“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
That’s what Rhett epically told Scarlett at the end of Gone With The Wind. That pretty much sums up what I think of the Goldman call to sell Gold yesterday too.
Earlier in the movie, Rhett explains the generational gap to Scarlett:
“If you are different, you are isolated, not only from people of your own age but from those of your parents… but your grandparents would probably be proud of you and say, there’s a chip off the old block… and your grandchildren will try to be like you.” (The Fourth Turning, pg 79)
And that pretty much summarizes my generation vs. The Old Wall’s boomer and GI generations. Yes, I’m generalizing to make a point. You can blame my birth year, or blame them. It doesn’t matter. History won’t care. In terms of our Global Macro #process, we are different. And that’s just fine with me.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
If you ask the bond market what it thought of the GS call to sell Gold yesterday, evidently it couldn’t give a damn either. US 10yr Treasury Yields are back down to 2.53% this morning and remain as bearish as Gold is bullish in our model. If you want to get Gold right, get rates right.
Put another way:
- If you are bearish on Q3 US GDP growth slowing, you are A) bullish on bonds and B) bullish on Gold
- If you are bullish on Q3 US GDP growth accelerating, you are B) bearish on bonds and B) bearish on Gold (like we were in 2013)
Inclusive of yesterday’s newsy selloff in Gold, don’t forget the context of the move:
- Gold is +9% YTD
- UST 10yr Bond Yield is -17% (-51bps) YTD
So the Goldman growth bulls have some hay to bail. That’s not a personal attack – I have plenty of friends at Goldman who I hold in the highest regard. It’s just the YTD score.
Since Goldman has some very thoughtful people in their research department, this makes for an interesting bull/bear debate. From a macro perspective, their calls for 2014 are fairly uniform. Their highest profile strategists have a bullish growth and interest rate bias:
- Abby Cohen is looking for US growth to accelerate and US Equities to see multiple expansion
- Jan Hatzius is trying to get the Fed to pull forward the “dots” (raise rates sooner)
Hedgeye, on the other hand:
- Is looking for #InflationAccelerating to slow US consumption growth and perpetuate multiple compression in early cycle stocks
- And is trying to front-run the Fed’s decision-making process by predicting they get easier (as the economic data slows) in Q3/Q4
Don’t worry – “front-running” is only a bad compliance word if you’re running a bank, broker dealer, or asset management firm with some sort of inside information. I don’t do that. I just run my mouth.
On our Q3 Macro Themes Call last Friday, I went through the bull case for Gold via our #DollarDevaluation theme (ping if you’d like to review our slide deck – I’ll be presenting it in London this week). The sequence of front-running predictable Fed behavior is as follows:
- On the margin, Q314 real consumption data slows like the June data did (i.e. the Fed can’t blame FEB weather anymore)
- Janet Yellen, being a very particular bureaucrat looking to dot i’s and cross t’s, will want to acknowledge that slowing
- By the SEP Fed meeting, Wall Street will be looking at a much more dovish Fed than the tapering one it had at the start of the year
If you agree with me on that:
- You short the US Dollar
- You buy more Treasuries (and slow-growth #YieldChasing equities that look like bonds)
- And you buy more Gold
What I care most about on the GS call is the impact it had on our core 3-factor risk management model yesterday (price, volume, and volatility):
- PRICE – Gold held both its immediate-term TRADE line of $1301 and intermediate-term TREND line of $1271
- VOLUME – vs the 5-day avg, futures and options contract volume was +27.7%
- VOLATILITY – implied volatility didn’t move much (it’s still down -2% and -18%, respectively, on a 1 and 6 month basis)
Put another way, Goldman can still move markets, big time, from a volume perspective. But on my score card, when A) price holds my TRADE and TREND lines of support and B) implied volatility is falling, across durations… I buy more.
Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:
UST 10yr Yield 2.49-2.58%
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
Takeaway: YUM has been one of the best performers in the restaurant space over the past 6 months (+6.1%) and is a name we continue to prefer on the long side. Look for strength in China to dispel any remaining fears and the company to solidify its runway for +20% EPS growth in 2014.
Investment Thesis Overview
Despite being a strong performer to-date in 2014, YUM shares have room to run. We see fair value between $90-100/share.
YUM continues to be one of our favorite longs in the big cap QSR landscape as we believe the company is well positioned to capitalize on a substantial long-term growth opportunity in China and other emerging markets. Looking near term, we expect easy comps, notable margin expansion and positive earnings momentum to drive performance throughout 2014. As we’ve stated before, the magnitude of this performance will depend heavily upon the trajectory of the recovery in China. While management’s guidance of 40% operating profit growth in China may be aggressive, we believe they have multiple levers at their disposal to reach greater than +20% EPS growth in 2014.
Domestically, Taco Bell continues to take share from competitors and drive incremental sales through innovation. The chain recently launched its national breakfast rollout, supported by a strong advertising campaign. Early signs indicate that breakfast has been selling well and franchisees are supportive of the move. We believe breakfast represents a material opportunity for Taco Bell, even if they are only able to capture a small piece of the market. Taco Bell has significant brand momentum and continues to carry the domestic business. We expect to see a renewed level of focus at both the KFC and Pizza Hut brands throughout the year, but don’t expect to see any material improvement as they continue to lose share to competitors.
In addition to its strong positioning in emerging markets, YUM has three main levers (growth investments, growing dividend, share repurchases) to continually support the stock and drive shareholder value.
For 2Q14, the street expects revenues of $3.23 billion (+11% YoY), adjusted EPS of $0.72 (+29% YoY), and system-wide same-store sales of +3.3% (led by +11.2% growth in China). We see upside to earnings driven by strong same-store sales and operating leverage in China as productivity initiatives continue to materialize.
Same-Store Sales Trends
System-wide two-year same-store sales look to have bottomed in 1Q14 and we anticipate a recovery from these lows. A recovery in China and momentum at Taco Bell following its breakfast rollout should support meaningful system-wide comp growth throughout the year.
Strong comp growth and other efficiency initiatives in China should enable the company to improve restaurant level margins and operating margins in the quarter to an extent comparable to 1Q14.
YUM is currently trading at 22.00x P/E and 12.03 EV/EBITDA on a NTM basis.
The quarter, and really the year, relies heavily upon the performance of the China segment. Therefore, the main risk to our thesis is any setback or weakness in this market which would likely be driven by disappointing same-store sales. Over 90% of stores outside China are franchised. As such, the domestic KFC and Pizza Hut businesses are largely irrelevant when looking at the grand scheme of things. A continuation of the underperformance we saw at the Taco Bell brand in 1Q14 would be concerning, though to a much lesser extent than any underperformance in China.
Takeaway: We are riding out our long position in Lorillard.
The big news last Friday was that all parties that may be involved in a deal to acquire Lorillard (LO)—directly or not—acknowledged through press releases that in fact, the parties are underway in discussions (yet noted that there is “no certainty that any deal will take place”).
This not-so-new-news (rumors have persisted since March of a deal between Reynolds American (RAI) and LO), bolted LO shares on Friday as high as 5%+ intraday to well over $66.
Shares are showing continued strength today and are up 1.3% to just shy of $67.
Hedgeye Consumer Staples analyst Matt Hedrick writes that “we are riding out our long position in LO, which we initiated as a Best Idea Long on 2/26/14 at $47.74, to a price target of $80.”
Hedrick expects to see RAI and LO work closely to get this deal done, and attaches an 85% probability that a deal in fact gets done. Assuming Thursday’s (7/10) closing price of $63.09, he assumes there’s an additional 26% upside to our target, and around 8% of downside to $58 should a deal not get done.