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THE HEDGEYE MACRO PLAYBOOK

Takeaway: Our Macro Playbook is a daily 1-page summary of our core ETF recommendations, investment themes and proprietary quantitative market context.

CLICK HERE to view the document. In today’s edition, we highlight:

 

  1. How our Tactical Asset Class Rotation Model (TACRM) quantitatively combines Complexity Theory,  technical analysis and Behavioral Economics into unparalleled global financial market color and how we use that color to make informed risk management decisions
  2. How today's broad-based, global asset price deflation is similar to the setup that precipitated QE3 and why QE4 has be the bull case for anyone grossing up their exposure to risk assets here
  3. Why we think the bounce is Homebuilder stocks (via the ITB) is very shortable

 

Best of luck out there,

 

Darius Dale

Associate: Macro Team


Biting the Hand That Feeds

This note was originally published at 8am on October 09, 2014 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“If I were investing in oil and gas stocks, there is one question I would ask CEO’s: what portion of your capital is going to have to go in to stay even?”

-Gwyn Morgan, Former CEO of EnCana, 2002

 

Shale Gas now accounts for 40% of all U.S. natural gas produced, with its share expected to increase to 53% by 2040 according to EIA estimates. The U.S. has approximately 31 years of current aggregate domestic natural gas production in technically recoverable shale reserves (assuming all natural gas produced is from shale: ~60 years of recoverable reserves at peak estimated production levels).

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently reported that the largest employment increases since the shale revolution commenced circa 2006 have occurred in the four U.S. states which just so happened to have engaged in the heaviest amount of hydraulic fracturing: North Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.


Although an increase in overall drilling has ceased, the production of natural gas has increased dramatically. Companies can produce 6x the amount of natural gas they could from the same well in 2010. Smarter, more efficient drilling and better technology have contributed to the increase in well productivity in the last few years.

 

Many domestic industries benefit from the increase in U.S. natural gas production from the petrochemicals and fertilizers space to the iron, steel, and glass manufacturing players. With an abundance of this resource seemingly available at what should be cheap prices for years to come, why not take advantage?

  • Collectively embrace new projects
  • Quickly approve LNG Export terminals to help both domestic producers and the trade balance
  • Build an interconnected domestic network of pipelines

Biting the Hand That Feeds - 16

 

Why bite the hand that feeds?


Back to the Global Macro Grind…


Just to (again) re-iterate our preferred #QUAD4 positioning (GROWTH SLOWING, INFLATION DECELERATING):

  • We still like bonds (treasuries and munis)
  • We still think growth and inflation are slowing in the U.S.
  • We still have no evidence to suggest the monetary policy response in #Quad4 is anything but dovish

We outlined the outlook for the domestic economy in a #QUAD4 scenario in our macro themes call last week (ping sales@hedgeye.com for replay access).

 

If there was any question about the Fed-fueled leverage embedded in overall market levels, Janet Yellen’s dovish commentary that lifted the S&P 500 44 handles off the lows to close on the highs of the day should give some insight as to why the economy and the stock market become diverged (even for long periods of time)… UNTIL IT ENDS.

 

The global economy was cited as “weaker than anticipated” yesterday and the stock market rallied +2.3% off the lows.

 

The release of the Fed minutes from the September 16-17 meeting revealed that committee members were worried that:

 

“further gains in the dollar could hurt exports and damp inflation”

  • The S&P 500 airlifted off the lows to close +1.7% d/d
  • The 10-Yr yield backed up for the fourth consecutive day and is now at a new YTD LOW (2.28%) with every tick
  • The USD retreated 44 bps (RED AGAIN THIS MORNING)
  • Gold is ripping this morning on the follow through (+1.6%)

 

Why not just buy stocks and let the Fed have their “Free Lunch” as my colleague Christian Drake explained in Tuesday’s Early Look?  Why complain? Why bite the hand that feeds?


While the Fed can admittedly talk the currency in either direction, a #QUAD4 scenario also implies the existence of deflationary headwinds in the commodity space.  

 

The answer to Gwyn Morgan’s aforementioned quote is difficult to answer at the beginning of a project.

 

Which E&P projects are NPV positive? How can we possibly know?


With so much uncertainty in energy prices years into the future, this question is often left unanswered until it’s boom or bust. Energy companies certainly don’t like the disinflation of prices since mid-summer.

 

As you can see in today’s chart, the Thomson Reuters Wildcatter’s Index (small and mid-cap E&Ps) has retreated -33% from its June YTD highs. If you top-ticked that move, it was the same day you shorted oil at the 2014 highs. 

 

The steep premiums for natural gas in some parts of the United States shed light on the capital intensive nature of investing in the re-birth of the North American energy boom fueled by evolutionary production of shale rock resources.

 

While the onsite production is ramping-up across the country and flooding the market with supply, refining and transportation availability is still lacking, causing large premiums in those regions where it’s difficult to distribute resources. Developing the infrastructure requires time, and the profitability of each project is at the mercy of unpredictable oil and gas prices.


Marginal production costs in the Utica and Marcellus regions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are as low as anywhere in the country. Yet, natural gas futures for January delivery in New England are priced $15 (highest nationally). If a producer in Utica could produce and refine for, call it $3, the spread is $12, so why not build a pipeline? Assume a pipeline was built from Harrison, WV to Boston (656 miles) at $3M/MILE (low-end of the cost structure).  The all in cost is approximately $2Bn.

 

While it’s easy to field one side of the argument to produce more oil and gas, create jobs, and export the extra supply (amidst a global slowdown), lower prices are squeezing domestic producers. With the lever-up, invest now-benefit later nature of the business, the most- sound companies who have picked the best projects to undertake will be able to withstand a further sell-off in oil and gas prices.

 

Rankings of Marginal Production Costs of U.S. Shale Plays (Lowest to Highest):

  1. Utica
  2. Southwest Marcellus
  3. Permian
  4. Northeast Marcellus
  5. Eagle Ford
  6. Granite Wash
  7. Niobrara
  8. Barnett
  9. Haynesville

Rankings of Natural Gas Production per New Rig (Highest to Lowest):

  1. Marcellus
  2. Haynesville
  3. Utica
  4. Niobrara
  5. Eagle Ford
  6. Bakken
  7. Permian

  

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.30-2.45%

SPX 1930-1975

RUT 1072-1123

DAX 8938-9317

VIX 14.16-17.58

USD 85.01-85.99

EUR/USD 1.26-1.28

Pound 1.60-1.62

WTI Oil 86.82-93.17

Nat. Gas 3.81-4.05

Gold 1195-1235

Copper 2.98-3.07

 

Ben Ryan

Analyst

 

Biting the Hand That Feeds - 10.09.14 Wildcatters Index

 


THE HEDGEYE DAILY OUTLOOK

TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP – October 23, 2014


As we look at today's setup for the S&P 500, the range is 118 points or 5.04% downside to 1830 and 1.08% upside to 1948.                                                           

                                                                    

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: 1.86 from 1.86
  • VIX closed at 17.87 1 day percent change of 11.13%

 

MACRO DATA POINTS (Bloomberg Estimates):

  • 8:30am: Chicago Fed Natl Activity, Sept., est. 0.15 (pr -0.21)
  • 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, Oct. 18, est. 281k (pr 264k)
  • 9am: FHFA House Price Index m/m, Aug., est. 0.3% (prior 0.1%)
  • 9:45am: Markit US Mfg PMI, Oct. prelim., est. 57 (prior 57.5)
  • 9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, Oct. 19 (prior 36.2)
  • 10am: Freddie Mac mortgage rates
  • 10am: Leading Index, Sept., est. 0.7% (prior 0.2%)
  • 10:30am: EIA natural-gas storage change
  • 11am: Kansas City Fed Mfg Activity, Oct., est. 6 (prior 6)
  • 11am: U.S. to announce plans to auction 2Y/5Y/7Y notes, 2Y FRN
  • 1pm: U.S. to auction $7b 30Y TIPS in reopening

 

GOVERNMENT:

    • Senate, House out of session
    • FEC filing deadline for congressional, some PACs, candidates for Oct. 1-15
    • 10am: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discussion on “Disrupting ISIL’s Money Trail” w/ Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen
    • 12pm: Conn. Democrats Rep. Joe Courtney, Rep. Rosa DeLauro press conf. at Daniels Energy on CFTC’s ability to rein in energy speculation tied to consumer price fluctuations
    • 1:30pm: Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel co-host Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Minister of National Defense Han Min-Koo
    • U.S. ELECTION WRAP: ‘Coin Toss’ Whether Sen. Control Set Nov.4

 

WHAT TO WATCH:

  • Euro-Area Manufacturing Unexpectedly Revived in October
  • Goldman, Citigroup Said Wary of Ergen as He Mulls T-Mobile Bid
  • Ocwen Backdating Probe Draws Attention of Attorneys General
  • Alibaba’s Ma Said Headed to Hollywood in Push for Content
  • Honda Air-Bag Deaths Draw Congress Scrutiny as Recalls Widen
  • Gundlach With Pimco See Dollar Extending Best Rally Since 2008
  • Twitter’s New Developer Tools Put Company Deeper Into China
  • Tesla to Start Selling Cars Through Australian Outlets: AFR
  • AT&T Cuts 2014 Forecast, Misses Estimates Amid Price Battles
  • Parliament Attack Drags Canada Into Terror Era as Nation Reels
  • Auto Lending Puts Canada’s Banks at Risk in Slump, Moody’s Says
  • China Factory Gauge Rises as Workers Weather Slowdown
  • Publicis’s Levy Pledges Turnaround After Cutting Sales Forecast
  • Unilever 3Q Underlying Sales Growth Misses Estimates
  • Credit Suisse Profit More Than Doubles as Trading Improves

 

AM EARNS:

    • 3M Co (MMM) 7:30am, $1.96 - Preview
    • Airgas (ARG) 7:30am, $1.30
    • Alaska Air (ALK) 6:01am, $1.42
    • Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) 6:30am, $1.16 - Preview
    • AllianceBernstein  (AB) 7:15am, $0.44
    • American Electric Power (AEP) 6:57am, $1.01
    • Avnet (AVT) 8am, $0.97
    • BankUnited (BKU) 7:30am, $0.45
    • Bemis (BMS) 7am, $0.67
    • Brunswick (BC) 7:36am, $0.58
    • Cameron Intl (CAM) 7:30am, $1.09
    • Caterpillar (CAT) 7:30am, $1.34 - Preview
    • Celgene (CELG) 7:33am, $0.95 - Preview
    • Cenovus Energy (CN) 6am, $0.42 - Preview
    • CMS Energy (CMS) 7:30am, $0.39
    • Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) 7:30am, $0.88
    • Colfax (CFX) 6am, $0.61
    • Comcast (CMCSA) 7am, $0.71 - Preview
    • Corus Entertainment (CJR/B CN) 7am, C$0.42
    • Dana Holding (DAN) 7am, $0.51
    • Diamond Offshore (DO) 6am, $0.79 - Preview
    • Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) 8am, $0.88
    • Dunkin’ Brands (DNKN) 6am, $0.47
    • Eli Lilly (LLY) 6:30am, $0.67 - Preview
    • EQT (EQT) 7am, $0.50
    • General Motors (GM) 7:30am, $0.95 - Preview
    • Hercules Offshore (HERO) 7am, ($0.06)
    • Husky Energy (HSE CN) 7am, C$0.58 - Preview
    • Janus Capital (JNS) 7am, $0.22
    • Jarden (JAH) 7:05am, $1.16
    • JetBlue Airways (JBLU) 7:30am, $0.26
    • KKR & Co (KKR) 8am, $0.45
    • Lazard (LAZ) 7am, $0.65
    • Lorillard (LO) 7am, $0.89 - Preview
    • Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN) 7:30am, $0.90
    • Nielsen (NLSN) 7am, $0.65
    • Nucor (NUE) 9am, $0.75 - Preview
    • Occidental Petroleum (OXY) 7am, $1.59
    • Patterson-UTI Energy (PTEN) 6am, $0.47
    • Potash of Saskatchewan (POT CN) 6am, $0.42 - Preview
    • PulteGroup (PHM) 6:30am, $0.36 - Preview
    • Quest Diagnostics (DGX) 7am, $1.08
    • Raytheon (RTN) 7am, $1.60
    • Reliance Steel & Aluminum (RS) 8:50am, $1.35
    • Rogers Communications (RCI/B CN) 6:57am, C$0.88 - Preview
    • Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) 8:36am, $2.19
    • Shaw Communications (SJR/B CN) 8am, C$0.37
    • Sigma-Aldrich (SIAL) 8am, $1.06
    • Silicon Laboratories (SLAB) 6am, $0.48
    • Sonus Networks (SONS) 7:01am, $0.01
    • Southwest Airlines (LUV) 8:30am, $0.53 - Preview
    • TRowe Price (TROW) 7:30am, $1.15
    • Under Armour (UA) 7am, $0.40 - Preview
    • Union Pacific (UNP) 8am, $1.51 -Preview
    • United Continental (UAL) 7:30am, $2.70
    • USG (USG) 8:30am, $0.46
    • Zimmer Holdings (ZMH) 7am, $1.30

 

PM EARNS:

    • Align Technology (ALGN) 4:01pm, $0.43
    • Altera (ALTR) 4:15pm, $0.37
    • Amazon.com (AMZN) 4:05pm, ($0.75) - Preview
    • BioMarin Pharmaceutical (BMRN) 4:01pm, ($0.24)
    • Cerner (CERN) 4:01pm, $0.42 - Preview
    • Chicago Bridge (CBI) 4:05pm, $1.39
    • Chubb (CB) 4:01pm, $1.95
    • Compuware (CPWR) 4:10pm, $0.07
    • Deckers Outdoor (DECK) 4:05pm, $1.03 - Preview
    • DeVry Education (DV) 4:05pm, $0.29
    • Edwards Lifesciences (EW) 4:01pm, $0.72
    • Federated Investors (FII) 4:01pm, $0.35
    • Flowserve (FLS) 4:08pm, $0.99
    • Freescale Semiconductor (FSL) 4:05pm, $0.42
    • Greenhill (GHL) 4:01pm, $0.60
    • Hancock Holding (HBHC) 5pm, $0.58
    • Informatica (INFA) 4:05pm, $0.33
    • Ingram Micro (IM) 4:03pm, $0.62
    • Juniper Networks (JNPR) 4:05pm, $0.36
    • KLA-Tencor (KLAC) 4:15pm, $0.46
    • LogMeIn (LOGM) 4:08pm, $0.28
    • Maxim Integrated Products (MXIM) 4:01pm, $0.37
    • Microsoft (MSFT) 4:02pm, $0.55
    • Minerals Technologies (MTX) 5:01pm, $1.07
    • NetSuite (N) 4:08pm, $0.04
    • Olin (OLN) 4:30pm, $0.42
    • Pandora Media (P) 4:02pm, $0.08
    • Pebblebrook Hotel (PEB) 4:01pm, $0.63
    • PolyOne (POL) 4:05pm, $0.48
    • Principal Financial (PFG) 4pm, $1.06
    • Qlik Technologies (QLIK) 4:05pm, $0.00
    • ResMed (RMD) 4:05pm, $0.58
    • Riverbed Technology (RVBD) 4:05pm, $0.30
    • Simpson Manufacturing (SSD) 5pm, $0.45
    • Southwestern Energy (SWN) 4:10pm, $0.52
    • Spectranetics (SPNC) 4:01pm, $(0.30)
    • Stericycle (SRCL) 4:02pm, $1.06
    • SVB Financial (SIVB) 4:12pm, $1.23
    • Swift Transportation (SWFT) 4:11pm, $0.35
    • Synaptics (SYNA) 4:15pm, $1.20
    • Valmont Industries (VMI) 5:30pm, $2.18
    • VeriSign (VRSN) 4:05pm, $0.69
    • VeriSign (VRSN) 4:05pm, $0.69
    • Washington REIT (WRE) 5:15pm, $0.42
    • WR Berkley (WRB) 4:01pm, $0.91

 

COMMODITY/GROWTH EXPECTATION (HEADLINES FROM BLOOMBERG)

  • Copper Climbs as Chinese Manufacturing Growth Exceeds Estimates
  • Wheat Climbs as Russian Cold Spell Threatens Newly Planted Crops
  • Cocoa Falls After Decline in Asian Grind; Coffee Extends Drop
  • Manhattan’s Mr. Chocolate Proves Cost Not a Problem: Commodities
  • Gold Falls for Second Day on Economic Growth, ETP Demand Drops
  • Rio Extends CEO Tenure as Miner Builds Defenses Against Glencore
  • African Barrick Sees Potential for Big Gold Deal in 2015
  • Cocoa Processing Drops 5.9% in Asia as Higher Prices Curb Demand
  • Potash Corp. Earnings Disappoint as Nutrient Prices Decline
  • Nestle Says Ebola Outbreak Spurs Faster Africa Cocoa Shipments
  • Soybeans Extend Gains in Chicago, Erasing Earlier Decline
  • Rebar Falls to 2-Week Low as Demand Seen Weak in Rest of 2014
  • Asia’s 3Q Cocoa Grindings Drop 5.9% to 151,643 Tons
  • Libya OPEC Governor Calls for Crude Output Cut Amid Bear Market

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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October 23, 2014

October 23, 2014 - Slide1

 

BULLISH TRENDS

October 23, 2014 - Slide2

October 23, 2014 - Slide3

October 23, 2014 - Slide4

 

 

BEARISH TRENDS

October 23, 2014 - Slide5

October 23, 2014 - Slide6

October 23, 2014 - Slide7

October 23, 2014 - Slide8

October 23, 2014 - Slide9

October 23, 2014 - Slide10

October 23, 2014 - Slide11
October 23, 2014 - Slide12


TGT - Temporary 'Free Shipping' is a Very Bad Precedent For All

Takeaway: Don’t let this ‘free shipping’ promo sneak under the radar. It ushers Retail to a place where few can be profitable. TGT is not one of them.

Conclusion: Target offering free shipping over the holidays accelerates a trend that we think will play out over two years -- which is that almost all retailers offer free shipping and free returns. Only those with the highest basket size (Nordstrom) can win at this game. Other retailers are likely to follow TGT over the near term. The math does not look good.

 

 

DETAILS

Every year there seems to be a new strategy the retailers embrace to gain share of wallet as the Holiday's approach.  With many stores now open all day on Thanksgiving and staying open 24/7 in the final stretch in December, there's not much more (aside from price) that the retailers can do to get more people to shop at the stores. But Target has an interesting, albeit costly, idea.

 

TGT is offering free shipping on all items in the store for online customers beginning yesterday, and lasting through Dec 20th. This is a huge event for retail -- at least how we see it.  And it does not result in profitability going up, unfortunately.

 

Common perception is that e-commerce margins are higher than brick & mortar. That might be true for content owners like Ralph Lauren, Nike and UnderArmour -- who can side step a wholesaler and capture 100% of the margin. But for retailers like Target, Macy's, Kohl's and JC Penney, e-commerce is not margin accretive.

 

Take KSS, for example. It's e-commerce gross margins are about 25% -- 1,200 basis points below the company average. The big culprit is the triangulation of lower-value (commodity) product, low basket size, and fixed shipping costs.

 

In the example below, you can see that a company like Nordstrom, which is the only retailer that offers free shipping and free returns, has a big enough basket size due to very defendable brands and price/points such that it can still print a superior e-commerce gross margin. Other retailers -- even Macy's, which is known for being a trailblazer in e-commerce (we don't particularly agree) has an extremely high threshold for free shipping ($99), and still does not have a superior e-commerce margin.

TGT - Temporary 'Free Shipping' is a Very Bad Precedent For All  - TGT 10 23 chart1

 

 

Our concern about this move by TGT is that it currently has a $50 'free shipping' threshold. Over the next two months, if you want to buy a package of q-tips for $3.89, or a package of pacifiers for $5.89, you get them delivered for free.   Unfortunately, the shipping cost on those items is about double the gross profit that Target would otherwise record.

TGT - Temporary 'Free Shipping' is a Very Bad Precedent For All  - TGT 10 23 chart2

 

 

Another angle on shipping costs is that a by-product of a 'free shipping' threshold is that it causes many consumers with a low basket size to come in to the store to pick up the product to avoid a $5-$10 shipping charge. According to Target, 14% of its digital sales are picked up in stores, and then about 20% of those customers buy additional items. What happens now that shipping is free?

 

We're not as concerned about this event as a negative for Target, but we are definitely concerned that (almost) all retailers are gravitating to a very unprofitable place -- that's free shipping and free returns. Free shipping is kind of like a dividend -- once you give it, you really can't take it away without severe repercussions.

TGT - Temporary 'Free Shipping' is a Very Bad Precedent For All  - TGT 10 23 chart3


MCD: Millennials Aren't the Problem

MCD is a financially healthy company, but its business model is broken and in desperate needing of a fixing.  Alas, merely changing the service style is not the answer and could, in fact, create additional friction within the franchise system.  More importantly, McDonald’s does not have a Millennial problem, as it hinted on Tuesday’s earnings call.  The real issue is the food it is serving.  Food that is, for the most part, inferior to that of its competitors.  It simply doesn’t resonate with consumers, and it will take much more than a “myth buster” for this to change. 

 

McDonald’s recent earnings call lacked clarity.  To their credit, management is trying to stem the sales decline and even conveyed a sense of urgency in doing so.  The issue, however, is that management can’t properly communicate what the actual problem is, rendering their solution haphazard.  But, perhaps more concerning is the reactionary nature of these initiatives.

 

Both management and analysts alike were focused on the fact that Millennials are skipping out on McDonald’s to go to chains such as Chipotle.  Last night, Sonic reported a +4.6% same-store sales increase and, interestingly enough, didn’t mention the word Millennials once on the earnings call.  Wendy’s, another brand that has been resonating lately, isn’t particularly focused on Millennials either.  Why then is it necessary for McDonald’s to pin its troubles on Millennials?  The company’s issues run far deeper than this and it will take some serious soul-searching for it to regain the momentum it once had.

 

The message sent to the McDonald’s franchise system yesterday was loud and clear: we will do what it takes to grow sales and you better get on board.  The current plan, as it stands, will be very expensive for franchisees and will not impact sales until sometime in 2016.  It also fails to address the issues that have been plaguing the system for the better part of the past three years.

 

McDonald’s CEO, Don Thompson, said on the call:

 

“The reality is we haven’t been changing at the same rate as our customers’ eating out expectations, or more specifically, their expectations of us at McDonald’s.  So we’re changing, and we’re changing aggressively as we refocus on building the business for the McDonald’s system and four our shareholders.”

 

Listen, we know why he said this – everyone wants to hear it.  But what does he really mean?

 

While we are delighted to see management recognizes the need for change, we find it slightly disingenuous that it has taken them this long to admit it.  Same-store sales have been declining for two straight years, which it why we find it odd that management has finally realized that customers wanted the ability to personalize their meals.  McDonald’s installed the made-for-you system 10 years ago for this very reason – customization. 

 

Also of note is the company’s commitment to having leading edge point-of-sale systems, mobile technology, and free Wi-Fi.  This isn’t a competitive advantage, in our view.  Nowadays, it’s more like… normal.  We agree that integrating Apple Pay across 14,000 U.S. restaurants is a good move, although we don’t know the impact it will have on drive-thru speed of service. 

 

The company has already tested a multiple order point strategy and self-order kiosks which, to their credit, have limited some of the front-of-counter confusion, but it is far from being the panacea. 

 

If you recall, the made-for-you rollout was initially a disaster that took several years to get right.  It makes sense, therefore, to assume that the cost and the installation of new technology will be a disrupting force within the McDonald’s system.

 

Yesterday, management officially announced they are accelerating the development of a new service style called, “Create Your Taste,” which combines a custom premium burger platform with new service enhancements.  According to Thompson, this new service experience will ultimately create the “McDonald’s Experience of the Future.”  However, we view these initiatives as defensive and fail to see how they will meaningfully separate McDonald’s from the competition.

 

The company plans to fully activate this new experience in three markets a little less than a year from now, and will roll it out to additional markets as permits.  In Australia, plans are already in place to scale this experience across the entire country by next year.

 

It will take years for the company to rework the system to this new service style and it will only impact approximately 40% of the business.  The other 60% of the business is generated by the drive-thru, where customization is not an option.

 

Noticeably absent from the call was an in-depth discussion revolving around enhancing the food and the menu.  In fact, it seems as though the current strategy is to simply tell consumers how good the food is at McDonald’s.  There appears to be no plan to actually change, or upgrade, the food to offer the quality consumers are seeking.  Merely, engaging in dialogue with consumers is unlikely to alter the secular decline in sales the company is experiencing.

 

Management has plans to simplify the menu next January, which we applaud, but to what extent is largely unknown.  According to them, the goal is to “highlight customers’ favorites and to make the experience faster and easier for our customers and our crew.”  But, by summer 2014, they plan to introduce different new tastes on a regional basis, essentially complicating things all over again. 

 

There are many issues with McDonald’s, which makes it odd that they would try to pin it on its disconnect with Millennials.  While it’s a convenient excuse, the reality is they don’t have a Millennial problem.  They have a cultural problem.  Consumers are looking for high quality food served fast, fresh, and in a clean and enjoyable environment.  Sounds more to us like they have a multitude of problems; problems that will likely take a long time to fix.

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

 

Fred Masotta

Analyst


Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.32%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.48%
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