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Banging Your Head Against Wall?

Client Talking Points

JAPAN

Down Dollar means Up Yen --> Up Yen means Down Nikkei (down -11.4% year-to-date). Mother’s Index got hammered for a -5.7% loss last night as the Japanese dudes get margin calls. #GrowthSlowing in Japan continues as confidence falls.

UST 10YR

The 10-year yield at 2.73% this morning after failing once again at Hedgeye TREND resistance of 2.81% on last week’s misplaced #RatesRising fears (that was last year’s call). The risk range for the 10-year is 2.62% to 2.81%. So, what do you do on down days? You keep buying bonds.

GOLD

Are you banging your head against #OldWall debating why the Dow is down -1.8% year-to-date versus just buying Gold on the pullbacks? Gold is up +0.5% to +9.3% YTD. It remains one of the best ways to be long of inflation slowing US growth. TRADE support is $1,301/oz.

Asset Allocation

CASH 22% US EQUITIES 8%
INTL EQUITIES 10% COMMODITIES 20%
FIXED INCOME 18% INTL CURRENCIES 22%

Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration
OC

Construction activity remains cyclically depressed, but has likely begun the long process of recovery.  A large multi-year rebound in construction should provide a tailwind to OC shares that the market appears to be underestimating.  Both residential and nonresidential construction in the U.S. would need to roughly double to reach post-war demographic norms.  As credit returns to the market and government funded construction begins to rebound, construction markets should make steady gains in coming years, quarterly weather aside, supporting OC’s revenue and capacity utilization.

DRI

Darden is the world’s largest full service restaurant company. The company operates +2000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, including Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn and Capital Grille. Management has been under a firestorm of criticism for poor performance. Hedgeye's Howard Penney has been at the forefront of this activist movement since early 2013, when he first identified the potential for unleashing significant value creation for Darden shareholders. Less than a year later, it looks like Penney’s plan is coming to fruition. Penney (who thinks DRI is grossly mismanaged and in need of a major overhaul) believes activists will drive material change at Darden. This would obviously be extremely bullish for shareholders and could happen fairly soon driving shares materially higher.

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.

Three for the Road

TWEET OF THE DAY

Home Prices in the UK continue to follow the path of purchasing power +6.8% y/y FEB vs +5.5% last #StrongPound @KeithMcCullough

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Life is the art of drawing without an eraser." - John W. Gardner

STAT OF THE DAY

Malaysia Airlines has offered initial financial assistance of $5,000 per passenger to the families of Flight 370 passengers, and promised that additional compensation was being prepared. The airline is eventually likely to pay next of kin compensation that ranges into the millions of dollars per passenger. Under an international treaty known as the Montreal Convention, the airline must pay relatives of each deceased passenger an initial sum of around $150,000 to $175,000. (CNN)



Becoming King

"Kings are not born, they are made by general hallucination."

-George Bernard Shaw

 

On this day more than 700 years ago, Robert the Bruce became the King of Scotland.  Robert was one of the most well known warriors of his generation and led the Scots in their wars of independence against Britain. 

 

Prior to successfully defeating the British, according to legend, Bruce was hiding in a cave on Rathlin Island off the north coast of Ireland. While in the cave Bruce purportedly watched a spider spinning a web in an attempt to connect one area of the cave's roof to another area.  (Clearly, Robert the Bruce had some spare time on his hands.)

 

 Becoming King - Battle of Bannockburn   Bruce addresses troops

 

The spider repeatedly failed but after each failed attempt kept turning back to the task at hand. Eventually the spider succeeded.  According to legend, Bruce is said to have used this as inspiration to continue his war against Britain where he eventually inflicted on them a number of critical defeats on the path to Scottish independence.

 

This story also supposedly inspired the maxim: "If at first you don't succeed, try try try again." 

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind ...

 

As the story of Robert the Bruce teaches us, becoming king is not an easy task.  As it relates to asset class performance this year, there aren't a lot of kings in the year-to-date. On a country basis, the top three decliners are as follows:

  • Russia -19.5%
  • Venezuela -14.8%
  • Czech Republic -12.6%

Japan is a close runner up to the top three and comes in fourth with a -11.5% decline on the Nikkei in the year-to-date. Incidentally, the Japanese Mothers Index (more small cap focused) is down a staggering -5.7% today. 

 

As the reigning King of Russia, Vladimir Putin is certainly learning the pain of trying to broaden his kingdom. On the back of Russia's literal annexation of Crimea, Russian equities are getting clobbered as noted above.

 

This morning the West is implementing more actions to further alienate Russia. The big symbolic one is that the G-8 summit, which was originally scheduled for Sochi this summer, has now been moved to Brussels and Russia has been uninvited.

 

In part, this and the myriad of sanctions that have been implemented against Russia are largely symbolic.  No doubt the most significant sanction is the one that has been implemented by the markets themselves as noted above by the almost -20% decline for Russian equities in the year-to-date. To the extent Russian equities continue to decline and Russian companies are challenged to tap the public markets to raise capital, Putin will certainly be wondering whether it is all worth it to become king.

 

The King of Fed watching, Jon Hilsenrath from the Wall Street Journal, wrote an interesting article yesterday highlighting the odd (for lack of a better word) nature of economic target setting by the Federal Reserve.  According to Hilsenrath, even though the Fed expects a 5.4% jobless rate in 2016, a normalized level, they are still likely to keep interest rates at a level that is well below normal (typically considered 4%-ish on the Fed funds rate).

 

To the extent this turns out to be accurate, it is likely that we continue to see inflationary assets (Gold) continue to front run this long term dovish policy.  The broader concern, of course, is the arbitrary nature of employment targets such as the jobless rate.  In the Chart of the Day, we highlight a chart we have shown many times in the past which is the labor force participation rate. 

 

As the chart shows, the U.S. is literally at generational lows in terms of participation in the labor market.   In fact, labor force participation peaked at just under 67.5% in 2000 and has been in relatively steady decline ever since.  Currently, the labor force participation rate is just over 62.5% and at an almost 35-year low.

 

This emphasizes the oddity of the Federal Reserve using an arbitrary data point such as the jobless rate to highlight the health, or lack of health of the economy, since the jobless rate doesn’t take in to account the people simply dropping out of the labor force.  For today, we’ll leave a discussion of whether the Fed’s extreme dovishness has helped the economy to the side, but certainly the arbitrariness of their targets has and continues to confuse the markets. This is likely why the 10-year treasury rates are down almost 10% on the year and down again this morning. Simply put: investors don’t believe what the Fed is saying.

 

To add to the confusion, this morning Philadelphia Fed chief Charles Plosser is indicating he believes that Fed Fund rates will hit “2-something” by the end of 2015 and 3% by the end of 2016.  This is more than a 300 basis point move in the next couple of years.  Plosser also indicated he finds the market’s reaction to Yellen’s press conference last week confusing.  Well, Mr. Plosser, confusion breeds contempt, as they say.

 

Conversely, the United Kingdom, despite losing Scotland to Robert the Bruce many years ago, appears to have a central bank that is at a minimum providing some confidence to the markets and allocators of capital.   The U.K. reported CPI this morning at +1.7%, which suggests an inflationary environment in the U.K. that is relatively benign. 

 

Certainly, we’d be somewhat hypocritical if we assumed the CPI was the best gauge of inflation in the U.K. (it is a government constructed number after all), but nonetheless the key economic indicators in the U.K. continue to trend the right way as evidenced by CPI coming in lower versus the +1.9% reading in January. 

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.62-2.81%

SPX 1

VIX 13.34-17.42

USD 79.11-80.39

Gold 1 

  

Best of luck out there today and long live the king!

 

Keep your head up and stick on the ice,

 

Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research

 

Becoming King - Chart of the Day

 

Becoming King - Virtual Portfolio


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LEISURE LETTER (03/25/2104)

TICKERS:  RCL, WYN

EVENTS TO WATCH:  UPCOMING EARNINGS/CONFERENCES

TODAY

  • CCL to report earnings pre-market, conf call at 10am EST ()

  • Las Vegas: 29th Annual Nightclub & Bar Convention Trade Show 40,000 delegates Las Vegas Convention Center

Wednesday, March 26

  • PENN at TAG Spring Consumer Conference
  • Melco Crown Extraordinary General Meeting
  • Melco Crown Board Meeting  

 Friday, March 28

  • Nevada gaming revenues release for February 

 

COMPANY NEWS     

RCL -  Due to the oil spill and associated response efforts in the Port of Galveston, the March 23 Navigator of the Seas sailing has been canceled.  Guests will be refunded in full, will have the option to book a future cruise at a 25% discount, & may remain onboard until March 30.

 

TAKEAWAY:  Unfortunate cancellation for RCL but not material on an ongoing basis.

 

WYN -  The Art Deco New Yorker Hotel, located at Eighth Avenue and 34th Street, is undergoing a full makeover and transformation from the Ramada brand to the Wyndham Hotel & Resorts flag.  The property is owned by a subsidiary of the Unification Church.  Additionally, commercial space on the lower 18 floors is being converted into 172 additional hotel rooms. The hotel currently holds 912 rooms, and when all of the changes are complete, that number could jump to 1,500. As leases expire over the next five years, 270,000-square-feet of space will be freed up and turned into guest rooms.  The property is located two blocks from the Related Companies Hudson Yards project

 

TAKEAWAY:  NYC already having trouble absorbing above industry supply growth.


INDUSTRY

Saipan – We highlighted the Saipan Casino Legislation in our March 3rd Leisure Letter. The gaming legislation was signed into law by Governor Eloy Inos. The law allows a 40-year exclusive Saipan casino license - Inclusive of an initial 25-year period and an extension of 15 years - and a second option to renew for another 40 years for a total of 80 years.  The legislation requires the exclusive Saipan casino license holder to build from the ground up a hotel with at least “2,000 rooms,” but also does not set a timeline nor specify a phased-in approach. (Side note: currently the largest Saipan hotels currently have just over 400 rooms.)  The bill specifies that the $1 million in nonrefundable application fee and the $30 million in advance license fee payment shall be paid within 15 days of the law’s signing.  However, the casino legislation also gives the exclusive gaming licensee a rebate offset amount of 100 percent of the gross gaming revenue.

 

TAKEAWAY:  With current annual visitation of approximately 450,000 (comprised of 40% from Japan and 20% from China), that's only a small percentage of the total 730,000 room nights at a 2,000 room hotel. We remain skeptical of the casinos profitability and viability given the isolated location.  Additional airlift is required to ensure casino visitation. 

  

 

MACRO

Hedgeye remains negative on consumer spending and believes in more inflation.  Following  a great call on rising housing prices, the Hedgeye Macro/Financials team is turning decidedly less positive. 

 

TAKEAWAY:  We’ve found housing prices to be the single most significant factor in driving gaming revenues over the past 20 years in virtually all gaming markets across the US.



Retail Callouts (3/25): UA/NKE, AEO, WMT, WWW, KATE, LUX, JCP, SHOO

Takeaway: Big ex NKE hire for UA. AEO did what? WMT squeezes prices even more. WWW/KATE Keds Round 2. LUX/GOOG Glass deal. Ullman pay hike.

EVENTS TO WATCH

 

WEDNESDAY

  • FRAN - Earnings Call: Wednesday 3/26, 8:30am
  • PVH - Earnings Call: Wednesday 3/26, 9:00am

 

THURSDAY

  • HMB - Earnings Call: Thursday 3/27, 9:00am
  • LULU - Earnings Call: Thursday 3/27, 9:00am
  • RH - Earnings Call: Thursday 3/27, 5:00pm


FRIDAY

  • FINL - Earnings Call: Friday 3/28, 8:30am

 

ECONOMIC DATA

 

ICSC - Chain Store Sales Index

 

Still lackluster sales growth as measured by the ICSC sales index, but the 1.7% growth rate is ahead of a) the 1.5% rate we saw last week, and b) last year's 1.0%. Compares remain relatively easy (starting this week) through May.

 

Retail Callouts (3/25): UA/NKE, AEO, WMT, WWW, KATE, LUX, JCP, SHOO - chart3 3 25

 

COMPANY NEWS

 

JCP - Mike Ullman Set for Big Pay Increase

(http://www.wwd.com/retail-news/people/mike-ullman-set-for-big-pay-increase-7611727)

 

  • Ullman...earned $2.4 million after his return to Penney’s as ceo in April. The sum included $811,000 for the prorated portion of his $1 million in annual salary and other compensation of $1.6 million, including $913,000 in personal use of corporate aircraft, making that perk larger than his collective paychecks, according to the definitive proxy filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • "Ullman’s base salary has been raised to $1.5 million and, after forgoing eligibility for stock and option rewards and a cash bonus in 2013 as the company faced a rapid cash burn and an uphill battle to turn itself around, this year he will be eligible for a cash bonus of up to twice his salary and equity awards of up to $5.5 million, making his potential pay package $10 million."

 

Takeaway: We're leading the charge that Ullman should no longer be at JCP. But let's be fair, he probably deserves some financial recognition for how much he's helped the company since his return. We have no problem with his higher comp package -- though we wish it was contingent on him not spending any time as Chair of the Dallas Federal Reserve or on the Board of the National Retail Federation.

 

WWW, KATE - our new keds are here! let’s…

 

Retail Callouts (3/25): UA/NKE, AEO, WMT, WWW, KATE, LUX, JCP, SHOO - chart1 3 25

 

Takeaway: This is a far bigger deal for WWW/Keds than it is for KATE. Keep in mind that Keds used to be a $500mm brand in the US alone. Now it is down to about $110mm (it was at $80mm when Payless owned it). There is massive runway here. 

 

WMT - Wal-Mart's new tool gives competitors prices

(http://www.boston.com/business/news/2014/03/21/wal-mart-new-tool-gives-competitors-prices/ZlzAmWNW0CJajeUKRyE25I/story.html)

 

  • "Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that it has rolled out an online tool that compares its prices on 80,000 food and household products...with those of its competitors. If a lower price is found elsewhere, the discounter will refund the difference to shoppers in the form a store credit."
  • "The world’s largest retailer began offering the feature, called ‘Savings Catcher,’ on its website late last month in seven big markets that include Dallas, San Diego and Atlanta. The tool compares advertised prices at retailers with physical stores, and not at online rivals like Amazon.com that also offer low prices on staples."

 

Takeaway: This is a pretty savvy move by WMT. On one hand it will give customers the perception that they will always get the lowest price at Wal-Mart -- and yes, there are a lot of consumers that are completely comfortable going home after a shopping trip and entering UPC codes into their computer hoping to get some WMT bucks in the mail. But on the flip side, so many consumer goods are made specifically for retailers in different quantities sizes and shapes to avoid this kind of price discounting. In other words, you probably can't find the same exact package of Huggies at Target than you can find at Wal-Mart. Therefore the discount mechanism WMT is preaching won't apply. If there's any category it will work it is with thinks like Soda and canned goods. Though there's already great price transparency there.

 

UA - Under Armour Hires Fritz Taylor as VP, Run 

(http://www.sportsonesource.com/news/article_home.asp?Prod=1&section=1&id=50417)

 

  • "Under Armour announced that Fritz Taylor has joined the organization’s footwear leadership team as vice president, run, effective immediately.  In this position, Taylor will be directly responsible for guiding the merchandising and development of all running footwear, including men’s, women’s and youth offerings."
  • "Prior to joining Under Armour, Mr. Taylor served in multiple management roles at Mizuno as Vice President and General Manager of Running, leading all aspects of their domestic running business. He also held a similar post as Senior Vice President, Footwear at Brooks, where he oversaw the design, development, merchandising and future concepts teams. Prior to Brooks, Taylor spent 19 years at Nike in various roles, including Product Director for Footwear and Category Footwear Leader for Running."

 

Takeaway: You don't last 19 years at Nike by being mediocre. This was a great hire by UA.  Having an office in Portland is starting to pay dividends for UA.

 

LUX - Google Inks Glass Deal With Luxottica

(http://www.wwd.com/accessories-news/eyewear/google-links-with-luxottica-for-glass-designs-7612902)

 

  • "Google...said it will partner with eyewear firm Luxottica as Google readies for the consumer launch of its Glass product later this year. Financial terms of the new deal were not revealed, and it applies only to the U.S."
  • "According to Google, it will work with Luxottica on the design of all glass-compatible frames...Google revealed the first in-house designed frames for Glass in January. Sunglass styles retail for $150 and optical styles are priced a bit higher at $225."

 

Takeaway: This one was inevitable. Luxoticca is to sunglasses what Fossil is to watches -- no one else can execute on mass design and production of a fashionable version of Google Glass than Luxotica.

 

AEO - American Eagle Is Going to the Dogs for Charity

(http://www.wwd.com/markets-news/juniors/american-eagle-is-going-to-the-dogs-for-charity-7611564)

 

  • "The line, which also has a charitable element benefiting the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, will be ready for stores for spring 2014."
  • "The collection can be previewed at www.ae.com/dogs, and currently feature denim to tees to swim products. Consumers  can sign up for a waitlist and then receive 20 percent off American Eagle purchases, with $1.00 per order benefiting the ASPCA. American Eagle said it aims to donate up to $100,000 towards the cause."
  • "Preston Konrad, American Eagle's style director, said, 'Your dog's style is another form of expressing your own, and we are thrilled to bring American Eagle fashionable looks to our pups with the debut of American Beagle Outfitters.'"  

 

Retail Callouts (3/25): UA/NKE, AEO, WMT, WWW, KATE, LUX, JCP, SHOO - chart2 3 25

 

Takeaway: First Ralph Lauren holds a fashion show for dogs, and now this? Seriously…can't these companies focus on selling apparel to humans?

 

SHOO - Steven Madden Teams to Buy Brian Atwood

(http://www.wwd.com/business-news/mergers-acquisitions/atwood-madden-form-footwear-dynamic-duo-7609301)

 

  • "Atwood and Steven Madden Ltd. have acquired the Brian Atwood intellectual property and related assets in a series of transactions involving Bluestar Alliance LLC and The Jones Group Inc.for an undisclosed amount."
  • "The IP assets acquired by Atwood and Madden cover both the Brian Atwood and B Brian Atwood brands under a new entity that will operate as a separate division of Steven Madden, with Atwood holding a minority stake, according to Edward R. Rosenfeld, chairman and chief executive officer of Steven Madden."

 

Takeaway:  Not sure of the price, so we can't say if it's a good deal. But price aside, this makes a ton of sense for SHOO. Atwood was one of JNY's most valuable properties, and helps Madden gain access to higher-end dress shoes for women.

 

OTHER NEWS

 

WMT - Asda to axe around 200 jobs

(http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/mar/24/asda-to-axe-200-jobs-leeds-leicestershire)

 

  • "Asda is to cut around 200 jobs as it forges a new five-year plan to tackle increasing competition from rival supermarkets and discounters."
  • "Head office staff in Leeds and the Leicestershire market town of Lutterworth, where its clothing arm, George is based, were briefed on the plans on Monday."
  • "The moves were part of a package of recommendations put forward by consultancy firm McKinsey, which also included calls for a widening of product ranges."

 

PVH - Arvind Limited Joins Indian Joint Venture with PVH Corp. for Operation of Calvin Klein Businesses in India

(https://www.pvh.com/investor_relations_press_release_article.aspx?reqid=1911786)

 

  • "PVH Corp...announced that Arvind Brands and Retail Limited, a subsidiary of Arvind Limited, has replaced PVH’s prior joint venture partners in Premium Garments Wholesale Trading Private Limited, the licensee of the Calvin Klein trademarks in India. In connection with the transaction, Calvin Klein, Inc...entered into a new license with Premium Garments to distribute Calvin Klein Jeans apparel and accessories and Calvin Klein Underwear products in India."

 

PVH - Steve Shiffman to Succeed Tom Murry as Calvin Klein CEO

(http://www.wwd.com/business-news/human-resources/steve-shiffman-to-succeed-tom-murry-as-calvin-klein-ceo-7612976)

 

  • "Steve Shiffman, currently president and chief commercial officer of CKI, will become chief executive officer on July 1, succeeding Tom Murry, who has been at the fashion firm for 17 years. Murry will become executive chairman, serving in an advisory role until he retires on Jan. 31."
  • "Murry, 63, originally planned to change his role at CKI in mid-2016, but decided to accelerate the process by two years. He said he felt like the company would be in capable hands with Shiffman, with whom he has worked closely for the past seven years."

 

 

 


MACAU: DON’T FORGET THIS VISITOR GROUP

  • While Mainland China visitation is the most important visitor segment and has been above expectations in 2014, Hong Kong visitors represents 23% of the total  (2nd largest) and declined for the 11th straight month.  

  • Year-to-date, total and Mainland visitation rose 8% and 14%, respectively, while HK visitation shrunk by 6%.

  • There is a rumor the dead-boat gaming cruises out of the ports in HK may be playing a role as they are particularly attractive for locals looking for a quick gambling trip without going through the Macau ferry and immigration congestion. 

  • One concern could be if China’s macro issues bleed into Mainland visitation to Macau, HK may not be there to pick up the slack. 

MACAU: DON’T FORGET THIS VISITOR GROUP - hlk


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