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What's New Today in Retail (1/30)

Takeaway: HBI sandbag comes out -- but watch inflation. JCP taking up prices. China’s JD frontrunning Alibaba deal. TGT SHLD and Canada. AMZN Levis

EVENTS TO WATCH OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS

 

AMZN - Earnings Call: Thursday 1/30, 5:00pm

 

COMPANY NEWS

 

Takeaway: Strong quarter for Hanesbrands with higher guidance that was entirely driven by Maidenform -- an acquisition that we're stated for a while that management is completely sandbagging on synergies. On the core business, trends were positive in October and November, but were inconsistent in January. Management cited weather as the primary factor. One factor that caught us by surprise was CEO Rich Noll's comment about inflation. We've never heard him say anything that's other than overwhelmingly positive about inflation -- in that it drives up their prices, and helps retailers make money. But this time he said that inflation was partially offset by product costs. That's still a positive trend. But let's keep a close eye on costs here. If they catch up to the price increases to retailers -- which is possible, then it turns into a margin-draining event.

 

What's New Today in Retail (1/30) - chart3 1 30

*adjusted for debt repayment expenses in Q412 and Maidenform acquisition charges in Q413

 

JCP - JCP hikes prices for bigger discounts later

(http://nypost.com/2014/01/29/jcpenny-hikes-prices-for-bigger-markdowns/)

 

  • "JCPenney...is quietly jacking up prices on everything from jeans to kitchen appliances, a risky move designed to make room for steeper, more eye-catching discounts this year, sources told The Post."
  • "Chief Executive Mike Ullman...hatched the stealthy strategy this month with especially lofty markups in the jewelry department, sources said."

 

What's New Today in Retail (1/30) - chart1 1 30

 

Takeaway: The first step was getting things into the store that people actually want. Step two is raising prices to allow for discounting to protect Gross Margin. This all makes sense, actually. But the obvious risk is that sticker shock keeps some customers away. We're going to give Ullman the benefit of the doubt that he's managing this appropriately (even though we'd rather have someone else be managing it).

 

TGT - Target Sets Nine Canadian Openings in 2014

(http://www.wwd.com/retail-news/mass-off-price/target-sets-nine-canadian-openings-in-2014-7400381)

 

  • "Target Corp. intends to add nine stores to its 124-unit fleet in Canada this year, the majority of them in Ontario."
  • "Target, which acquired the rights to acquire up to 220 Zellers store leases from Hudson’s Bay in 2011, said it will open five stores in Ontario and single units in the provinces of Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia."

 

Takeaway: Why?

 

JD - JD.com files for IPO of up to $1.5 billion

(http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/30/us-jdcom-ipo-idUSBREA0T0RV20140130)

 

  • "JD.com, China's second-largest e-commerce site, said on Thursday it plans to raise up to $1.5 billion in an initial public offering of American depositary shares."
  • "JD.com, which competes with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, listed BofA Merrill Lynch and UBS Securities LLC as lead underwriters to its offering, in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission."
  • "Alibaba, which controls nearly 80 percent of China's internet shopping market, has been planning to list its shares but has struggled to reach an agreement with Hong Kong regulators over its proposed IPO, expected to be worth around $15 billion."

 

What's New Today in Retail (1/30) - chart2 1 30

 

Takeaway: JD is totally riding the coattails of big brother Alibaba. If there was ever a time to raise capital for JD, this is it. If they did it after the Alibaba deal, then they'd be competing in the marketplace against it's top business competitor -- and it would probably lose. But in anticipation of the Alibaba transaction, people will probably gobble this one up. Let's hope they don't get too greedy with valuation.

 

LS&C - Levi's Entering Men's Underwear Category

(http://www.wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/undercover-underwear-7401352)

 

  • "Levi Strauss & Co. is getting ready to hit the men’s underwear category. The company confirmed that, beginning in fall 2014, it will begin to market men’s underwear and hosiery through two licensing agreements, one for the Americas region with Mad Projects Industries, a New York-based firm, and the other, for European markets, with Dobotex, the long-time Puma licensee of which Puma acquired full control in 2011."

 

AMZN - Amazon to Offer Kindle Checkout System to Physical Retailers

(http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303743604579351123788256930?mod=WSJ_business_LeadStoryCollection)

 

  • "Amazon.com Inc. plans to offer brick-and-mortar retailers a checkout system that uses Kindle tablets as soon as this summer, people briefed on the company's plans said."
  • "In one scenario, the Seattle company would give merchants Kindle tablets and credit-card readers, the people said. Amazon also might offer retailers other services, such as website development and data analysis, the people said."
  • "Because many of the largest physical retailers have extensive, complicated checkout systems that may be difficult or costly to give up, Amazon is likely to focus on smaller retailers."

 

SCC - Sears Canada Sets 624 Job Cuts

(http://www.wwd.com/retail-news/department-stores/sears-canada-sets-624-job-cuts-7401424)

 

  • "Sears Canada will shed another 624 jobs in an elimination of middle-level managers in its full-line stores."
  • "The cuts, which follow the elimination earlier this month of 1,583 jobs due to reductions in its logistics operations and the outsourcing to IBM of positions in its customer contact centers, will result in an average decrease of five associates per store across its network of full-line stores in Canada." 

 


LVS: GRASS IS GREENER ON BOTH SIDES

Persistently low Singapore hold is frustrating, but the dual appeal of this stock continues to grow.

 

 

The value and cash return part of the LVS thesis took a major turn positive last night.  For Q4, what would’ve been considered a great quarter one month ago should now be perceived as just ok.  LVS delivered a beat but on a hold adjusted basis.  As you know, I’ve liked LVS for a long time and certainly on the recent pullback.  However, I didn’t see Q4 as necessarily a positive or negative catalyst following the Q4 run up in stock price and positive estimate revisions.  We’ll get into what we liked and didn’t like about the quarter but the LVS story certainly got a lot more interesting last night.

 

For me, LVS began its transformation from a growth to growth/value/cash flow/cash return stock 2 quarters ago with a sharp dividend hike and the start of a meaningful share repurchase program.  See our 10/28/13 note “LVS: WHAT TYPE OF INVESTOR SHOULDN’T THIS APPEAL TOO?”

 

Minor “issues” with Q4 notwithstanding, that transformation took a few major steps forward last night.  Another ramp in stock buybacks, a huge dividend increase, and the revelation of yet another cash/value driver crystallizes the “other” side of the LVS story.  The growth side remains intact and should continue to attract the growth

investor.

 

As a born skeptic, I’ll hit on the negatives of Q4 first and then move to the overwhelming positive takeaways:

 

What we didn’t like:

  • Marina Bay Sands hold was low again. We’re using 2.65% as our normal hold, below theoretical and management’s recommendation for normal.  But 1.92%?  Until they can post a good hold Q, investors are going to assume low hold is structural and that could continue to suppress MBS’s valuation.
  • Rolling Chip volumes were 2% below our expectation and promotional expenses were a little higher.  However, slot volumes were better, RevPAR off the charts, and Mass was in-line.
  • Expenses were higher than we thought in Macau but given the rapid growth in volumes in Q4, this isn’t that surprising

What we liked:

  • Sequential dividend hike of 43%.  Though a monster growth story, LVS now yields 2.7%, above the S&P yield.
  • For the 2nd straight Q, LVS repurchased more than $200MM in stock at an average price near yesterday’s close
  • Despite dividend increases and share repurchases, net leverage is only 1.3x. Management indicated they would be willing to go 1.5x higher.  An increase to their limit would generate an additional $7 billion cash return to shareholders.  Phenomenal.
  • Another major value enhancer, management indicated they are commencing the approval process to sell retail assets that could drive another $12-14 billion in cash.
  • Venetian and Four Seasons volumes were terrific but held below normal.  Low hold on Mass is NOT included in management’s projection for hold adjusted EBITDA.
  • Management was bullish regarding the prospect of casinos in Japan and its prospects for a license in that country.  They consider MBS’s appeal to Japanese tourists and convention planners as a major selling point to the Japanese government.

 

The usual hold concerns at MBS could weigh on the stock as usual, but the takeaways from last night are overwhelmingly positive.  Any price weakness should be seen as an opportunity.  After all, how many other stocks can offer this kind of growth and value while lining your wallet with a rapidly growing cash stream?



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Moody Multiples

“Emotions are short lived.”

-John Coates

 

Whereas “a mood is slower, more like a long-term attitude, a background and slow-burning emotion which slants our view of the world” (The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, pg 107).

 

I don’t know about you, but up until a few weeks ago, my view of the being long stocks was pretty damn bullish. That’s a good thing, because the US and many European stock markets kept hitting all-time highs. Now they aren’t.

 

And while there was definitely some emotion associated with fear (VIX) ripping +45.8% last week, I’m not so sure consensus is yet in the mood to sell every bounce. Too many bear scars from 2013, and the mood of those stock market bears doesn’t matter on the margin here anyway. It’s the mood of the bears who turned bullish too late that I think matters most.

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

When my man Nouriel Roubini went bullish in December, that definitely got my attention. Then the #OldWall (sell-side economists and strategists) rolled out their bullish US growth and SP500 targets for 2014, and a credible contrarian bear case for US stocks began.

 

As I pointed out in yesterday’s rant, while he may call the Barron’s Roundtable, god doesn’t call me with a super-secret market multiple for the SP500. There isn’t one. That said, #history fans will note that the stock market’s multiple:

 

A)     Goes UP with #InflationSlowing and Consumption #GrowthAccelerating

B)      Goes DOWN with #InflationAccelerating and Consumption #GrowthSlowing

 

The lowest multiples in post WWII US stock market #history go to the dogmatic Republican/Democrat Keynesian presidential duos of:

  1. Nixon/Carter
  2. Bush/Obama

Both duos had bearish US Dollar TRENDs because:

  1. FISCAL POLICY = spend, spend, spend
  2. MONETARY POLICY = print, print, print

And, with the Purchasing Power of The People burning (US Dollar DOWN) and #InflationAccelerating, the SP500 traded at 7-11x EPS. Seven times earnings? Yep. Ole Jimmy Carter was a beauty.

 

I’m not saying the SP500 is going to 7-11x earnings. I’m saying that the probability of the SP500 seeing multiple compression from 16x (instead of consensus multiple expansion) goes up as A) inflation accelerates and B) growth slows.

 

Consensus multiple Expansion? Yep, here’s where my friends wash out on this (after having a mean estimate of 1528 for the SP500 for 2013 – nice call):

  1. #OldWall mean estimate for 2014 year-end = 1946
  2. Abby Joseph Cohen = 2088 target for 2014
  3. Tom Lee = 2075 target for 2014

Then you have the funny guy at Morgan Stanley who had the SP500 target of 1434 in 2013 (Adam Parker) who takes himself very seriously with his 2,014 SP500 target for, uh, 2014. It’s a good thing the sell-side has learned from 2008 and evolved…

 

The #OldWall’s magic-multiple thing is based on a consensus estimate for SP500 earnings of around $117/share. Tom Lee is up at $120, so he slaps a 17x “multiple” on that. Meanwhile Abby goes with the 18x, and there you have it – tah-dah!

 

But what if they are wrong on growth, inflation, and the SP500 earnings numbers? That’s when the consensus poop hits the fan. So watch out for stepping in that. Bear Droppings can ruin your bullish mood.

 

What about that Hedgeye Macro Theme #1 (#InflationAccelerating)?

  1. CRB Index (19 Commodities) was up another +0.8% yesterday (with the SP500 -1%) to +1.7% YTD
  2. Natural Gas Prices (for those of you who don’t live in a government hotel) = +30.3% YTD
  3. Oats (yes, I eat Oatmeal, every day!) = +18.9% YTD

So the other Goldman guy who is running the NY Fed now (Dudley) eats iPads and I eat oatmeal. No one cares. What Mr. Macro Market cares about is the 2nd derivative move – the slope of the line – the rate of change! And the fact of the matter is that #InflationAccelerating right now alongside US Consumption #GrowthSlowing is bearish for consumer stocks.

 

That’s a big reason why US Consumer Discretionary stocks (XLY) are -6.2% YTD and why the US stock market (SPX) is -4.0% YTD vs the CRB Index +1.7%. Dollar Down, Rates Down = Stocks Down. God called me on that too – it’s called a real-time US GDP #GrowthSlowing signal, and America’s mood will be changing if it becomes a reflexive one.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.67-2.80%

SPX 1

VIX 14.91-20.39

EUR/USD 1.35-1.37

Nat Gas 4.79-5.49

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

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Where We Are

This note was originally published at 8am on January 16, 2014 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”

-Henry Kissinger

 

Where we are from a US stock market perspective is not that complicated. With the SP500 and Russell 2000 closing at 1848 and 1171, respectively yesterday, we are at all-time highs.

 

Yes, all-time is a long time. And, yes, when I say “we”, I’m not talking about them. While my views might rub them the wrong way sometimes (them being the other team, or the other side of the trade), that means I’m just doing my job. I don’t play for them.

 

The aforementioned quote comes from page 59 of Unusually Excellent. The chapter is called “Being Compelling – The Commitment To Winning.” In spite of my many human flaws and countless mistakes, that is my commitment to both you and my team.

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

Winning in this game (or in life for that matter) doesn’t start and end with feeling like we’re winning an argument. I personally have too many silent arguments in my head throughout a week to count – and if I’m not losing some of those, I’m not growing.

 

Arguing with the score of the game is harder to do than simply dismissing the other side of what you think. I just read an article about a hedge fund in Greenwich, CT that got smoked last year (and closed the fund). The head of the firm blamed a macro market that was “dislocated from fundamentals.” I guess that was easier than blaming himself.

 

This, of course, has been one of the best 13-14 month periods to be invested in “growth”, as an investment style factor, ever. Particularly if you are a macro guy (or gal) who was net long growth equities and short slow-growth yielding bonds (or stocks like Kinder Morgan (KMI), which missed last night, that look like bonds). #Fundamental, it was. Indeed.

 

But that is yesterday’s news…

 

Where we go today, tomorrow and the next day are places we have never been.  My job is to help both you and my firm get there without having to make excuses for wrong turns along the way

 

So let’s start with what matters most about where we are – our position:

  1. CASH = 27%
  2. Foreign Currencies = 27% (we still like the Euro, Pound, Kiwi, etc.)
  3. International Equities = 20% (we still like most of Europe, especially Germany and the UK)
  4. US Equities = 18% (Tech, Healthcare, Financials, Industrials, and Materials)
  5. Commodities = 8% (Coffee, Cattle, Copper – and maybe some Gold)
  6. Fixed Income = 0%

Explaining 1-6 in reverse is pretty straightforward:

  1. Fixed Income 0% allocation for 184 days (73% of the time in last 12 months - net short via sovereigns, long corporates)
  2. CRB Commodities Index signaled don’t short last month – still a Bernanke Bubble that popped, but one we can risk manage
  3. US Equities is where we made a Sector Style Shift away from Consumption and Into Inflation (see Q1 Macro Themes deck)
  4. International Equities is the easiest to stick with because the slope of European #GrowthAccelerating is the most obvious
  5. Foreign Currencies will only be easy to stick with if EUR/USD and GBP/USD hold $1.35 and $1.63 TREND supports
  6. Cash, when you are knowingly buying-the-damn-bubble #BTDB in US Equities, is still King at my house

In order to expand on how we think about asset allocation, country and sector/style picking, etc. we do our Global Macro Themes deep dives. If you’d like to review that slide deck, ping us at Sales@Hedgeye.Com and you’ll see us refresh our risk management themes on our disruptor (to consensus TV) video platform @HedgeyeTV.

 

One of the videos our all-star offensive line analyst, Darius Dale, and I did this week walks through why we A) like Yen Down, Nikkei Up’s intermediate-term TREND, but B) wouldn’t be aggressive in allocating capital to Japanese Equities on pullbacks until we see some of our key lines of support (for the Nikkei) and resistance (for the Yen vs USD) confirm.

 

Here’s the video link.

 

Where we are from an immediate-term TRADE perspective sometimes deviates from our intermediate-term TREND views. That’s just the way markets (and life) work. Why else would I subject myself to getting up at this un-godly hour to hand bomb immediate-term TRADE lines in my notebook?

 

The alternative to being committed to winning is accepting mediocrity. The Manifestation of Mediocrity in America is something I think I could write a book about. So I’ll end that prickly point with a period. Because, to get a certain kind of person from where they are to somewhere better, sometimes feels like just that. Capitalizing on their frustration wins too.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now (TREND in brackets):

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.79-2.92% (bullish)

SPX 1835-1852 (bullish)

VIX 11.84-13.35 (bearish)

USD 80.74-81.31 (neutral)

Brent 106.12-108.66 (bearish)

Gold 1233-1268 (bearish)

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

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ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines

Takeaway: Both equity mutual funds and ETFs had positive fund flow for the most recent period at the expense of fixed income again

Investment Company Institute Mutual Fund Data and ETF Money Flow:

 

Total equity mutual funds experienced another week of strong follow through for the third week of 2014 with $6.4 billion flowing into all stock funds for the week ending January 22nd. Within the total equity fund result, domestic equity mutual funds gained $2.4 billion, double the emerging 2014 weekly average, with international equity funds posting a $3.9 billion inflow. This robust weekly inflow coupled with the strong result from the week prior has now moved the 2014 weekly average to a $4.7 billion inflow for equities to start 2014, a continuation on 2013's positive trends where $3.0 billion per week on average flowed into stock funds. 

 

Fixed income mutual funds had a slight outflow for the most recent 5 day period however the result essentially netted to a flat result. In the week ending January 22nd, total fixed income mutual funds produced a $247 million outflow, which broke out into a $375 million redemption in taxable bonds and a $128 million inflow into tax-free bonds, the second straight week of inflow for munis. The 2014 weekly average for fixed income mutual funds now stands at a $1.1 billion weekly inflow, an improvement from 2013's weekly average outflow of $1.5 billion. This improved 2014 weekly statistic however is still a far cry from the $5.8 billion weekly average inflow from 2012 (our view of the blow off top in the bond market).

 

ETFs experienced mixed trends during the week but essentially followed the direction of mutual funds with an inflow into passive equity funds and a flat result within bond ETFs. Stock ETFs gained a solid $2.0 billion for the 5 day period ending January 22nd with bond ETFs producing a $92 million inflow.  The 2014 weekly averages considering this new production are now a $389 million weekly inflow for equity ETFs and a $243 million weekly inflow for fixed income ETFs. 

 

The net of total equity mutual fund and ETF trends against total bond mutual fund and ETF flows totaled a positive $8.6 billion spread for the week ($8.5 billion of total equity inflows versus the $155 million outflow within fixed income; positive numbers imply inflows for stocks). The 52 week moving average has been $7.7 billion (positive spread to equities), with a 52 week high of $30.9 billion (positive spread to equities) and a 52 week low of equity/debt weekly spread of -$9.2 billion (negative numbers imply a net inflow into bonds for the week). 

 

Despite the slow start for equity returns in 2014 and nascent fears of global contagion from emerging markets, the continued follow through of positive equity flows is not surprising being that in analyzing 15 years of mutual fund flow versus market performance data that generally there has been a six month lag as retail investors chase performance with fund flow on the equity side and a 9 month historical lag between benchmark fixed income performance and bond fund flows. Hence the dramatic up year of 30% for the S&P 500 and the first loss in the Barclay's Aggregate Bond index in 14 years last year could create tails of up to 2-3 quarters of inflows (for equities) and outflows for bonds (although we acknowledge that the linear 12 week trend lines in fixed income flow below are improving and likely we will see substantial equity outflows next week considering the sharp drop in stocks this week). Although counter intuitive to how "performance" is actually created, this has been the historical behavioral pattern of mutual fund investors which are almost exclusively retail driven.

 

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 1

 

 

Most Recent 12 Week Flow in Millions by Mutual Fund Product:

 

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 2

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 3

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 4

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 5

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 6

 

 

Most Recent 12 Week Flow Within Equity and Fixed Income Exchange Traded Funds:

  

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 7

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 8

 

 

Net Results:

 

 

The net of total equity mutual fund and ETF trends against total bond mutual fund and ETF flows totaled a positive $8.6 billion spread for the week ($8.5 billion of total equity inflows versus the $155 million outflow within fixed income; positive numbers imply inflows for stocks). The 52 week rolling average spread has been $7.7 billion (positive spread to equities), with a 52 week high of $30.9 billion (positive spread to equities) and a 52 week low of equity/debt weekly spread of -$9.2 billion (negative numbers imply a net inflow into bonds for the week). 

 

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 9

 

 

Key Asset Management Stat of the Week:

 

 

Despite the slow start for equity returns in 2014 and nascent fears of global contagion from emerging markets, the continued follow through of positive equity flows is not surprising being that in analyzing 15 years of mutual fund flow versus market performance data that generally there has been a six month lag as retail investors chase performance with fund flow on the equity side and a 9 month historical lag between benchmark fixed income performance and bond fund flows. Hence the dramatic up year of 30% for the S&P 500 and the first loss in the Barclay's Aggregate Bond index in 14 years last year could create tails of up to 2-3 quarters of inflows (for equities) and outflows for bonds (although we acknowledge that the linear 12 week trend lines in fixed income flow below are improving and likely we will see substantial equity outflows next week considering the sharp drop in stocks this week). Although counter intuitive to how "performance" is actually created, this has been the historical behavioral pattern of mutual fund investors which are almost exclusively retail driven.

 

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 10

 

ICI Fund Flow Survey - Equity Fund Follow Through...Fixed Income Flat Lines - ICI chart 11

 

 

 

Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT 

 

 

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA


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