Growth Signals?

Client Talking Points


Our intermediate-term TREND support line of $81.63 held and the US Dollar had a good day yesterday. Commodities? No, they did not fare as well. Incidentally, they aren’t having a good morning today either. This keeps the bullish US growth theme intact and moving along. Exactly what we want to see.


Brent is backing off our long-term TAIL risk line of $108.14. And that is a very good thing. It's the most bullish macro event of the week. The bad thing is our intermediate-term TREND line of support ($106.37) is still intact; we need that to snap to get this massive net long futures/options position under pressure. We are watching this one closely.


Russian stocks do not like Bernanke tapering. Good. And they don’t like down Oil either (For the record, I like both!). With #RatesRising (10-year yield of 2.58%, great week) Russian stocks lead the losers down -1.3% this morning after failing to recapture TREND resistance of 1374. It ain't a pretty picture for Mr. Putin. Russia is down -9% year-to-date. I like it.

Asset Allocation


Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration

WWW is one of the best managed and most consistent companies in retail. We’re rarely fans of acquisitions, but the recent addition of Sperry, Saucony, Keds and Stride Rite (known as PLG) gives WWW a multi-year platform from which to grow. We think that the prevailing bearish view is very backward looking and leaves out a big piece of the WWW story, which is that integration of these brands into the WWW portfolio will allow the former PLG group to achieve what it could not under its former owner (most notably – international growth, and leverage a more diverse selling infrastructure in the US). Furthermore it will grow without needing to add the capital we’d otherwise expect as a stand-alone company – especially given WWW’s consolidation from four divisions into three -- which improves asset turns and financial returns.


Gaming, Leisure & Lodging sector head Todd Jordan says Melco International Entertainment stands to benefit from a major new European casino rollout.  An MPEL controlling entity, Melco International Development, is eyeing participation in a US$1 billion gaming project in Barcelona.  The new project, to be called “BCN World,” will start with a single resort with 1,100 hotel beds, a casino, and a theater.  Longer term, the objective is for BCN World to have six resorts.  The first property is scheduled to open for business in 2016. 


Health Care sector head Tom Tobin has identified a number of tailwinds in the near and longer term that act as tailwinds to the hospital industry, and HCA in particular. This includes: Utilization, Maternity Trends as well as Pent-Up Demand and Acuity. The demographic shift towards more health care – driven by a gradually improving economy, improving employment trends, and accelerating new household formation and births – is a meaningful Macro factor and likely to lead to improving revenue and volume trends moving forward.  Near-term market mayhem should not hamper this  trend, even if it means slightly higher borrowing costs for hospitals down the road. 

Three for the Road


OIL: Brent backs off the @Hedgeye TAIL risk line of $108.14; most bullish macro event of the week



He who lives by the crystal ball will eat shattered glass.
- Ray Dalio 


One big reason for Facebook's surge (up over 23% pre-market this morning): The number of people using Facebook on mobile phones or tablets increased by 51% to 819 million, year-over-year. That said, FB is still off its May 2012 IPO price of $38 per share.

July 25, 2013

July 25, 2013 - 7 25 2013 8 17 14 AM

the macro show

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Hosted by Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough at 9:00am ET, this special online broadcast offers smart investors and traders of all stripes the sharpest insights and clearest market analysis available on Wall Street.

Bernanke's Society

This note was originally published at 8am on July 11, 2013 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

-Benjamin Franklin


Who is this guy? Seriously. Bernanke is un-elected and un-accountable – but, evidently, has the power to change the entire risk parameters of the economy with an un-qualified market timing opinion that spits in the face of economic data.


I get the whole fear-mongering love for Ben thing. Politicians and bankers who put the country on the brink saved us from themselves in 2008 – or so they claim. Nailed it. Even if you believe that, it was so 2008-2009. We’re half-way through 2013 for God’s sake.


The last time I saw Dick Fuld, he was living large at my golf club; Timmy Geithner just got paid $200,000 to speak at an #OldWall conference ; and bankers who are long FICC (Bill Gross too) are begging Bernanke for more. Is this the society Franklin and Jefferson had in mind?


Back to the Global Macro Grind


Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. If it’s not self-evident to you that markets are going right squirrel on this, your internet connection must be down. Pardon the pun, but in a nutshell:

  1. American Purchasing Power (US Dollar) is getting pounded on this
  2. Gold, Silver, Oil, etc. (Bernanke Bubbles) are all ripping
  3. Treasury Yields are having their 4th down-day in a row, after rising on employment #GrowthAccelerating

So here’s the deal - Ben Bernanke is not only going to A) time the economic cycle (even though his growth forecasts have been wrong 58-73% of the time, depending on what year you use), he’s also going to B) time the market cycle.




Actually, to be balanced, what he’d say he’s attempting to do (which is unprecedented by the way during a recovery) isn’t timing, per se. I think these Keynesian types who have never risk managed a market or run a business in their life call it “smoothing.”


I call that reckless.


Mucker’s Policy Advice: longer-term, Mr. Market is already pricing in #StrongDollar and #RatesRising, so just let it go pal. Let free-market prices and economic cycles clear; or your legacy will be that of someone who kept trying to re-flate bubbles as they were blowing up.


If Bernanke doesn’t take Mr. Market’s advice on this, here’s what is most likely going to happen:

  1. US Dollar Debauchery = Commodity Reflation
  2. Commodity Reflation = Consumption #GrowthSlowing

In other words, with Oil prices ripping a move above our long-term TAIL risk line of $108.11/barrel this morning, Bernanke is going to effectively give everyday Americans an enema again. Not cool.


This is not new territory for this conflicted cat. Remember what he did with his “communication tooling” in September of 2012? He said he would print to infinity and beyond and commodities (Gold) had their last hurrah on that.


Then, within 2-3 months, markets were in bedlam, US Consumption growth tanked, and the USA printed a Q412 GDP number of 0.38%!




It’s especially awesome for the guy who gets paid to run Gold Bond funds. Why don’t we take rips on this volatility roller coaster over and over and over again? Bernanke is on the switch – we’ll have 3 coasters on the same track at the same time; he’s wicked good on timing!


What’s my economic strategy this morning?

  1. Prayer

Seriously. What on God’s good earth am I supposed to recommend you do on this? Lever yourself up with asset classes that are crashing? Fortuitously, we aren’t short anything related to Bernanke’s banker boy bonuses (FICC – Fixed Income, Currencies, Commodities). And we’re not short anything PIMCO yet either, so maybe I’ll just sell everything and take the rest of the summer off.


I’m getting really tired of all this un-American central planning anyway. We’ve had a great year, and there’s no way I’m letting whoever this guy thinks he is make me give it all back.


Our immediate-term Risk Ranges are now as follows:


UST 10yr 2.41-2.77

SPX 1627-1669

VIX 13.51-15.66

USD 82.64-83.95

Oil 105.56-110.28

Gold 1237-1302


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Bernanke's Society - Smoothing


Bernanke's Society - vp 711

Don't Lie To Me

“We have the ability to lie – not just to others, but also to ourselves.”

-Dan Ariely


As I was flying back from the Fortune Brainstorm Conference last night, I was grinding through the back half of Ariely’s The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty thinking about his aforementioned quote. With Twitter policing the pundits in real-time, and the fun cops (SEC) taking some “smart money” guys down, do we really have the ability to lie in this profession like we used to?


I like Ariely’s book because I have my own self deceptions that we’ve been building a firm around this vision of unearthing the Old Wall’s storytelling for over half a decade now. But that’s hardly the total truth. Reality is that the tectonic industry plate-shift from opacity to transparency is much bigger than I’ll ever be. I’m just a Mucker on the front lines of it all.


Wall Street was a closed-network that paid a massive premium for inside information, front-running, etc. Now that is dying on opacity’s vine as an open-network (Twitter is The New Tape) transcends accountability. There are no more “grey areas” to compound returns in. The crowd can see most things now; it can quickly conclude what is black and white.


Back to the Global Macro Grind


“We want explanations for why we behave as we do and for the ways the world around us functions. Even when our feeble explanations have little to do with reality. We’re storytelling creatures by nature, and we tell ourselves story after story until we come up with an explanation we like…” –Dan Ariely (pg 165)


So, let me tell you a story this morning…


And allow me to start with the non-fictional parts, which are called market prices. Isn’t that where I should begin? Or should I begin with a thesis on where the last market price should be? Stylistically, there’s a critical difference.


The difference is where your storytelling starts…


There’s a clear divide between how we attempt to risk manage macro market moves and how some on the Old Wall do. Never mind starting with a macro theme or thesis, some just skip all of that and hire guys who gets told by other guys what Bernanke and Co. are going to say next (yes, almost the entire old boy network is still guys).


Do I think our Global Macro Themes are good lines of storytelling? Sure. So do our clients. Increasingly I’m hearing that’s really because we don’t start with an insider’s whisper or a theme at all – we start with the market’s last price.


To review, when I say we start with last price:

  1. I’m contextualizing the market’s last price within 3 core risk management durations (TRADE, TREND, and TAIL)
  2. TRADEs are 3 weeks or less; TRENDs are 3 months or more; TAILs are 3 years or less
  3. Context (TRADE/TREND/TAIL) is dynamic (i.e. it refreshes every 90 minutes of new price/volume/volatility data)

In other words, that’s where my storytelling starts – with my own pictures of the market’s message; not with where I want the market to be. Then my analyst team and I work backwards on things like long-cycle data, mean reversion risks, catalysts, etc. in order to probability weight whether or not there are any themes to discern.


Does this risk management process prevent me from making mistakes? Of course not. From a macro risk manager’s perspective though, I’d say that having the humility to start my every day with what Mr. Market thinks has prevented me from making the really big macro mistakes. But that’s just my version of the story.


In other news, #StrongDollar is still bad for Gold bulls:

  1. US Dollar Index = +0.4% yesterday; Gold -2%
  2. Immediate-term TRADE correlation between USD and Gold is still -0.91
  3. Long-term TAIL risk correlation between USD and Gold is still -0.87

I can tell you some great stories about #StrongDollar, Strong America – and I can remind you that the combination of #RatesRising and #StrongDollar is both the enemy of Gold and growth fears…


But I’ve already used up my best content on that.


The market’s 2013 macro message is trumping pretty much everything the Old Wall consensus wanted it to be. If you waited for the super secret insider whisper that Bernanke is going to taper, you were late. Mr. Market didn’t lie to me.


Our immediate-term Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 2.47-2.71%


VIX 11.89-13.46

USD 81.98-82.85

Gold 1

Copper 3.11-3.21


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Don't Lie To Me - Chart of the Day


Don't Lie To Me - Virtual Portfolio


This note was originally published July 11, 2013 at 14:51 in Restaurants


Despite the significant volatility the company has faced since December 2012, YUM’s long-term growth story remains intact.  Yesterday’s earnings release suggests that the fallout from the chicken supply scandal and Avian flu issues are abating. 


Though we will wait for further confirmation on the near-term duration, we remain confident that the long-term upside for YUM shares represents an attractive opportunity for investors willing to look past the near-term issues.  The talk of the earnings call today quickly transitioned away from the poor results in China and toward the timing of the expected recovery in sales and margins. 




2Q13 Recap

The stock traded sideways as expected.  YUM reported 2Q13 EPS of $0.56 (-16% YoY) vs. Street consensus of $0.54.  During the second quarter, YUM demonstrated impressive COGS and labor controls.  The company maintained its guidance for the balance of 2013, including a 4Q turnaround in China same-store sales trends and a mid-single digit decline in 2013 EPS.  Importantly, trends in China continue to improve with June same-store sales down only 10% after coming in down 20% in May.


Other 2Q Highlights

  • The effective tax rate, prior to one-time items, decreased from 23.9% to 22.1%. This decrease positively impacted EPS results by 2%.
  • Same-store sales grew 1% at YRI and 1% in the U.S.
  • Both YRI and the U.S. had 80bps of restaurant margin expansion.
  • Operating profit declined 63% in China, while it increased 12% and 4% in the YRI and U.S. divisions, respectively.
  • China restaurant level margins fell 500bps in the quarter to 10.6%. 
  • Total international development included 315 new restaurants, with 76% of this development occurring in emerging markets.



The largest short-term risk to the YUM story comes from the built in expectations that China will turn the corner in 4Q13.  China’s June sales trend was only down 10%, indicating that sales are beginning to recover and moving in the direction of current expectations.  With Pizza Hut’s June same-store sales coming in at 6%, it is clear that the brand continues to build momentum.  Although the KFC numbers leave much to be desired, the comps appear to have bottomed out earlier this quarter.  Same-store sales have improved over the course of the quarter, moving from down 26% in April to down 13% in June.  We believe that China is on track for flat to positive same-store sales trends coming out of 3Q13 and positive trends early in 4Q13.    





Rest of the World

The YRI and U.S. segments of the business continue to be solid performers and contribute to YUM’s growth profile.


YUM’s YRI Division reported 1% same-store sales growth, led by 5% same-store sales growth in emerging markets.  This performance was somewhat offset by weakness in the developed regions where same-store sales fell 1%.  

  • Emerging markets system sales grew 12%, driven by 8% unit growth and 5% same-store sales growth.
  • Developed markets system sales grew 1%, driven by 1% unit growth; this number was partially offset by a 1% decline in same-store sales due to weakness in Japan and the UK.
  • Restaurant margin increased 0.8% and operating profit grew 12% in the region.
  • YRI is on track for a record amount of openings this year and continues to benefit from recent asset sales.
  • Opened 205 new units in 50 countries, including 129 new units in emerging markets.


YUM’s U.S. Division reported 1% same-store sales growth, led by 2% and 3% same-store sales growth at Taco Bell and KFC, respectively.  Taco Bell continues to be one of the strongest brands in the QSR segment.  The brand was able to increase same-store sales despite facing a 13% comparison from last year.  Same-store sales fell 2% at Pizza Hut in the second quarter. 

  • USA same-store sales increased 1%.
  • Taco Bell same-store sales increased 2%.
  • KFC same-store sales increased 3%.
  • Pizza Hut same-store sales decreased 2%.
  • Restaurant Margin improved 0.8%.
  • Operating profit increased 4%.










Similar to the rest of the restaurant industry, YUM’s valuation appears stretched.  We intend to issue a report card on YUM’s road to recovery as the company continues to report monthly same-store sales trends in China.  YUM’s long-term development plans in China remain intact, particularly as the company begins to focus on establishing Pizza Hut locations in lower tier cities.  We believe that the Street will soon shift its focus away from the recent negative results in China and will begin to focus on 2014 and the timing of a margin recovery.









Howard Penney

Managing Director



Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.47%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.71%