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MCD FEELING $ STRENGTH

Takeaway: If tomorrow's election serves as a catalyst for the US Dollar, the impact on MCD's earnings could be meaningful.

A stronger dollar may be better for the long-term health of the US economy but the immediate impact of dollar strength on McDonald’s, a multinational corporation with significant exposure to FX, has historically been negative from an earnings perspective.

 

We turned cautious on McDonald’s in May as the extent of the impact of macroeconomic trends and difficult summer months’ compares became clearer.  We believe that MCD is now closer to bottoming but will have a firmer view following October sales being released on November 8th.  We’d still avoid the stock on the long side, for now, but the company’s cash flow strength and the stock’s dividend yield provide support.  We see 2013 bringing more issues for MCD; consensus is expecting a snap back to +10% and +11% EPS growth in 2013 and 2014, respectively.  As yet, we see no evidence that MCD has taken the right steps to correct issues within its control.  Macro headwinds are persisting, for now, and amplifying the impact of self-inflicted wounds.  Foreign exchange is one such factor that can impact MCD’s earnings growth.  

 

There are plenty of opinions available today, as there have been for months now, regarding the myriad consequences of tomorrow’s election for markets and the economy more broadly.  Judging by the rhetoric, for what it’s worth, of each candidate, it seems that one asset that could be greatly impacted by the outcome of the election, over time, is the U.S. Dollar.  Any catalyst such as tomorrow’s election, that leads the United States to economic policies supportive of the value of its currency, could meaningfully impact McDonald’s earnings power.

 

The chart below shows, on a trailing-twelve-month basis, the impact of foreign currency translation on EPS versus the year-over-year change in the US Dollar Index, also on a trailing-twelve-month basis.    

 

MCD FEELING $ STRENGTH - mcd usd index impact

 

MCD FEELING $ STRENGTH - usd index level

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

 

Rory Green

Analyst

 


Are The Experts Wrong On The Election?

Takeaway: Historically, polls in aggregate have accurately predicted the Presidential election. This year voter ID is a true wildcard.

This note was originally published November 05, 2012 at 11:57 in Macro

As usual, we had a vigorous discussion in a recent research meeting on the state of the election.  I provided the update to the team that all of the indicators appear to be moving more towards President Obama over the last ten days. Specifically, in the national poll average Obama is now up +0.4, Intrade has reached a three week high with a probability of 68% that Obama gets re-elected, and Obama appears to be expanding his lead in Ohio from +0.8 three weeks ago to +2.9 today.  According to the expert pollsters, Obama is on the path to re-election.  Is it possible that the experts are wrong?

 

To start let’s look at Gallup, the longest running Presidential pollster, going back to 1936.  In the nineteen elections going back to 1936 that Gallup has polled, the organization has correctly picked the winner 16 of 19 times, so it has been correct 84% of the time.  The three elections that they missed were as follows:

  • 2004 – In their last poll leading into this election, Gallup had Bush and Kerry tied at 49.0%.  Bush won the popular vote with an edge of 50.7% to 48.3%;
  • 1976 – In their final poll prior to the election, Gallup had Ford at 49% and Carter at 48%.  Carter won 50.1% to 48.1%; and
  • 1948 – In the classic miscalled election, Gallup had Dewey at 49.5% and Truman at 44.5%.  Truman won 49.5% to 45.1%.

If we can use Gallup as a proxy for the professional polling industry, then you would have been correct betting on the experts 84% of the time for the popular vote.  The professional pollsters, in aggregate, are currently predicting an Obama win, primarily based on the President’s stronger polling in the battleground states and his edge in the national polls, albeit slight. With a 68% probability on Intrade that President Obama is re-elected, this polling data is all but priced into the market.

 

The probability on Intrade of course assumes that the polls are accurate.  In this election, more so than many prior elections, the validity of polls is being increasingly questioned, despite their long term track record of being accurate.  The key doubt related to polls this year is whether the samples accurately reflect the voters who will actually turn out.

 

In its most recent poll, the National Journal critiqued its own methodology in “The United Technologies / National Journal Congressional Connection Poll”.  They wrote:

 

“The poll’s finding of a 50-45 Obama advantage in the presidential race highlights the central uncertainty surrounding the blizzard of late campaign polling: What will the partisan and racial composition of the actual electorate look like?

 

In its likely-voter model, the Congressional Connection Poll projected that the 2012 electorate will be virtually unchanged from 2008, with Democrats holding an 8 percentage-point advantage among voters (compared with 7 points last time) and whites representing 73 percent of voters (compared to 74 percent last time).”

 

In the table below, we’ve looked at the voter ID breakdowns for the most recent polls that provide voter ID from national polls, Ohio polls, Nevada polls, and Virginia polls.  In this analysis, we’ve used those three states as they are considered by many to potentially be the deciding states in the Electoral College vote.  In fact, Nate Silver from the New York Times put the probability of these three states being the deciding votes at 71% collectively. 

 

Are The Experts Wrong On The Election? - 1

 

The high level takeaway is that across the board the polls have meaningfully higher voter IDs projected for Democrats. Based on the national polls it is a +7 advantage, in Ohio it is +6.3, in Nevada it is +8.3, and in Virginia it is +6.7.  If there is in fact more Democrats than Republicans and nationally in these key states, and they turn out in comparable numbers to the Republicans, then President Obama likely has the election won, even with an overwhelming swing of independents to Romney.  Conversely, if these voter IDs are incorrect, then Governor Romney remains very much in contention.   The prior two elections provide some insight into this voter ID question.

 

In 2008, there is no question that more Democrats turned out and more Americans identified as being Democrats.  In 2004, with Bush’s victory, this was most definitely not the case.  The key question is whether this election looks more like 2004 or 2008.  In the table below, we look at average voter IDs in the polls above and actual voter IDs from exits polls in 2004 and 2008.

 

Are The Experts Wrong On The Election? - 2

 

As the table above shows, the voter ID by party in the 2012 polls looks much more similar to 2008 than 2004.  This is surprising given that on a national level the race looks much more like 2004 than 2008.  Intuitively, it doesn’t make sense for the race to be effectively tied on a national basis but for state level polls to reflect voter turnout comparable to 2008, a year when the Democratic candidate won the popular vote. To be fair, we are comparing apples to oranges on some level as the table above looks at exit polls versus pre-election polls.  Regardless, all measures suggest that Democrats are less enthusiastic in 2012 than in 2008.

 

In the last table below, we return to the nation’s longest running polling firm, Gallup.  In this table Gallup compares the demographics of likely voters in 2004, 2008 and 2012.  They find the following:

  • In 2004, 37% were Democrats, 24% were Independents and 39% were Republicans;
  • In 2008, 39% were Democrats, 31% were Independents and 29% were Republicans; and
  • In 2012 they estimate, 35% are Democrats, 29% are Independents and 36% are Republicans.

So in contrast to much of the polling industry, Gallup is expecting more Republicans than Democrats to vote in 2012.  It is no surprise then that Gallup has Romney up 5% in its latest poll, which was given on October 29th before Hurricane Sandy hit.  If Gallup is accurate, Romney will be the next President.  But if Gallup is accurate, then the crowd of experts is wrong and the state polls, in particular, will be proven profoundly inaccurate.

 

We say profoundly inaccurate because historically state level polls have been spot on in predicting the winner of the Electoral College.  Nate Silver from the New York Times runs a probability model on the election based on state level polls and he currently has an 86% probability that Obama wins re-election.  This is due to the fact that the key battleground state polls currently lean towards Obama on average and going back to 1988 the state poll averages have been accurate in calling the winner of the state 96% of the time.

 

So in summary, the experts, via their opinion polls, currently show a high likelihood that Obama gets re-elected.  For them to be wrong, it is likely because of broad sampling errors based on party affiliation, which as we outline above there is some evidence to support.  This also jives with many of the economic predictive models that point towards a Romney victory, such as the recent call we did with Dr. Ken Bickers from the University of Colorado.

 

We can assure you of one thing: this is going to be one of the closest races in Presidential history and pollsters won’t decide the outcome.  As former Congressman from Minnesota Walter Judd famously said:

 

“People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing.”

 

 

Get out there and vote!

 

Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research

 

Are The Experts Wrong On The Election? - 3

 

 

 


Impact Of The 2000 Election

2000 Presidential Election: Indecision Impact

 

Nov 7th – Election Day

Dec 13th – Gore speech accepting Bush victory

 

5-week+ process…

 

1)      Market (S&P) down nearly ~5.7% in the 4 days following No Decision after Nov 7th Election

2)      Market down over -8% ~3-weeks later

3)      By the time Gore accepts defeat (Dec 13th), market down -5%

 

Impact Of The 2000 Election - image001


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Supermarkets: There's Bad Alongside the Good

Takeaway: The Supermarkets are likely to be one of the few retailers that get a sales lift from Sandy, but they'll likely give it back in mix.

We go around the horn every day in our morning meeting as each Sector Head boils down any investment-significant happenings in his/her Sector over the preceding 24 hours. That's our process. Today we happened to hit quite a bit on Sandy, and whether demand was delayed, or lost forever, and what kind of costs we'd see along the way. 

 

In retail, once we get past the obvious players like HD/LOW it definitely gets more dicey. The only retailers I could argue would see a lift with be the Supermarkets. People are not eating out as much, they stocked up on home inventories, and those who did not stock up are drawing down to what are likely unsustainable levels. 

 

While that's not exactly a groundbreaking thought, I was interested to hear a thought from our new Consumer Packaged Goods Analyst (Rob Campagnano) who agreed with the prospect of a sales lift, but said it would almost certainly come at the expense of mix. "Emergency shopping is almost exclusively center of store (think of canned items that you would want if you were on a deserted island) which is substantially lower margin than the fresh and prepared categories.  You will see incremental shrink due to spoilage in a number of fresh categories as demand declines as well."

 

Also, how can we ignore WAG October front-end comps, which came in -2.9% vs a +1.1% consensus expectation -- a pretty big (4%) miss for a drug store. This was BEFORE any impact from the hurricane. In other words, consumer spending wasn't exactly crushing it prior to this event.  

 

Definitely some food for thought.


When 'Just In Time' Is Just Not Good

Takeaway: It's natural disasters like this when 'Just in Time' inventory management comes back to bite US businesses.

If anyone out there thinks that Sandy will not have a meaningful impact beyond a couple of weeks worth of disruption in consumer purchasing behavior, then think again. The chart below shows the absolute containerized imports into the US for apparel and footwear products over the past two years.

 

The data is through November 2, and the drop is startling.  

 

The reality is that we cannot simply expect the ships to dock, unload their wares, and then the retailers are off to the races. The Longshoremen (already near the full capacity their strict work rules allow) will have to unload the excess containers, and then the (largely unionized) drayage drivers will need to take to  either the railyard or to the hub and spoke system for an LTL trucking company (also likely unionized). Then the goods get unpacked, repackaged, and shipped off around the country. It wouldn't be a problem if we were operating previously at less than 50% productivity, bc then all we'd need to do is get people to work harder. But productivity is closer to 80%, which leaves little room catching up on lost work. All in, it's not as simple as it sounds.

 

The punchline is that a simple one or two week delay in shipment could snowball into a 3-4 week delay in when product hits the shelves. This is an extremely critical period logistically for the holiday shopping season. Sandy had very bad timing.

 

This is when 'just in time' inventory management comes back to bite US businesses. Retailers will do a great job of playing the blame game on the storm. But the reality is going to be more discounted goods, lower earnings and less cash flow. We particularly don't like the department stores in this context (M, KSS, JCP, and we'd throw GPS in there as well).

 

Number of Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) Imported Into The US

When 'Just In Time' Is Just Not Good - 11 5 2012 11 34 12 AM


Are The Experts Wrong On The Election?

Takeaway: Historically, polls in aggregate have accurately predicted the Presidential election. This year voter ID is a true wildcard.

As usual, we had a vigorous discussion in a recent research meeting on the state of the election.  I provided the update to the team that all of the indicators appear to be moving more towards President Obama over the last ten days. Specifically, in the national poll average Obama is now up +0.4, Intrade has reached a three week high with a probability of 68% that Obama gets re-elected, and Obama appears to be expanding his lead in Ohio from +0.8 three weeks ago to +2.9 today.  According to the expert pollsters, Obama is on the path to re-election.  Is it possible that the experts are wrong?

 

To start let’s look at Gallup, the longest running Presidential pollster, going back to 1936.  In the nineteen elections going back to 1936 that Gallup has polled, the organization has correctly picked the winner 16 of 19 times, so it has been correct 84% of the time.  The three elections that they missed were as follows:

  • 2004 – In their last poll leading into this election, Gallup had Bush and Kerry tied at 49.0%.  Bush won the popular vote with an edge of 50.7% to 48.3%;
  • 1976 – In their final poll prior to the election, Gallup had Ford at 49% and Carter at 48%.  Carter won 50.1% to 48.1%; and
  • 1948 – In the classic miscalled election, Gallup had Dewey at 49.5% and Truman at 44.5%.  Truman won 49.5% to 45.1%.

If we can use Gallup as a proxy for the professional polling industry, then you would have been correct betting on the experts 84% of the time for the popular vote.  The professional pollsters, in aggregate, are currently predicting an Obama win, primarily based on the President’s stronger polling in the battleground states and his edge in the national polls, albeit slight. With a 68% probability on Intrade that President Obama is re-elected, this polling data is all but priced into the market.

 

The probability on Intrade of course assumes that the polls are accurate.  In this election, more so than many prior elections, the validity of polls is being increasingly questioned, despite their long term track record of being accurate.  The key doubt related to polls this year is whether the samples accurately reflect the voters who will actually turn out.

 

In its most recent poll, the National Journal critiqued its own methodology in “The United Technologies / National Journal Congressional Connection Poll”.  They wrote:

 

“The poll’s finding of a 50-45 Obama advantage in the presidential race highlights the central uncertainty surrounding the blizzard of late campaign polling: What will the partisan and racial composition of the actual electorate look like?

 

In its likely-voter model, the Congressional Connection Poll projected that the 2012 electorate will be virtually unchanged from 2008, with Democrats holding an 8 percentage-point advantage among voters (compared with 7 points last time) and whites representing 73 percent of voters (compared to 74 percent last time).”

 

In the table below, we’ve looked at the voter ID breakdowns for the most recent polls that provide voter ID from national polls, Ohio polls, Nevada polls, and Virginia polls.  In this analysis, we’ve used those three states as they are considered by many to potentially be the deciding states in the Electoral College vote.  In fact, Nate Silver from the New York Times put the probability of these three states being the deciding votes at 71% collectively. 

 

Are The Experts Wrong On The Election? - 1

 

The high level takeaway is that across the board the polls have meaningfully higher voter IDs projected for Democrats. Based on the national polls it is a +7 advantage, in Ohio it is +6.3, in Nevada it is +8.3, and in Virginia it is +6.7.  If there is in fact more Democrats than Republicans and nationally in these key states, and they turn out in comparable numbers to the Republicans, then President Obama likely has the election won, even with an overwhelming swing of independents to Romney.  Conversely, if these voter IDs are incorrect, then Governor Romney remains very much in contention.   The prior two elections provide some insight into this voter ID question.

 

In 2008, there is no question that more Democrats turned out and more Americans identified as being Democrats.  In 2004, with Bush’s victory, this was most definitely not the case.  The key question is whether this election looks more like 2004 or 2008.  In the table below, we look at average voter IDs in the polls above and actual voter IDs from exits polls in 2004 and 2008.

 

Are The Experts Wrong On The Election? - 2

 

As the table above shows, the voter ID by party in the 2012 polls looks much more similar to 2008 than 2004.  This is surprising given that on a national level the race looks much more like 2004 than 2008.  Intuitively, it doesn’t make sense for the race to be effectively tied on a national basis but for state level polls to reflect voter turnout comparable to 2008, a year when the Democratic candidate won the popular vote. To be fair, we are comparing apples to oranges on some level as the table above looks at exit polls versus pre-election polls.  Regardless, all measures suggest that Democrats are less enthusiastic in 2012 than in 2008.

 

In the last table below, we return to the nation’s longest running polling firm, Gallup.  In this table Gallup compares the demographics of likely voters in 2004, 2008 and 2012.  They find the following:

  • In 2004, 37% were Democrats, 24% were Independents and 39% were Republicans;
  • In 2008, 39% were Democrats, 31% were Independents and 29% were Republicans; and
  • In 2012 they estimate, 35% are Democrats, 29% are Independents and 36% are Republicans.

So in contrast to much of the polling industry, Gallup is expecting more Republicans than Democrats to vote in 2012.  It is no surprise then that Gallup has Romney up 5% in its latest poll, which was given on October 29th before Hurricane Sandy hit.  If Gallup is accurate, Romney will be the next President.  But if Gallup is accurate, then the crowd of experts is wrong and the state polls, in particular, will be proven profoundly inaccurate.

 

We say profoundly inaccurate because historically state level polls have been spot on in predicting the winner of the Electoral College.  Nate Silver from the New York Times runs a probability model on the election based on state level polls and he currently has an 86% probability that Obama wins re-election.  This is due to the fact that the key battleground state polls currently lean towards Obama on average and going back to 1988 the state poll averages have been accurate in calling the winner of the state 96% of the time.

 

So in summary, the experts, via their opinion polls, currently show a high likelihood that Obama gets re-elected.  For them to be wrong, it is likely because of broad sampling errors based on party affiliation, which as we outline above there is some evidence to support.  This also jives with many of the economic predictive models that point towards a Romney victory, such as the recent call we did with Dr. Ken Bickers from the University of Colorado.

 

We can assure you of one thing: this is going to be one of the closest races in Presidential history and pollsters won’t decide the outcome.  As former Congressman from Minnesota Walter Judd famously said:

 

“People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing.”

 

 

Get out there and vote!

 

Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research

 

Are The Experts Wrong On The Election? - 3

 

 

 


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