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INVESTING IDEAS NEWSLETTER

Takeaway: Current Investing Ideas: FDX, HCA, HOLX, MD, MPEL, NKE, NSM, SBUX, TROW and WWW

IDEAS UPDATES

Below are the latest comments from our Sector Heads on their high-conviction, long-only stock ideas. Please note that our Financials team has added T. Rowe Price (TROW) to our Investing Ideas list this week.

 

FDX – The stock is just shy of a 52-week high and has outperformed the S&P 500 over that period, so it is not necessarily a contrarian stock.  On a valuation basis, the stock is cheap trading at less than 6x TTM EV/EBITDA and has net cash on its balance sheet (excluding leases). 

 

Many of the industrial data points that we track have moved favorably this summer, with rail, truck and airfreight indicators among them.  To the extent that the operating environment continues to strengthen, it could provide a tailwind to FDX’s restructuring efforts. 

 

FedEx also announced expanded options in for healthcare-related shipping, better accommodating items that require refrigerated environments.  Growth in higher margin, niche markets is a focus for the industry.

 

HCA – Back in 2009 indebted companies, hospitals included, had a rough time convincing the markets they were going to make it through the debt crisis.  It's easy to see what happened in the correlation between junk bond indexes such as JNK and hospital company stock prices both during the crisis and through the recovery. With #ratesrising and the junk bond indices getting pummeled as the 10-year yield moves out from under the federal reserves thumb, we are not seeing the same correlation and downward pressure on hospital stocks. 


HOLX – We continue to like the opportunity for HOLX under the Obamacare, even if the law's first days go poorly.   We estimated the additional number of Pap tests and mammography scans coming from the newly insured then took big cuts for the myriad of reasons why the law's targets are likely to fall short.  Whether its states not expanding Medicaid, the Exchanges not being ready, or simple confusion on the part of everyone involved, HOLX is likely to get a sizable boost to their revenue growth next year.


MD – We began taking a look at the role of temporary and part time workers on medical consumption this week.  The media continues to write stories about firms skirting Obamacare regulations by hiring temporary versus full time employees. Media accounts are largely based on anecdotes, but we have had trouble finding actual data that backs these claims up.  

 

It's a terrible idea that Obamacare's goal of insuring the uninsured and broadening medical security for some of the 50 million who go without insurance will lead to more people in temp jobs without health benefits.  The temp Trend is a risk to a broad range of healthcare companies including MD, but so far the facts don't check out on the temp trend.

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Temp job growth is still outpacing all other employment, but the impact is minimal on non farm payrolls (NFP). Reducing the NFP by Temp jobs, and employment is still growing (right axis, thin blue and red lines)

 

MPEL – August revenue growth in Macau is trending in the +16-20% range. MPEL’s August revenue share of 14.2% remains above recent trends. We remain positive on Macau with MPEL leading the way, particularly in the margin-rich mass segment. 

 

NKE – Nike’s Brand Jordan is having a great start to "Back-To-School," with sales growth over the past three weeks accelerating from 10% to 20% to over 40% according to The NPD Group. Why does this matter, one might ask, given that it is only a sub-brand of a globally-diversified portfolio? Not really the mountain/molehill metaphor that one might think. In the US, Jordan has evolved from a mere shoe into a massive brand. Nike’s share of the market is 42%. The next largest brand? You guessed it -- Jordan at over 13%. Next in line? Adidas, which struggles to capture 7%. Rounding out the top five are Skechers at 4.3% and New Balance at 4.0%. Put another way, Jordan is 5x the size of Reebok, which once challenged the Nike Brand as the biggest sneaker brand in the US.

 

NSM –  There are two important intermediate term considerations for Nationstar investors. One is rates and the other is deals. The back half of 2013 is likely to see an increase in mortgage servicing-related deal activity as the big three (NSM, OCN, WAC) all raised their acquisition pipeline estimates during their second quarter results (by a combined $145 billion). Interestingly, NSM accounted for 70% of the increase. These deals historically have been accretive and catalytic for shares. We have no reason to think the result would be different in the coming quarters.

 

On the other hand, there is the #RatesRising dynamic. One of Hedgeye’s top themes at the moment is that long-term interest rates are likely to continue to move higher, making higher highs and higher lows. Rising rates are like an anchor on mortgage refinance volumes and Nationstar derives a substantial share of its earnings from refi activity. That said, Nationstar’s refi business is more defensive than many realize because it has a large contribution from HARP activity, which is less rate-sensitive than traditional refi volume.

 

Our expectation is that Nationstar shares will grind higher over the intermediate term on positive news around deals, but that rising rates act as a short-term headwind in the vacuum between deals.

 

TRADE: In the short-term, the market is and will continue to trade NSM inversely to long-term interest rates in the absence of other data, and rates have been grinding higher of late.

 

TREND: Over the intermediate term, the stock will trade around announcements of servicing acquisition deals. We think NSM remains well positioned here, alongside Ocwen and Walters.

 

TAIL: In the long-term, there is still a tremendous opportunity for non-bank servicers like Nationstar to roll-up the servicing business. NSM is well positioned to be a prime beneficiary. We continue to think consensus earnings estimates remain too low for 2013/2014.

 

SBUX – No material changes to our high conviction call on Starbucks as the stock continues to flirt with all-time highs. Yes, we acknowledge that SBUX is a “top pick” for many Wall Street analysts, but consensus can be right sometimes. Bottom line is we continue to like what CEO Howard Schultz is doing and the overall direction of Starbucks’ growth story. 

 

A strong third quarter earnings report simply highlights the power of one of the best pure plays in global growth in the Restaurants sector.  Cyclical factors, like improving coffee pricing, only add to the momentum as SBUX continues to push into new food and beverage segments in China and across the globe.


TROW – Financials Sector Head Josh Steiner and colleague Jonathan Casteleyn have moved shares of T Rowe Price (TROW) onto Hedgeye's best ideas list as a core holding. Simply put, we would buy and hold shares of TROW as we expect the company to benefit from the ongoing theme of a reallocation out of bonds with investors continuing to move into stocks.

 

T Rowe is one of the fastest growing equity asset managers and has consistently had the best performing stock funds over the past 10 years. With a disciplined process of carefully selecting the most talented investment professionals and producing and protecting the industry’s best stock performance, this allows TROW to consistently generate new inflow into its stock funds. The company has only had 3 quarterly outflows of client assets in the past 11 years which is an unmatched track record in the investment management industry.

 

With another good year of performance in the making, and a broader macro theme of bond fund flow in decline with an ongoing handoff to stock funds, the time is right for this leading equity fund manager and its investors to outperform. 

 

WWW – Ask any investor in retail for the most hated stock, and most will say JC Penney. Others will say Sears.  When asked who rounds out the top three, the consensus would probably say Radio Shack. Well those people will be overlooking a little shoe company based in Rockford MI called Wolverine Worldwide.

 

Yes, the stock is trading at 18 times earnings, giving the impression that it is loved – but the reality is that the Hedgeye Sentiment Monitor begs to differ. Our Sentiment Monitor triangulates sell-side ratings, buy-side short interest, and insider buying/selling and assigns a quantitative score accordingly. In WWW’s case, you can see that its current score is about 13, which means that investors are overly bearish.

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A score closer to 90 (where many retailers sit today) would signify that the Street is overly bullish. Scores at the high and low end have both proven to be contra-indicators, meaning that overly bearish scores (like we have with WWW today) often leads to sell-side upgrades, short covering, and insider buys. While our positive stance on WWW is based on a longer-term fundamental view, this analysis certainly supports our positioning.            

 

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PLAYING IT FROM THE SHORT SIDE...

Editor's note: This week, instead of our usual Macro Report, Sector Spotlight and Investing Term, we're trying something different.  While we know most of you are long-only investors, we wanted to give you a peek into research on some short ideas that we provide for our institutional clients.  These stock ideas from Hedgeye Sector Heads provide a deep research dive into shares of companies and markets we believe are poised to decline in value. Our team here at Hedgeye enjoys a successful track record on the long and short side and is dedicated to unlocking value on both for our clients. 

 

This week's first short idea comes from our Financials Team led by Josh Steiner and Jonathan Casteleyn. Please note that this note was originally published on August 15th. 

 

BEN Stock Starting to Track the 10 Year Bond Yield

 

Franklin Resources (BEN) - This is our favorite short idea in the group with its disproportionate exposure to both fixed income and retail investors (our least favorite exposures). When looking at BEN stock and the recent trajectory of the 10 year Treasury yield, the two variables appear to be tracking each other very closely. The 10 year Treasury yield bottomed on May 2nd at 1.63% which was also the recent high in BEN stock two weeks later on May 17th at over $56 per share. 

 

Since these closely grouped two week peaks, the substantial rise in the 10 year Treasury has marked a requisite decline in Franklin stock with a similar trajectory. In our chart below we have inverted the 10 year Treasury axis in order to simply show the relationship, but in beginning of July the slight rally in the 10 year also spurred a relief rally in shares of BEN which moved from near $45 per share to over $50 per share.

 

Interestingly the recent further sell off in Treasuries from 2.59% to 2.72% as of last night has also been in concert with BEN shares moving from over $50 to back near the $48 per share range. While the R-squared of the two variables isn't overly compelling at 0.32, the regression of daily 10 year Treasury yields and BEN stock would imply a near term trajectory to $46 per share for Franklin shares if the U.S. 10 year goes through a 3% yield. As more daily data comes in, this relationship may become more compelling, but it is just an initial observation for now.

 

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Separating the Forest From the Trees In Emerging Markets

 

Our next short idea has worked out rather well since Hedgeye first began beating the drum. Our Macro Team believes that further appreciable downside remains here (and obviously upside for those on the short side). 

 

Please click here for access to this Hedgeye idea.

 

Tying Two Rocks Together: The LINN/BRY Merger

 

Our final short idea comes from Hedgeye Jedi Kevin Kaiser who heads up our Energy research. Kevin is a focused, no-nonsense sort of guy who smelled smoke in LINN Energy's (LINE) accounting practices, called it out and stood strong as investors long the stock fought back tooth and nail. Of course, the accounting smoke eventually led to fire in LINN's stock following news of an SEC inquiry. You may have read about his research in Barron's.

 

Please click here to access Kaiser's detailed research on why the stock has room to fall even further.


THE WEEK AHEAD

The Economic Data calendar for the week of the 26th of August through the 30th is full of critical releases and events.  Attached below is a snapshot of some (though far from all) of the headline numbers that we will be focused on.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD - week


Blame Nasdaq? Blame S.E.C. Too

Takeaway: The SEC is just as much to blame as Nasdaq in yesterday's shutdown.

When Defense is Offense: A Troubled Week for the Exchanges

While we are never one to throw peanuts from the cheap seats, the fact-of-the-matter is that publicly traded U.S. stock exchanges had a rough week from an operations standpoint. To put it lightly. After coming public in a reverse IPO by buying innovative trading system Archipelago in 2006, the formerly private New York Stock Exchange now publicly trades under the symbol NYX. Its New York cross town rival, the NASDAQ Stock Market, also offered shares to the public for the first time last decade in 2002, with investors now able to buy into its fairly stable earnings stream and steady free cash flow business by investing in shares of NDAQ.

 

Blame Nasdaq? Blame S.E.C. Too - naz2

 

Yesterday, every major global financial media outlet was alerted to the fact that NASDAQ had shut down its trading systems, and for just over a 3 hour period, mass media was focused on an impending disruption to the trading landscape as we know it. Labeled as the “Flash Freeze,” Thursday’s event was being built up as a major market event for all investors, on par with the May 6th, 2010 “Flash Crash” where the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced its biggest intraday drop ever of 1,000 points.

 

We disagree.

 

This week’s shutdown, while troublesome, was not the watershed event of 2010. In fact, it displays the prudence and early warning signals that now exist in the market structure industry to prevent trading sessions like the Flash Crash. The Flash Crash occurred because of a confluence of events. That trading session on May 6th, 2010 started with troubling news out of Greece with riots and sovereign debt worries which forced the Dow down 300 points to start the day. By 2:45 pm however, the markets were in complete freefall, with an incremental decline of over 600 points to tally nearly a 1,000 point decline at one point reaching a 9.9% loss for the Dow Jones Industrials on the day.


The combustible combination of massive selling pressure in stock futures; algorithmic traders pulling completely out of the market; and trading orders going off at stub quotes, or inactive limit orders way off of market prices, all aggregated together to trigger this unprecedented intraday move. While the Dow essentially recaptured this “glitch” of a 600 point move, to finish down its original indication of 300 points for the day, the damage was already done with investors of all stripes suddenly highly suspicious of a cobbled together exchange trading system that can be prone to malfunction.

 

While investors and analysts are still waiting for a technical layman’s explanation as to why NASDAQ shuttered its systems for most of the day, we argue that the exchange acted appropriately and stopped trading to avoid any cascading of an initial problem into a more noteworthy event. The fact-of-the-matter is that the current U.S. stock market system is a puzzle of multi-level trading systems with different classes of market data speeds, a bee’s nest of legacy order books, and now the added complication of dark pools or off exchange trading systems. The real blame lies at the regulatory level with the historically liberal policies of the Securities and Exchange Commission having allowed too many trading venues to develop. This has resulted in the patchwork of a operational landscape we call the U.S. stock market.

 

After the Flash Crash, the SEC conducted a 5 month investigation of the inputs driving that significant event. The agency has already commented that it is looking into the NASDAQ shutdown this week. One of the agency’s most revealing findings however, may in fact be its decade long approval of new exchange products, new multi level trading venues, and its support of off exchange traded systems which has now complicated formerly simple operations.

 

Both publicly traded stock exchanges are dealing with these operational complications on a day-to-day basis, in addition to having to run for-profit businesses that are fighting four consecutive year of stock volume declines and ongoing market share losses from more aggressive broker dealers and alternative trading venues. NASDAQ stock is currently at a crossroads, with NDAQ now screening well in our internal quantitative model at Hedgeye Risk Management, but from a fundamental research standpoint with now new operational uncertainties as of this week’s event.

 

Warren Buffett championed the idea that investors should not have a quote machine in their office and that securities should be bought for meaningful periods where one wouldn’t have to see a public price every moment of every day. While we agree with this principle, and are not concerned with a 3 hour preemptive shut down of the exchange to avoid broader systemic issues, as a research department with the ability to recommend NDAQ stock, we encourage a forthright and actionable explanation from both the company’s management and U.S. regulators. The SEC is just as much to blame here as NDAQ and we are not mixing our alphabet soup in this statement.   


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WWW: Massively Positive Hire

Takeaway: WWW hires the most eligible bachelor in global footwear. There is no other way to slice this than hugely positive. WWW remains a top pick.

Don’t overlook WWW’s announcement today that it hired Gene McCarthy as President of the Merrell brand. It’s a very material announcement, and one that bolsters our bullish call on WWW.

 

  1. McCarthy is one of the most successful footwear executives in the world, with a pedigree stretching from Nike, to Reebok, to Timberland, and UnderArmour. WWW is extremely lucky to have nabbed him.
     
  2. Merrell is about $550mm in revenue, or 20% of WWW’s total sales. Yes, it is WWW’s biggest division, and we think that he will have a meaningful impact given that Merrell has been a drag on WWW’s results. It needs the help. He is the kind of individual that can take this to being a $1bn brand, instead of someone that will be content with 3-5% growth annually.
     
  3. But we think that WWW brought McCarthy in with much bigger plans in mind -- whether they are saying it or not (watch what they do, not what they say). Keep in mind that he was brought in to fix the Yellow Boot business at Timberland in April 2006. But by December 2007 he was already Co-President of the parent company. The guy ‘gets it’ when it comes to brand building, and it was a waste for TBL to isolate his talent on only a quarter of the company’s business.
     
  4. But then why did he seemingly fail at UA?  We thought it was a big deal when Kevin Plank hired McCarthy away from Timberland to run UA’s footwear business. But in the end, it did not really work, and we were proved wrong.  We think the problem was two-fold. A) The footwear business at UA needs more capital. It needs more R&D, and more distribution resources both inside and outside of the US. WWW has that already. B) The chemistry between Plank and McCarthy simply did not work. They’re both very ‘type A’, and there was definitely a clash – especially when it came to arguing as to whether the company needed more resources to make the footwear business work

 

Unless WWW paid an ungodly sum of money to get McCarthy on board them team, which is unlikely, there is no way to slice this announcement other than overwhelmingly positive.

WWW: Massively Positive Hire - 111

 


[VIDEO] Hedgeye’s Casteleyn on Nasdaq Snafu

Hedgeye Risk Management Financials Research Director Jonathan Casteleyn discusses the Nasdaq “Flash Freeze” with FBN’s Liz Claman.

 


Obamacare Chart of the Day

Takeaway: The impact of Temp hiring on Non-Farm Payrolls growth is very small.

Obamacare Chart of the Day - tobin1


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