TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP – September 27, 2012

As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 28 points or -0.23% downside to 1430 and 1.72% upside to 1458. 













  • ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: on 09/26 NYSE -678
    • Increase versus the prior day’s trading of -1409
  • VOLUME: on 09/26 NYSE 738.55
    • Decrease versus prior day’s trading of -2.28%
  • VIX:  as of 09/26 was at 16.81
    • Increase versus most recent day’s trading of 8.94%
    • Year-to-date decrease of -28.16%
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: as of 09/26 closed at 1.84
    • Up from the day prior at 1.74


BONDS – Bernanke says money printing buys growth, bonds say nein! 10yr drops from 1.90% to 1.62% in a straight line as both growth and #EarningsSlowing expectations kick the Keynesians where it hurts. Bonds are immediate-term TRADE overbought here within a powerful long-term bull market; another reason to buy stocks this morning instead.

  • TED SPREAD: as of this morning 26.09
  • 3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: as of this morning 0.10%
  • 10-Year: as of this morning 1.65%
    • Increase from prior day’s trading of 1.61%
  • YIELD CURVE: as of this morning 1.39
    • Up from prior day’s trading at 1.35

MACRO DATA POINTS (Bloomberg Estimates)

  • 8:30am: Labor Dept. scheduled to issue preliminary benchmark revisions to annual employment data
  • 8:30am: GDP (Q/q) (Annualized) 2Q T, est. 1.7% (prior 1.7%)
  • 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, week of Sept. 22, est. 375k
  • 8:30am: Continuing Claims, week of Sept. 15, est. 3.288m
  • 8:30am: Durable Goods, Aug., est. -5.0% (prior 4.2%)
  • 9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, week of Sept. 23
  • 10am: Pending Home Sales (M/m), Aug., est. 0.3%
  • 10am: Freddie Mac mortgage rates
  • 10:30am: EIA natural-gas change
  • 11am: Kansas City Fed Manf. Activity, Sept., est. 5
  • 11am: Fed to sell $7b-$8b notes in 9/30/2015 to 11/30/2015 range
  • 1pm: U.S. to sell $29b 7-year notes


    • Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. holds Consumer Research Symposium, with FDIC acting chairman Martin Gruenberg, officials from SEC, CFPB, 8am
    • FDA workshop: medical countermeasures in case of radiological, nuclear, chemical attack involving mass burns, 8:30am
    • Pentagon advisory panel meets to discuss uniform fomulary for TRICARE pharmaceuticals, 9am
    • USTR advisory panel meets on trade practices in Iraq, Indonesia, Ukraine, Fiji, 9:30am
    • Cybersecurity conf. w/ ex-NSA/CIA Director Michael Hayden, 8am
    • Ford Chief Economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick delivers remarks on state of automotive industry at National Economists Club, 12pm


  • Orders for U.S. durable goods probably slumped on airplanes
  • Euro-area economic confidence unexpectedly fell in September
  • Madrid protesters march for second night on austerity measures
  • China stocks jump most in 3 weeks on market support prospect
  • Chrysler Group reaches 4yr labor deal with CAW
  • German unemployment rose for 6th month in September
  • VW says some carmakers may go bankrupt without state help
  • Nomura said to cut as many as 30 jobs in American equities
  • Comtech says CEO being probed by grand jury over sales to Israel
  • ResCap bondholders pull support for Ally unit’s bankruptcy plan
  • H&M 3Q profit misses estimates as margins shrink
  • Starbucks to add stores in Scandinavia to spur European sales


    • McCormick & Co. (MKC) 6:30am, $0.76
    • Actuant (ATU) 7:30am, $0.54
    • Discover Financial Services (DFS) 8:30am, $1.03 - Preview
    • Accenture (ACN)  4pm, $0.88
    • Micron Technology (MU) 4pm, $(0.23)
    • Global Payments (GPN) 4:01pm, $0.87
    • Sealy (ZZ) 4:01pm, $0.03
    • Nike (NKE) 4:15pm, $1.13
    • Research In Motion (RIM CN) 4:15pm, $(0.47)


  • Gold Gains for First Day This Week as Price Slump Spurs Buying
  • Hedge Funds Bullish on Silver as Hoard Nears Record
  • Sugar Imports by China Seen Falling as Harvest, Stockpiles Climb
  • Oil Recovers From Eight-Week Low After U.S. Inventories Dropped
  • Copper Rises as China Company Profits Fuel Stimulus Speculation
  • Wheat Drops on Signs Russia Won’t Curb Shipments; Soybeans Fall
  • Cocoa Falls as Ivory Coast Reform Concern Eases; Sugar Advances
  • Cotton Exports From India Set to Plunge as Chinese Demand Cools
  • Cosco Sees Extended Slump as Shipper Yields Surge: China Credit
  • Pakistan’s Rice Sales Seen Climbing as Harvest Set to Cut Prices
  • BP’s Texas Refinery Sale Shows Volatile Industry’s Decay: Energy
  • Billionaires Rinehart, Bennett in New Dispute Over Pilbara Mines
  • Oil Puts at 16-Month High Versus S&P 500 on Slowdown: Options
  • Shrinking U.S. Corn Supply Trails Use for First Time in 16 Years





USD – get the Dollar right, and you’ll get a lot of market beta right; it has been a really nice counter-trend move for the Burning Buck off its Bernanke (SEP14) low; everything else has reacted inversely to that and now I’m getting an immediate-term TRADE overbought signal for the USD Index at $79.98, so Buyem! (stocks), for the bounce into mth/quarter end.










CHINA – nice pop off the lows for Chinese Equities of +2.6% should get the rumor mill in motion about the stimuli this morn; If Oil prices remain under pressure, we’ll be much more constructive on Equity markets built on unlevered growth (bought both Brazil and Taiwan on red this week). Interesting to see these markets diverge from USA/Europe – they should.










The Hedgeye Macro Team






Takeaway: $GMCR could have further to fall. A "cheap" multiple does not make up for declining margins and uncertain future earnings prospects

Green Mountain is now down 62% since Starbucks announced the arrival of the Verismo home brewing system.   We believe more pain could be on the way for GMCR shareholders.  



Uncompetitive Brands


Green Mountain’s brand portfolio consists largely of regional coffee brands that, even collectively, do not hold a significant share of the overall market.  The brands are as follows: Barista Prima, Café Escapes, Coffee People, Diedrich Coffee, Donut House Collection, Green Mountain Coffee, Green Mountain Naturals, revvTM, Timothy’s, Tully’s, Van Houtte.



Brewer Margins Declining From Almost Zero to Virtually Zero


The management team at Green Mountain has, since beginning its quest to conquer the home brewing segment, ran its business as a razor-razor blade model.  That is, the company has always sold its brewers (razors) at little margin in order to support sales of K-Cups (razor blades). 


Starbucks’ new brewer is adding competitive pressure to the home brewer industry and we believe that the Verismo and any further Starbucks machines will pose a significant threat to Green Mountain’s Keurig brewer.  There is a viable argument, that we happen to agree with, that consumer loyalty is more aligned with the coffee than the brewer.  If this is true, it would suggest that the Keurig brewer could struggle to maintain its market share over the longer-term as customers replace their old brewers and new customers purchase their first home brewer based on its compatibility with their favorite brand of coffee.


A mere week after Starbucks began taking orders for its Verismo machine, Green Mountain announced discounting in the form of a rebate on some brewer sales.  Management has adopted a defensive tone when addressing concerns about the Verismo’s impact on its business:


“…But should something like that happen we have a number of tactical responses, one of which could in fact be deciding to raise the price of the K-Cup brewing system.” – Larry Blanford, CEO of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Piper Jaffray Consumer Conference, June 6, 2012


How can they be now discounting their brewers?


It seems that the balance of the evidence suggests that an inventory issue may be underlying and discounting already-low-margin brewer sales will almost certainly bring about even lower margins for the company.



A Contract Manufacturer With Declining Margins


Green Mountain is a contract manufacturer for the following brands:  Starbucks, Tazo, The Bigelow, Caribou Coffee, Celestial Seasonings, Dunkin’ Donuts, Emeril’s, Folgers Gourmet Selections, Gloria Jean’s, Kahlua, Millstone, Newman’s Own Organics, Swiss Miss, Twinings of London, and Wolfgang Puck.


All of these licensing partners could, at some point in the future, detach themselves from their respective agreements with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.   It is likely only a matter of time before Starbucks leads the way.  The K-Cup patent expiring alone will cause margins on K-Cups to decline but the possibility of partners such as Starbucks or Dunkin’ walking away would be highly damaging to Green Mountain’s profitability.  We would point to the unraveling of the Starbucks-Kraft agreement as evidence of a lack of leniency on the part of Schultz et al. when it comes to issues involving control of the Starbucks brand and consumers’ experiences of it.


Caribou Coffee offered some insight into its relationship with Green Mountain when management said:


Additionally, in the early part of this year, the Caribou brand was repositioned within the Green Mountain portfolio to more premium pricing group.  The Caribou brand can command a premium price from consumers, but the retail implementation of the Green Mountain pricing strategy is having a meaningful impact on our club volume, at least, in the near term. This channel represented a large portion of our total business and is the primary driver of our actual and forecasted volume declines.” 


The apparent lack of control, on Caribou’s part, over the retail pricing of its own brand, at least in club channels, suggests that Green Mountain could be taking steps to increase the rate of sales growth of its own brands.  While this may the best move in the short term, such a strategy cannot be encouraging for its licensing partners.



Getting All Done Up For Nothing


Green Mountain has been readying itself for near-parabolic growth in demand for its products, ramping up capital spending dramatically over the past two years.  Unfortunately, management’s forecasting of demand has been less-than-stellar, not helped by misaligned compensation incentives, and the company has clearly invested money in anticipation of demand that is not materializing. 



Rule #1: Don’t Lost Money


Many indications point to Green Mountain’s profitability continuing to decline and, we believe, there is a potential for GAAP earnings turning negative in FY13.  The following points underscore our concern:

  • Excess inventories including brewer inventory?
  • The potential for excess K-Cup capacity
  • Increased competition and the potential for lost customers
  • Patent expiration leads to retail price competition
  • Burning cash
  • Owned brand market share losses
  • Declining margins 
  • Management creditability

With the company’s financials almost incomprehensible from an analytical perspective, given the well-documented accounting issues, forecasting earnings for the company has become even more of an art, and even less of a science, than it was before.  With the increasing competition and emerging fragility of Green Mountain’s business becoming clearer, the most significant near-term challenge will most likely be 1QFY13 as the possibility of a disappointing holiday season becomes more distinct for the company. 



Howard Penney
Managing Director

Rory Green

Chart: Brent Crude and the US Dollar Index

Takeaway: Brent crude prices move in the opposite direction of the US Dollar Index.

Below is a chart created by Hedgeye energy analyst Kevin Kaiser -- it shows the relationship between Brent oil prices and the US Dollar Index over  ten-year period. As you can see, Brent crude prices move essentially in the opposite direction of the US Dollar Index.  


That means that if the US Dollar strengthens, oil prices are likely to go lower. It's a very telling chart, and is consistent with Keith's adage: "If you get the US Dollar right, you get a lot of other things right."


Chart: Brent Crude and the US Dollar Index - brent

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Slowing Slots

Takeaway: High-margin slot machines are contributing a lower percentage of total gaming revenue, which is a worrying trend for the gaming industry.

Revenue from high-margin slot machines as a percentage of total gaming revenue has been declining since April 2009 on the Las Vegas strip. This is worrying given the higher margins of slots versus table games.


Additionally, the younger generation - post baby-boomers - aren't playing slots, suggesting that this overall trend will continue. MGM is particularly vulnerable to the decline in the contribution of slot machine revenues.


Here's a chart that shows this trend over the past few years.


Slowing Slots - gaming

BKW: Bearish on the King

Takeaway: Hedgeye's restaurant sector team likes Burger King Worldwide ($BKW) on the short side.

Hedgeye's restaurant sector team is bearish on the stock of Burger King Worldwide ($BKW) on all three TRADE, TREND and TAIL durations. Our analysts cite the following reasons:

  • The company simply might be too big to fix. It has been dogged with a number of issues for the past decade, and our analyst remain skeptical that those issues have been resolved conclusively.
  • There appears to be little cash flow for the franchisee to reinvest in his/her own business.
  • Probable higher beef prices over the next few years due to supply issues.
  • Obamacare could add financial strain.
  • McDonald's ($MCD)  is aggressively protecting its market share.


Here's our quantitative setup (see chart below) on BKW on a TRADE duration.


BKW: Bearish on the King - bkw


Buyem! SP500 Levels, Refreshed

Takeaway: If you can’t buyem here, you’re not as bullish as you thought you could be.

POSITIONS: Long Consumer Discretionary (XLY) and Apple (AAPL)


Our process hasn’t changed; prices have. This meltdown in Bernanke Oil Inflation Expectations is very good for US Consumption (i.e. the 71%).


Admittedly, I’m making this call for the month and quarter-end bounce from oversold lows (this is the 7th down day in the last 8 for the SP500). As we’ve just witnessed, however, 25-45 handle moves in the SP500 matter.


Across our core risk management durations, here are the lines that matter to me most here:


  1. Immediate-term TRADE resistance = 1458
  2. Immediate-term TRADE support = 1430
  3. Intermediate-term TREND support = 1419


That 1458 TRADE break signal we have you earlier in the week mattered as much as this 1 support zone does. If you can’t buyem here, you’re not as bullish as you thought you could be.



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Buyem! SP500 Levels, Refreshed - 1