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Is It Over?

This note was originally published at 8am on September 19, 2013 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

-Albert Einstein


Is it over?


Well, it depends on what you think it is.


Is it the US Constitution? Is it the US Dollar? Is it US Growth?


Back to the Global Macro Grind


I’ll keep it tight this morning, because if I rant about what I really think about what Ben Bernanke did yesterday, I might lose some clients and have the NSA parked outside of my house.


While it was a great day for those of us who have been US stock market bulls in 2013, it was a very sad day for America.


Basically, Bernanke eviscerated almost my entire bull case for US growth accelerating from here, so it's a good thing he cut his GDP forecast. The best way to slow real (inflation adjusted) economic growth is by burning your currency.


To review the 3 core components of our 2013 bullish thesis for US #GrowthAccelerating:

  1. American Purchasing Power (US Dollar) stabilizes and strengthens by arresting policies to devalue the Dollar
  2. As purchasing power rises, American confidence, hiring, and spending does – rates rise too (it’s called a cycle)
  3. Economic cycles are reflexive – they feed on themselves, so the Fed needs to get out of this one’s way

None of that happened yesterday, because an un-elected central planner decided so. #perfect


Exactly what Jefferson and Franklin had in mind.



  1. After snapping my intermediate-term TREND line of $81.34, Bernanke smoked the US Dollar to a 6 month low
  2. Everything slow-growth went ape (to the upside); Gold, Bonds, Utilities, etc, – everything we don’t want to see
  3. And Emerging Markets went haywire (Turkey +7.6%, Indonesia +4.7%, India +3.7%, etc)

I have no doubt that everyone who is in the business of being long every recipient of the US Dollar devaluation had a great day. But that doesn’t do jack for the hard working American who will be taking this one in the pump and/or the conservative American saver who was actually getting something more than 0% for the last few months.


Bernanke should have respected Mr. Market’s long-standing American pro-growth signal of #StrongDollar, #CommodityDeflation, and #RatesRising – and he did not. Period. For that, he should feel shame.


So you tell me, is it over? And over for whom? Who is going to hold Bernanke accountable for:

  1. Renewing the American Tax at the pump (Dollar Down, Oil up on Bernanke is as potent as Assad)
  2. Cutting risk-free income on savings accounts (2yr yield just dropped 36% to 0.33%)
  3. Causing US GDP growth to go from 2.5% real to 1.5-2% (the GDP Deflator goes up when the Dollar goes down)

Is this all part of the class warfare thing Obama likes to talk about? Other than the political class, who, precisely, Mr. President, got paid by Bernanke’s un-objective and un-elected decision yesterday? Or did all those “folks” you’ve been standing up for refi whatever they have left on their house and buy Gold futures with it yesterday?


I clearly don’t get what Bernanke is trying to achieve by banning things like gravity, consumption tax cuts, and the economic cycle. But my gut says no one in America who doesn’t get paid to say they get it gets it either.  


Unlike the US Federal Reserve who has been behind the curve using broken forecasting models, my research team will continue to respect both the data and markets as leading indicators. That part of what we do isn’t over this morning. Neither will changing our mind as circumstances do.


Our immediate-term Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 2.58-2.81

SPX 1709-1732

VIX 13.11-14.82

USD 80.12-81.34

Brent 109.04-111.76

Gold 1289-1404


Best of luck out there with your centrally planned day,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Is It Over? - chart


Is It Over? - z. vp 919


September GGR up 21% YoY but visitation softer to start October – cheap package tour ban?


  • September GGR finishes up 21% YoY.  Our October estimate remains at +20-25% growth but is subject to change until we see the detail behind September’s growth and how Golden Week finishes up this weekend.
  • One tiny note of caution:  September finished with a flurry (start of the Golden Week celebration) as seen by the visitation statistics in the chart below.  However, October total visitation is just flat through the first two days (Tue/Wed vs Mon/Tue).  A ban on cheap package tours (effective October 1) could be the culprit in which case low end Mass revenue would only be mildly impacted.
  • This coming weekend will round out Golden Week and give us a better feel for the overall success of the big holiday.


BBEP: A Closer Look at Postle, and the SEC Review



Our primary issue with BreitBurn Energy Partners (BBEP) is understated maintenance CapEx - and the Postle acquisition increases our concern.  With increased scrutiny now around LINN Energy's (LINE, LNCO) maintenance CapEx policy, as evidenced by the stark changes in disclosure in its latest S-4/A, investors should strongly consider whether or not BBEP's maintenance CapEx level is appropriate, or light.  We believe that it is very light.  While this SEC review did not address BBEP's maintenance CapEx, it would not surprise us if one in the future does.  


Postle Field Economics - Where's the Maintenance CapEx?


Comments from BBEP’s management team, as well as its forward guidance, suggests to us that is materially understating the amount of CapEx that it is needed to keep production flat (maintenance CapEx) on the Postle Field assets that it acquired in June 2013 and closed on in July 2013.  After adjusting for appropriate maintenance CapEx, we do not believe that the acquisition is accretive to BBEP's DCF/unit.


From BBEP's 8/6/2013 2Q13 Earnings Conference Call (our emphasis):


Analyst: Thanks. Mark, question just circling back on maintenance capital, can you talk about whether or not the addition of the Postle asset will have much of an impact on the overall corporate decline curve and the intensity of trying to – of what you need to spend for maintenance capital?


COO Mark Pease: Jeff, we've looked at that and it is shallow decline, which is a good thing for us. Overall, it doesn't have much impact.  I mean, it's pretty consistent with the maintenance capital that we see across the portfolio. So, while we have some areas that, as you look at them individually, they're higher than others. From a whole portfolio standpoint, Postle is right in there with the rest of our assets.


Analyst: Can you share what the cash flow just from that asset might be versus the capital that would be needed to keep it flat?


COO Mark L. Pease: Jim, I don't know what we've disclosed on that, on that the deal.


CFO James Jackson: Hey Jeff, it's Jim. We just haven't – we've not given that level of detail on Postle to date.


BBEP filed pro forma financial data for Postle in its 8/30/2013 8-K, so now we have that level of detail.  Below are the key stats:


BBEP: A Closer Look at Postle, and the SEC Review - bbep1AAA 


Production in April 2013 was 7,400 boe/d, down 9% from 2012 average.  Total CapEx in 1H13 was $44MM, or ~$87MM annualized.  This implies that this level of spend is insufficient to stem the production decline on this asset.  This is consistent with the production and spending trends at Postle over the last three years.  Production in April 2013 was down 20% from the 2010 average. 


After the acquisition, BBEP guided 2H13 maintenance CapEx to $55MM (see the 6/24/13 investor presentation), with Postle expected to close on August 1st (5 full month contribution in 2013).  2Q13 maintenance CapEx was $19.5MM without Postle, as stated by management on the 2Q13 conference call, so this acquisition resulted in an ~$8MM/quarter increase in Maintenance CapEx.  BBEP's guidance suggests that maintenance CapEx on Postle will be ~$32MM/year; this is difficult to reconcile with the facts that annualized CapEx at Postle since 2011 was ~$84MM, and production was in decline.  Maintenance CapEx is supposed to be the capital required to keep production flat...


Total CapEx on Postle was 54% of EBITDA in 1H13, and production is in decline.  BBEP’s maintenance CapEx in 2Q13 was only 23% of EBITDA.  Yet, management states that the Postle Field maintenance CapEx, “From a whole portfolio standpoint, Postle is right in there with the rest of our assets.”  In our view, the data does not support this assertion.


And while management stated on the deal call that the acquisition was “right around, maybe even a little less than 6X expected forward EBITDA,” the stand-alone Postle assets (excluding derivative assets/liabilities) were acquired for 11x 1H13 annualized free cash flow, and the asset is in decline.  EBITDA can be a misleading measure for a CO2 flood due to capitalized CO2.  


The total Postle purchase price (ex. derivative assets and liabilities) was ~$815MM, 0.83x the YE12 standardized measure of $985MM.


If BBEP finances this acquisition with 50% equity and 50% debt, we do not believe that it will be accretive to DCF/unit.  The asset requires significantly more capital to keep production flat than BBEP is letting on, as the actual data from 2010 - 1H13 shows.


BBEP: A Closer Look at Postle, and the SEC Review - bb1


BBEP Makes Public Correspondences with the SEC


BBEP made its 2013 correspondences with the SEC public late last week.  The SEC first sent a letter to CFO James Jackson on March 27, 2013 with comments related to BBEP’s 2012 10-K.  BBEP and the SEC traded a series of letters and phone conversations between May 2013 and August 2013.  On August 28, 2013, the SEC completed its review.


What were the SEC’s major concerns?

  1. Explanation of the “net operating cash flows from effective date through the closing date of an acquisition” adjustment in adjusted EBITDA.
  2. Explanation of why there was not a larger impairment charge in 2012 given -31% natural gas reserve revision.
  3. Explanation of commodity derivatives accounting – realized gains (losses), unrealized gains (losses), and premiums paid.
  4. Questionable application of the 5-year PUD rule.
  5. No pro forma financials for the 2012 Permian acquisitions.

What were the outcomes?

  1. 2012 10-K was revised, removing “Net operating cash flow from acquisitions, effective date through closing date.”
  2. No further impairment required, as BBEP successfully argued that the assets passed the impairment test – whether or not the undiscounted proved and risk-adjusted probable and possible reserve cash flows were in excess of the assets’ carrying values (net book value).
  3. Revised, increased, and improved disclosure around derivatives accounting and premiums paid.   BBEP amended its 2012 10-K and 1Q13 10-Q  “to revise its disclosures from a separate presentation of realized and unrealized derivative gains or losses to a combined presentation for derivative gains or losses.  In addition, the Partnership will add back total derivative gains or losses and also provide separate disclosure of derivative contract settlement amounts in its Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows as well as in its Adjusted EBITDA table. The Partnership will also disclose the amount of premiums for derivative contracts paid in earlier periods that apply to contracts settled during the period(s) shown in a footnote disclosure to its Adjusted EBITDA table” (8/14/13 Correspondence, pg. 4). 
  4. BBEP will prospectively apply a strict definition of the 5-year rule.  At YE12, BBEP had 3.3 MMboe of PUD reserves (2% of total) that were scheduled to be developed outside of five years from their initial disclosure.  These reserves had a standardized measure of $23.6MM (1% of total) at YE12. 
  5. No pro forma financials necessary, as BBEP successfully argued that the acquisitions were not material.


  1. We believe that BBEP’s use of non-GAAP measures is aggressive.  The SEC addressed two of our issues with adjusted EBITDA in its review – the adjustment for net operating CF between the closing and effective dates of acquisitions, and BBEP’s exclusion of commodity derivative premiums paid.  This should prevent BBEP from making these aggressive adjustments going forward – in 2012 they increased DCF by ~11%.
  2. In our view, BBEP’s biggest issue and source of over-valuation is understated maintenance CapEx, which we detailed in our 8/7/13 note, BBEP 2Q Review: Understated Maintenance CapEx = Majority of DCF.  By our calculations, BBEP’s organic production in the 12 months from 2Q12 – 2Q13 was down 0.3% YoY, while total organic CapEx exceeded maintenance CapEx by $130MMIf BBEP increased maintenance CapEx by that amount, we estimate that DCF would get cut by ~80%.  The SEC did not at all address maintenance CapEx in this review, presumably because there is no mention of it or DCF in BBEP’s SEC filings.  We cannot understand why BBEP’s maintenance CapEx and DCF is not disclosed, explained, and reconciled (both maintenance CapEx and DCF) to the nearest GAAP figures in its SEC filings – or even in its earnings press releases – despite the obvious importance of these non-GAAP figures to investors.  Maintenance CapEx is addressed in the FAQ section of BBEP’s website, though, in our view, the definition just begs additional questions.
  3. BBEP disclosed that the net book value of its Antrim Shale field was $891MM at YE12, which was 33% of total net PP&E.  At YE12, BBEP’s Antrim Shale reserves were ~242 Bcfe and 2012 production was ~48 MMcfe/d.  In our view, the fair value of this asset today is likely only ~$300MM, nearly $600MM below YE12 net book value.  Transaction multiples for comparable dry gas properties today are ~$1 - $2/proved Bcfe.  The last major Antrim Shale deal was LINN Energy’s March 2010 acquisition of HighMount Exploration’s properties for $330MM.  Those properties had 266 Bcfe of proved reserves, putting the deal multiple at $1.24/Bcfe.  More recently, in August 2013, Atlas Resource Partners (ARP) acquired 466 Bcf of natural gas 1P reserves in New Mexico and Alabama for $733MM, putting that transaction multiple at $1.57/Bcfe.


Kevin Kaiser

Senior Analyst


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Obama Bucks

“If making money is a slow process, losing it is quickly done.”

-Saikaku Ihara


That’s a mint quote at the start of chapter 13 (“Wild Money And The Stealth Tax”) in one of my favorite economic history books, Jack Weatherford’s The History of Money (pg 193). I’d love to hear Bernanke and Obama’s version of this history. Devaluing the purchasing power of The People for political gain is as old as politics itself. It’s called inflation – and it’s a stealth tax.


Ex the anti-dog-eat-dog-class-warfare-storytelling, you’ve probably noticed that US politicians are currently burning the credibility of your hard earned currency at the stake (see Chart of The Day). No US President and/or Federal Reserve Chief has overseen A) a lower US Dollar value and/or B) a higher Oil price than Obama and Bernanke. Nice job boys.


No US President has been forced to “shut-down” the government in 17 years either. In order to explain the mechanics of it all, we’ll be hosting a call with the last man to force Big Government’s hand on this, Newt Gingrich, at 11AM EST @Hedgeye today (email if you’d like access – we’ll have a full access client Q&A for Newt too).


Back to the Global Macro Grind


Simple question: When it comes to the purchasing power (currency) of who Obama labels “ordinary, middle class folks”, doesn’t the buck stop with the President of The United States?


As Obama pointed out yesterday in an interview with raging Republican, John Harwood, the appointment of Bernanke was as important as any he’s made. So, doesn’t that make The President accountable to empowering a Burning Buck policy?


Silly questions, I’m sure. That’s why CNBC didn’t get me to do the interview.


In other news, the US stock market is now down for 9 of 11 days since Ben Bernanke arbitrarily decided to do precisely the opposite of what he was “communicating” to the marketplace (taper).


Counter to consensus thinking, the better part of this recent correction in stocks has come on days when:

  1. US Dollar is DOWN, and
  2. US Interest Rates are DOWN

The causal factor in driving Down Dollar has been a two track (monetary and fiscal) political strategy that is starting to look like an idea that came out of a Roman bath club circa 52 BC. Plunder the people for political gain. They won’t understand. #stealth


With the US Dollar having given back all of its YTD gains (it’s down -2.7% in the last month):

  1. The US Dollar Index now has a 6-week POSITIVE correlation of +0.95 to the 10yr US Treasury Yield
  2. And the USD has a 6-week POSITIVE correlation of +0.82 to the US Treasury 10Y-2Y Yield Spread

Just because you won’t get things like leading indicators from your President or the US Federal Reserve doesn’t mean they cease to exist:

  1. Down Dollar and Down Interest Rates are starting to = Down Stock Market
  2. Down Dollar and Down Interest Rates = a leading indicator for #GrowthSlowing

If this sounds familiar to you, it should – this is basically the inverse of our call for the last 10 months. We were bullish on US GDP #GrowthAccelerating because two of the most obvious leading indicators for growth (#StrongDollar + #RatesRising) had both #OldWall Street and Washington consensus chasing the rising growth expectations.


From a S&P Sector perspective, the easiest way to summarize growth expectations slowing is via the Financials (XLF). The reason why the 10Y minus 2Y Yield Spread matters is because this is how a bank makes money. As the long-end of the curve (interest rates) falls, banks make less of a margin and can then lend less.  How’s that for “ordinary folks”?


While almost every said “economics” guru advising Obama will tell him that a “weak Dollar is good for manufacturing and exports”, that’s the biggest crock since Nero started devaluing The People’s currency in the first place. Let’s look at what just happened in a country whose currency was lit on fire earlier this year (and whose stock market was crashing, in kind) – Brazil:

  1. Brazil finally said enough is enough, and RAISED rates to defend its currency (the Real)
  2. Brazilian Real is now +7.8% in the last month versus USD; Brazilian Stocks (Bovespa)= +17.9% in the last 3 months
  3. Brazil’s SEP economic data (both manufacturing PMI and Exports) accelerated as its currency did (Exports +5% y/y SEP)

Yep. Them be the facts, “folks.” And if you want to re-gain the trust of The People, you better start talking #truth. Politically preying on the ignorance of “ordinary” people is un-American. Losing respect like the US Dollar has happens slowly, then all at once.


Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 2.58-2.73%


Nikkei 134

VIX 14.86-17.39

USD 79.21-80.42

Euro 1.34-1.36


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Obama Bucks - Chart of the Day


Obama Bucks - Virtual Portfolio


TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP – October 3, 2013

As we look at today's setup for the S&P 500, the range is 15 points or 0.76% downside to 1681 and 0.13% upside to 1696.                                              













  • YIELD CURVE: 2.32 from 2.30
  • VIX closed at 16.6 1 day percent change of 6.82%

MACRO DATA POINTS (Bloomberg Estimates):

  • 7:30am: Challenger Job Cuts Y/y, Sept. (prior 56.5%)
  • 7:30am: RBC Consumer Outlook Index, Oct. (prior 51.1)
  • 8:30am: Init Jobless Claims, Sept. 28, est. 315k (pr 305k)
  • 8:30am: Continuing Claims, Sept. 20 (prior 2.800m)
  • 9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, Sept. 29 (prior -28.1)
  • 10am: ISM Non-Manuf Index, Sept., est. 57 (prior 58.6)
  • 10am: Freddie Mac mortgage rates
  • 11am: U.S. announces plans for 3Y note auction on Oct. 8, 10Y notes on Oct. 9, 30Y bonds on Oct. 10
  • 11am: Fed to buy $1.25b-$1.75b in 2036-2043 sector
  • 11am: Fed’s Williams speaks in San Diego
  • 12:30pm: Fed’s Fisher speaks on economy in Dallas
  • 1pm: Fed’s Lockhart speaks on labor market in Atlanta
  • 1:30pm: Fed’s Powell speaks on banking in St. Louis
  • 5:30pm: Fed’s Fisher speaks in Little Rock, Ark.


    • Partial U.S. govt shutdown enters 3rd day
    • IMF’s Christine Lagarde speaks on global economy
    • SEC Commissioner Daniel Gallagher speaks about his agency at the Security Traders Association Market Structure Conf. 3:15pm


  • White House meeting fails to end stalemate that led to shutdown
  • Eco releases to include claims today, no payrolls tmw
  • Frustrated Republicans urge Boehner to find deal to end shutdown
  • Goldman said to make $1.5m error in Ford bond issue
  • U.S. holiday sales may rise 3.9% as budget fight curbs sentiment
  • Pershing’s Ackman moves to soften risk on Herbalife pyramid bet
  • Draghi said to task ECB panel to mull bank liquidity options
  • China services index rises to 6-month high
  • BP wins review of challenged payouts to Gulf spill victims
  • Google seen by U.S. risking security if data release is allowed
  • Mark Cuban to defend himself on stand in SEC’s insider trial
  • Spain sells 10-yr bonds to yield 4.269%, lowest since Sept. ’10
  • Google buys gesture recognition startup Flutter: AllTHingsD
  • Zale says Golden Gate Capital may sell 25% stake: WSJ
  • Eurozone Aug. retail sales up 0.7% M/m; est. up 0.2% M/m
  • United Technologies sees 5k jobs at jeopardy in U.S. shutdown


    • Constellation Brands (STZ) 7:30am, $0.88
    • International Speedway (ISCA) 7:30am, $(0.01)


  • Malaysia Starts Gold Futures Trade as Investor Demand Grows
  • Rio Replacing Train Drivers Paid Like U.S. Surgeons: Commodities
  • WTI Crude Declines on Concern U.S. Shutdown May Curb Fuel Demand
  • Gold Falls on Signs of Slowing Demand in China; Palladium Drops
  • Copper Declines as U.S. Government Shutdown Enters Third Day
  • Wheat Rises as Rain Slows Winter Planting From Ukraine to Russia
  • Sugar Falls in New York for First Time This Week; Cocoa Climbs
  • BHP Sees Robust Commodity Demand Growth as China Urbanizes
  • Iron Ore Exports From Port Hedland Climb as China Purchases More
  • World Food Prices Drop to Lowest in Three Years on Grain Slide
  • Saudi Aramco Set to Narrow Light-Heavy Price Spread: Asia Crude
  • Europe Faces Winter Gas Squeeze Even With Faster Stores Refill
  • Gold Double Bottom Signals Rally to $1,425: Technical Analysis
  • Russia’s VTB Capital May Expand in Base Metals Trading Next Year


























The Hedgeye Macro Team













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