the quarter compared with the same period a year ago and the competitive marketplace"
    • Bluebird xD units represented 36% of total global new unit shipments compared with 26% of total shipments in the prior year period
    • Gross Margin: 54.6%
    • Conversion kits totaled 5,500 vs. 2,100 in the prior-year period
    • "2,500 used gaming machines were sold in the June 2012 quarter, including a significant number of refurbished units at higher average selling prices and higher gross margin compared with approximately 1,700 used units in the prior-year quarter."
  • Gaming operations:
    • Install base:  EOP-  9,561; Average- 9,250
    • Average win per day: $66.50
    • Gross Margin: 77.4%
    • "Launched the first two slot games powered by WMS’ next-generation CPU-NXT3 platform – the Aladdin & the Magic Quest game featuring unique synchronized motion of the chair with the game play and the Super Team game featuring player-customizable superheroes made possible by WMS’....Player’s Life Web Services."
    • Install base QoQ increase: 172 and 135 increase in the average installed footprint
    • Quarterly sequential revenue decrease reflects" "lower royalties from licensing proprietary intellectual property and technologies and reflects the absence of normal seasonal improvement due to soft consumer spending in the June 2012 quarter as reported across most regional gaming markets"
    • Lower YoY gross margins are "primarily reflecting an increase in wide-area progressive units and the related higher jackpot expense, as well as higher costs to support our interactive gaming products and services, partially offset by the $1.7 million of other asset write-downs recorded in fiscal 2011."
  • "Entered into agreement to launch My Poker video poker games by 2012 calendar year-end at Station Casinos’ properties in Las Vegas"
  • "WMS’ networked gaming products were installed at 98 casino properties in 16 countries around the world, on more than 1,900 gaming machines"
  • "We have enhanced our focus and accelerated spending in a measured manner to build a comprehensive suite of interactive products and services that provide our customers with solutions that enable them to benefit from interactive gaming opportunities. While this spending impacts near-term financial results, we believe it favorably positions WMS to participate in the tremendous high-margin growth potential of these opportunities that will create longer-term shareholder value.”
  • R&D: "The year-over-year decline reflects the savings generated from the organizational changes announced in August 2011 and $3.0 million of write-down charges for intellectual property impairment recorded in the June 2011 quarter, while the quarterly sequential increase reflects higher spending and investment on innovative new gaming products, coupled with higher incentive compensation expense and the increased spending to support the Company’s participation in long-term, high-margin growth opportunities in interactive gaming."
  • Higher SG&A: "Reflecting $2.1 million for legal settlements in the quarter, increased costs associated with our interactive gaming products and services, including acquisition-related expenses, and higher incentive compensation expense, partially offset by savings from the organizational changes announced in August 2011 and a $0.7 million reduction in bad debt reserves related to Mexican customer receivables."
  • "The Company expects an aggregate 20% decline in capital spending on gaming operations equipment and property, plant and equipment in fiscal 2013."
  • Cash: $76MM 
  • Capex in 4Q: $58MM
  • "During the three months ended June 30, 2012, the Company purchased 349,515 shares of its common stock for $7.1 million.... Approximately $148 million remains available pursuant to WMS’ share repurchase authorization"

 


DO INDIAN EQUITIES HAVE ROOM TO RUN?

CONCLUSION: Indian equities may be on the verge of a sustainable quantitative breakout driven largely by improving POLICY fundamentals (namely the passage of key economic reforms). Conversely, a failure at the SENSEX’s TREND line of resistance would likely be a leading indicator for Indian policymakers running into the proverbial wall – again. As such, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the Indian political landscape over the intermediate term.


In India’s upcoming month-long parliamentary session, several key economic reforms are on the table, including: 

  • Increased government investment in transportation and energy infrastructure;
  • A mandate to require Indian corporations to spend at least 2% of their profits on social projects;
  • A simplification of India’s convoluted and oft-circumvented tax code, which, according to official estimates, would reduce the corporate tax burden by -7.4% in aggregate;
  • A plan to re-open India’s multi-brand retail, aviation and supermarkets industries to majority foreign direct investment stakes; and
  • A proposal to accelerate foreign investment into Indian pension and insurance funds. 

For the Indian parliament, which has been hampered by partisan gridlock made worse by the late-FEB rout of the ruling Congress Party in regional elections, the aforementioned agenda is indeed a tall order – particularly for a parliament that spends more time squabbling than debating public policy. According to the New Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research, the Indian parliament spent just 14% of the previous session debating new laws and the 2011 total of just 22 new laws ratified is the second-lowest total on record (data since 1952).

 

To the previous point regarding parliamentary gridlock, members of the Bharatiya Janata Party – the Congress Party’s main opposition group  - physically walked out of the room each time former Home Minister and newly-appointed Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram addressed the house due to their belief that his failure to insist on a transparent auctioning process enabled the illegal dealings of $2.7B in telecommunication airwaves licenses – transactions that ultimately cost the government $4.8B in potential revenues per the Central Bureau of Investigation and has former Telecommunications Minster Andimuthu Raja facing criminal trial.

 

For reference, India ranks 95th out of 182 countries in Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index – a ranking this is likely to fall further in 2012 given the notable rejection of Prime Minister Singh’s anti-corruption Lokpal bill in DEC. Party member Yashwant Sinha, stated recently that the BJP is currently meeting to decide whether or not to continue with the protests, which have been in effect since NOV. To the extent they chose to continue protests or at least maintain their “non-negotiable” stance on Chidambaram, we could see parliamentary gridlock in India escalate even from current heavily-constipated levels.

 

That would be very unfortunate for an Indian economy in dire need of a dramatic acceleration in political resolve with respect to reigning in the nation’s bloated fiscal deficit and promoting an meaningful step-up in foreign investment that would supplement the country’s bloated current account deficit and ultimately allow the nation’s economic growth to recapture pre-crisis trend growth rates of +9%-plus. For more on these topics, please refer to the following two notes: “INDIA STRIKES OUT AGAIN” and “IS INDIA OUT OF BULLETS?”. Boosting the exchange rate, which is trading just 3.4% above all-time lows (JUN ’12), would also be an added benefit of the latter initiative and a stronger currency would be positive for India’s intermediate-term inflation dynamics. Per the RBI’s latest statement, which was accompanied by a disappointing  failure to lower benchmark interest rates, inflation remains above the central bank’s “comfort zone”.

 

DO INDIAN EQUITIES HAVE ROOM TO RUN? - 1

 

DO INDIAN EQUITIES HAVE ROOM TO RUN? - 2

 

DO INDIAN EQUITIES HAVE ROOM TO RUN? - 3

 

Another area where India is in dire need of stronger leadership is in the energy infrastructure sector. Last week, the country’s worst power grid failure in a decade cut electricity supplies to nearly half of the country’s 1.2B population. Rolling blackouts are a way of life in India, which ranks 56th out of 142 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2011-12 Global Competitiveness Index (112th in Quality of Electricity Supply) and major public failures such as these come as no surprise to our Hedgeyes, as India has missed every annual target to increase electricity production capacity since 1951! Prime Minister Singh is currently planning to secure $400B of investment in the power industry over the next 5yrs to fund a targeted increase of 76,000 megawatts in generation capacity. Needless to say, there are a lot of Indians sitting in the dark hoping he can arrest the long-term trend in this regard.

 

As things stand today, we maintain our neutral-to-bullish bias on Indian equities, having officially gotten out of the way on the bearish side in our JUN 4 note titled, “BACKING OFF INDIA – AT LEAST FOR NOW”. For reference, India’s benchmark SENSEX Index is up +8.9% since JUN 4 and closed within 30bps of a TREND-line eclipse on our quantitative risk management factoring. To the extent the TREND line is sustainably eclipsed (3wks worth of closing prices), we would view Indian equities as a potential long idea with respect to the aforementioned duration, especially if a [potential] confirmed quantitative breakout is supported by the passage of one or more of the aforementioned policy initiatives. That would likely spark a trend of positive revisions in investor sentiment towards the Indian economy, which has certainly lost a fair amount of its “BRIC” storytelling luster in recent quarters. It’s important to note that expectations of partisan gridlock have largely become the consensus view on Indian fiscal and regulatory policy; that creates meaningful headroom for an upside surprise here.

 

DO INDIAN EQUITIES HAVE ROOM TO RUN? - 4

 

All told, Indian equities may be on the verge of a sustainable quantitative breakout driven largely by improving POLICY fundamentals (namely the passage of key economic reforms). Conversely, a failure at the SENSEX’s TREND line of resistance would likely be a leading indicator for Indian policymakers running into the proverbial wall – again. As such, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the Indian political landscape over the intermediate term.

 

Darius Dale

Senior Analyst


Early Look

daily macro intelligence

Relied upon by big institutional and individual investors across the world, this granular morning newsletter distills the latest and most vital market developments and insures that you are always in the know.

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