This note was originally published at 8am on October 30, 2013 for Hedgeye subscribers.
“It’s imperative that the Fed begins to taper.”
Not to be confused with what the CEO of Blackrock (and PIMCO) and anyone who was running levered long Bernanke’s Bond Bubble was saying from June to August (when they weren’t positioned for bonds getting smoked), this is new.
We should have been tapering now for a few months so, on the margin this is progress, I guess. Don’t forget that guys like Fink and Bill Gross get paid to “advise” our un-elected Fed Chairman on timing. There’s no conflict of interest there vs The Rest of Us, of course.
Fink went on to say in Chicago yesterday that “we’ve see real bubble-like markets again. We’ve had a huge increase in the equity market. We’ve seen corporate-debt spreads narrow dramatically.” Ya think? Bubbles, bubbles, and more bubbles. Now our central planning overlords are going to time both how we inflate and pop them. #cool
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
I’ll be seeing some of our top clients in NYC today, and it’s always interesting to see the whites of people’s eyes on USA central-market-planning days. When Bernanke shocked anyone who wasn’t on the inside of it all that he wasn’t going to taper on September 18th, I was seeing clients in Chicago. The look on people’s faces as they checked their iPhones and crackberries was flabbergasting.
I highly doubt Bernanke is going to signal a taper today. But I highly doubted he was going to cancel his entire “communication process” and not taper last time! So what do I know. I’m just a man in a room trying to let Mr. Market tell me who has inside information.
What I do know, and to a degree this is Fink’s blazingly obvious point, is that into both month-end (and Mutual Fund year-end) tomorrow we have a US stock market that is bubbling up to all-time highs.
Check this puppy out:
Now if you’ve been A) bullish on US stocks and B) bearish on Gold, Commodities, and Bonds for most of 2013 like we have, you’re pseudo cool with all of this. Commodities (CRB Index, 19 Commodities) are actually -5.1% YTD, so being completely out of some big asset classes has been as important as being long US growth when it was actually accelerating.
Now, not ironically, US #GrowthSlowing is what’s starting to marinate, sequentially (month-over-month) in SEP-OCT:
Isn’t this whole Bernanke Down Dollar, Rate Repression thing awesome?
To review our playbook, when they are happening at the same time:
In other words, Fink finally has his policy lobby to Bernanke right. There is no US Growth Policy other than letting economic gravity occur. The only hope for 3-4% US growth (and a 4% 10yr Yield, $65 Oil, etc.) is via a consistent #StrongDollar Tapering Policy.
#StrongCurrency is cool guys. India is doing it. The British are doing it. So now all we need are all of our wonderfully and politically connected men and women of the United States of Centrally Planned America to do it.
Fink just did it. My boys tell me that back in the day he was a big Jimmy Carter Democrat. Today, he’s plugged into Obama’s ear too. So he can do this! Warren, you can do it too. Yes You Can!
If the US doesn’t do this, Europe will be the better place to allocate your capital in 2014. If the USA’s said free-market leadership signs off on Burning The Buck and Japanese Rate Repression, the Euro, Pound, and Swiss Franc are going up. If that continues to happen, you’ll basically have the exact same call we made on US growth almost a year ago occur in Europe:
At the beginning of Q413 we called this Top Global Macro Theme #EuroBulls. And with Spanish consumer prices (CPI) dropping to NEGATIVE year-over-year in the most recent month (-0.1% y/y OCT vs +0.9% in SEP), we’ll reiterate that call again this morning.
As for the popping of the bubbles, to paraphrase my pal Hemingway, at first it happens slowly (#GrowthSlowing), then like in November of 2007, it happens all at once. After locking in its YTD low on September 2nd (when we were long growth), our Bull/Bear Sentiment Spread just ripped to a fresh YTD high this morning – that’s a +60% move to the bullish side in 2 months. #bubbly
Our immediate-term Risk Ranges are now:
UST 10yr Yield 2.40-2.60%
Spain’s IBEX 9588-10,097
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
Funding dividends out of free cash flow ... what a novel concept!
If any US E&P has an asset base potentially suitable for an upstream MLP, it would be Denbury Resources (DNR), the $7B enhanced oil recovery specialist. For months DNR has contemplated new strategic initiatives, including forming an MLP. But on Monday 11/11, DNR officially put the kibosh on that idea, and we couldn’t help but smile as CEO Phil Rykhoek gave the reasons why there is “no clear long-term benefit for Denbury shareholders” (Slide 16) in forming an MLP.
We have been, and remain, highly critical of and negative on upstream MLPs for many of the reasons that Rykhoek cited at the DNR Analyst Day. In our view, DNR’s decision to not go the upstream MLP route is a blow to the viability and sustainability of the structure and current E&P MLPs. While the market is punishing DNR in the short-term for not “playing the game” (down 8.5% this week), we think that Rykhoek will eventually look smart for this decision. And after listening to that Analyst Day call, we are interested in doing work on DNR … biased long side.
Below we list some quotes from DNR's CEO Phil Rykhoek on Upstream MLPs (our emphasis):
“If you look at the way the MLPs operate, most of them spend more than they make every year. So how do they handle that? Well, they continually raise equity, they continually buy things, and that is how they keep it going.”
"But on a day-to-day operating philosophy, many of them, if you look at it, spend more than they make. Now they argue what maintenance capital is versus growth capital, et cetera. As I will show you on another slide, we would like to operate a bit differently and a bit more conservatively, and so we would expect to fund dividends out of operating cash flow. So if you have $100, that $100 would be used for CapEx and dividends, and for the most part, we would be self-funded."
"We weren't sure how it would translate into the marketplace if we ran MLP kind of differently, so that is kind of what that comment means. So long story short, we felt like it was better to not do an upstream MLP. And I think most of our shareholders would agree with that one, in fact, a very high percentage.”
“We expect to fund our dividends with cash flow. So hopefully we don't get into any debate or discussion on what is maintenance capital. We hope to make it very transparent. Going back to the $100 example, you have $100, you might spend $80 on CapEx and $20 on dividends, but it would all generally be funded with cash flow.”
“If we have extra [cash flow], then we have the option of typical things that you can do at an E&P company. You can increase your CapEx; you can reduce your debt. But the other thing that we want to have in our portfolio is that we can repurchase shares.”
“The biggest positive I think for an MLP is that they usually trade at a higher multiple. Therefore, if you are using the currency to buy things, it's a good currency for acquisitions. If you trade at an 8 multiple versus a 6, if you're going to use equity to buy things, obviously we'd prefer that. Of course, when you look at our situation, we very seldom use equity to buy things.”
“MLPs have IDRs; that is true. That is a potential value. And, of course, it raises capital. So to the extent you take it public, you raise money. Now there's a trade-off to that one, in the sense that if you look at everything as a whole, if you issue equity, you've also increased dilution. So it's not a free lunch, so to speak. And so we felt like we could manage it basically without having to raise capital.”
“We basically felt like the negatives were stronger than the positives.”
“I think it was at the Citi conference where someone asked if we would consider an MLP, and it took a life of its own. For those of you that I’ve talked to, which is most of you, we have worn this out, I think. So hopefully we will do this about one more week, and then we won't talk about this again.”
“Question – Audience: Over the long-term, do have a long-term dividend yield target? You show the next couple of years, but as you looked out to the seven years, did you have a target there?
Answer – Phil Rykhoek, CEO: Well, I hope it goes down to about 1%, because I hope the stock price goes up. How's that?”
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CONF CALL NOTES
Q & A
Takeaway: JCP is on offense, trying to find the right formula.
Hedgeye Retail Sector Head Brian McGough applauds JC Penney's campaign to burn Lululemon's fat-shaming.
From The Gloss
"JC Penney Burned Lululemon's Snobby Fat-Shaming, And It's Brilliant":
Takeaway: Call this clever marketing campaign by JC Penney what it is: Brilliant. The company continues to show a level of irreverence in its marketing that sets it apart from other national retailers. We’re not saying that the marketing approach fully works. But simply that JCP is on offense trying to find the right formula. We like offense.
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