Takeaway: Deflation is pulverizing Vladimir Putin (and oil bulls). WTI crude is down another -2% to $77/barrel.
In light of the continuing crash of its currency and stock market, we are receiving considerable customer interest on the question: “What’s going on with Russia?”
As a result, Hedgeye’s Macro Team is hosting a special “Behind the Curtain” conference call this Thursday, November 6th at 1:00pm EST with Michael McFaul, one of the world’s foremost experts on Russia and Vladimir Putin. Until earlier this year, McFaul was the U.S. Ambassador to Russia and held closed-door meetings with Putin and his top lieutenants before finally stepping down out of concern for his family and his own safety.
Mr. McFaul has been called, “the leading scholar of his generation, maybe THE leading scholar, on post-Communist Russia.” He was President Obama’s chief advisor on Russia through his first term and was a main policy architect of “Reset” in U.S. - Russian relations.
A high-profile figure during his time in Moscow, McFaul was harassed and accused of orchestrating a coup. Perhaps in light of his considerable work and reputation as an expert on anti-dictator movements and revolutions, Putin reportedly stared at McFaul across a meeting table and remarked, “We know that your Embassy is working with the opposition to undermine me.”
*The New York Times recently ran an intriguing article, “Former U.S. Envoy to Moscow Says Russians Are Still Spying on Him” on McFaul detailing how Russia is still spying on him.
McFaul will provide 30 minutes of prepared remarks, followed by open Q&A moderated by Hedgeye’s analyst Matt Hedrick.
KEY TOPICS ON THE CALL WILL INCLUDE
- What are the roots of ‘Putinism’ and where is the country economically heading?
- How do weaker energy prices influence the Kremlin’s strategy (economic, political, and social)?
- How is the East-West battle over Ukraine resolved?
- What are the impacts of sanctions on Russia and the West and how might they evolve?
- Can Russia successfully pivot to the East?
- Toll Free Number:
- Direct Dial Number:
- Conference Code: 441871#
- Materials: CLICK HERE (Slides will download approximately one hour prior to the start of the call)
ABOUT MICHAEL MCFAUL
McFaul is the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia (from January 2012 to February 2014). Prior to this, McFaul worked three years for the U.S. National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs.
He holds a BA in international relations and Slavic Languages and an MA in Slavic and East European Studies from Stanford University in 1986. He spent time in the Soviet Union as a student in the 1980s. He was later awarded a prestigious Rhodes scholarship to Oxford where he completed his Ph.D. in International Relations in 1991.
Born and raised in Montana, McFaul is fluent in Russian, and is currently a professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a fellow at the Hoover Institution.
He is the author and co-author of numerous books, including: Revolution in Orange: The Origins of Ukraine's Democratic Breakthrough (2006); Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Postcommunist Political Reform (2004); After the Collapse of Communism: Comparative Lessons of Transitions (2004); and Russia's Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin (2001), among many others.
Takeaway: This is going to get ugly.
The Yen is burnt to a bloody crisp. It's trading $113.44 vs. USD last and has one of the widest immediate-term risk ranges we have ever seen in FX (109.37-113.66). That should continue to perpetuate both FX market (and equity + fixed income linked) volatility.
Yen Down = Oil Down (Dollar Up) and now you see the next leg down -2.7% WTI to $76.66/barrel as whoever was trying to defend the $80 line falls down. Oil is down a staggering -28% since June.
This is textbook #Quad4 deflation and precisely what we’ve been highlighting to our subscribers. It’s catching up to equity and fixed income expectations, by sector.
Editor's note: This is a complimentary excerpt from research written by CEO Keith McCullough earlier today. Click here for information on how you can subscribe.
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Takeaway: Strong Q3 results and Q4 outlook. More rooms booked for Q4/2015 at significantly higher rates. Street share count remains too high
Healthy group outlook
Colin Reed, CEO
- Operating Metrics up across the board
- RevPAR driven by 3% occupancy, 5.7% ADR
- Total RevPAR ~10%
- Group: group room nights 31,000 more than YoY
- Transient: room nights marginally down, less availability due to stronger group and 10,000 room nights out of service at Texan, ADR +$15 or 9.2%
- Hospitality EBITDA: Adj Margin 50bps
- FCC Opryland settlement
- Flow through ex "noise" 50%
- Working to maximize efficiency and profitability
- Decline in IYFY cancellations
- Attrition levels declined
National & Washington DC
- City/Area better, while unpredictable due to Fed'l Gov't spending, outlook improving
- National Harbor development refocusing attraction to area
- In line with expectations
- 390,000 room nights
- Net room nights up
- Booking pattern cyclical
- During Q2: 640K nights booked, pulled forward
- ADR for future year bookings is increasing
- Performance strong
- Largest convention center outside of Las Vegas
- On pace to have best year ever
- Q3: occupancy 80%
- All trends better, shift toward premium groups
- 33% Margin performance
- Misunderstood by many investors
- 43% QoQ growth in Adj EBITDA
- Country music is driving Nashville
- Tourist based growth driving Nashville and performance
- Reviewing options to unlock value for shareholders
- Convertible Notes matured & settled on Oct 1
- Cash settled 2.4 million warrants for $57.9 million
- More nights on the books for 2015 than had on the book for 2014 one year ago and at higher rate
- Funnel is full
- Appear to be improving
- Into Q4, funnel is healthy
- Confident Q4 will follow traditional pattern
- See booking performance improve via working with manager
- Plan mapped out to achieve historical production levels
Mark Fioravanti, Chief Financial Officer
- Increased employee costs hindered margins
- Subsequent to quarter end, paid off convertible notes
- Cancelled equal shares of common stock = no dilution
- $2.20/share with remaining payment in January 2015 - revisit dividend in January
Q: Group business - why not benefit more?
- Seeing good performance, ADR up currently, 2015 pace strong, don't have new supply affecting, so should translate into good 2015 and 2016 - especially given current pace which is ahead for 2015 and 2016
- 5.1 million room nights on the book for all future years
Q: Attractions segment - how to think about business vs. Nashville in evolutionary cycle against long-term growth?
- RHP has 10% of Nashville room supply, but Nashville is experiencing extraordinary music base - not just country music all forms of music
- Need to focus on airlift and infrastructure to get visitors and workers to downtown
Q: Trends for outside the room spend pricing?
- Not looking at minimums. Higher rates will generate higher out of room spend
- Not pricing a steak today for a stay four years from now, pricing F&B on <90 days until arrival date
Q: National margins?
- Union costs (benefits), CITY booking costs due to incremental bookings, some one-time items in the prior year Q3
Q: Mix in Q3 2014 Group vs. Transient vs. 2013?
- 75% Group / 25% Transient, Group slightly higher in 2014 than 2013.
Q: Booked room nights on forward basis?
- More on books for 2015 than YoY forward basis and at higher rate due to corporate group. Larger bucket of leads this year than last year about 8% higher and attrition rates lower.
- 2015 mix likely 75% Group / 25% Transient
Takeaway: Clearly, the Republicans will gain ground in this election, but will it be as drastic as many pundits believe? We don’t think so.
Yesterday we hosted a call with highly regarded political pollster Scott Rasmussen to discuss today’s midterm elections. In the link directly below, we’ve included a replay to the call as well as the presentation that Rasmussen prepared for the event.
Rightfully, Rasmussen argued that elections are always about the fundamentals. Accordingly, one of the most relevant fundamental drivers in any national level election is the approval rating of the President. Currently, President Obama’s approval rating is as close to as low as it has been since he was elected. According to an aggregation of polls from Real Clear Politics, Obama’s approval rating is 41.9% and his disapproval rating is 53.4%. To put that in perspective, Obama’s approval rating is very similar to that of President Bush prior to the 2006 mid-terms.
As a result of President Bush’s low approval, among other factors, the Democrats saw broad based success in the 2006 midterms. In aggregate the Democrats gained a net +31 seats in the House to take control, they gained a net +5 seats in the Senate with one Democratic getting elected as an Independent to effectively take control of the Senate, and they won a plurality of the 36 state governorships that were up for grabs. As a whole, 2006 was a very convincing victory for the Democratic Party across the board.
Given that approval ratings for President Obama and President Bush were very comparable, there is no question that this race will be incrementally positive for the Republicans. As goes the approval rating of the President, so too goes the fortunes of his or her party. By and large, this is also what the consensus media outlets are reflecting. Below are some of the headlines from around the country:
“On Election Day, GOP Confident, Voters Sour” – New York Times
“Where Did Obama Go Wrong?” – Washington Post
“Obama Will Leave the Dems in Shambles” – DC Examiner
The list could go on, but broadly speaking the mainstream media and consensus is extrapolating a sentiment reading from Obama’s approval data and predicting a dour night for the Democrats. To some extent, the election will play out this way. The question of course, as Scott Rasmussen raised on our call yesterday, is how motivated the anti-Obama vote becomes. In essence, will the disapproval of Obama motivate Independents to vote against Republicans, or just discourage them from participating at all?
The generic polling data actually suggests the latter. According to the Generic Congressional poll (a poll that asks the voter to simply choose between a party for their congressional votes) aggregated from Real Clear Politics, the Republicans currently have a +2.4 point lead. To put this in perspective, in 2006, the year of the Republican bloodbath, the Democrats had a lead of +11.5 points going into the midterms.
The other key fundamental data point to consider is that motivation among eligible voters does seem low. According to a Gallup poll taken in late September, the percentage of people “extremely motivated to vote” sat at 32%, which is well below 50% in the same poll from 2010 and 45% in 2006. There is no reason to believe that voters have become more motivated in the last month.
The takeaway, if there is one, is that while this will be a long night for the Democrats, it may not be quite as long as the herd in the consensus media is projecting. Undoubtedly, the Republicans will gain seats in the House and likely win the Senate, but it may be a tighter margin than many expect as voting seems likely to fall across party lines with a broadly unmotivated electorate.
So, could the so called “October Surprise” be the Democrats faring better than expected? Perhaps, although it is more likely that this is will conclude as a non-event election resulting in the Senate shifting to the right and no decisive mandate emerging for the Republicans.
As we head into the election tonight, there are three key battlegrounds that will provide early indications:
1. New Hampshire Senate – The polls in New Hampshire close at 7:00pm, and the Senate race here is currently in a dead heat. While Scott Brown is enduring the “carpet bagger” label, he also has momentum on his side as he has narrowed the margin in every poll taken over the last six months. If Brown wins this seat, it will be a very long night in the White House and for Democrats nationally.
2. North Carolina Senate – The polls in North Carolina close at 7:30pm, and this race is currently too close to call based on the polls. However, it has similar dynamics to the NH race in that Thom Tillis has been consistently closing in on incumbent Senator Kay Hagan over the last six months and likely has the benefit of momentum.
3. Georgia Senate – The Georgia polls close at 7:30pm eastern, and currently the Republican candidate for this open seat, David Perdue, has a lead of +3.0 points, which suggests he is likely to win this seat. The read-through from this race will likely be his margin of victory. If Perdue looks likely to win by a lot more than +3 points, it is likely indicative of broad based national Republican momentum.
If the Republicans do well in those three races, you can probably head to bed early. If not, it may be a long and very interesting night.
Daryl G. Jones
Director of Research
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