Takeaway: Current Investing Ideas: CCL, DRI, FXB, HCA, LO, OC, RH, TROW and ZQK

Below are Hedgeye analysts' latest updates on our NINE current high-conviction investing ideas and CEO Keith McCullough's updated levels for each.


We also feature three research notes from earlier this week which offer valuable insight into the market and economy.




Trade :: Trend :: Tail Process - These are three durations over which we analyze investment ideas and themes. Hedgeye has created a process as a way of characterizing our investment ideas and their risk profiles, to fit the investing strategies and preferences of our subscribers. 

  • "Trade" is a duration of 3 weeks or less
  • "Trend" is a duration of 3 months or more
  • "Tail" is a duration of 3 years or less





CCL – Carnival traded up 4.1% this week vs. +1.4% for the S&P 500 Index. Optimism regarding improving European economies and stronger European consumer spending helped cruise sentiment. Our March 2014 cruise line pricing survey indicated the Carnival brand showed the greatest positive pricing momentum in sequential pricing among the big 3 cruise line operators in March 2014. 


Europe’s biggest cruise event, the London Cruise Show is March 22-23 and we look forward to commentary from London, last week’s Miami convention and Wave season bookings on Tuesday, March 25th – when CCL reports fiscal 1Q14 earnings.  The Ukraine/Russia conflict is of some concern because of Baltic Sea exposure. While the Baltic Sea itineraries account for <10% of Carnival’s European itineraries, it will still sting if CCL is forced to cancel/reroute some of the itineraries.


Bottom line? Keep calm, Carnival will carry on.



DRI – Earlier this week, Darden urged shareholders to reject Starboard’s proposed special meeting, calling the event unnecessary and expensive.  Starboard followed up the next day by releasing a definitive solicitation statement calling for a special meeting and containing an important message to shareholders.




In this letter to shareholders, Starboard highlights their concerns with the proposed separation and Darden’s current management team.  Starboard cited Hedgeye research several times throughout the letter, which can be accessed here. 


We encourage you to read it for additional insight.



FXB – We remain bullish on the British Pound versus the US Dollar (etf FXB), a position supported over the intermediate term TREND by prudent management of interest rate policy from Mark Carney at the BOE (oriented towards hiking rather than cutting as conditions improve), and strong underlying economic fundamentals. 


In follow-up BOE minutes, the asset purchase program was held flat by a vote of 9-0 and the interest rate was held unchanged by a vote of 9-0.


This week the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility updated its forecasts and sees 2014 GDP at +2.7% versus forecasts of +1.8% a year ago and +2.4% in December. It also increased the 2015 growth forecast to +2.3% from +2.2% previously. The OBR sees budget deficit at -6.6% of GDP in 2013-14 from -6.8% previously forecast, and sees debt peaking at 78.7% of GDP in 2015-16, and falling to 74.2% of GDP in 2018-2019.


News out this week discussed Chancellor Osborne closing in on a deal that would see the City of London become an offshore center for trading the Chinese currency.


The British Pound is holding its Bullish Formation, trading above its intermediate term TREND and long term TAIL levels of support.



HCA – Shares of HCA Holdings have risen over 24% compared to a 14% return on the S&P 500 since being added back in June. 




Importantly, Healthcare Sector Head Tom Tobin noted in a research piece this week that that there may be as many as 300,000 patients who have deferred having a total knee replacement (TKR) over the last few years through the end of 2013.  If these deferred cases returned in a single year, it would represent roughly +44% of incremental case volume. 




Ortho is the largest revenue driver for hospitals at 17% nationally.The implication of a recovery in orthopedic case volume is a significant tailwind for hospitals and HCA.


LO – We expect Lorillard’s price to be supported by recent news that NJOY (a private e-cig maker) received a capital injection of $70MM and an enterprise valuation of $1B – a signal of confidence in the broader e-cig category. We expect blu to lead market share despite increased domestic competition with RAI and MO bringing to market their own e-cig offerings.

INVESTING IDEAS NEWSLETTER - blu electronic cigarette



OC – With recent residential construction names such as Lennar beating recent analyst expectations, despite the weather, benefits Owens Corning, which is considered an upstream name to the residential construction companies. We like OC due to its exposure to both residential ~56% and commercial construction ~22%. So looking at the big picture, construction for both nonresidential and residential is just getting under way – needing to double to just reach the 1 average. OC was added to Investing Ideas last week. 




RH – Restoration Hardware should report earnings after the close on Thursday March 27th.  Generally speaking, we’re expecting a good quarter. Just a few weeks ago, consensus was scared into thinking that we would see a meaningful revenue and gross margin miss – or about $0.62-$0.65 per share based on our math. While those fears have abated to a degree, we still think that the company will come in ahead of expectations by way of a same store sales comp in the 20-25% range with improved inventory position and slightly positive gross margin.


When all is said and done, we’re expecting EPS in the low-mid 80 cent range.


Importantly, the RH finally has some things to get people excited about in the next 12 months. Keep in mind that it has gone a year without opening a new store. But by May it will have two new major design galleries – one in Greenwich, Connecticut and the other in the FlatIron district of NYC.


In the Fall, there’s another in Atlanta followed by Los Angeles to close out the year.


Most importantly, there’s a completely redesigned floorset which hits this spring – again, something RH has not had in a while. Along with that will be a major sourcebook, which RH has not had in the better part of a year. Could there be things to poke holes at this quarter? Yes, there always are – with every company. But there’s a lot of positive change coming down the pike this year for RH.



TROW – T Rowe Price (TROW) had another good month of net client inflow according to Strategic Insight (SI), a private mutual fund survey released this week that estimates fund flow at the manager specific level (versus our weekly ICI exercise which looks at general fund flow from a top down industry standpoint). According to SI, TROW pulled in another $2 billion in February, a follow through on the $3 billion the firm netted in January, the first month of 2014.




To scale these new wins, TROW was averaging just $1 billion per month in October, November, and December to finish out 2013, so the pace of money being added to the manager has quickened into ’14. This production is assisted by the continued outperformance of TROW funds, with an industry leading 62% of TROW funds rated 4 or 5 stars by Morningstar versus 40% at Janus and 20% at Waddell and Reed for example.


We continue to expect a very strong first quarter earnings report from TROW (much better than the rest of the asset management group) and for shares to react favorably.



ZQK – The key to Quiksilver is in top line growth -- but where will the growth come from? We get this question often, as the common perception out there is that the three brands are mature and therefore cannot grow. We look at the following.


1) Geography: This business has historically been managed as three major geographies. That might have worked when it was a $300mm company, but not as a company clocking in $2bn revenue. Look at other successful global consumer non-durables…they all have a country President, who ultimately reports into both the head of Global Sales and have a dotted line to Marketing and Product. Two brands that come to mind; Ralph Lauren and Nike. We mention Ralph Lauren in that they had a ‘President of International’ and after only 2 years, they cut him loose. The structure does not work. They’re moving to the model that’s worked so successfully for Nike (hint: CEO Mooney is from Nike). UnderArmour still has an antiquated ‘Head of International’ structure. It’s sales outside the US have perennially been below 6% of total. #fail.  We think that ZQK has built a winning formula.

2) Emerging Markets: According to the 10K, 81% of ZQK’s sales come from developed markets. So naturally, 19% of sales come from Emerging Markets. Anybody want to guess how many countries comprise that 81%? 10? 20? 30? How about 82. That’s an average of $4.5mm in sales annually to each of those countries. That’s embarrassing, and Mooney will be the first to admit it. Obviously, there’s some kind of bell curve at work, and some of the countries are $40mm and others are $1mm. That’s no less of an opportunity. If anything it’s more. 

3) China: China is Not an Emerging Market, Right? Ok…one of those countries in the ’82 Developing markets’ is China. Yes, that country with 4.5x the population of the US. The per capita spend on ZQK product in China (the very place where most of it is manufactured)? About $0.29 per capita. If we use a level mid-way between where it is and where the US is (about $4.00), then we’re looking at nearly a $300mm business in China, or a $260mm revenue opportunity. Our sense is that Mooney would say that the opportunity is greater than that.

4) Footwear: This is the single greatest opportunity at ZQK. Mooney highlighted in the last conference call that there are 120mm pairs of vulcanized shoes sold in the US alone – and DC Shoes accounts for only 4mm of them. Our survey work shows that brand awareness of DC is pushing 90% -- and yet that translates to only 3% market share? That’s just not right. The brand’s current problem is that the price points are too high, and the product is simply off. Not a good mix. The new Footwear Head (from Nike) is fixing this, and fixing it fast. We expect the order book to start to kick up around the April/May timeframe, which should benefit 2H revenue.

5) But It’s Not Just DC: Quiksilver and Roxy are simply not playing in the footwear market right now. It has the distribution, it has the brand. But it simply lacks the product. We’re not saying that the product is there, but simply is not right. No…the product just is non-existent. Again, expect to see a change in 2H.

6) Yoga: Not as big of a revenue driver, but this market is on fire, and there’s no reason Roxy should be absent. You can find Roxy yoga mats and other low-margin accessories out there, but not authentic Yoga gear. Our recent survey work says consumers are willing to give it a shot. Watch out for an update to our recent Yoga Survey/Black book in a couple weeks. When all is said and done, we think that this is about a $50mm opportunity.

7) Company retail: Check out the company’s Boardrider’s stores. They’re redefining retail in this space. The stores are multi-brand, and have nearly every amenity to draw every relevant consumer in (some stores have bars). First in Europe, but it is a concept that is on its way to the US. Granted – a single concept has to reach considerable unit scale before impacting the top line. But this is both a slow build to the top line while (more importantly) building brand image.


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Process: Summarizing Our Current View

Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough outlined the thought process behind our view of this week's Fed announcement and the how/why of our subsequent positioning in a morning strategy note earlier this week (see "Morning Newsletter" Fade The Fed's Forecast). In the following note, we summarize that thought process in the context of both our research and risk management views.   



The Big Picture: Commodity Chartbook + Investing Implications

Food prices have surged in 2014, with the CRB Foodstuffs Index up +16.5% YTD and +4.8% YoY (as of 3/20). While rapid advances in coffee, beef, cheese and milk have largely fueled the overall basket, all of the commodities we track are in the green YTD.

INVESTING IDEAS NEWSLETTER - FoodPrices02.18.2014 normal


Nike: Great Heat, No Flow

We don’t have any major changes to our thesis in the wake of Nike’s 3Q14 print – we don’t think it’s an outright short, but we simply can’t get comfortable with the risk/reward here.



The Economic Data calendar for the week of the 24th of March through the 28th is full of critical releases and events.  Attached below is a snapshot of some (though far from all) of the headline numbers that we will be focused on.



POLL OF THE DAY RECAP: Elon Musk More Popular than Mother Teresa?

Billionaire Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page told Charlie Rose at TED this week that when he dies, he'd rather leave his savings to capitalists like inventor Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City, than to a charity. Hey Now. Strong words…


We wanted to know how many people agreed with Larry Page in our Poll of the Day: Would you rather leave your money to charity or Elon Musk?

At the time of this post, 57.1% of respondents picked ELON with 42.9% picking CHARITY.


Hedgeye Managing Director Moshe Silver put his money on ELON arguing, “the charity model is broken. The biggest problem is lack of transparency over use of funds, and secret agendas. Musk is a creative genius dedicated to making the world better through humanity-changing technology, and he's got audited financials. It ain't perfect, but worth a shot.”


Other voters who picked ELON said he can do more good for the whole, maybe by even creating a new, revolutionary charity.  One commenter said, “It's short term vs. long term view. Feed a thousand now or save a million later. Musk secures the long term and thinks big picture.”


Another said, “Elon takes big leaps to explore and solve problems, while most leaders at charities don't have the mind-set to turn something on its head and re-think the way things can be done... furthermore, various aspects of capitalistic ventures can solve some of humanities problems.”


Though the poll leaned toward ELON, there were plenty of comments on why CHARITY was a better bet:

  • “No doubt that Elon will change the world as we know it. He's a visionary and a winner. And he wants us to win too. But I can think of so many amazing charitable organizations that can succeed with a single donation, and are at risk of failing without it. Elon will have us driving electric cars and traveling through space with our without my money.”
  • “If Elon Musk created a charity, my bet is it would be extremely effective and there's a good chance he'd receive some of my money. But we're debating two different things.”
  • “When you pick the right charity all kinds of good can happen. Elon has no problem raising cash.”
  • “Musk is a rentier. He is thriving because of government loans, contracts, and subsidies.”
  • “Elon's too focused on delusions of grandeur (like going to Mars).  Tesla's great, but he has peaked already.  Bill Gates wants to help people on this planet.”

In the end, the real question may be: Why does Larry Page think he will die before Elon Musk?


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ICI Fund Flow Survey, Refreshed

Takeaway: YTD weekly average inflow for equity mutual funds is now $4.7 billion, an improvement from the $3 billion weekly average inflow for 2013.

Total equity mutual funds produced another week of inflow with $3.1 billion of net subscriptions, a deceleration from the $5.3 billion inflow the week prior.


The $3.1 billion inflow had a domestic fund bias during the most recent 5 day period ending March 12th, with $1.9 billion flowing into U.S. equity funds and $1.2 billion flowing into international stock funds.


The 2014 running weekly average inflow for equity mutual funds is now $4.7 billion, an improvement from the $3.0 billion weekly average inflow for 2013.


ICI Fund Flow Survey, Refreshed - flowbie


Of note, the most recent ICI fund flow survey relayed the strongest taxable bond fund flow in well over 3 quarters since May of 2013


Continued positive equity mutual fund inflow currently supports our long recommendation on T Rowe Price (TROW) which benefits from this trend with a leading retail equity mutual fund franchise.


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Editor’s note: TROW was added to Investing Ideas in late August. Click here to learn more about this product and how you can subscribe. 

Cartoon of the Day: Punishing Savers

Takeaway: Damn the long-standing American principle of "Franklin Frugality." America continues to destroy its citizens' hard-earned currency.

Cartoon of the Day: Punishing Savers - Saver03.21.2014

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