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THANKSGIVING/EARLY DECEMBER CRUISE PRICING UPDATE

Holiday discounting, recovery, and Royal Caribbean outperformance.

 

 

Apparently, CCL/ NCLH engaged in some aggressive promotional discounting through Thanksgiving weekend.  However, at least CCL recovered post weekend in the slow bookings period before Wave.  The Royal Caribbean brand was the standout in our latest survey but the picture is mixed for RCL’s other major brand, Celebrity.  In Europe, Summer 2014 looks encouraging.  Please read on for details.

 

Below are some observations from our proprietary pricing survey (>12,000 itineraries) for CCL, RCL, and NCLH.  We analyze YoY pricing, as well as sequential trends which is determined by comparing pricing relative to the last earnings/guidance date for a cruise operator i.e. CCL: 9/24; RCL: 10/24; NCLH: 10/28.   For a more in-depth and quantitative analysis, please contact sales at .

 

MAJOR TAKEAWAYS FROM LATEST SURVEY:

  • CCL:  Volatile pricing by Carnival brand due to Thanksgiving week promotions
  • RCL:  RC brand showing healthy pricing gains for FQ1 but mixed picture for Celebrity
  • NCLH:  Continues to discount Caribbean pricing due to increased competition

 

CCL ANALYSIS

 

NORTH AMERICA 

  • For their Thanksgiving Week promotion, Carnival brand lowered pricing for Summer 2014 double digits relative to early November for the Caribbean and Mexico
  • Pricing surged back post the weekend promotion with pricing for 2Q/3Q nicely higher
  • Alaska pricing is mostly steady

CCL North American Brands - FQ1 sequential chart:

F1Q sequential pricing remained higher relative to late September.  We saw a bearish pricing trend (red circle) in mid-July as pricing deteriorated significantly relative to pricing seen in late June. A bullish pricing trend (green circle) emerged in mid-October as pricing broke the downtrend seen in the past few months and was actually slightly positive relative to pricing seen in late September. 

 

THANKSGIVING/EARLY DECEMBER CRUISE PRICING UPDATE - ccl1

 

CCL North American Brands - FQ2/FQ3 sequential chart:

For very early Summer 2014 itineraries, we saw weak sequential pricing in mid-October, which continued into Thanksgiving weekend.  Pricing strongly recovered immediately after Cyber Monday. It remains to be seen whether the higher pricing is sustainable heading into Wave Season.  We look for the next pricing survey for bullish confirmation.

 

THANKSGIVING/EARLY DECEMBER CRUISE PRICING UPDATE - ccl2 

 

Carnival Brand (Caribbean) - F1Q/2Q/3Q YoY change chart:

On a YoY basis, mainly due to difficult comps, F1Q pricing continued to be lower for the Carnival brand in the Caribbean.  However, in early December, F2Q/F3Q showed the strongest YoY pricing performance yet. 


THANKSGIVING/EARLY DECEMBER CRUISE PRICING UPDATE - ccl3

 

EUROPE

  • Costa
    • Weak FQ1 2014 European pricing remains but FQ1 has the lowest capacity by quarter for the year
    • Modestly higher pricing for FQ2-FQ4
  • AIDA
    • Weakness in Eastern Med/Western Europe offset by better performance in Western Med
    • Overall 2014 sequential pricing is a tad lower
  • Cunard
    • Improvement in FQ2 pricing offset by weaker FQ3 pricing

RCL ANALYSIS

 

CARIBBEAN

  • RC brand
    • FQ1 pricing has reversed into positive territory
    • Flat pricing for FQ2/Q3, with sequential trend slightly positive
  • Celebrity
    • Modest discounting for FQ1 relative to early November
    • Modestly higher pricing for FQ2
  • Pullmantur
    • Pricing is mostly steady

Royal Caribbean Brand (Caribbean) - F1Q/F2Q/F3Q YoY pricing chart

F1Q pricing is now modestly higher while F2Q/F3Q pricing has flatlined. 

 

THANKSGIVING/EARLY DECEMBER CRUISE PRICING UPDATE - ccl4

 

EUROPE

  • RC brand
    • Solid pricing for RC brand
  • Celebrity
    • Flat pricing for FQ2 but significant discounting for FQ3
  • Pullmantur
    • Pricing has finally stabilized

OTHER

  • Alaska:  RC brand weakness offset by Celebrity (ex Millennium) strength
  • South America quite robust

NCLH ANALYSIS

 

CARIBBEAN

  • Pricing lower during promotional period but not as aggressive as Carnival
  • Pricing remained lower following holiday week, particularly for FQ1 2014

EUROPE/ALASKA/HAWAII

  • Steady 2014 pricing

TRADING PLACES: U.S. + EUROPE

Our Top Q413 Global Macro Theme remains #EuroBulls. Long both the British Pound (which has broken out to new highs) and European Growth Equities is almost the same call we had on the US Dollar and US Growth a year ago.

 

It’s all born out of the same process.

 

On a related note, Lucerne’s Pieter Taselaar is one of the sharpest (and top performing) bottom-up European long/short equity managers we know. The video below augments some of our current views here at Hedgeye. The only downside to the video is that I’m in it. 

 

Have a great evening.

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

 

Click here to learn more about how you can subscribe to Hedgeye research.


YUM ANALYST DAY

YUM reported November comps for its China Division earlier this week.  Total China comps (+1%) beat expectations (-1%) as Pizza Hut comps (+7) and KFC comps (+0%) showed strength during the month.  KFC comps were largely driven by a half-price bucket promotion during the first 10 days of the month which saw comps run +16%.  Even though this implies comps were down -8% for the rest of the month, this successful promotion indicates that Chinese consumers are warming back up to chicken. 

 

Overall, total comps improved 600 bps sequentially from October and turned positive for the first time since February.  As we mentioned in our last note, we expect China comps to be positive in December and throughout 2014, as the business stabilizes, sales momentum builds, and YUM rolls over easy comparisons from a year ago.  On the domestic front, management announced a 2014 national breakfast launch at Taco Bell which is expected to drive incremental sales in the U.S.

 

While today’s analyst meeting didn’t necessarily provide us with any new news, it did give us further confidence in our bull case.  Management expects at least 20% EPS growth in 2014, approximately 40% operating profit growth in China, and impressive unit growth of 1,850 new international restaurants, including 700 new units in China, and 150 new units in India. Management believes that the fair value of its stock is $90 based on a SOTP and DCF analysis.  We believe YUM has tremendous opportunities for potential growth through various channels, particularly in China where it is well positioned long-term to take advantage of a growing consumer class that is expected to double from 300mm+ in 2012 to 600mm+ by 2020.

 

YUM is our favorite LONG in the big cap QSR landscape one of the best positioned stocks heading into 2014.  The main risk to our thesis continues to be persistent volatility in China, although we believe this is largely played out.  In our view, easy comparisons, new unit growth, and positive earnings momentum will lead to margin and multiple expansion over the next several quarters.  

 

 

 

YUM ANALYST DAY - chart1

 

YUM ANALYST DAY - 12 4 2013 1 36 13 PM

 

 

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

 


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AVIATING CHINA: CRASH LANDING OR SMOOTH TOUCHDOWN?

Takeaway: The key to a safe “landing of the [growth] plane” is an expedited, well-implemented deregulation of FDI and portfolio flows.

CONCLUSIONS:

 

  • Conflicting signals from Chinese officials have made it difficult to handicap China’s TREND & TAIL GIP outlook(s) in recent months. We offer our latest thoughts in the note below.
  • We are decidedly back to analyzing China with a sanguine lens and are increasingly of the view that it probably warrants playing China alone (i.e. not via consensus ancillary “China plays”) on the long side with respect to the intermediate-term TREND.
  • With respect to the long-term TAIL, we still would like to see concrete implementation of capital account and FX reforms, as well as more safeguards put in place to limit the risk of a broadly destructive transition to a fully liberalized financial system (email us if you’d like to receive a walk-though of the specifics and a recent collection of confirming evidence).
  • It could be over a year before we have meaningful clarity on the latter, so our best solution for clients at the current juncture is to overweight “new China” (i.e. consumption and deregulation) while underweighting (or shorting) “old China” (i.e. the concomitant bubbles in credit and fixed assets investment), as highlighted in the chart below.

 

At the bare minimum, 2013 has been a weird year to be involved in China – either directly through Chinese equity exposure or indirectly through consensus ancillary plays like EM assets, commodities, and the currencies of commodity-producing nations.

 

While we consider it a huge victory for our team to have kept our clients out of or on the short side of those ancillary plays all year (and prior), that is certainly not to say we’ve nailed China or anything to that nature.

 

In the following table, we highlight the absolute bloodbath that has occurred across the commodity complex since we first introduced our structurally negative view on commodities back in APR ’11 as part of our Deflating the Inflation quarterly macro theme. We’ve obviously followed that up with numerous notes and presentations over the past couple of years, so please email us if you’re not yet familiar with our long-held bearish bias on the commodity complex and we’ll be happy to forward you the relevant materials.

 

AVIATING CHINA: CRASH LANDING OR SMOOTH TOUCHDOWN? - 1

 

Going back to not nailing China, we’ve been keen to change our stance on China multiple times in the YTD (% changes reflect the performance of the Shanghai Composite Index over the respective duration):

 

 

The predominant reason we’ve changed our tune on China so many times this year has been due to policy inflections that have materially altered (or complicated) our rolling-thee-to-six-month forward expectations for the Chinese economy. Amid this ~3M long period of admittedly-unattractive neutrality, we’ve analyzed China in both a positive and negative light, highlighting both the key opportunities and risks to China’s long-term GIP outlook along the way:

 

Sanguine tone:

 

Pessimistic tone:

 

We are decidedly back to analyzing China with a sanguine lens and are increasingly of the view that it probably warrants playing China alone (i.e. not via consensus ancillary “China plays”) on the long side with respect to the intermediate-term TREND.

 

With respect to the long-term TAIL, we still would like to see concrete implementation of capital account and FX reforms, as well as more safeguards put in place to limit the risk of a broadly destructive transition to a fully liberalized financial system (email us if you’d like to receive a walk-though of the specifics and a recent collection of confirming evidence).

 

It could be over a year before we have meaningful clarity on the latter, so our best solution for clients at the current juncture is to overweight “new China” (i.e. consumption and deregulation) while underweighting (or shorting) “old China” (i.e. the concomitant bubbles in credit and fixed assets investment), as highlighted in the chart below:

 

AVIATING CHINA: CRASH LANDING OR SMOOTH TOUCHDOWN? - 2

 

Going back to the intermediate-term TREND outlook, we think China has the opportunity to surprise consensus growth expectations to the upside into and potentially through 2014, after what is likely to be a brief dip into Quad #3 here in 4Q13:

 

AVIATING CHINA: CRASH LANDING OR SMOOTH TOUCHDOWN? - CHINA

 

AVIATING CHINA: CRASH LANDING OR SMOOTH TOUCHDOWN? - 4

 

AVIATING CHINA: CRASH LANDING OR SMOOTH TOUCHDOWN? - 5

 

Moreover, we think China has the potential to continue distancing itself from the carnage that has become the emerging markets space. It will seek to accomplish this by enticing international capital flows (both FDI and portfolio) away from beleaguered EM economies, at the margins, through a combination of strengthening the CNY and promoting its use internationally, as well as through incremental deregulation and investor-friendly incentives.

 

AVIATING CHINA: CRASH LANDING OR SMOOTH TOUCHDOWN? - 6

 

Below is a compendium of data points we’ve come across in the past couple of weeks that support this view:

 

  • Reuters noted that the PBoC said China will begin rolling out financial liberalization reforms in the Shanghai free-trade zone within three months. PBoC Shanghai chief Zhang Xin said the reforms would be launched within three months, evaluated after six months and formal policies would be fully implemented by the end of a year. He added the policies will serve as models for other regions as they move to create their own FTZs. (StreetAccount)
  • Xinhuanet noted that Zhang Xiaoqiang, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China will simplify its foreign investment approval process in order to introduce a registration-based system for foreign investment projects. Zhang said that the government will further enhance the role of foreign investment in its market-oriented economic development. (StreetAccount)
  • Reuters reported that the yuan overtook the euro in October to become the second-most used currency in trade finance. SWIFT said the market share of yuan usage in trade finance grew to 8.66% in Oct, up from 1.89% in January 2012. The yuan now ranks second behind the US dollar, which has a share of 81.1%. (StreetAccount)
  • Dim Sum bond issuance has accelerated to the fastest pace since June 2012 as China’s pledge to move toward yuan convertibility boosts demand for the currency. Sales reached 27 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) in November, almost five times as much as October’s 5.8 billion yuan, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Yuan savings in Hong Kong rose the most since April 2011 to a record 782 billion yuan in October. (Bloomberg)
  • The WSJ noted that foreign real estate developers eager to capitalize on rising consumption in China are increasingly raising funds to invest in warehouses and shopping malls. Data from PERE showed developers and their subsidiaries have raised $3.5B for China projects so far this year, eclipsing the $2.2B raised in all of 2012 and just shy of the $4B raised by private-equity and other fund managers. (StreetAccount)
  • Xinhuanet noted that Zhou Xiaochuan said China should increase the qualification and quota of QDII and QFII investors to help them with their activities. He added that administrative approval procedures for QDII and QFII qualification and quotas shall be eliminated "when conditions are ripe". (StreetAccount)

 

All told, we still think China has a lot of credit bubble-related skeletons in its closet that will increasingly become a headwind to Chinese economic growth over the long-term TAIL. For the time being, however, we think Chinese officials are putting the right policies in place to offset those headwinds, at the margins.

 

Please feel free to email us with any follow-up questions.

 

DD

 

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 80.28%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.51%
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