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ECB Cuts, EURO Plunges!

Who saw the 25bp interest rate cut coming this morning?  We didn’t!  In fact, what puzzles us is that we saw no need to use monetary “powder” this month given improving economic data across the region supporting our call for #GrowthAccelerating. Interestingly, Mario Draghi’s economic and inflation assessment of the Eurozone also didn’t change much today – while he underlined a forecast of a “prolonged period of low inflation”, his subdued inflation outlook (below the 2% target) had been well communicated over the last two meetings, including forecasts for low levels of inflation to extend late into 2014. So why then the cut today, especially if, as Draghi says, the level of the EUR/USD does not factory into the policy rate consideration? ... You got us!

 

Alas, we have to play the game that is front of us.

 

If you’ve been following our research, you’d know one of our Q4 macro themes is #EuroBulls, which included a bullish call on the EUR/USD and German and UK equities.

 

Today’s decision certainly moved markets:  The EUR/USD is down as much as -1.2% intraday, and European equities are shooting to the upside.  From here we’re going to re-access our positioning around the #EuroBulls theme.  However, this morning Keith made some changes to our Real-Time Alerts:

  • We sold our long EUR/USD position (via the etf FXE)
  • We sold our long Germany equity position (EWG)
  • We sold our long Swiss equity position (EWL)

On the currency front, the signal from the central bank currency wars between the USD and EUR is a lot less clear this morning, whereas before this morning we expected the Bernanke/Yellen no taper call (likely out to March 2014) to weaken the Greenback vs the EUR. Of note, we think a relative winner in all of this is the British Pound, which we’re currently long of in our Real-Time Alerts via the eft FXB

 

On the equities front, before today’s meeting we were seeing a strong correlation between the EUR/USD and the DAX.  That’s obviously inflected today. Today’s decision could well facilitate more liquidity in the system, or at least a positive psychological response, which could be bullish for equities. On this front we’re still going to let the dust settle on today’s decision.

 

To read a copy of Draghi’s prepared remarks click here.

 

Here’s a look at our EUR/USD levels going into today’s decision:

 

ECB Cuts, EURO Plunges!  - zzz. eur usd

 

Matthew Hedrick

Associate


INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING

Takeaway: This week we're able to state definitively what's happening in the labor market, but what's less clear is why confidence is plunging.

The Jury is Back and Has Reached a Verdict (on the labor market)

Last week we lamented the inability to conclude whether a negative inflection in the labor market was occurring based on lagged CA state level data. This week can speak more definitively. The labor market remains strong. The chart below shows the Y/Y trend in NSA initial claims nationally. The red line highlights the trend rate of improvement prior to CA's IT-related fiasco. The data has now resumed that pre-CA trend rate of improvement.

 

We won't belabor the point other than to say that the labor market appears not to have skipped a step as we had potentially feared. One thing we will call out, however, is that consumer confidence/comfort has fallen to a new YTD low. We include a chart later in this note illustrating that. The chart shows the 4-week rolling average of the weekly Bloomberg consumer comfort survey, but the weekly data is no less reassuring. It's unusual to see a divergence between the labor market and the consumer comfort survey data. We'll take a closer look and report back with any worthwhile findings next week.

 

 INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 20

 

Nuts & Bolts 

Prior to revision, initial jobless claims fell 4k to 336k from 340k WoW, as the prior week's number was revised up by 5k to 345k.

 

The headline (unrevised) number shows claims were lower by 9k WoW. Meanwhile, the 4-week rolling average of seasonally-adjusted claims fell -9.25k WoW to 347.25k.

 

The 4-week rolling average of NSA claims, which we consider a more accurate representation of the underlying labor market trend, was -6.2% lower YoY, which is a sequential improvement versus the previous week's YoY change of -3.4%

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 1

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 2

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 3

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 4

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 5

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 6

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 7

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 8

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 9

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 10

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 11

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 12

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 13

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 19

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 14

 

Yield Spreads

The 2-10 spread rose 12 basis points WoW to 235 bps. 4Q13TD, the 2-10 spread is averaging 228 bps, which is lower by 6 bps relative to 3Q13.

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 15

 

INITIAL CLAIMS: THE LABOR MARKET RETURNS TO STEADY IMPROVEMENT, BUT CONFIDENCE IS DROPPING - 16

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA

 

Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT


 


3Q13 GDP: Juiced By Inventories

Summary:  The strength in headline GDP is belied by rising inventory accumulation and decelerating consumption growth. Residential Investment drove further acceleration in total Private Investment while Government Expenditures and Net Exports both returned to positive GDP contributions. All in, domestic economic activity was largely flat sequentially with the headline print modestly overstating underlying strength.  

 

 

REAL GDP:  +2.8% QoQ (vs. 2.5% prior and +2.0% expected)

C: Consumption growth decelerating to +1.5% QoQ from 1.8% last quarter.  Contributed +1.04 to Total GDP.  Sequential growth in Durables was strong, NonDurables moderate, Services flat

I: Investment growth accelerating to +9.5% QoQ.  Biggest contributor to Total GDP at +1.45.

G: Government expenditure growth moving back to positive (barely) after 3 qtrs of negative growth.  Contributing 0.04 to Total GDP.

E: Exports (+4.5% QoQ) growing at a premium to imports with Net Exports contributing +0.31 to Total GDP.

 

Inventories:  Inventories helped juice Headline GDP growth with inventory accumulation providing a positive contribution of +0.8 to GDP.  Up from a positive contribution of +0.4 last quarter. 

 

Inflation:  Core PCE Inflation accelerated to 1.4%, off the near record low of 0.6% recorded in 2Q13.  With Core PCE remaining the Fed’s preferred inflation reading, at 60bps below the 2.0% target, inflationary pressures should not serve as a constraint to a continuation of easy policy. 

 

Real Final Sales (GDP less Inventory Change):  Still healthy at +2.0% QoQ vs +2.1% in 2Q

 

Gross Domestic Purchases (GDP less exports, including imports):  Flat sequentially at 2.5%

 

Real Final Sales to Domestic Purchasers (GDP less exports less inventory change):  In measuring total U.S. demand from both domestic and international sources this measure, arguably,offers the cleanest read on the health of the domestic private sector. Growth in Final Sales to Domestic Purchasers decelerated modestly from  2.1%in 2Q13  to 1.7% 3Q13.   

 

Consumption:  Consumption growth decelerated 30bps QoQ to +1.50% in the third quarter – the lowest pace of growth since 2Q11. 

 

The deceleration was not unexpected as disposable personal income growth, and consumer spending by extension, was constrained in 3Q by the ongoing reduction in the federal workforce and the implementation of sequestration related furloughing of federal employees.   

 

Federal job loss and furloughing has not been inconsequential as salary and wage income for government workers (~17% of the national workforce)  has been growing at -0.6%. 

 

Private sector personal income growth has emerged as a positive offset, however, with wage/salary income accelerating in recent months.   Forthcoming results out of the bipartisan budget committee (tasked with finding a budget resolution and alternate path to sequestration) in early January 2014 will have a meaningful impact on the trajectory of household disposable income and aggregate consumption growth.  

 

Given the existing constraints, and a rising savings rate, consumption growth in 3Q13 could probably be best characterized as 'decent'. 

 

We’ll provide an update on consumer income/spending alongside the detailed release tomorrow. 

 

3Q13 GDP: Juiced By Inventories - 3Q13 GDP Table

 

3Q13 GDP: Juiced By Inventories - GDP   Contribution

 

3Q13 GDP: Juiced By Inventories - UNITED STATES

 

Christian B. Drake

Associate 


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IGT: PUNT ON 1ST DOWN

Defensive pressure starts a quarter early

 

 

IGT should not have been “extremely pleased” to report 2013 results and adjusted FQ4 EPS of $0.30, a sizeable miss from consensus of $0.34.  We suspect whisper expectations were for higher EPS.  We and others thought IGT may have been low balling FQ4 when they didn’t change annual guidance following a Q3 beat.  Our focus had been on the 2014/2015 headwinds as discussed in our recent “SLOTHY GROWTH” Black Book and indeed, the company gave pretty weak guidance that probably includes the accretive impact from an announced $200MM accelerated repurchase program.

 

FQ4 was bad across the board.  Here are some quick takeaways and our earnings table:

  • Guidance was weak and likely includes about $0.03 in accretion from the announced $200 million accelerated share repurchase. 
  • Commentary on the recognition of other significant items that are currently not determinable is also sketchy.
    • “GAAP earnings per share from continuing operations for fiscal year 2014 will include acquisition-related expenses, primarily related to DoubleDown, the amount of which is not determinable at this time.  The company may also recognize other items that are not currently determinable, but may be significant. For this reason, the company is unable to provide estimates for full-year GAAP earnings per share from continuing operations at this time.”
  • We already had $200MM in share buyback for our $1.35 estimate, although not accelerated - $0.01 accretive to our model
  • Gaming Ops below projection on all metrics – revs down, yields down, machine count down. What else can we say?
  • Sold 33% more units in NA than last year's but revenues were down 5% YoY due to a 29% decline in ASPs blamed on “product mix” and “targeted promotional activity”
    • The ASP decline isn’t just due to mix.  We had factored in that ~3,500 NA units would be sold at a steep discount of $9k (Video Poker) and used a $13k number for the balance of our estimate – which is about $1k below the average ASP in NA.  Whatever promotions IGT is offering are material.  Poor mix can also imply that their newer higher price boxes aren’t selling and customers are gravitating towards cheaper fixes.  Either way it’s not good.
    • To put the $10k handle ASP in perspective, IGT hasn’t had ASPs below $11k in any quarter since 2006
  • The only positive data point on Product sales was international box shipments which were up for the first time in 4 quarters
  • Product sales gross margins were terrible and reflective of the low ASPs and promotional activity
    • Both NA and International gross margins were the lowest we’ve seen in 3 years.
  • The bright spot on a YoY basis should’ve been Interactive but even here they missed the revenue number with MAU and DAU below our projections
    • Revenues for Double Down were flat QoQ. This is the first time IGT has reported zero QoQ growth for the crown jewel of their portfolio. 
  • SG&A up due to “increased advertising expenses in correlation with growing social gaming revenues” for the Interactive Division among other things.  Not good for this division where growth is clearly slowing. 
    • SG&A increased $21MM QoQ while social gaming revenues were FLAT.  If we strip out all of the other items on IGT’s list of increased expenses, we are still left with a big (~$13MM) QoQ increase on no revenue growth.
      • $2.4MM legal expense
      • G2E expenses are probably in the neighborhood of $3-4MM
      • Higher bad debt expense assumed to be $3MM

IGT: PUNT ON 1ST DOWN - igt


MACAU UNDER THE HOOD - OCTOBER

Strong metrics should carry into November.

 

 

Consistent with what we heard anecdotally, the underlying Macau metrics look even better than the great headline of 32% YoY growth.  The upside to analysts’ initial expectations of 15-20% growth was broad based.  Hold was normal and Mass was off the charts.  VIP volume and revenue growth was at 2 yr highs.  Going forward, we think November could be another 20%+ growth month.  Even December, which confronts a very difficult 20% comp, could be up in the mid-teens.

 

Looking at the concessionaires, LVS performed much better than the headline sequential share decline had indicated.  In reality, October was one of the best months of the year for LVS.  WYNN looks like a same-store growth story again.  In terms of market shares, SJM and Galaxy were the clear winners.  Our favorite stocks remain WYNN and LVS.  

 

We will have a more detailed note out later but here are our initial takeaways:

 

 

Market

  • Including estimated direct play, VIP hold was a normal 3.04% and slightly higher than last year
  • Assuming the same hold % in each period, GGR would’ve grown 27% vs actual of 32%
  • Mass grew a whopping 45%, the highest YoY growth in almost 2 years
  • Rolling Chip volume climbed 21%, the most in almost 2 years as well
  • VIP revenue accelerated 28%
  • Slots were the laggard but still grew 10%, slightly above the YTD average

LVS

  • Overall share fell to 20.3%, its lowest level of the year.  However, the underlying metrics suggest this was actually a terrific month for LVS.
  • However, Mass share increased 130bps from the trailing 3 month average to 31.0% - its highest Mass share since May of 2009
  • LVS held very low on VIP.  Including direct VIP, we estimate hold was only 2.25%, 65bps below normal.
  • So while Rolling Chip volume grew 34% (the 2nd highest of the year), VIP revenue only grew 8%. 
  • Rolling Chip volume share was also the 2nd highest of the year

WYNN

  • Grew GGR 35%, the highest growth rate in 2 years
  • More importantly, Mass grew 29% (also the highest in 2 years)
  • Hold % was normal but significantly above last year
  • Mass share was in-line with recent trends but we expect that to grow with the more aggressive marketing and promotional push at the property

MPEL

  • MPEL’s share continued to decline, driven again by VIP volume
  • Mass share was fairly consistent with trend but Rolling Chip volume share hit its lowest level since November 2007, pre-City of Dreams
  • Hold percentage was normal and in-line with last year
  • On a YoY basis, MPEL’s Mass revenue growth led the market at 77% and was the highest rate since March of 2012 – no issues with their Mass business for now
  • Rolling Chip volume only grew 6% YoY

MGM

  • MGM share at 9.1% fell well below recent trend
  • Hold was below normal in both periods
  • Mass and Rolling Chip share was also below recent trend
  • GGR YoY growth was in-line with the market
  • Overall, MGM looks good on a YoY basis but sequentially weaker

GALAXY

  • Galaxy recorded the biggest sequential jump in share driven mostly by high hold percentage although volumes were strong
  • Hold percentage was well above normal and last year
  • Galaxy had the highest YoY GGR growth rate among the operators at 44%, again driven by high hold %

SJM

  • GGR share at 26.0%, its highest since March driven by high hold
  • GGR grew at the highest rate in 2 years

MACAU UNDER THE HOOD - OCTOBER - macau


ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equities Follow Through on Record Week...Fixed Income Weak

Takeaway: Equity funds followed through on their prior weekly record with another strong inflow in the most recent 5 day period; Bonds were weak again

Investment Company Institute Mutual Fund Data and ETF Money Flow:

 

Total equity mutual fund flow followed through after the record week last week with another strong inflow of $7.9 billion for the 5 day period ending October 30th, well above the 2013 weekly average inflow of $2.9 billion. Domestic equity mutual fund flow was $4.2 billion in the most recent period with world equity funds collecting $3.6 billion in new investor capital.  Total equity mutual fund trends in 2013 now tally the aforementioned $2.9 billion weekly average inflow, a total reversal from 2012's $3.0 billion weekly outflow 

 

Fixed income mutual funds continued persistent outflows during the most recent 5 day period with another $4.1 billion withdrawn from bond funds. This week's draw down worsened sequentially from the $2.3 billion outflow the week prior which has now forced the 2013 weekly average for all fixed income funds to a $798 million outflow which compares to the strong weekly inflow of $5.8 billion throughout 2012

 

ETFs experienced declining weekly subscriptions in the most recent 5 day period, with both equity and fixed income ETFs seeing smaller inflows week-to-week. Passive equity products took in $8.7 billion for the 5 day period ending October 30th, a sequential weekly decline, with bond ETFs experiencing a $551 million inflow, also a smaller inflow than the week prior. ETF products also reflect the 2013 asset allocation shift, with the weekly averages for equity products up year-over-year versus bond ETFs which are seeing weaker year-over-year results

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equities Follow Through on Record Week...Fixed Income Weak - ICI chart 9

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equities Follow Through on Record Week...Fixed Income Weak - ICI chart 10

 

 

For the week ending October 30th, the Investment Company Institute reported another strong weekly subscription within equity funds with another $7.9 billion inflow into total equity mutual funds. The breakout between domestic and world stock funds separated to a $4.2 billion inflow into domestic stock funds and a $3.6 billion inflow into international or world stock funds. Both results for the most recent 5 day period within stock funds were above the 2013 weekly averages, with the domestic stock fund 2013 weekly mean at just a $442 million inflow and world stock funds having averaged a $2.5 billion inflow during 2013. The aggregate inflow for all stock funds now sits at a $2.9 billion inflow, a complete reversal from the $3.0 billion outflow averaged per week in 2012.

 

On the fixed income side, bond funds continued their weak trends for the 5 day period ended October 30th with outflows staying persistent within the asset class. The aggregate of taxable and tax-free bond funds booked a $4.1 billion outflow, a sequential deterioration from the $2.3 billion lost in the 5 day period prior. Both categories of fixed income contributed to outflows with taxable bonds having redemptions of $3.3 billion, which joined the $789 million outflow in tax-free or municipal bonds. Taxable bonds have now had outflows in 17 of the past 22 weeks and municipal bonds having had 22 consecutive weeks of outflow. While the sharp outflows that marked most of the summer and the start of the third quarter have moderated, the appetite for bonds has hardly rebounded. The 2013 weekly average for fixed income fund flows is now a $798 million weekly outflow, a sharp reversal from the $5.8 billion weekly inflow averaged last year.

 

Hybrid mutual funds, products which combine both equity and fixed income allocations, continue to be the most stable category within the ICI survey with another $2.0 billion inflow in the most recent 5 day period. Hybrid funds have had inflow in 18 of the past 20 weeks with the 2013 weekly average inflow now at $1.6 billion, a strong advance versus the 2012 weekly average inflow of $911 million.

 

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equities Follow Through on Record Week...Fixed Income Weak - ICI chart 2

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equities Follow Through on Record Week...Fixed Income Weak - ICI chart 3

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equities Follow Through on Record Week...Fixed Income Weak - ICI chart 4

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equities Follow Through on Record Week...Fixed Income Weak - ICI chart 5

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equities Follow Through on Record Week...Fixed Income Weak - ICI chart 6

 

 

Passive Products:

 

 

Exchange traded funds booked inflows on both sides of the ledger with equity ETFs posting a $8.7 billion inflow, a sequential decline from the very strong $13.0 billion subscription the week prior. The 2013 weekly average for stock ETFs is now a $3.4 billion weekly inflow, a 50% improvement from last year's $2.2 billion weekly average inflow.

 

Bond ETFs managed an inflow for the 5 day period ending October 30th with a $551 million subscription, also a sequential decline from the week prior which netted a $1.3 billion inflow for passive bond products. Taking in consideration this most recent data, 2013 averages for bond ETFs are flagging with just a $308 million average weekly inflow for bond ETFs, much lower than the $1.0 billion average weekly inflow for 2012.

 

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equities Follow Through on Record Week...Fixed Income Weak - ICI chart 7

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equities Follow Through on Record Week...Fixed Income Weak - ICI chart 8

 

 

Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA

 

 


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