LEISURE LETTER (04/07/2014)



Monday, April 7

  • Las Vegas - National Association of Broadcasters six-day convention and trade show with more than 90,000 people from 156 countries attending. 

Tuesday-Thursday, April 8-10

  • Mid-America Gaming Congress (Columbus, OH)

Wednesday, April 9

  • SHO Investor Day

Thursday, April 10

  • HST Investor Day



BYD - lost its request in the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals to reassess the 2012 appraised value of Kansas Star Casino.  BYD says the casino has a fair value of $64.3 million but the court values the casino at $80.5 million vs the $95.8 million claimed by Sumner County.  Both BYD and the county have 30 days to appeal the tax court’s decision. 

TAKEAWAY:  We expect BYD to appeal.  We will ask management about this issue this week in our meeting.


MPEL - (Syndey Morning Herald)  MPEL is in talks with several Japanese corporations, apparently including some with operations in Australia, about joining forces to build a $US5 billion ($5.4bn) casino complex in Japan in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  MPEL is also considering IR opportunities in South Korea and Vietnam. Both countries currently allow foreigner’s only casino gambling.

TAKEAWAY: Lawrence Ho attempting to build a bigger and more vast gaming empire than his very successful father.


MGM China (2282.HK) - disclosed via proxy a resolution to grant a general mandate to the Directors to repurchase shares of the Company not exceeding 10% of the issued share capital at the date of passing this resolution.

TAKEAWAY: Interesting as Sands China Limited announced a similar shareholder resolution last week. 


WYNN - The president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, who as a state senator played a key role in shaping the expanded gaming law, is calling on Wynn Resorts to follow in the footsteps of Mohegan Sun, its competitor for the lucrative Boston-area casino license, and sign a pledge to stay neutral in any future elections that would decide what unions represent workers in its casinos.  The state gaming law calls on the Gaming Commission to base its license award decisions in part on “whether the applicant has included detailed plans for assuring labor harmony during all phases of the construction, reconstruction, renovation, development and operation of the gaming establishment.”

TAKEAWAY: MA is a very blue state.


BEE -  announced that it completed the redemption of its 8.50% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock.  The redemption of the Series A Preferred Shares will eliminate approximately $6.5 million in dividend payments for the remainder of 2014 and $8.8 million of dividend payments on an annual basis.

TAKEAWAY: Another positive step in cleaning up and resetting the Balance Sheet.


CHH  - announced a first-ever development incentive for new construction Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites hotels to further fuel growth of the Comfort portfolio.  The new construction development incentive reduces fees totaling 3 years of royalty value on approved Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites projects.

TAKEAWAY: Just what the industry needs, incentives to build new supply...could this be 1 all over again?


HLT -  “Take Flight” the brand enhancement program which includes changes to existing Homewood Suites prototypes recently introduced its Gen 9.2 prototype, featuring a higher percentage of one-room studio suites. These one-room suites make the hotels more adaptable to urban and high barrier-to-entry markets.  Homewood Suites represents more than 330 hotels open in three countries and territories and currently has more than 100 in the pipeline, representing more than 12,000 rooms.

TAKEAWAY: A brand that has struggled but with good potential, so we are anxious to see the upgrades to a Gen 9.2 prototype.


CCL -  2 ship incidents Cruise Critic

  • Three Carnival Pride sailings have had their itineraries cut short by one port to account for an electrical transformer malfunction.  According to PR, all safety and hotel systems are operating normally and repairs are taking place onboard during the scheduled sailings.  They're slated for completion by April 19. 
  • For the second time in six weeks, a broken propeller shaft seal is hampering a P&O Cruise ship.  P&O's Oceana will be delayed for three days in Barcelona while repairs are made to the ship.  In late February, P&O's Oriana suffered a broken propeller shaft seal that slowed the ship and ultimately forced the line to cut short a cruise by three days to make repairs.

TAKEAWAY:  Embarrassing.  P&O news is particularly disconcerting as it competes in an increasingly competitive UK/Med premium market.


RCL -  Celebrity Cruises set to launch new ad campaign Travel Weekly

Celebrity Cruises will launch a new series of ads that seeks to make a more emotional connection to potential cruisers.  The ads will supplement rather than replace the long-running “Modern Luxury” theme that Celebrity has used in its marketing.  Kauffman said Celebrity has budgeted $16 million for the campaign, which also includes trade and consumer magazine ads and online and social media components.

TAKEAWAY:  Higher marketing expenses for RCL.

INDUSTRY NEWS           

Chinese Travel Advisory - the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Kuching, Malaysia, has issued a safety alert for Chinese tourists following the kidnapping of a Chinese national in Semporna, Sabah, last Thursday. The safety warning was also delivered by the Tourism Crisis Management Office in Macau.


Pennsylvania Casinos Smoke Free - Two Pennsylvania legislators are pushing a bill that would prohibit smoking throughout the casino floor as well as at several other locations now exempt from the state ban.  Nationwide, 20 states require state-regulated casinos to be smoke free. Unfortunately, the three with the most gambling revenue — Nevada, Pennsylvania and New Jersey — are not among them. Pennsylvania mandates that 50 percent of the casino floor be nonsmoking, but smoke ignores the boundaries.

TAKEAWAY: Non-smoking seems like an inevitable outcome.


Riverboat Re-Sale Value – the former Casino Queen Riverboat, a  the 411-foot-long, four-story side-wheeler, which was sitting idle for more than five years was sold at auction last week for $600,000. The riverboat made its maiden voyage on the Mississippi River on June 23, 1993

TAKEAWAY: GLPI take note -- Argosy Sioux City could be next.



World Bank tempers Asian Growth Outlook - Developing East Asian economies will grow slower than forecast this year as China’s expansion moderates and political upheaval weighs on Thailand's outlook -- risks include a slower-than-expected recovery in advanced economies, a rise in global interest rates and increased volatility in commodity prices because of recent geopolitical tensions in eastern Europe.

TAKEAWAY: It used to be that when the U.S. caught a cold, the rest of the World caught pneumonia.  However, today when China catches a cold, the rest of SE Asia catches the plague. 


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. 

(Scary) Social Media Bubbles

Client Talking Points


The Nasdaq is down -5.3% from its year-to-date high and, more importantly, it sliced through my intermediate-term TREND line of 4,203 support on real volume Friday. Take a look at our bearish note on YELP from late last week. Some of the expectations embedded in these social media stocks are scary.


The CRB Commodities Index is up +0.57% versus Nasdaq down -2.6% on Friday. It’s alpha for the long #InflationAccelerating macro position versus US #GrowthSlowing (and big multiple stock compression). Meanwhile, the CRB Food Index was up another +0.6% last week to +19.8% year-to-date. Food #InflationAccelerating continues to be the contrarian macro call of the year.


The 10-year yield backed off my intermediate-term TREND resistance line of 2.81% last week like a champ. It makes sense as the rate of change in US employment continues to deteriorate. The 2-year average in Non-Farm Payrolls and private payrolls posted their lowest rates since November 2012 and August 2011, respectively.

Asset Allocation


Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration

Hologic is emerging from an extremely tough period which has left investors wary of further missteps. In our view, Hologic and its new management are set to show solid growth over the next several years. We have built two survey tools to track and forecast the two critical elements that will drive this acceleration.  The first survey tool measures 3-D Mammography placements every month.  Recently we have detected acceleration in month over month placements.  When Hologic finally receives a reimbursement code from Medicare, placements will accelerate further, perhaps even sooner.  With our survey, we'll see it real time. In addition to our mammography survey. We've been running a monthly survey of OB/GYNs asking them questions to help us forecast the rest of Hologic's businesses, some of which have been faced with significant headwinds.  Based on our survey, we think those headwinds are fading. If the Affordable Care Act actually manages to reduce the number of uninsured, Hologic is one of the best positioned companies.


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.


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.

Three for the Road


Social Media Bubbles are unique to the US stock market - watch their momentum factors closely @KeithMcCullough


"When all is said and done, success without happiness is the worst kind of failure." - Louis Binstock


More Americans felt rich enough to invest in vacation homes last year. Annual sales jumped nearly 30% to 717,000 homes, according to the National Association of Realtors. Vacation home sales represented 13% of the total market, their highest share since 2006. The median price rose to $168,700, up 12.5% from a year earlier. (CNN)

Quiet Is Not Safety

This note was originally published at 8am on March 24, 2014 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Quiet is no certain pledge of permanence and safety.”

-James A. Garfield


From the innovation that flowed from the US Centennial Exhibition Fair in Philadelphia in 1876 to the uncertainty associated with the Republican Convention in Chicago in 1880, Destiny of The Republic (by Candice Millard) ranks at the top of my #history reading list YTD.


Garfield may be one of the lesser known US Presidents, but the prescience and leadership embedded in some of his quotes are quintessentially free-market American. #timeless


He embraced uncertainty; he encouraged winning and losing. He didn’t prey on the ignorance of The People; he encouraged its education. He was as progressive as any President before him. He was nothing like the politicians you have to endure today.


Back to the Global Macro Grind


Today you have to deal with a US government (both Republicans and Democrats) that is either lying to you about real-world economics (inflation) or isn’t market-literate enough to be able to tell you the truth if it tried. I’m not sure what’s worse.


However, I am sure that whatever is left of free-markets will front-run the government’s proactively predictable behavior. While they may not be acknowledged in D.C., Burning The Buck and never calling a devalued currency inflationary are core market beliefs.


For a few days last week (actually for a day and a half), the market suspended this belief and:

  1. Bought US Dollars
  2. Sold Gold
  3. Sold Bonds



That’s what you should have done for literally all of Q1 of 2013 though. It’s Q1 of 2014, and the 2013 @Hedgeye TREND is over.


On Friday, everything reverted to the mean (towards the 3 month TREND):

  1. Dollar made another lower-YTD-high and went back down
  2. Gold made another higher-YTD-low and went back up
  3. Bonds had another great day, after v-bottoming from their Wednesday #RatesRising headfake

All the while, with the Dow Jones Industrials Index banging its head against the #OldWall to try to get itself to “up” for 2014 YTD (it’s -1.7%), food #InflationAccelerating continued with the CRB Foodstuffs Index up another +1.8% to +18.1% YTD.




Sure, oil remained under pressure (Brent Oil -1.2% last week) and that remains a bearish TREND signal @Hedgeye this morning (don’t be long oil with +406,967 net long futures/options contracts outstanding!), but that didn’t offset more of the same in terms of what components of the US equity market are delivering you the absolute return bacon YTD.


Mmm, #bacon (lean hog prices +31% YTD)…


From a sub-sector perspective in the SP500 YTD, this is what I mean by that:

  1. US Consumer Discretionary Stocks (XLY) -0.3% last wk (with the SP500 +1.4%) to -1.7% YTD
  2. Slow-growth-yield-chasing Utilities (XLU) +0.1% last wk to +6.7% YTD

In other words, whether your government calls it inflation or not, inflation slows real-consumption growth in America. So don’t get frustrated by it – just own it. #InflationAccelerating is a position that at least 10-20% of Americans can profit from.


No, that’s not a US political leadership message. It’s the winning market message – and, sadly, that is a losing one for at least 80% of America. The quiet and safety of the world buying US Dollars last year is ending. The 1-year average net long position in the USD (CFTC futures and options contracts) is +16,540 contracts, but:

  1. 3 months ago, the net long position went to flat
  2. 2 weeks ago, it moved to modestly net short
  3. Last week it dropped to a 1yr low of -12,167 net short

Yep, as Hemingway would say, at first the risk of your currency losing credibility happens slowly, then it happens all at once. The pledge of permanence of a #StrongCurrency advocated by Presidents like Garfield may be as worn out as (pre-1913 Fed Act days) free-market capitalism itself.


Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 2.62-2.82%

SPX 1851-1878

VIX 13.38-17.42

USD 79.11-80.49

EUR/USD 1.37-1.39

Gold 1316-1354


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Quiet Is Not Safety - Chart of the Day


Quiet Is Not Safety - Virtual Portfolio

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Destiny's Coincidence

“A thin line separates destiny from coincidence.”

-T.J. Stiles


That’s a great quote about a great capitalist by T.J. Stiles in The First Tycoon. Cornelius Vanderbilt was a Dutch boy who learned the ways of one of the most important waterways in world commerce from his family’s waterside farmhouse.


Farm life has always tended to erode the line between childhood and adulthood. Cornele (his childhood name) lived a life of work and responsibility, hoeing and milking, piling and shoveling. There was church too.” (The First Tycoon, pg 19)


In other words, one of America’s most important self-made capitalists of the early 19th century was a #grinder. He didn’t borrow to spend. He built things that made money. And he bought companies that he didn’t have time to build. He wouldn’t have been long of bubbles in social media terms.


Back to the Global Macro Grind


What is the destiny of a bubble that #OldWall media refuses to call a bubble? With 74% of companies who have come public in the last 6 months not making any money (only eclipsed by the Nasdaq bubble of 1999 when that number was 80%), what could possibly go wrong?


Destiny's Coincidence - Bubbles floating in the a 007


BREAKING: Nasdaq -2.6% on Friday, snapping @Hedgeye TREND support of 4203


Risk happens fast. With the social media stock bubble crashing (single stock moves have been -20-45% from their all-time peak), the Nasdaq is already -5.3% off its YTD high. Since the SP500 is only -1.3% from her all-time-bubble closing high, it must be a bargain!


To review what last weeks snappy correction in the Nasdaq looked like within the context of everything else:

  1. Nasdaq -0.7% on the week to -1.2% YTD
  2. Dow (which we signaled SHORT on Thursday in #RealTimeAlerts) +0.5% last week, but -1.0% YTD
  3. US Consumer Discretionary stocks (XLY) down another -0.1% last wk to -3.3% YTD

This all makes sense to us as our Top Q1 Global Macro Theme was #InflationAccelerating, which:

  1. Slows real consumption growth (short consumer stocks)
  2. Pays those who are long of inflation, in inflation terms

How does one own 2011 style stagflation?

  1. Utilities (XLU) up another +1.1% last week to +9.2% YTD
  2. REITS (MSCI Index) up another +1.3% last week to +9.5% YTD
  3. Gold up +0.7% last week to +8.3% YTD

That boring #GrowthSlowing setup sure beats being long Yelp (-32% since it’s 1st wk of March social media-bubble high)! See our new Internet Analyst, Hesham Shabaan’s, bearish note on YELP from last week. The growth expectations embedded in that stock are scary.


Away from being long #YieldChasing, you can also be long things like inflation via:

  1. CRB Commodities Index +0.6% on Friday vs Nasdaq -2.6% (CRB Index = +8.8% YTD)
  2. CRB Foodstuffs Index up another +0.6% last week to +19.8% YTD
  3. Coffee up another +2.4% last week to +63.8% YTD

I know, I know. Some of the smartest hedge funds on the planet are not long Coffee – they are long Twitter (TWTR) and Facebook (FB)! Why would you buy something like Pigs (+20.4% YTD), Soybeans (+15.4% YTD), or what Vanderbilt loved to get long of in his early days (Cotton +9.5% YTD)?


Smart in this game is as smart does. That’s capitalism. And so is reminding people of the score. This time won’t be different. Market history says that if A) Inflation Accelerates and B) Growth Slows, equity markets see multiple compression.


Two points of multiple compression on the SP500 (to 14x an earnings number that is too high) gets you 1638. Consensus is still looking for what it should have been looking for at this time last year (multiple expansion as inflation fell and growth accelerated). SP500 consensus for 2014 is still 1928.


Growth, as an investment style factor, looks like this for the last month:

  1. Top 25% Sales Growth (top quartile in the SP500) is -2.8%
  2. Top 25% EPS Growth is -2.6%
  3. High Beta -1.2%

So, is this the beginning of the end for growth stocks, or is it the end of the correction?


Consensus (measured by the net long or short position in futures and options contracts) seems to think the latter. SP500 Index and E-mini moved to a NET LONG position of +38,651 contracts into Friday’s close. That’s the longest the the Street has been of beta since late December.


In other words, right as the front-month of US Equity Fear (VIX) made another higher-low last week, consensus hedge funds covered high and got longer. In our playbook that’s no coincidence. The destiny of bubble prices confirming lower-highs on accelerating down-day volume isn’t either.


Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 2.66-2.81%


Nasdaq 4090-4203

USD 79.96-80.66

Gold 1


Best of luck out there this week,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Destiny's Coincidence - Chart of the Day


Destiny's Coincidence - Virtual Portfolio

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