“Not everything I say is elegant.”
For 5 straight weeks both Romney and the US Dollar took a public brow-beating from both Obama and Bernanke. We’ll see where the Hedgeye Election Indicator scores Romney tomorrow. For now, all I can tell you is that last week the US Dollar just had its 1st up week in six.
Can Policies To Inflate, deflate? Oil just did, fast. Gold, Silver, and US Stocks are on their way lower this morning too. Did last night’s 60 Minutes moment for Romney mark a short-term top for Obama? Intrade had him at a fresh new high of 70% last week. At a bare minimum, that has some short-term mean reversion risk heading into the 1st debate (October 3rd).
From Greenspan/Bernanke asset price bubbles (Internet stocks in 2000, Housing in 2007, and Commodities in 2012) to mean reversion and correlation risks, Macro hasn’t been elegant over the course of the last 15 years. Neither is writing about the truth.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
With 43 days to the #Election and 99 days to the #FiscalCliff, both the US Dollar’s direction and the Obama vs. Romney Spread matter to markets – big time. Causality (policy) is driving correlation in market pricing right now. When that changes, we’ll let you know.
Correlation Risk Update (30-day immediate-term USD correlations, across asset classes):
- Gold = -0.98
- Copper = -0.97
- Silver = -0.96
- Coffee = -0.84
- CRB Commodities Index = -0.82
- SP500 = -0.89
In other words, if Obama gets the Dollar right (down), he should be fine for the next 30 days. If he doesn’t, Dollar up may very well be read as Romney building momentum off his mid-September lows.
Partisan people may not like this analysis, but the math is quite elegant when you show it in bullet point form. With the US Dollar Index up +0.6% last week, here’s what Big Macro data did:
- CRB Commodities Index = down -3.8%
- Oil = down -6.2%
- Copper = down -1.6%
- Coffee = down -4.1%
- SP500 = down -0.34%
- Russell2000 = down -1.0%
- Chinese stocks = down -4.6%
- Italian stocks = -3.8%
- Russian stocks = -3.8%
- Gold = +0.2%
Yes, Gold prices diverged from the rest of reality last week – but they aren’t this morning. That’s an interesting callout, if only because Gold was the last holdout in Bernanke’s Bubble (Commodities) to not make higher all-time highs.
The all-time high (not pricing it in rice beans or Thai Baht) in nominal Gold was established in February of 2012. And if you really want to think bubbly, it makes sense for it to potentially have topped before Bernanke printed to “Infinity & Beyond.” After all, Gold has been up for 12 consecutive years, discounting something, no?
If the US Dollar falls again from here and Gold recovers this morning’s losses to make higher-all-time-highs, I’ll likely cover my short position in GLD. If it doesn’t, well, I guess that’s not going to be my problem.
Within the weekly CFTC futures/options contract data, Gold is as frothy right now as Corn was in mid-August (Corn, by the way, is down -11% since then, in a straight line):
Here’s the update on Commodity speculation within that CFTC data:
- Total contracts finally fell wk-over-wk (-1.7%) after hitting their February 2012 highs of 1.33M contracts last week
- Gold contracts ripped another +8% wk-over-wk (up 5 weeks in a row with USD down) to a February high of 178,426 contracts
- Oil contracts made higher YTD highs into and out of Bernanke = +6% wk-over-wk to 214,647 contracts
All the while, Commodity speculation on Farm Goods (corn, wheat, soy, etc.) dropped -7% wk-over-wk, AFTER corn prices fell, not before. Super secret: hedge funds chase commodity beta high and sell it low (they’ll sell oil today, watch) – that’s why these prices whip around so much within the construct of Bernanke’s broken promise of “price stability.”
In other Contrarian Signal news, Fund Flows may be negative in Equities (ex-ETFs, Equity Fund outflows were another -$1.9B last wk), but they dog-piled into Raw Material/Commodity funds last week at +$2.36B (per EPFR data), and Goldman just upped their “Commodities” forecast to another +18% from here!
If Goldman and Obama are right, I’ll be wrong on Gold and Oil highs for 2012 being in the rear-view mirror. And the USA will probably be in a recession within 6-12 months. Don’t take my word for it on that - ask the bond market. Policies To Inflate slow growth. To Keynesians advising Bush and Obama, that hasn’t been an elegant economic outcome either.
My immediate-term risk ranges in Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, EUR/USD, UST 10yr Yield, and the SP500 are now $1, $107.60-111.44, $78.69-79.96, $1.28-1.30, 1.69-1.79%, and 1, respectively.
Best of luck out there this week,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
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Takeaway: While early, we are getting interested in $UPS & $FDX on the long side. FDX may pull capacity. Lucrative USPS contract up for grabs.
Express Carriers: Getting Interesting
- Express Carriers Long Out of Favor: We have covered Fedex and UPS for a really long time and have not been interested in them for a really long time. However, recent underperformance (i.e. valuation improvement) and a better cyclical set up is starting to make the group look more promising.
- Capacity Reductions?: Fedex appears to have added excess express capacity after the financial crisis and may announce its withdrawal at its October analyst meeting. That capacity reduction, among other factors, could be a help to industry utilization and margins.
- USPS Contract Up: We also note that the Fedex USPS contract is up for grabs now. UPS has a bid in. It’s a ~$1 billion in revenue with above average margins, so it moves the needle – down for FDX if it loses the business.
Takeaway: Our pricing survey suggests CCL should provide solid 2013 guidance
Carnival will report F3Q earnings on Tuesday. We believe the company will maintain FY 2012 yield guidance and give a solid 2013 yield outlook. Not surprisingly, the FY 2012 EPS guidance range may be lowered slightly due to a 16% rise in bunker costs since the end of June. We’re forecasting $1.86 for FY 2012 EPS and $2.64 for FY 2013 EPS, in-line and 6% above the Street, respectively.
CCL should reiterate the tough yield comps in the Caribbean, particularly in F1Q 2013, but stress that early European summer pricing is picking up due to easy comps. Given that CCL has risen 11% since F2Q earnings and trading at 14x forward earnings (close to 20 year average), we think bullish expectations are mostly priced in the stock.
SEPTEMBER PRICING TRENDS
Weakness in Caribbean pricing for some last minute bookings is dragging down F4Q performance but that is offset by further improvements in European pricing. While it’s too early to make a call given the limited summer 2013 itineraries, Costa pricing looks like it is rebounding strongly. For the most part, 2013 pricing looks solid, which is expected given easy comps in Europe after two years of substantial price discounting.
Here are some other conclusions from our cruise pricing survey. The charts below track pricing trends on a relative basis—i.e. prices relative to that seen on the last earnings call i.e. RCL - July 20 and CCL - June 22.
- Caribbean continues to be a concern. With some newcomers entering the market in 2013 (e.g. Carnival Valor, Princess ships, Norwegian Breakaway), pricing looks weak. Caribbean pricing is down 3% in F1Q 2013, F2Q 2013 pricing is flat, and very early F3Q pricing is also down slightly. F4Q 2012 is also being dragged down by Caribbean weakness. The good news is that the trend in September saw sequential improvement from a month ago.
- Europe pricing continues to improve in F4Q 2012. However, Cunard Europe pricing continues to lag, particularly in F1Q 2013.
- Mexico pricing is trending modestly higher in F4Q 2012 and F1Q 2013.
- F4Q 2012
- In the Caribbean, modest discounting is seen for some last minute bookings by Royal brands. Celebrity pricing remains robust YoY but trend is deteriorating.
- Europe is looking better though remain much lower YoY.
- Asia pricing is solid.
- While sparse in itineraries, South America pricing continues to weaken.
- Caribbean pricing is slightly up in F1Q 2013 but down modestly in early F2Q 2013. Like CCL, trend is improving.
- Asia pricing is higher in F1Q 2013.
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