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“For man to truly understand himself, he must travel beyond the clouds”

– Socrates


By Michael Blum


When I saw my first Space Shuttle launch as a child, I knew I wanted to be an astronaut.


After I made my first real money selling PayPal/eBay stock, I bought a ticket on Virgin Galactic to go to space aboard SpaceShipTwo. I later bought a second seat on Space Expedition Corporation’s Lynx. As I became more involved in the Newspace community I began speaking at conferences and universities around the world – the topic being “The Potential for & Impact of Commercial Space & Space Tourism”.


Today, alongside my research and engineering team @Hedgeye, I am co-founding Firefly – a ground-based, small satellite launch company, with one of Hedgeye’s greatest supporters and fans, PJ King, as well as propulsion engineer extraordinaire, Tom Markusic.




With a Ph.D. from Princeton in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Tom has conducted research on deep space propulsion systems and since 2006 has held senior leadership positions inside virtually every leader in the Newspace Industry: Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Tom is Firefly’s CEO and from what I have seen, he will be a fantastic entrepreneur and business executive.


Lowering the cost of small satellite launches to Low Earth and Sun Synchronous Orbits will revolutionize broadband data delivery and earth observation missions. What used to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, is rapidly becoming available in the single digit millions.


While the leaders in the nascent and rapidly developing small sat industry (companies such as PlanetIQ, Skybox, Planet Labs, and numerous others) have raised VC funds well in excess of $100M in the last 1-2 years, there exists virtually no dedicated launcher capacity for these ventures to deliver their payloads to orbit.


With Hedgeye’s help, Firefly will change this.


We have rapidly received our seed funding commitments and are already in discussions with investors looking towards our Series A funding. Since our website launched and word of mouth has spread through the industry, we have been overwhelmed with resumes. We have established our headquarters in Austin, TX and research and development operations in Hawthorne, CA.


What we are setting out to do will be enormously challenging. It is difficult to make exact projections about schedule until we get further along in development, but the team has set itself a goal: To be in orbit in about three years.


Hedgeye has and will continue to support Firefly on a number of fronts: Josh Steiner (today he runs our Financials vertical but in the past he analyzed satellite operators) has worked with us on market sizing.


Jay Van Sciver, who leads Hedgeye’s Industrials team, has worked on valuation analysis for some of the private New Space players. Hedgeye will lend assistance in a variety of operational areas, ranging from finance and accounting to HR, facilities and IT.


We are not in the business of complaining about the 2008 crisis. We are in the business of cutting edge research, intellectual growth, and product innovation. So, I just wanted to take a few minutes this morning to thank you for your business – it’s helping us travel beyond the clouds.


Onward and upward!


Michael Blum is the President of Hedgeye Risk Management. You can follow him on Twitter at @mablum. You can also follow Firefly at @Firefly_Space.




Wynn proving the capacity constrained bears wrong. Street estimates likely to be exceeded, handily.


  • WYNN could do close to $2 in earnings in Q4 and over $9 in 2014  – the Street isn’t even close
  • As we’ve noted for months, Wynn Macau began a more aggressive Mass marketing and promotional campaign in October
  • Not only has Mass share increased but Wynn actually led the market in growth in December


A same-store growth story has emerged big time over the past few months and its name is WYNN.  Yeah, I know the stock has done well but so have all the Macau stocks – business is booming.  But the WYNN thesis was Cotai in 2016, new Asian gaming markets, and best in class safety.  Same-store growth wasn’t part of the thesis.  It is now.




Consistent with our opinion set forth in our 10/25/13 note, “WYNN TO FEAST ON THE MASS COMPETITION?”, we believe Wynn will be a market share gainer in Macau. Wynn’s rewards program and marketing effort was one of the least effective in Macau.  That began changing in October and the results are evident.  We believe much of the recent gains will drop to the bottom line and continue throughout 2014. 


For Q4, we are projecting company EBITDA and EPS of $457 million and $1.97 versus the Street at $414 million and $1.63, respectively.  Our 2014 estimates $1.98 billion and $9.15, respectively, exceed the Street's ($1.76 billion and $7.39) dramatically. 


For Wynn Macau, our Q4 and 2014 property level EBITDA estimate stand at $381 million and $1.59 billion, respectively, versus the Street at $323 million and $1.40 billion.  Our Las Vegas estimates do not differ materially from the Street.

JCP: Stuck in the Penalty Box

Takeaway: JCP is definitely in the penalty box, but after weighing the pros and cons (of which there are many) we're still keeping it on our roster.

If there is any company on the planet that can consistently find a way to disappoint more than JCP, we’d love to see it.  Everyone is saying the same thing this morning, so we’ll try not to be repetitive. On one hand, the fact that the company came out and reaffirmed guidance is positive. It’ll be the only department store this quarter to have positive comps and margins. But on the flip side, do you think that they could have given us a number or two? It’s not much to ask. After all, almost every sales update that they have ever issued included numbers. We don’t think sales updates are critical for a retailer, but it’s kind of like a dividend – once you start, you can’t stop – and you certainly can’t give less information over time (unless you want to destroy equity value).  This thing is down, obviously, and it deserves to be. JCP holders should be irate. We are.


There are 2 key questions we need to ask ourselves.  1) What are they hiding, 2) does this change the thesis we outlined in our Long Summary last night (The Search for Doubles and Triples), and 3) What does this mean for expectations and sentiment?


1)     Hiding?  Our sense is that they’re not hiding much of anything. They’re hoping. Sales growth absolutely tapered since the 10% comp issued around Black Friday. We all know that. If we assume that management’s “positive comps” translates into 3% for the quarter (below consensus of 6%) then the 2-year comp is an atrocious below -30% level as opposed to simply being ‘really bad’ in the -20s (which people expected.  We think that the vagueness is driven by one factor alone – the possibility of making up for a weak December in the month of January. Hope. That means that JCP kicks up the promotional engine. If we were another department store, we wouldn’t want to compete with a promotional JCP – given that its’ Gross Margin is already sitting so far below its peers. But our obvious concern is that JCP will pick comp in Jan over margin. We understand it needs to rebuild customer loyalty (traffic/comp), but at some point it’s going to have to start making money on the revenue. Last we checked, cash is pretty important.

2)     Does this change our thesis? Well… it certainly doesn’t change the fact that this one is last in our Long queue. One thing that could change our thesis is if the company is taking it on the chin with Gross Margin, and still is not seeing any sales acceleration. Gross Margin is the last offensive weapon JCP has. If it shoots and consistently misses the target, then it definitely impacts our call. But for now, we think that even with a 3% comp and 30% GM, liquidity is definitely not an issue this quarter. Importantly, even if we are to cut our comp assumptions in half next year, liquidity is still not a problem. Finally, if the recovery stalls here, there’s one thing you can bank on – Ullman being shown the door. Yes, the Board backed him publicly, but what are they going to say to all the employees (the primary audience of all those management-related messages we selfishly think are directed towards us) “Hey everybody, your boss is probably going to be fired really soon. Happy holidays!”. We think not.

3)     Sentiment: The market is already speaking out loud on this one – something that started when someone had the inside information and started trading the stock down yesterday. In addition, when JCP reported its last quarter and issued the guidance (that it just blessed) the stock was at $8.71. Now with a reiteration of that guidance the stock is struggling to hold $7.50. That’s off 14% on a like for like basis. At the same time, sentiment is already the worst of any name in the S&P (see our sentiment monitor below which triangulates buy side, sell side, and inside transactions). There are 89mm shares short, or 30% of the float.  To put that in perspective before the secondary – when liquidity was a massive concern -- there were 67mm shares short. Now it’s far more heavily shorted despite having patched up the greatest market concern.  This is one thing that keeps us on the positive side.  




JC PENNEY (JCP) (#5 Out of 5 Ideas)

Not a day passes where I don't consider punting this one from the list of longs. Truth be told, it was much more fun being short Ackman at $42. But then I put back on my analytical cap, and come back to the fundamental premise of our long call. And that is that this company can be saved from its' widely accepted death. Our survey work suggests that consumers actually want JCP to succeed, even if Wall Street does not. To be clear, we're not talking about JCP returning to the mediocre retailer it once was. Today it is a horrendous retailer, and we simply think that it can upgrade to being a 'slightly better than bad' retailer. This is best measured by sales productivity. Today Kohl's is operating at $210/ft. JCP's prior peak is close to $190. Current day JCP is cruising along at a whopping $100/ft. We're not suggesting that it could get to $190/ft --- or even $150/ft. But based on everything we learned from consumers we think the JCP can revisit the $140 mark. That's still below Sears, by the way. That, combined with a mid/high single digit EBIT margin gets us to around $1.50 in earnings power. Now…unlike the other quality companies featured in this note, with JCP we've got to deal with another 2-years of cash burn. Two points of good news; 1) it has the cash, unlike earlier this year, and 2) the consensus has the company burning cash in perpetuity. That's simply not realistic -- unless our consumer research all of a sudden turns out to be flat out wrong.


So how do we value a name like this? We're uncomfortable using earnings given the debt burden. But a 8x EBITDA multiple -- which we think is fair for a company that is rebounding like JCP should and is de-levering, gets us to around $16-$17 in 2-years. Definitely the highest-risk double we have on the sheet, but it's one that we're sticking with -- until the research gives us reason not to.


JCP: Stuck in the Penalty Box - jcpstats


JCP: Stuck in the Penalty Box - JCP sentiment

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 80.48%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.35%

[video] Keith's Macro Notebook 1/8: YEN AUSTRIA OIL

Still Bullish: SP500 Levels, Refreshed

Takeaway: The SP500 is still bullish because it continues to signal a series of higher-lows (1824 support) and higher-highs (1850 resistance).



While its fascinating to watch the same pundits who tried calling a market top for all of 2013 do the same in 2014, calling tops is not a process. It’s a marketing gig. We do levels, risk ranges, and research instead.


Across our core risk management durations here are the levels that matter to me most:


  1. Immediate-term TRADE resistance = 1850
  2. Immediate-term TRADE support = 1824
  3. Intermediate-term TREND support = 1762


In other words, the SP500 is still bullish because it continues to signal a series of higher-lows (1824 support) and higher-highs (1850 resistance vs. the all-time closing high of 1848 on DEC 31).


With mean reversion support -4% lower (1762), that’s not to say that buying-the-damn-bubble #BTDB on down days is for the faint of heart. It’s just a friendly reminder that it continues to pay the bills if you buyem right.


Win the day,



Keith McCullough

Chief Executive Officer


Still Bullish: SP500 Levels, Refreshed - SPX


Takeaway: We reiterate our Best Idea shorts: BLMN, PNRA, PBPB, MCD.

No real surprises here.  Industry data points are continuing to confirm our bearish stance on casual dining.


Last night, Malcolm Knapp released his Knapp Track sales results for December, estimating that same-restaurant sales and guest counts declined -3.8% and -5.2%, respectively, versus December 2012.


On a two-year average basis, the results imply a sequential change of -235 bps and -360 bps for same-restaurant sales and guest counts, respectively.


Knapp noted that only one of four weeks in December had positive comparable sales, while all four weeks had negative comparable guest counts.  Poor weather conditions negatively impacted the month, particularly in the first week which was also the worst week of the month.


According to prior accounting period data and these December estimates, we estimate that comparable restaurant sales and comparable guest counts declined -0.7% and -2.5%, respectively, during the fourth quarter. 


We will release more data when Black Box Intelligence reports, including what companies have seen their same-restaurant sales estimates revised over the course of December.




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.