“The one who engages in conversation should not debar others from participating in it.”
That’s one of the many quotes from Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve (page 70) that gets the juices flowing. Whether you’re tapping into the minds of the early Greeks (Epicurus = 341-270 BCE) or the arena of debate in the Roman Republic (Cicero = 106-43 BCE), it’s all there.
If you work within an investment culture that demands both constant questioning and collaboration, it’s all there too. Is there any other way to find the truth? Those who put their political pride over the market’s truths have never made good Portfolio Managers, fyi.
Sadly, politicians have provided the Fed, ECB, and BOJ closed forums where un-elected bureaucrats call the shots. While that may have been normal in Stalin’s Russia, it’s not in the area code of what America’s Founding Fathers envisioned. Who really cares about today’s Fed “minutes”? Until the Fed opens itself up to the Dalios and Druckenmillers of the world, they’re not even having a conversation.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
China’s economic data was horrendous overnight. So let’s not talk about the implications of Asian #GrowthSlowing, copper demand collapsing, mining capex bubbles, etc. Let’s start begging for a Bernanke-style bailout for the Chinese economy!
Yeah baby, that’ll do it – look at how well things turned out for every other Asian government that levered itself up since the Ming dynasty. I am hearing the Chinese are really into the whole Krugmanomics idea of turning China’s balance sheet into Japan’s too. Shhh.
To be crystal clear on this, we do not think China will “stimulate” you. Here are Darius Dale’s Top 3 reasons why:
1. Property Bubble – they are trying to pop it before they get popped like we did (imagine that, learning from US history); property price growth continues to accelerate (+7.4% YoY in JUN; 13 consecutive months of sequential gains)
2. Rebalancing, Not Levered Growth - Politburo's economic rebalancing agenda (quality of growth now more important than quantity of growth), which they've supported with recent rhetoric and (in)action during the recent credit crunch
3. Psychology – despite the intermediate-term TREND slowing Chinese growth is still trending in-line to above long-term targets; if growth doesn’t fall off a cliff, new leaders will be reluctant to appear weak in the context of their long-term plan
Unlike team Obama, Geithner, and Bernanke (or Abe, Aso, and Kuroda in Japan), Xi and Li will be in charge for another 10 years. Why on earth would they implement short-term Western-style “stimulation”, when their ultimate goal is for history to respect them long-time?
I know, I know – whatever you do, do not engage in rational discussions about this when you can always defer to trading on the latest Chinese, Eurocrat, of Fed horse whispering rumor. That’s where the vig is at, bros.
Yeah, you know – “also known as the juice, the cut or the take…” (Wikipedia definition). Or the amount a Washington “consultant” gets paid for his super secret inside info on what the Fed Minutes are actually going to say today (or what Bernanke is going to whisper next).
Just like Jefferson envisioned, for sure.
In other #StrongDollar, Strong America news, US stocks closed up for the 4th day in a row yesterday, taking the Russell 2000 to yet another all-time closing high of 1,018. For those of you who are still into keeping score for the 2013 bears, that’s +20% YTD.
All-time is also a very long-time, so why not sell some up here? You know, lather yourself up with some booked gains. As our Financials guru (and birthday boy), Josh Steiner, always reminds me, ‘no one ever went broke booking a profit.’
From our process’ perspective, making some sales up here in US Equities is your short-term, high probability, bet because:
- PRICE – SP500 is immediate-term TRADE overbought in the 1 range
- VOLATILITY – front-month VIX is immediate-term TRADE oversold around 14.02
- VOLUME – has been nowhere to be found on this no-volume meltup (down -13-27% versus our TREND avg)
What goes up on no-volume can come down on no-volume. So, as consensus is forced to chase price again, and again, and again in 2013, just take a deep breath and focus on proactively managing the risk of a very trade-able range (SPY range = 1, for now).
Despite the “rumors” of being “stimulated” by some Chinese dudes, both the Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng closed well below their bearish TREND lines of 2,190 and 21,991, respectively overnight.
Oh, and Oil is testing a breakout above our long-term TAIL risk line of $108.36/barrel this morning too. So, Bernanke, before you think about devaluing the Dollar again with a closed network “communication tool”, think about the rest of us who are engaged in open discussions about you while we’re taking your Policy To Inflate in the pump.
Our immediate-term Risk Ranges are now (we have 12 Macro Ranges in our new Daily Trading Range product too, fyi):
UST 10yr 2.56-2.73%
Hang Seng 20,124-20,991
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP – July 10, 2013
As we look at today's setup for the S&P 500, the range is 37 points or 1.90% downside to 1621 and 0.34% upside to 1658.
CREDIT/ECONOMIC MARKET LOOK:
- YIELD CURVE: 2.27 from 2.27
- VIX closed at 14.35 1 day percent change of -2.91%
MACRO DATA POINTS (Bloomberg Estimates):
- 7am: MBA Mortgage Applications, July 5
- 10am: Wholesale Inventories, May, est. 0.3% (prior 0.2%)
- 10:30am: DOE Energy Inventories
- 11am: Fed to buy $3b-$3.75b notes, 4/30/2019-6/30/2020
- 1pm: U.S. to sell $21b 10Y notes in reopening
- 2pm: Fed releases minutes from June 18-19 FOMC meeting
- 4:10pm: Fed’s Bernanke speaks on economic policy in Boston
- Senate procedural vote on bill to extend 3.4% interest rate for subsidized Stafford college loans for yr
- 9:30am: House Oversight and Government Reform Cmte hearing on GAO reports that show federal govt is deficient in tracking money, performance
- 10am: House Ways and Means panel hearing on delay of the health-care law’s employer mandate
- 10am: House Financial Svcs panel hearing on “Reducing Barriers to Capital Formation”
- 10am: Joint Economic Cmte hearing on job opportunities for veterans
- 2:30pm: Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Cmte holds hearing on “Smithfield Acquisition, Future Foreign Purchases of American Food Companies,” w/ Smithfield CEO Larry Pope
- 3pm: House Republicans meet in private conference to discuss strategy on immigration legislation
WHAT TO WATCH
- DirecTV, Chernin/AT&T group said to bid ~$1b for Hulu
- China’s June exports, imports drop in drag on economy
- T-Mobile said to show quarterly gain in contract subscribers
- Citigroup said to plan sale of 90 Calif. branches for $300m
- EU to unveil euro-area bank-failure plan amid German opposition
- UBS leapfrogs Bank of America to top global wealth manager ranks
- Consumer Bureau to sanction banks over debt collection methods
- Cheapest panel no longer best in solar market: SunPower CEO
- Maxim is said to fetch bids of $20m as losses pile up
- Nintendo, Sony shrs move after report China to end console ban
- Fastenal (FAST) 6:50am, $0.41
- Family Dollar Stores (FDO) 7am, $1.03
- MSC Industrial Direct (MSM) 7:30am, $0.97
- Pricesmart (PSMT) 4pm, $0.64
- Yum! Brands (YUM) 4:10pm, $0.54
- Cleco (CNL) 4:22pm, $0.66
- Texas Industries (TXI) Aft-mkt, $0.20
- Adtran (ADTN) Aft-mkt, $0.19
COMMODITY/GROWTH EXPECTATION (HEADLINES FROM BLOOMBERG)
- Gold Trades Near One-Week High on Physical Purchases, Dollar
- Cattle Herd at 60-Year Low Cuts Tyson Beef Margins: Commodities
- Gold Contracts Climb to Four-Year High to U.S. Stocks: Options
- Copper Advances as China Imports the Most Metal in Nine Months
- Corn Extends Biggest Gain in 10 Weeks on USDA Production Outlook
- Robusta Coffee Advances as Investors Boost Buying; Cocoa Gains
- Rebar Rises on Higher China Property Demand, Shrinking Supply
- OPEC Sees U.S. Shale Boom Eroding Demand for Its Crude in 2014
- Aluminum Hampered by Lack of Western Supply Cuts: Bear Case
- Wheat Imports From Pakistan May Climb to Highest in Five Years
- Blackstone Treasure Hunt Under Way for German Tankers: Freight
- Williams %R Returns Most in Gold Bear Market: Technical Analysis
- Iran LNG Dreams Vanish as U.S. Shale Gas Looms: Energy Markets
- Gold ETF Assets in India Drop for Third Month as Prices Plunge
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Takeaway: Sensing the Chinese water torture of S1s could hurt, RH upped guidance a lot closer to what we think it will earn (but still not enough).
RH got some good advice on this one and averted what could have been a multiple-killer.
When the company announced yet another follow-on offering on July 5, the story immediately lost some momentum. The underlying fundamentals were still solid, but anyone with a shred of analytical integrity had to step back and wonder if it was going to be like a 'Chinese water torture' of additional stock sales.
That was particularly the case with the size of the deal growing to 12mm shares from 10mm after the close tonight, and with officers and Directors participating instead of just Home Holdings (the three firms that took it private -- whose ownership will be down to 15.9% post offering ).
But alas, RH came out and issued new long-term growth targets that are nothing short of parabolic. It made the following changes…
- revised revenue growth to low 20s vs prior goal of mid-high teens.
- EBITDA growth from twenties to high 20s
- EPS growth of mid-high twenties from prior growth of 'about 20%'
Note that the revenue growth guidance is a bit closer to our model, but our much more aggressive top-line forecast of 30%+ is the base of our roadmap for RH to achieve triple-digit status (see our research below). We should also note that we think that the company is being conservative with the leverage to the EPS line of a company in this business that is growing its top line in excess of 20%. In three years' time we get to $3.36 in EPS vs the Street at $2.22. Ultimately, in 5-years we're over $5.
HERE'S OUR RECENT NOTE POST 1Q THAT WE THINK BEST HIGHLIGHTS OUR CALL
RH: CAN EBIT GO UP BY 10X?
Takeaway: RH is expensive and it's built to stay that way. It continues to meet or beat our lofty expectations. The consensus is low by 60%.
Conclusion: Still one of our favorites. The company overdelivered on a heck of a lot more than the EPS line. It took up sales and EPS guidance well ahead of what the 1Q beat would imply. It accelerated square footage, announced yet another two businesses, two new catalogs for Fall, and made a major hire in luring away the President of the Williams-Sonoma brand to be CMO for its RH Kitchens and Tableware business (where current share is near zero). RH continues to meet or beat our expectations in almost every area. The biggest question for us here revolves around how much higher the stock can go. After all, the stock is up 82% in six months, and is flat out expensive. But it was also expensive 82% ago. In addition, if our model is right, we're looking at an earnings CAGR of about 50% for each of the next three years. Then it eases to something in the mid/high 20s. So what's a fair multiple for that? 30x? 40x? It's tough to say. But what we can say is that we're 60% ahead of the Consensus in the outer years, and until the Street realizes that there's $5.00+ in EPS over 5-years, then we're comfortable owning it even if it's expensive.
RH was one of our favorites headed into the quarter, and it remains so after the quarter. But aside from a solid beat, we did not expect much in the line of new disclose or thesis-changing information with this print given that the company just executed on its secondary on May 15th (which in itself was just weeks after a delayed 4Q earnings print and subsequent positive preannouncement). We were wrong -- they gave the thesis some more positive go-juice.
Here's what changed on the margin:
- First off, RH beat the quarter by $0.03, but took up full year guidance by $0.10-$0.12. Not many companies are doing that these days. RH took up annual revenue guidance by 4%, and 2Q revenue by 7%. None of these things are thesis-changers for us, and in fact, we're still well above these numbers. But they're confidence-builders nonetheless.
- RH is fresh off the ICSC conference in Vegas and the company had better than expected success in pairing up with potential landlords for new Design Galleries. Not only does it take up the number of Galleries we're likely to see over time (over 50), but we think it also takes up the average size per store. These two factors are a critical on a combined basis as it relates to our margin of safety on the RH growth algorithm (see below). With more favorable availability of sites comes more favorable rents and cap rates -- it's economics 101.
- RH is launching two new businesses -- again. Does this sound familiar? In RH's first quarter out of the IPO gate it announced the launch of RH Tableware, RH Objects of Curiosity, and RH Fine Art. Now we've got RH Kitchen and RH Antiquities. Both of these are massively fragmented businesses and present huge opportunities for RH. These are in addition to RH Leather and RH Rugs, two new catalogue drops this fall. #growthaccellerating
- RH managed to snag Richard Harvey from Williams-Sonoma to be CMO for RH Kitchens and Tableware. The simple fact that RH's share of this category is close to zero today, and they went ahead and hired the person with the best track record in the world in brand-building, sourcing and merchandising in the kitchen space….that's just huge.
- There's only one new risk that we can point towards…and that's execution. We're looking at a company that should double square footage, triple revenue, and take up its EBIT ten-fold over the next 5-years (seriously…let us know if you want to see our model). In doing so, RH will need to introduce and scale new categories in some of the most fragmented categories in all of retail. Fragmentation is good from a competition standpoint, but it is also usually characteristic of a category is difficult to scale. From a modeling perspective, we can quantify the cost of a new store. We know square footage. We can make pretty good estimates on the new store productivity curve. We can also make assumptions about rents and leverage hurdles for occupancy expense. But what we find very difficult to do is modeling SG&A. We think that we're safe in modeling a 15-20% SG&A growth rate in each of the next 5-years. SG&A might not be very sexy, but we think that this is the biggest and most unknown lever in the model.
A REMINDER ON WHY WE LIKE RH
We think that RH is to home furnishings what Ralph Lauren is to Apparel and what Nike is to Athletic Shoes. It's the preeminent brand in the space, and sets/leads consumer style trends/wants/needs but with very little fashion risk. From a maturity perspective, we think that RH is 8-10 years behind RL, and 15-20 years behind NKE. Its got the runway. And even though it has such minimal market share across its categories, the competitive set is actually not very strong.
One thing that makes the RH model stand out is the growth algorithm over the next 5-years. Specifically…
- Square footage is not growing today. The company has perhaps one more quarter where it shrinks and then it starts its' climb.
- But our point is that today it is the comp that's driving the model. We can clearly see where that's coming from, we can map out additional sales as new businesses come on line, and we can draw out the comp curves for new higher productivity stores entering the comp base and hitting more mature productivity levels. We're modeling sales per square foot going from $846 last year to just shy of $1,500 in year 5.
- Ultimately, comps will slow. It's a mathematical certainty. But at the time comps slow we're likely to see square footage growth accelerating to peak rates of growth. Square footage is shrinking slightly today, and should be up at a rate near 20% by year 3.
- So you see…we can safely model the comp today due to reasons discussed above. Then as that starts to level off, we have square footage ramping up. We can safely model that too. As the second chart shows, that gets us to just over 20% annual revenue growth with comp and square footage flip-flopping their importance to the model as time passes.
There is nothing worse for the 2013 Perma-USA stock market bears than a no-volume ripper day like today.
It’s now four up days in a row for US Stocks. The S&P 500 is just a hair away from its all-time closing high of 1,669.16. The Nasdaq posted its best close since October 2000. And to top it all off, the Russell 2000 just notched a third consecutive all-time high.
In case you missed it this morning, here's a #timestamped look at how off-the-mark the #OldWall consensus bear has been.
Today GIS presented at its Investor Day in NYC; there were, however, few updates today versus its commentary on the Q4 2013 earnings call on 6/26/13. We will be looking to the next quarters to evaluate returns from its yogurt and cereal businesses, in particular, and its margin management results in the face of COGS headwinds in a year in which the company expects to raise the dividend 15% and buyback 2% of shares outstanding. Our fundamentally bearish view of the company remains, as expressed in the note titled “GIS – Not Much To Like”, however our quantitative model signals a bullish formation in the stock across its immediate term TRADE and intermediate term TREND levels.
Here are the points of the business we are focused on:
- Gross margins remain under threat for cereal, yogurt, and convenience meals
- Cereal, its largest category, remains under pressure from demographic headwinds, particularly in America, despite increased advertisement spending; GIS is bullish on gradual improvement in the category following strong merchandizing from competitors in the beginning of year
- Yogurt has more room to show improvement, following the Yoplait acquisition; we like the innovation and marketing push behind its new Greek style yogurt and the runway in the U.S. given the lower share penetration versus other geographies (like Canada or France)
- Convenience meals remain off track and the company acknowledge the importance of returning to Helpers (core) versus its previous push towards a more artisanal offering
- Input cost pressures of 3% will remain a headwind in 2014, which the company hopes to overcome through cost savings initiatives via Holistic Margin Management (HMM); expect some pressure on promotions
- We like the expanding international footprint (34% outside of U.S. today vs 25% 5 years ago) and opportunity to increase cereal consumption in emerging markets. [Currently one half of GIS cereal volume is in the UK, Australia, Canada, and the U.S., which collectively only account for 6% of the world’s population]
- Company’s consumer outlook is one of improvement in which shopper seeks best value, which GIS can capture with its reach across retailers: Grocery (50%); Supercenter (30%); and Other Channels (20%) = Costco, Walgreens, Dollar General, and Whole Foods
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