CAT: Management Playbook Missing?

We Were Mostly Right, But Too Optimistic On Restructuring



We’ve been “short” CAT for about the past year and a half, but this is the first quarter where we were not bearish enough.  We had expected management to present the strong corrective measures hinted at on the 2Q 2013 call.  Instead of a restructuring program, CAT management sounded a bit helpless – revenue was just dropping too fast.  As the totality of the miss and lack of credible response sink in, we expect continued pressure on CAT shares.  CAT’s 2014 outlook implies an earnings decline from an already weaker than expected 2013.  CAT sell-siders are going to need to cut 2014 to ~$5.50 from ~$7, give or take, which will be hard for even the 13 analysts with Buys to spin as positive.  CAT is not in a good way with the Street.


Troubled Industrial companies usually have a “go to” playbook.  They trash a quarter or two with one-time impairment charges and accruals, boosting future earnings with a current profit hit that gets written off as one-time.  Analysts may complain that those future higher earnings are just the result of previous charges, but the market usually gives a partial pass.  Then that troubled company does some sort of “portfolio reshaping”, with a few small divestitures and a few large acquisitions with generous acquisition accounting.  As the charges/accruals run out, they just rinse and repeat.  We’ve all seen variations on this before, with some companies achieving greater success than others.  It gets the management teams through the down-cycles with a bit less pain and bad press.


We had assumed CAT would adopt a version of this playbook in 3Q, finally recognizing that the market for resources-related capital equipment is going to grind lower, not turn higher.  Even if CAT management truly believes that mining capital spending will come back, a series of charges would make it look like they were doing something – even if it was only protecting headline EPS.  They could then do a few acquisitions (looking at you MTW – mining shovels and cranes scream synergies, right?).  Acquisitions could stem the nasty revenue decline, allow CAT to stop repurchasing overvalued shares and, most importantly, give management something less gloomy to talk about. 


On the earnings call, CAT oddly disavowed much of this strategy.  We are “short” and even we had expected more positive news on this front. 


“And in terms of physical capacity, it doesn't make any sense to close down an assembly line or get rid of machining equipment that you've put in place. So I think just from taking out physical capacity standpoint, there's just not a lot of scope to do that... But we're going to need the physical capacity.” – CAT 3Q 2013 Earnings Call


As we read that, our response is “actually, no, you are not going to need that capacity.”  While we could be wrong, that expectation lies at the core of our CAT thesis and rests on pretty solid data and reasoning.  Nonetheless, CAT should be telling us that it is rationalizing capacity and will take a bunch of charges – that is the playbook.  It will be harder to do that convincingly with the comments above.



Why Can’t CAT Follow The Playbook?


Perhaps management is unwilling to accept an implied mea culpa on billions in bad investments in mining equipment.  Action to reduce capacity or focus acquisitions elsewhere might be perceived as an admission of bad choices. 


The lack of M&A is less of a surprise; the current management team’s track record on acquisitions is poor.  The Board would probably be very skeptical of any proposed transaction.  Given the publicity around the Siwei fraud and the BUCY purchase price allocation, transaction execution would probably not be much fun, either.


Why not ‘kitchen sink’ 3Q and then do a deal?  Maybe CAT is waiting for 4Q 2013 to combine it with goodwill impairment testing.  Maybe they are just responding really, really slowly – even though they responded very quickly in 2009.  Maybe Kynikos’ “accounting issues”, the Siwei fraud and the huge dealer inventory problem have attracted the attention of regulators and management is distracted or wants to stop digging.  Maybe senior management is about to turn over and the Board wants to leave the restructuring to the next team.  The last one seems a good guess. 


If the market hates uncertainty, CAT’s lack of a reasonable playbook is likely to foster continued share price weakness. We may be reading this all completely wrong, but the lack of a clear response to CAT’s challenges struck us as a key aspect of CAT’s release.  What, exactly, are the longs looking forward to?  Are they just going to wait for resource-related capital spending to turn up (think 2025)?  As the charts below show, mining capital spending is already cyclically inflated and likely on its way lower.  Please do not email that now earnings expectations are low enough – we get that every quarter.  2013 is low enough now, excluding a possible 4Q goodwill impairment charge, but 2013 is almost over. Expectations for the out years are still too high in our view.


We have held three “black book” calls and written numerous notes outlining our bear case for CAT.  Our thesis has played out well so far, but all the while we had assumed that CAT would go to the playbook.  While it may be interesting to see what CAT does instead, we do not see alternatives that are likely to benefit the share price anytime soon.


CAT: Management Playbook Missing? - fdr1



CAT: Management Playbook Missing? - fdr2


In preparation for WYNN's F3Q 2013 earnings release tomorrow, we’ve put together the recent pertinent forward looking company commentary.




  • We are currently working on renovating the original Wynn Macau tower that's resulting in between 6% to 8% on the room base being out on any given day. Recently made some upgrades to the slot area, looking at making some possible changes to our original west casino space but nothing imminent on the casino front.


  • It's about $409 million spend through the second quarter. We'll spend about $300 million more in the second half of this year, probably another $1 billion spent on that in 2014 and it will be hopefully opening still in the first half of 2016.
  • Still trending on track for an early opening in January of 2016.
  • With our guaranteed maximum price contract, there's a additional payment that I guess paid to the contractor, if they hit that January date. It's a pretty sizeable number, not one that we're allowed to put out but it's a big enough number where they're pretty strongly incentivized to hit their early date too.


  • I've always been sort of neutral about using the word recovery. I think that Las Vegas is doing better than it did last year, but the extra capacity that came on during the recession was poorly timed.
  • In Vegas we continue to outperform. Vegas is a very competitive market. And despite that, we continue to outrun all of our peers.
  • We think the drivers [are] the non-casino end of the business.


  • It's going up.


  • So what we have done is gone onto a policy of happier in year-end. We just did that recently. In fact we just paid.. our last dividend, we're the happier for Macau. So expect that to continue. That was HK$0.50.


  • The mass market's high limit side is hypercompetitive, remains hypercompetitive, and we've just been focusing on taking care of our customers, delivering high-quality service and trying not to get into the heavy discounting promotional battle that's in the marketplace.


  • There's mild disruption. We're not doing heavy renovation. We're refurbishing our guest rooms. We're doing all 600 keys in our Wynn Tower, and we're just over 7 years old. They've been incredibly well received. We've taken the palette from Wynn Las Vegas Tower suites and rooms and so far the reaction has been excellent. We've done five floors so far. We'll be finished by late November.


  • Everyone is aware of the liquidity issue in China. We're very cautious of how we handle our credit and collections, so we really haven't felt any effect on our business or economy here yet.


  • We actually see a pick up across – besides north and also through the Guangdong province area. So, both sides are picking up.





Takeaway: Takeaway: Join us for a conference call with Guy Constant, CFO, of Brinker International.

Friday, October 25th at 11:00am EDT  

For details please email 


We will be hosting a call with the CFO of Brinker International, Guy Constant, to discuss 2Q14 results, the outlook for the balance of the year, and the emerging role of technology in the casual dining industry.



  • Bringing technology to the casual dining industry.
  • A more detailed look at 2Q14 results.
  • Why traffic trends in the casual dining industry look bleak.




Guy Constant is Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and President of Global Business Development for Brinker International.  In this role, he is responsible for overseeing Planning and Analysis, Mergers and Acquisitions, Investor Relations, Treasury, Tax and Accounting, Domestic Franchise Business Development, and Corporate, Chili’s and International Finance in addition to overall Development.  Guy added his global responsibilities in January 2013 and is responsible for overseeing global operations.




Please email or call to learn more about the event. Attendance is limited. Please note if you are not a current client of our Restaurants research there will be a fee associated with this call.




Howard Penney

Managing Director

Daily Trading Ranges

20 Proprietary Risk Ranges

Daily Trading Ranges is designed to help you understand where you’re buying and selling within the risk range and help you make better sales at the top end of the range and purchases at the low end.

Is Sprott Right on Gold?

Takeaway: Monetary policy and not perceived supply and demand is the driver of the price of gold.

As many of know, one of the most esteemed gold bugs of our generation is the venerable Eric Sprott of Sprott Asset Management in Toronto.  Since 2000, he has obviously been spot on in his bullish call on gold, although this year has obviously been not quite so shiny (so to speak) for the gold bulls.


Yesterday, Sprott wrote a note to the World Gold Council effectively questioning their projections for short term supply and demand for physical gold.  Admittedly, he actually raises some interesting points, in particular the idea that even though physical gold in ETFs has been in free fall this year, it appears unlikely to go much lower from current levels.


On a higher level, Sprott’s point that the available statistics on gold are misleading to the extent that they may be overstating the available supply of and thus negatively impacting the price of gold is an interesting one and worth investigating further.  In the chart below, we’ve re-created Sprott’s table that was attached in his letter to the World Gold Council.


Is Sprott Right on Gold? - Sprott Table


The table shows that demand for gold, according to Sprott, is clearly out stripping supply.  In his analysis, Sprott nets out both Chinese and Russian domestic production from the world market, which he argues never leave the country and are consumed directly internally.  He also excludes about 400 tonnes a year in technology demand, which he believes is double counted.  On the flip side, Sprott excludes what the GFMS dubs “OTC investment and stock flows”, which is a name for a plug of sorts that represents the gold traded in the OTC market.


In summary, based on Sprott’s analysis there will be a deficit of supply this year of more than 780 tonnes.  If he is correct, and if gold in fact trades off of supply and demand, then the sell-off in gold this year is truly because the consensus misunderstands the global supply and demand dynamics.  Or, alternatively, there are other key factors driving the price of gold, which we will touch on shortly.


The counterpoint to Sprott’s case is that aggregate gold demand is down based on the World Gold Council’s numbers for the year-to-date.   According to the World Gold Council, demand actually fell by 12% in Q2 2013 from Q2 1012 to 856.3 tonnes.  This is just about 20% below the 5-year average quarterly demand for gold.  Clearly, this is a very different story than Sprott’s numbers outline.  In fact, as we show in the table below, the world gold council shows an over-supply of gold in the year-to-date. 


Is Sprott Right on Gold? - WGC Table


Sprott’s full year estimates vary from the World Gold Council’s annualized numbers by 1,215 tonnes in aggregate.  On a notional basis, the supply and demand difference between the two sets of estimates is $52 billion.  This is a difference that is big enough to drive a very large truck through.  So, who is right?  Well, simply, the market seems to be saying the World Gold Council has nailed this one. 


One point both groups agree on, which is very transparent data, is that the financial demand for gold via ETFs has fallen dramatically this year.  Through the first two quarters of the year, the gold held by ETFs has declined by 579 tonnes.


But given the clear opacity in global supply and demand numbers for gold, we would actually posit another thesis, which is that perceived supply and demand is not the key driver of the price of gold at all and both sets of estimates are merely noise.  In the chart below, we show one of the strongest correlations we’ve seen over the last five years, which is the gold price versus the Federal Reserve balance sheet.


Is Sprott Right on Gold? - Gold vs Fed BS 102313


From 2008 – 2012, this correlation was about as tight as we’ve seen in our factoring models with a r-squared of 0.90.  The chart also shows that in 2013, this relationship broke down in emphatic fashion.  Investors began to sell gold as economic data accelerated and in effect began front running a change in policy course from loosening to tightening.


The largest decline in demand for gold this year has come from a decline in demand from ETFs, or the financial markets.    As the chart below highlights, the price of gold and value of gold in ETFs has increased in lockstep for the last decade and declined in lock step starting about a year ago with the initial correction in the price of gold leading the exit of physical gold from ETFs.


Is Sprott Right on Gold? - Gold   Total ETF Holdings


Ultimately, the true supply and demand dynamics for gold are difficult to determine, but we would argue that on some level they should likely be ignored.  The best predictor of gold prices will continue to be the direction of monetary policy both in the United States.  Loose monetary policy and a subsequent weak dollar, will create monetary inflation and inflate both the price of gold in real terms and lead to increased demand for gold as a store of value.


In the long term chart below, we see this relationship play out in spades going back to 1969.   Consistently, a protracted increase in the value of the dollar has lead to a commensurate decline in the value of gold and vice versa.  Interestingly, the recent spike we have seen in the value of gold in the last ten years coincides nicely with the advent of financial demand for gold via ETFs.  But undoubtedly just as ETFs have created a multiplier on the way up, they have potential for creating a multiplier on the way down.


Is Sprott Right on Gold? -  USD vs Gold 


Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research



Meanwhile…In Ponzi-Land

By Christian Drake


With the Fed balance sheet expansion bonanza continuing unabated, it feels like the right time to re-highlight the (incestuous) Federal Reserve-Treasury relationship in the context of quantitative easing. It is a trivial data highlight, but one that is disturbing, perversely amusing, and well-worth revisiting every once in a while: Fed Remittances to the Treasury.


Meanwhile…In Ponzi-Land - donk


To ensure we are not misrepresenting the circularity of the relationship, below is the Fed’s own description of what it does with the money (i.e. the interest earned on the treasury & MBS debt it holds) it is paid by the Treasury Department.


(Spoiler: it just gives it back)


Associated with the substantial change in the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has been a notable change in the Federal Reserve’s net earnings. The Federal Reserve generates a substantial portion of its income from the interest‐earning assets held by the Federal Reserve Banks, particularly in the SOMA portfolio.


Meanwhile…In Ponzi-Land - DRAKE


Federal Reserve expenses include operating expenses necessary to carry out its responsibilities, as well as interest expense related to certain liabilities of the Federal Reserve Banks; currently, the largest interest expense stems from reserve balances. Federal Reserve income, less expenses, plus profit and loss on sales of securities, is referred to as “net income.”


The FOMC pursues its statutorily mandated goals of full employment and stable prices, and the resulting net income is simply a by‐product of the actions taken. The Federal Reserve is statutorily required to pay dividends on capital paid in. Under Board of Governors policy, after retaining sufficient earnings to equate surplus capital to capital paid‐in, the Federal Reserve Banks remit residual net income to the U.S. Treasury. (emphasis ours) - Fed Paper


In essence, the Fed keeps enough “income” to pay interest on reserves and fund its own operations, then gives anything left over back to the Treasury.


So, in the context of QE: the Fed prints money and buys Treasuries >>> the Treasury pays the Fed interest on its holdings >>>  the Fed gives the money ($90 billion in 2012) back to the Treasury.


The net result of this is that the U.S. benefits in two primary ways. First, with the Fed in the market, Treasury yields stay lower than they would otherwise and sovereign cost of capital remains artificially depressed. Second, because the Fed simply gives interest earnings back to the Treasury, debt is artificially lower than it would be otherwise as well.


Click here to watch Video > McCullough to Bernanke: Get Out of the Way


The best part is that this has scale. So long as rates remain low and interest income rises faster than interest expense, the larger the Fed balance sheet grows and the larger percent of total debt outstanding the Fed holds, the larger the benefit to the treasury on the back end. Further, if the Fed balance sheet grows at a premium to deficit spending, we can continue to issue more net debt at a lower incremental cost.


Everyone wins. Right?


Christian Drake is a Senior Analyst at Hedgeye Risk Management.



Takeaway: In the note below, we respond to a collection of our most thoughtful client inquiries regarding asset allocation of late.


  1. It feels like what has been working on an intermediate-term TREND basis is now starting to break down and/or underperform, while the things that haven’t been working on that duration are starting to break out and/or outperform. Is this something you guys are seeing as well? How do we take advantage of this shift?
  2. What does “Down Dollar, Down Rates” mean to the US economy? Aren’t lower interest rates good for the consumer?
  3. If the dollar and rates break down, would that make you bullish on emerging markets?
  4. So what do I do with all of this as it relates to my gross and net exposures?


It’s no secret that US monetary and fiscal policy is generating a fair amount of consternation, confusion and contempt among global financial market participants.


As one of the few non-buyside teams that possess a consistent and repeatable process for interpreting and risk-managing the never-ending stream of market signals and economic data, we have been humbled by a large number of thoughtful questions over the past couple of days. As such, we thought we’d pull together a quick synopsis of said client interactions with the intent of supplementing your respective internal debates.


Q: It feels like what has been working on an intermediate-term TREND basis is now starting to break down and/or underperform, while the things that haven’t been working on that duration are starting to break out and/or outperform. Is this something you guys are seeing as well? How do we take advantage of this shift?

Between the politically compromised FOMC and the highly politicized, dysfunctional mockery of government on Capitol Hill, it’s becoming increasingly clear to us that both market participants and economic agents are interpreting recent policy deltas as supportive of a return to the pre-2013 Global Macro playbook of being addicted to the drug that is QE. At least that’s precisely what the math suggests.


The TREND-duration directional relationship between the USD and US equities/US equity market volatility has completely reversed in recent weeks. Additionally, the positive correlation between the USD and US interest rates is picking up steam amid what appears to be the start of a #WeakDollar + #RatesFalling regime. The things that are typically inversely correlated to the USD are becoming dramatically more so as investors respond to the US dollar’s accelerated breakdown.




The US Dollar’s long-term TAIL line of support is under attack – as is the UST 10Y Yield’s intermediate-term TREND line of support. Is this a head-fake or will these new regimes hold in spite of a positive seasonal tailwind in labor market data from now through MAR? At the bare minimum, preliminary analysis of Janet Yellen’s recent contributions to the FOMC suggests that an #IndefinitelyDovish Fed is NOT a low-probability event. If you have yet to review our SEP 23 note titled, “THINKING LIKE A FED HEAD”, we strongly encourage you to do so; its conclusions are looking increasingly prescient by the minute.






After underperforming all year, higher-yielding equities are starting to outperform. While it’s too early to emphatically proclaim a reversal of the existing trend,  the developing quantitative signals highlighted above might lend some expediency to the development of a new one.




Commodities are the lone holdout from an asset class perspective, with both Gold and the CRB Index continuing to make lower-highs amid a bearish TREND and TAIL setup.






We continue to have a zero percent asset allocation to commodities (and fixed income). Make no mistake, however, we’d be buyers of Bernanke’s commodity and bond bubbles if the quantitative signals support that. Like most consistently effective asset allocators, we have no qualms about going both ways and changing our minds on a particular market when the quantitative and fundamental signals support making the switch.




As the chart above highlights, our dynamic asset allocation model is heavily invested in international equities and foreign currencies. We remain the #EuroBulls as the Germans and Brits looks to increasingly take share from the US in the global capital allocation pie chart. Remember, capital chases yield and currency appreciation – with the latter being another way to state that capital tends to flee from domestic currency debasement by seeking out inflation hedge assets, including other currencies.





Q: What does “Down Dollar, Down Rates” mean to the US economy? Aren’t lower interest rates good for the consumer?

Regarding the first part of the question, the confluence of #WeakDollar and #RatesFalling has historically been associated with economic environments that are characterized by slowing growth and accelerating inflation. Conversely, the polar opposite economic setup (growth accelerating as inflation decelerates) has historically been associated with a #StrongDollar + #RatesRising regime.




In our 4Q13 Macro Themes deck, we purposefully led off with two potential economic scenarios for the US here in the fourth quarter. As of now, it appears increasingly likely that a trip to Quad #3 (growth slowing as inflation accelerates) is in the cards. If our historical back-tests provide any insight, that setup should apply downward pressure upon the domestic equity market and upward pressure upon domestic credit spreads.




Regarding the latter part of the question, Keith had this to say in response to the client’s inquiry:


“Lower rates have been capitalized on by anyone w/ half a brain. That’s not to say you don’t get the brainless to refi this next go-round, but the pools of people affected get smaller with each higher-lows in rates, and the real upside to rates rising is in real-incomes rising alongside the savings rate.”


Q: If the dollar and rates break down, would that make you bullish on emerging markets?

Absolutely. We were wise to suspend our street-leading bearish thesis on emerging markets by covering our EEM short on SEP 9; we followed that up with an extremely detailed report on SEP 19 with how to play emerging markets across countries and asset classes from here – the conclusions of which remain relevant today.


To recap our views on emerging markets, the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF declined a cumulative -2.4% from its APR 23 addition to our Best Ideas list – which came in conjunction with our 100+ slide Black Book titled, “EMERGING MARKET CRISES: IDENTIFYING, CONTEXTUALIZING AND NAVIGATING KEY RISKS IN THE NEXT CYCLE” – to our SEP 9 cover. The aforementioned delta is well shy of the +5.9% gain for the S&P 500 over that time frame and was inclusive of a maximum drawdown of -12.8% during the ~2M period from APR 23 to JUN 24. The EEM ETF is up +4.3% since we covered our short on SEP 9 and is now bullish TREND.




What’s outperforming? To a large degree, the bombed-out markets which became dramatically oversold during the prolonged EM rout which took place earlier this year.




While it would be analytically reckless for us to tell you to go out and speculate in the most risky of markets at the current juncture, we do feel confident in saying that in the absence of a clear uptrend in both the USD and US interest rates, investors should resort to trading emerging markets on idiosyncratic country fundamentals – something we highlighted earlier this week in a deep dive on India’s evolving political landscape.


Q: So what do I do with all of this as it relates to my gross and net exposures?

In a word, #GetActive. That means lower your gross exposure, tighten your net exposure and trade the ranges. Don’t make it any more complicated than that amid all of this policy uncertainty – especially if you’ve also had a good year and don’t want to give back any YTD gains.




Many thanks for your time and please keep the questions coming; we are always in the market for thought-provoking discourse.


Have a wonderful evening,


Darius Dale

Associate – Macro Team

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 80.43%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.34%