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Do You Wish To Find Out?

“What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out.”

-William Woodsworth

 

I know. I’m going all #behavioral on you this year. When combined with #history and #math, it gives me an edge. And god knows, I’m not the smartest player in this league – so I need one!

 

The aforementioned quote comes from the introduction in the latest #behavioral book we’ve been discussing in the office, Counterclockwise, by Harvard Applied Psych professor, Ellen Langer.

 

Langer’s research is unique in that she was really one of the first women (1st woman to ever get tenure in Psychology @Harvard) to break the ice on a lot of topics that make us think about how we think. Her most popular book was Mindfulness in 1989. She wrote Counterclockwise in 2009 and it’s relevant to how you think about your risk management day.

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

Do you wish to find out why almost every major macro position that was working for you last year sucks for 2014 YTD? If I needed to believe that the Japanese-burning-currency thing was going to work, I could – but I’d be losing a lot of money on that.

 

Last night’s pathetic bounce in Japanese Equities (Nikkei +1.2% to -12.9% YTD) tells you all you need to know about Japanese consensus – all the locals (brokerage clients getting margin calls) were short Yen and long Mothers (as in the index Japanese dudes lever up on).

 

Most of Wall Street was in the same trade too. It was only 1 month ago today that the CFTC (futures and options) net short position in Japanese Yen hit all-time highs (-135,000 net short position in terms of contracts). This morning that net short position is -89,420 contracts.

 

Next to short Yen, what have been the other major consensus long/short positions in Global Macro options?

  1. LONG Oil – 3 month average = +363,977 net LONG contracts
  2. LONG SP500 (Index + E-mini) – 3 month average = +78,356 net LONG contracts
  3. SHORT US Treasuries – 3 month average = -115,078 net SHORT contracts

And how’s that going YTD?

  1. Brent Oil = DOWN -4.2% YTD (vs the CRB Commodities Index +2.5%)
  2. SP500 = DOWN -5.0% YTD
  3. 10YR US Treasuries = UP (with yields -13%, or 40 bps YTD)

Why? Do you want the answer that consensus needed to believe on December 31, 2013, or do you wish to believe what Mr. Macro Market is telling you about growth (hint: on the margin, with #InflationAccelerating, US growth is slowing)?

 

And it’s not just a USA thing. As you can see in our Chart of The Day (where we show “Hard Growth Comps” for countries versus “Easy Comps”), Japan and the United States were setting up to slow from their 2013 momentum peaks irrespective of this US weather.

 

Oh, and by the way, the weather on the Merritt in Connecticut this morning isn’t what the dude in Tokyo is dealing with via his margin calls. Japan actually just reported a 16 year low in wages. When his government has a Policy To Inflate the dude’s cost of living, that is not good!

 

How does the Burning Your Currency thing work again?

  1. Government prints lots and lots of moneys
  2. Currency goes down, and purchasing power of The People goes down
  3. Real (inflation adjusted) consumption growth slows

Then pop a “consumption tax” on your people (Japan’s is pending) and what people who need to believe about “Abenomics” (that it’s good because the stock market was going up) isn’t aligned with what politicians “wish to find out” about economic reality.

 

Back to the wage inflation (or deflation) thing, I’ll show you what’s going on in the USA on our US Economics Flash Call this morning at 11AM EST. After seeing big time pressure on wages throughout the 2008 crisis, aggregate private sector wages are actually tracking up +5% on a 2-yr comp basis. .  If you need dial in details for the call, email .

 

I know your run of the mill academic doesn’t model the US economy how we do (we model it on a 1, 2, and 3 yr comparative basis so that we don’t get run-over by changes on the margin in trends), but that’s cool. It seems to work.

 

What seems to be a developing bearish to bullish reversal in a @Hedgeye TREND may not turn out to be a long-term reality. But can you afford to miss 3, 6, and 12 month accelerations and decelerations in big macro stuff like growth and inflation?

 

We can’t. And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now (with intermediate-term TRENDs, bullish or bearish, in brackets):

 

SPX 1 (bearish)

Nikkei 14036-15004 (bearish)

VIX 15.49-21.63 (bullish)

USD 80.78-81.43 (neutral)

Gold 1 (bullish)

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Do You Wish To Find Out? - GDP Comps

 

Do You Wish To Find Out? - 556


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK

TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP – February 5, 2014


As we look at today's setup for the S&P 500, the range is 47 points or 1.15% downside to 1735 and 1.53% upside to 1782.                       

                                                                                                        

SECTOR PERFORMANCE

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 1

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 2

 

EQUITY SENTIMENT:

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 10                                                                                                                                                                  

 

CREDIT/ECONOMIC MARKET LOOK:

  • YIELD CURVE: 2.31 from 2.32
  • VIX  closed at 19.11 1 day percent change of -10.87%

MACRO DATA POINTS (Bloomberg Estimates):

  • 7am: MBA Mortgage Applications, Jan. 31 (prior -0.2%)
  • 8:15am: ADP Employment Change, Jan., est. 187k (prior 238k)
  • 10am: ISM Non-Mfg Composite, Jan., est. 53.7 (prior 53)
  • 10am: Fed’s Tarullo testifies on Volcker Rule to House Financial Services Committee
  • 12:30pm: Fed’s Plosser speaks in Rochester, N.Y.
  • 1:40pm: Fed’s Lockhart speaks in Birmingham, Ala.

GOVERNMENT:

    • 9:30am: House Energy and Commerce panel meets on protecting consumer data, with Neiman Marcus and Target executives and FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez
    • 9:30am: House Ways and Means panel hears from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on issues including agency’s targeting of some tax-exempt organizations
    • 10am: House Financial Services Cmte meets on Volcker Rule, with witnesses from Fed, SEC, FDIC, CFTC
    • 10am: House Budget Cmte hears from CBO Director Doug Elmendorf on economic outlook
    • 2pm: House Financial Services panel holds hearing on annual report from Office of Financial Research

WHAT TO WATCH:

  • JPMorgan joins Morgan Stanley in settling U.S. mortgage suits
  • Sony said in talks to sell Japan PC unit to investor group
  • Apple joins Google in pressing high court to curb patent abuse
  • Gilead profit tops analysts’ ests. on Hepatitis C drug sales
  • 2nd storm strikes Northeast grounding planes, closing schools
  • Eurozone Dec. retail sales down 1.6% m/m; est. down 0.7% m/m
  • ICAP says rev. slipped 6% in final 3 mos. of 2013
  • AIG asks for delay in $8.5b Bank of America settlement
  • Sands leads Macau casino slump as Jan. rev. growth slowed
  • Goldcorp to delay buying shares in Osisko until judgment
  • Panasonic jumps most since 1974 after profit beats estimates
  • Swatch 2013 profit rises 17% on compensation from Tiffany
  • Dutch lender Rabobank said to consider sale of U.S. retail bank
  • Volcker Rule unity is implementation goal of interagency group
  • Buffett Railroad’s $5b investment plan tops Union Pacific
  • Blavatnik sued for $2b over TNK energy venture’s sale
  • "House of Cards" maker MRC said to get Guggenheim as owner
  • CtW presses Yahoo to revise hiring, compensation, WSJ reports
  • Goldman Sachs, Texas Pacific consider IPO for Ontex, Tijd says

AM EARNS:

    • Allergan (AGN) 9am, $1.34 - Preview
    • Arrow Electronics (ARW) 8am, $1.62
    • Automatic Data Processing (ADP) 7:30am, $0.77
    • Brookfield Infrastructure (BIP) 7:30am, $0.35
    • Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) 7:30am, $0.52
    • Cognizant Technology (CTSH) 6am, $1.15 - Preview
    • Estee Lauder (EL) 7:30am, $1.06 - Preview
    • Humana (HUM) 6am, $0.92
    • Intact Financial (IFC CN) 6am, C$1.21
    • Lazard (LAZ) 7am, $0.60
    • Level 3 Communications (LVLT) 8am, $0.13
    • Magellan Midstream (MMP) 8:02am, $0.82
    • Merck (MRK) 7am, $0.89 - Preview
    • Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ) 7am, $0.67
    • Radian Group (RDN) 7am, $0.02
    • Ralph Lauren (RL) 8:01am, $2.51 - Preview
    • Time Warner (TWX) 7am, $1.15 - Preview

PM EARNS:

    • Akamai Technologies (AKAM) 4:01pm, $0.52
    • Allstate (ALL) 4:05pm, $1.37
    • Atmel (ATML) 4:05pm, $0.10
    • CBRE Group (CBG) 4:05pm, $0.66
    • Cincinnati Financial (CINF) 4:05pm, $0.73
    • Credicorp (BAP) 6pm, $2.33
    • Everest Re Group (RE) 4:05pm, $5.06
    • Fiserv (FISV) 4:01pm, $0.81
    • FleetCor Technologies (FLT) 4:01pm, $1.06
    • FMC (FMC) 4:30pm, $0.92
    • Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) 4pm, $0.90
    • IAC (IACI) 4:05pm, $0.91
    • Kimco Realty (KIM) 4:01pm, $0.13
    • Lincoln National (LNC) 4:10pm, $1.28
    • Marathon Oil (MRO) 4:03pm, $0.71
    • NXP Semiconductor (NXPI) 8pm, $0.95
    • O’Reilly Automotive (ORLY) 6:30pm, $1.32
    • Pandora Media (P) 4:01pm, $0.07
    • Plains All American Pipeline (PAA) 4:05pm, $0.70
    • Prudential Financial (PRU) 4:07pm, $2.23
    • SolarWinds (SWI) 4pm, $0.34
    • Standard Pacific (SPF) 4:02pm, $0.14
    • Stericycle (SRCL) 4:02pm, $0.96
    • Tesoro (TSO) 4:40pm, $0.31
    • TriQuint Semiconductor (TQNT) 4:02pm, $0.13
    • Twitter (TWTR) Aft-Mkt, $(0.02) - Preview
    • Walt Disney (DIS) 4:15pm, $0.91 - Preview
    • XL Group (XL) 4:01pm, $0.82
    • Yelp (YELP) 4pm, $(0.03)

COMMODITY/GROWTH EXPECTATION (HEADLINES FROM BLOOMBERG)

  • WTI Rises a Second Day as U.S. Freeze Seen Curbing Fuel Supplies
  • Mitsui Mining Boosts Zinc Fee 70% as China Consumption Rises
  • Sugar Prices Post Longest Rally in Five Months on Supply Concern
  • Rubber Seen Needing Further 20% Drop to Drain Global Stockpiles
  • Korean Coffee Lovers Luring Brazilian Arabica Sales: Commodities
  • Wheat Slides Amid Speculation Snow Cover Will Shield U.S. Crop
  • Gold Gains as Investors Weigh Economy Concerns, Physical Demand
  • Natural Gas Retreats After Gains; CME Raises Margins for Trading
  • NYSE Liffe Said to Review Cocoa, Coffee Trade as Prices Diverge
  • India Said to Consider 75% Increase in Sugar Export Subsidy
  • French Refiners Lost 700 Million Euros in 2013 as Margins Shrank
  • Rubber Declines to 17-Month Low Amid Chinese Demand Concerns
  • Copper Smelters Win Amid Mine Production Glut: Chart of the Day
  • Zinc Rebounds From Longest Slump in 25 Years on Supply Outlook

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 5

 

CURRENCIES

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 6

 

GLOBAL PERFORMANCE

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 3

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 4

 

EUROPEAN MARKETS

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 7

 

ASIAN MARKETS

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 8

 

MIDDLE EAST

 

THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK - 9

 

 

The Hedgeye Macro Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Early Look

daily macro intelligence

Relied upon by big institutional and individual investors across the world, this granular morning newsletter distills the latest and most vital market developments and insures that you are always in the know.

RETAIL CALLOUTS (2/5): URBN, RSH, ADIBOK, UA, WMT, +MORE...

Takeaway: URBN bold FW launch. RSH not closing enough stores. Top Shop = Big Idea. AdiBok, Iverson not MJ. UA/Adi drop gloves. UK prices down, rev up.

EVENTS TO WATCH OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS

 

GIL - Earnings Call: Wednesday 2/5 5:00pm

 

ECONOMIC DATA

 

UK shop prices fall for ninth consecutive month

(http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/feb/05/uk-shop-prices-fall-january-sales-deflation-brc-nielsen)

 

  • "Prices in Britain's shops fell at the fastest rate in more than seven years in January as retailers resorted to aggressive discounting on clothing, furniture and electrical goods…"
  • "Shop price deflation accelerated to 1% last month from 0.8% in December according to the British Retail Consortium/Nielsen shop price index…"
  • "It was the ninth consecutive month of falling prices and the sharpest deflation rate on record since the series began in December 2006."

 

Takeaway: Interesting to see that prices are down at a time when retail sales are finally showing signs of life, and retailers and brands that operate in the UK are almost uniformly reporting positive business trends.

 

COMPANY NEWS

 

URBN - Free People Unleashes Footwear

(http://www.wwd.com/footwear-news/markets/free-people-unleashes-footwear-7408820?module=hp-fn)

 

  • "Free People will unveil its in-house footwear line to the wholesale market this week."
  • "Retailing for $168 to $428, the leather booties, boots, mules, flats and heels in neutral colors reflect the rustic-meets-boho vibe of Free People's clothing line."
  • "In addition to wholesale, Free People will offer the in-house label in its own 90 boutiques across the country, as well as on its e-commerce site. The label already has started testing styles via e-commerce, and Meehan said the response has been positive."

RETAIL CALLOUTS (2/5): URBN, RSH, ADIBOK, UA, WMT, +MORE...   - chart1 2 5

 

Takeaway: Not sure if these are the coolest things ever, or the ugliest things ever. But it's a bold statement by Free People -- and we'll take a bold statement (even if it fails) over a safe bet any day.

 

RSH - RadioShack to Close About 500 Stores Within Months

(http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303442704579362870830018510)

 

  • "According to people familiar with the matter, RadioShack is planning to close around 500 locations in the coming months. It isn't clear which of RadioShack's roughly 4,300 stores will be closed and when exactly the closings will begin."

 

Takeaway: They forgot to mention this in that 1980s redux Super Bowl ad that drove the stock up 8%. The reality is that this is probably the right move. We'd rather see 1,000 modern stores that sell 'must have' products, than 4,300 old, antiquated stores with grumpy employees trying to sell batteries, extension cords, and circuit board components. 

 

ADDYY, UA - Adidas Sues Under Armour Over Patents

(http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304851104579363382664864164?mod=WSJ_business_whatsNews)

 

  • "Adidas AG sued rival Under Armour Inc. on Tuesday, alleging it infringed on 10 Adidas patents used in the German company's fitness tracking system called miCoach."
  • "The complaint alleges that MapMyFitness and other products from Under Armour resemble Adidas's own products too closely. The German company claims Under Armour willfully infringed on its patents and seeks a jury trial. The patents cover functions like real-time workout data transmission and automated route mapping."
  • "Adidas also charges that Under Armour's director of innovation and research—formerly Adidas's senior innovation engineering manager—had direct knowledge of Adidas's patents. Adidas declined to name the person."

 

Takeaway: While we can't comment on any direct patent infringement or what the innovation head knew, or shared, we can say that there are a couple dozen applications and systems out there to track fitness levels according to various metrics. So few brands in that space have truly original thoughts and products anymore. We're not saying there's not a lot of cool and commercial stuff out there. But simply that so much of it mimics technology that's already being used by others. Unless there's blatant copying of specific Adi patents (which we'd think UA's risk management would have avoided like the plague), we'll be very surprised if AdiBok comes out ahead on this one. 

 

ADDYY - Reebok Launches New Marketing Campaign 

(http://www.sportsonesource.com/news/article_home.asp?Prod=1&section=8&id=49751)

 

  • "Reebok launched its new, fully-integrated marketing campaign – 'Live With Fire', continuing the...brand's mission to change how people perceive and experience fitness."
  • "The 2013 'Live With Fire' campaign celebrates people whose lives have been transformed through their active lifestyle and in doing so unifies the brand's marketing of its fitness and lifestyle business. In addition to featuring Reebok's core pillars of Training and Running, the campaign reinforces Reebok's commitment to women's fitness through the introduction of its Dance and Yoga collections, as well as a renewed focus on Walking."

 RETAIL CALLOUTS (2/5): URBN, RSH, ADIBOK, UA, WMT, +MORE...   - chart2 2 5

 

Takeaway: Is Reebok still seriously parading around Allen Iverson as a brand spokesperson? The guy hasn't played in four years (three years if you count that year he played in Turkey -- we don't think that counts as it relates to relevance to the US consumer). It's clear that AdiBok is trying to immortalize the guy in the same way that Nike grew Michael Jordan's brand and persona long after he stopped playing. As much as we're surprised that the Jordan Brand still remains so relevant after all these years, the reality is that Iverson wasn't Jordan on the court, off the court, and his relevance in the mind of urban consumers never approached MJ levels.

 

Top Shop - Topshop Signs Lease for Fifth Ave. Flagship

(http://www.wwd.com/retail-news/specialty-stores/topshop-sets-fifth-avenue-unit-in-manhattan-7409282)

 

  • "Topshop…[is planning] a 40,000-square-foot flagship at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 49th Street."
  • "The new store, currently occupied by Lacoste and adjacent to Rockefeller Center, will be the second-largest Topshop unit after Oxford Circus in London, which measures 90,000 square feet."
  • In addition to the uptown store, Topshop will open four new units across the U.S., in San Diego, Houston, Atlanta and Washington, over the next 12 months. All, with the exception of D.C., will also have Topman spaces. Topshop owner Sir Philip Green will be investing $40 million to $50 million in building and fitting out all the new stores."
  • "In an interview here, Green said the long-awaited uptown opening in Manhattan is part of a continued push into the U.S. market, where he aims to generate $1 billion dollars in revenue from the Topshop and Topman brands."

 

Takeaway: This is the story most likely to go unnoticed by US investors, but one that is likely to emerge as one of the biggest US retail ideas over the next two years.  Contrary to what the name suggests, this retailer sells a lot more than just tops. It has a full assortment including tops, denim, coats, shoes/boots, belts, handbags, jewelry, and more. It's not that assortment that is so threatening to US brands, but rather the price. Jeans for $70. Purses for $30. Boots for under $100, and Jewelry for less money than it costs to buy a  cheeseburger near the new 5th Ave flagship. The prices aren't quite as low as H&M, but the quality is definitely higher.

 

WMT - Wal-Mart sets C$500 million Canada expansion, rival shares fall

(http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/04/us-walmart-investment-idUSBREA130JQ20140204)

 

  • "Wal-Mart Stores Inc will invest about C$500 million ($452.35 million) this year to expand in Canada…"
  • "Wal-Mart's investments for the coming fiscal year, which are slightly higher than the C$450 million it earmarked last January for expansion in Canada, include more than C$376 million for store projects, C$91 million for distribution networks to expand fresh food capability and C$31 million for e-commerce."
  • "[Walmart] said it planned to complete 35 supercenter projects in Canada by January 31, 2015, adding one million square feet of retail space…"

 

Takeaway: On one hand, this is a drop in the bucket for WMT. This is a company that will spend nearly $14 bn in capex this year. But on the flip side, at least it shows WMT's commitment to growing in a market that others, like Sears, are leaving.

 

Asics - Asics Results Up on Weaker Yen, Running Boom

(http://www.wwd.com/footwear-news/business/asics-results-up-on-weaker-yen-running-boom-7408528)

 

  • "Management lifted its guidance for operating profit for the full year to 25.5 billion yen, or $252 million, from 24.5 billion yen, or $242 million, at current exchange rates."
  • "Asics reported a 19.6 percent rise in net income for the nine months ended Dec. 31 to 15 billion yen, or $148 million. Total revenues for the period rose 25.1 percent to 238.3 billion yen, or $2.3 billion."
  • "By area, sales in the Asia-Pacific region showed the most gains, growing 74.1 percent currency-neutral. The Americas rose 37.1 percent, Europe gained 36.4 percent and the domestic Japanese market advanced 4.2 percent."

 

INDUSTRY NEWS

 

Senate Passes Farm Bill

(http://www.wwd.com/business-news/government-trade/senate-passes-farm-bill-7408932)

 

  • "The massive legislation provides billions of dollars in funding to broadly implement farm safety-net policies and conservation and food stamp programs over five years."
  • "The measure establishes the Pima Agriculture Cotton Trust Fund, which would run through 2018 and provide $16 million in funding annually. It essentially restores the Cotton Trust Fund, which expired in 2009 and suspended duties on imported cotton shirt fabric, and provided grants to cotton shirt manufacturers and yarn spinners in the U.S. It was created to offset an inverted tariff — the U.S. duty on imported finished cotton shirts was lower than the tariff on cotton shirt fabrics, which impacted the competitiveness of U.S.-based cotton shirt makers."
  • "It remains to be seen whether the legislation will resolve a long-standing cotton subsidy dispute with Brazil and bring U.S. cotton programs into line with World Trade Organization requirements but lawmakers said it should, by eliminating direct payments of about $580 million a year to cotton farmers, ending countercyclical payments and modifying the export guarantee program."

THE M3: JAN GGR; WYNN MACAU BONUS; WYNN ONLINE; FERRY VISITS

THE MACAU METRO MONITOR, FEBRUARY 5, 2014

 

 

JAN GGR DICJ

January GGR totaled HKD 27.902 billion (MOP 28.739 bn), up by 7% YoY (Street est: +13%).

 

WYNN MACAU GIVES 5% PAY RISE, ONE-MONTH BONUS Macau Business

Most of Wynn Macau Ltd’s 7,600-strong workforce have received a bonus equivalent to one month’s pay, and will get a 5% pay rise soon.  The pay rise is effective from March 1.

 

DOUBTS PUT WYNN'S US ONLINE VENTURE ON HOLD Macau Business

WYNN has postponed the launch of its online casino in New Jersey after CEO Steve Wynn questioned the venture’s profitability and the state’s laws.  Wynn’s objections were confirmed by a Wynn Resorts spokesman, who said the company no longer saw online gaming as an “entrepreneurial opportunity”.

 

FREE TOUR BAN MEANS FEWER TRAVEL BY FERRY Macau Business Daily

Fewer visitors have been coming to Macau by ferry since the mainland banned free package tours in October, a government official says. “There has been quite an impact on the number of package tourists coming to Macau by sea,” Marine and Water Bureau director Susana Wong Soi Man told reporters on Sunday. Ms Wong said the number of ferry passengers had fallen by between 10 percent and 20 percent since October. Ms Wong said passenger numbers had recently begun to recover.

 

Ms Wong said the renovation of the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal on the peninsula was proceeding on schedule. She said the first phase of the expansion of the east and west wings of the terminal was “basically” complete. The number of ferry ticket and airline check-in counters would increase to 46 from 34, she said. Ms Wong said the next step was to install a baggage carousel before the summer, as the lack of such a carousel was the main cause of complaint about the terminal. The work will be done in five phases. The government expects the work, which began in July, to take at least one year. The terminal now handles about 40,000 passengers and 250 ferry movements a day, on average.


YUM: LONG-TERM DRIVERS IN PLACE

YUM continues to be our favorite LONG in the big cap QSR landscape as we believe the company is positioned to capitalize on a substantial long-term growth opportunity in China and other emerging markets.  We expect easy comps, notable margin expansion, and positive earnings momentum to drive performance throughout 2014.  The magnitude of this performance will depend heavily upon the trajectory of the recovery in China.  Management’s guidance of 40% operating profit growth in China may be aggressive, but we believe they have multiple levers at their disposal to reach at least 20% earnings growth in 2014.

 

 

China Concerns Are Overdone

Analysts sounded cautious on the 4Q13 earnings call and somewhat hesitant to believe YUM is positioned for a strong recovery in China in 2014.  Avian Flu and competitive concerns (local pressures facing the Pizza Hut business) have been weighing down expectations.  We believe these concerns are largely overdone. 

 

While it is difficult to gauge consumer psyche regarding recent Avian Flu episodes, management has not seen a notable negative impact in January.  The company has strengthened its supply chain and, through the recent I Commit initiative, made significant progress in rebuilding the trust of consumers in the KFC brand.  YUM will also continue to benefit from improved sales forecasting at KFC, labor scheduling, and service optimization in the region.  Given strong brand attribute stores and a strong start to January, we have little reason to believe comps will not accelerate meaningfully from 2013 levels.

 

After posting a weak comp in December, Pizza Hut casual dining has been a point of contention as fears of local, competitive pressures have mounted.  However, the brand still posted a +5% comp in 4Q and sales have rebounded thus far in 2014.  Pizza Hut casual dining continues to be a tremendous growth vehicle (strong economic model, two-year cash payback) for YUM as they look to accelerate unit growth in lower tier (better return) cities.  Pizza Hut home business (55% of the menu is Chinese food) represents another strong growth opportunity.

 

We believe the trends in sales and margins in China suggest the company has made significant progress restructuring the business, setting the stage for improved profitability in 2014.  Longer term, we believe China represents a material opportunity for YUM to capitalize on a growing consumer class that is expected to double from 300mm+ in 2012 to 600mm+ by 2020.

 

 

Taco Bell Is Underappreciated

While Pizza Hut and KFC delivered less than desirable comps in the U.S. in 4Q, the Taco Bell business (2/3 of U.S. operating profits) continues to be strong, posting a +1% comp in a sluggish sales environment.  This represents its 8th consecutive quarter of comp growth.  We expect this brand to continue taking share from competitors in 2014 and to drive incremental sales through product innovation and the rollout of the breakfast platform.  Restaurant level margins are approaching 20% and development is set to accelerate to 86 net new units in 2014, with the potential for 2,200 more units domestically.  Taco Bell is currently carrying the U.S. business but with the refranchising program nearly complete, we’d expect to see a stronger emphasis on turning around the domestic Pizza Hut and KFC businesses.

 

 

YRI is a Longer-Term Play

A lot of the recent sell-off can be attributed to emerging market concerns.  The overall performance of YUM’s YRI business, however, was encouraging.  Russia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America continue to be pockets of strength and the company successfully entered four new emerging markets in 2013 (Tanzania, Ukraine, Argentina, Mongolia).  The YRI business (which will be consolidated with the U.S.) will be somewhat volatile – but that is to be expected.  YUM’s expansion into emerging markets is a material long-term growth opportunity, as the company positions itself to capitalize on a rapidly expanding consumer class.

 

YUM: LONG-TERM DRIVERS IN PLACE - 2 4 2014 2 48 38 PM

 

 

 

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.

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