We’re buying back our #HousingsHammer view with this high short interest home-builder. LEN is signaling immediate-term TRADE oversold, within a bullish intermediate-term TREND.
Takeaway: It’s been a tough Q1 (and then some) for many staples investors that have to make a living generating alpha on the short side.
This note was originally published May 23, 2013 at 12:24 in Consumer Staples
It’s been a tough Q1 (and then some) for many staples investors that have to make a living generating alpha on the short side, or at least have to try and have their shorts go up less than their longs. As with most market moves, there are multiple factors to which we can point as contributing causes to the run up in consumer staples:
Conspicuous by its absence is any case for the valuation of the consumer staples sector, broadly. Valuation is always a tough one – it doesn’t matter until it matters, then when a stock heads lower (or higher, as the case may be), people point to valuation.
Generally speaking, we like to see stocks heading higher as estimates head higher - that has not been the case. Through Q1 earnings season, the "average" staples company missed revenue expectations by 0.4% and beat EPS by a meager 3.3%.
We have long made the case that investors have been using the staples sector (and utilities) as bond proxies.
With interest rates starting to creep higher, we may start to see money flow out of the consumer staples sector that was chasing yield and not invested for (or with, quite frankly) any fundamental view of the sector or the companies.
We also believe that certain stocks have benefitted from the inclusion in low volatility ETFs and associated money flows into those ETFs.
In recent weeks, inflows into these ETFs have become decidedly less one directional.
M&A speculation is more difficult to argue against. We think some names continue to make sense over longer durations as potential targets of either activists (MDLZ - known) or strategic investors (BEAM, HSH, POST, DF). We have always viewed the possibility of some sort of transaction as another reason to own a stock, but not the primary reason (unless you happen to work on a special situations desk, then have at it). Therefore, names such as CPB or even TAP, that have benefitted in part from low-quality speculation remain squarely on our least preferred list.
As to commodity prices, we believe that the companies in our universe will see a benefit, but on a lag (3-12 months, depending on the hedging programs). However, current multiples appear to be baking in a whole lot of good margin news, that may be fleeting in terms of duration given the competitive environment. Most staples companies can't stand prosperity, and are likely, in our view, to deal back margin in an effort to support top line momentum, which is still faltering.
Where does this leave us?
Quite frankly, it leaves us with a long list of names where we have a hard time seeing how the marginal investing dollar makes money at current levels. Our least preferred list is long and not so distinguished:
What we like remains largely unchanged:
Call with questions,
HEDGEYE RISK MANAGEMENT, LLC
Listening to each of these companies’ respective presentations today at the Sanford Bernstein conference, it was not difficult to understand why we like SBUX and are bearish on MCD.
Takeaways from the presentations:
We remain bearish on MCD as the stock has underperformed the S&P 500 by 550 basis points since we added it to our Best Ideas list on 4/25. On an absolute basis, the stock has declined -1.09%. We believe the Street’s expectations are still too aggressive, from a sales and earnings growth perspective, and the company needs to make structural changes to its U.S. business as the store has become too complex. Please click here for the materials for our presentation on McDonald’s from 4/25.
Starbucks’ presentation represented a stark contrast to McDonald’s as the company offered a clear, positive and energized outlook for shareholders. The company’s data-anchored strategy is tailored for specific regions of the world, unlike the more general and now-outdated MCD strategy (three global growth priorities). We continue to view Starbucks as one of the best ways to play the strengthening U.S. economy and consumer.
If you wanted to own a global company with strong growth prospects, sound fundamentals, high exposure to the U.S. recovery and low exposure to Europe’s travails, you would own SBUX and not MCD. We remain positive on SBUX and negative on MCD.
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Takeaway: Our ongoing trade remains #shortfear. People have been too bearish.
(Excerpt from this morning's Hedgeye conference call)
Our ongoing trade remains #shortfear.
People have been too bearish. Check out the latest “Bull/Bear Survey.” The nominal level of people who will admit they are bullish is extraordinarily low for the market move we are in. Only 52% admit they are bullish. And yet, the market continues plowing ahead despite the pessimism.
The negativity doesn’t reconcile with recent economic data, notably yesterday’s consumer confidence number which not only surprised people short equities, but those long bonds. Look, the same problem that people have being long bonds, is the same problem people have being short equities: They are too bearish on growth. We’ll say that until we’re blue in the face.
It’s also worth mentioning that there our Macro Team assumed a lot of risk sticking our neck out and going long the #GrowthAccelerating theme earlier this year well ahead of consensus. But we nailed it. Bond yields certainly agree with our call, stocks agree, and the USD agrees.
Bottom line: We continue to buy the dips.
Takeaway: The CHF remains overvalued versus the USD and EUR over the immediate term.
This note was originally published May 28, 2013 at 13:54 in Macro
TRADE Call (3 weeks or less): The CHF remains overvalued versus the USD and EUR; expectations that the SNB could shift the floor in the EUR/CHF or cut rates to negative may burn the CHF lower. (etf: FXF)
TREND Call (3 months or more): We’re bullish on the USD versus the CHF as our #StrongDollar remains intact. However, the CHF could strengthen against major currencies if it moves back to “safe-haven” status, especially should we experience another round of sovereign or banking risk scares out of the Eurozone, and/or if the SNB does not cut below 0%.
The Swiss Nation Bank (SNB) meets next on June 20th to discuss its interest rate policy. There’s speculation based on comments from the SNB’s head Thomas Jordan last week that it could implement negative interest rates and shift the floor in the EUR/CHF. [Last Wednesday the EUR/CHF hit 1.2614, the weakest level for the franc since May 2011]. We believe over the immediate term TRADE there’s more weakness in the EUR/CHF and USD/CHF. Beyond the potential policy moves by the SNB, we’ve seen investors pulling assets from the “safe-haven” trade and we remain grounded in our #StrongDollar call.
As we show in the first chart below, beginning in September 2011 (following the CHF appreciating to an all-time high in August) the SNB bought foreign reserves to maintain a floor in the EUR/CHF at 1.20 francs. Since September 2011 the SNB has increased its FX reserves by +125%, and we have reason to believe that the SNB wants to get involved in the global currency war. Both a cut to the 3M target interest rate (currently at 0%) into negative territory, and continued FX buying and/or an adjustment in the EUR/CHF higher could burn the CHF lower versus the EUR and USD, at least over the near term.
In many ways the SNB is in a tough spot to manage the economy. These challenges include:
The amount of FX buying from the SNB shows just how terrified it is of a strong currency. The worry here is two-fold -- that a strong currency 1.) will cripple export demand and 2.) force domestic companies to lower prices to ward off cheaper imports.
With about 60% of exports destined for the EU, it’s interesting to note that there’s a relatively weak relationship between the overall price of the currency and export demand. Below we show that the correlation between the CHF/EUR and Swiss Exports is +0.41. We think some of the weakness in this correlation can be explained by its basket of export goods, with a heavy mix of pharmaceutical and luxury exports, which command pricing power.
So while rhetorically there might be great emphasis placed on the threat of a strong CHF on exports, we do not think it holds up.
On deflation, Switzerland has been hit by a steady level of deflation since late 2011, with CPI falling for 19th straight months (currently at 0.40% Y/Y). We believe that while Switzerland has benefitted from falling energy prices from a stronger USD, the Bank wrestles with its policy to promote inflation. It fears that under an environment of steady deflation consumers will put off purchasing, assuming prices will go lower in the future.
So, while the Bank is hardly worried about stoking inflation with a rate cut, it’s aware of the policy risks around cutting from 0%:
While we’ve yet to see signs of a dangerous expansion in the mortgage and housing market (the SNB cut to 0% in August 2011), this threat remains on the minds of policy makers. We’re also seeing investors park less of their assets in Francs or Franc-denominated assets as the risk climate in the Eurozone improves.
One big question mark that remains is the extent to which banks, especially if the SNB cuts to negative rates, increases their lending to seeks a better return on money.
Broader Fundamentals Appear Strong, Relatively
Below is a snapshot of Swiss GDP. Our call-out here is that with GDP low to depressed across much of the region, we think Switzerland’s relative outperformance will continue to anchor a market of strong investment despite low interest rates. A weaker CHF versus its trading partners on the margin will also remain a positive.
Swiss GDP is forecast to rise +1.3% this year versus -0.50% in the Eurozone. With a Swiss budget surplus of +0.3% of GDP in 2012 and debt of 53% of GDP last year, its fiscal house remains in order and could quickly transition back to its safe-haven status should we get another round of sovereign or banking risk scares out of the Eurozone.
Below is a graphic illustrating our levels on USD/CHF via the etf FXF. We outline the intermediate term TREND line that the FXF violated. We view this as a bearish signal and expect weakness into the SNB’s June 20th meeting. Should the bank act, either in cutting rates, and/or adjusting the floor, or setting future expectations for either, we’d expect further weakness.
The Swiss Market Index (SMI) is up 20.5% YTD, leading the pack as the best performing European index YTD. The SMI is up 4.6% MTD and as we outline in the chart below (via the etf EWL), is in a bullish formation.
Takeaway: Here's a quick look at articles Hedgeye Sector Heads are reading this morning.
Keith McCullough - CEO
Volcker's Aim: Responsive Government (via New York Times)
South China Sea Tension Mounts Near Filipino Shipwreck (via Reuters)
Pakistan: Deadly 'US Drone Strike' in Waziristan (via BBC)
Howard Penney - Restaurants
Wendy's Last Among Big Burger Chains With Hispanics: Survey (via AdAge)
Felix Wang - Gaming, Lodging & Leisure
Universal Says Robinsons Talks on Casino Put on Hold (via Bloomberg)
Easier Taiwan Visa In August (via Macau Business Daily)
Poor Norwegian Breakaway Design Claim Divided (via CruiseShipNews)
Rob Campagnino - Consumer Staples
Smithfield to Be Sold to Chinese Meat Processor (via New York Times)
Daryl Jones - Macro
Upside of Low Employment Is Longer Life (via Bloomberg)
Death By Carry (via Zero Hedge)
Josh Steiner - Financials
Fannie, Freddie Regulator Reaches Settlement With Citigroup (via WSJ)
Morgan Stanley Gears Up for Property Fund (via WSJ)
Kevin Kaiser – Energy
Peyto Drilling in Natural Gas Downturn Rewards Investors (via Bloomberg)
This indispensable trading tool is based on a risk management signaling process Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough developed during his years as a hedge fund manager and continues to refine. Nearly every trading day, you’ll receive Keith’s latest signals - buy, sell, short or cover.