We like to think about stocks on three different durations TRADE (three weeks or less), TREND (three months or more) and TAIL (three years or less).
For WEN we are cautious on TRADE and TREND, but positive on the TAIL.
Over the past month, Wendy’s has traded up 6% on the back of the uptick in comparable restaurant sales coming from the launch of the new burgers. Generally, we believe that the company is headed in the right direction but there are still some issues that are pose a headwind for a sustained improvement in same-store sales.
In the short run, we still believe that new CEO Emil Brolick’s will need to put his stamp on the company’s strategy and stop working through the legacy issues of his predecessor. We expect him to further refine his approach to fixing the brand at the February analyst meeting.
While the recent uptick in comparable store sales is nice to see, we believe that any sustained performance is going to require an upgraded asset base.
On my recent visit to Phoenix, I got a detailed tour of one of the company’s remodeled stores in that market. Currently the company has the four remodel prototypes in five different test markets – Pittsburg, Virginia Beach, Toronto, Columbus and Phoenix.
The new Wendy’s store I saw was very impressive, but it’s unlikely to be the “end” version of what the official remodel will look like. The company needs to strike a balance between counteracting the competitive threat of McDonald’s and that company’s remodel program with a realistic level of spending. The Phoenix remodel looked like the company spent upward of $400,000 on the remodel and the company estimates that the sales lift from the investment was 35-45%. One of the highlighted improvements emanating from the new look and feel is that the company is seeing more people come in during the afternoon day-part with their mobile devices. Yes, mobility and WIFI are key drivers for expanding the usage of the dining room during non-peak periods.
The company is 6-9 months away from communicating lessons learned from the new remodel testing initiative. The timing suggests that any real impact on the store base will begin sometime in 2013. We feel (and the company agrees) that any sustained competitive advantage in the burger category will only come along with a much needed asset base upgrade. In the short run, improvements in same-store sales will need to be driven by the new burger campaign and any other new products the company develops.
POSITION: Long Healthcare (XLV)
I didn’t think we’d bounce this high, this fast. Good thing I’m not short SPY and/or any S&P Sector ETF. Now we can re-populate our short book.
What would stop me from selling in this 1194-1203 range? Time and price.
The SP500 would need to close above and hold 1203 (TREND resistance) through Friday’s US Unemployment Report. On top of this morning’s miss on monthly New Home Sales (307,000 versus 313,000 expected), there’s a good chance that the high-frequency US economic reports this week also miss (Consumer Confidence tomorrow, PMI Wednesday, ISM Thursday, etc).
Across our core 3 risk management durations, the SP500 remains in a Bearish Formation (bearish TRADE, TREND, and TAIL):
- TAIL = 1270
- TREND = 1203
- TRADE = 1233
Immediate-term TRADE oversold (support) is now 1170. Below that, no support to 1139.
Take your time selling. Today’s close will be a more important signal than this morning’s open.
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
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November Gross Gaming Revenue estimate revised upward to HK22-22.5BN, +31-34% YoY.
Average daily table revenue jumped this past week to HK$775MM, up from HK$698MM the rest of the month and only HK$664MM last week (Grand Prix). With only 3 days left in the month, total November GGR (including slots) should be in the HK22.0-22.5 BN range, up 31-34% over last year. Despite the likely double digit % drop from October, we would consider November a solid month. Remember that VIP hold % was high both in October 2011 and November 2010 and November is typically a seasonally slower month than October.
For market shares, LVS continues to gain share, as expected. Neptune went live at Four Seasons on November 1st and Sun City recently opened 24 VIP tables. Also, the company began advancing commissions to some junkets for up to two months which should spur volumes. We estimate LVS’s share in the past week increased to 16.3% - almost to the pre-Galaxy Macau level. However, we would've expected higher by this point which probably means VIP hold is a little low. WYNN’s MTD share continued to improve sequentially, gaining 60bps from last week but still remains below recent trend. In terms of hold, we believe LVS is holding low so they haven't gained as much share as they should/will, while WYNN is holding high which would explain why share has recovered a little bit since the beginning of November (1st two weeks share: 11.6%; last two weeks share: 14.5%).
As a reminder, while we are still bullish on Macau revenues, we remain concerned with the potential for more aggressive junket commissions/credit in the market. WYNN is definitely at risk here with their low commission structure. WYNN and Four Seasons overlap with Neptune, Sun City, David, and one other junket. Also, in terms of quality and service, Four Seasons is the most direct comp for Wynn/Encore.
Given the recent poor performance of the Macau stocks and lower expectations, we think they could rally over the near-term (trade basis) but the prospects of a junket war temper our intermediate (trend) enthusiasm.
THE HEDGEYE BREAKFAST MONITOR
Notes from CEO Keith McCullough
After Roubini called for Euro “parity” and the Euro appeared on the cover of The Economist (on fire) last wk, the US Dollar was immediate-term overbought and Euro oversold – shocking.
- ASIA – mini-meltup in the markets that have been going down the most (HK, India, Korea – all up +2-3% overnight) as China and Indonesia didn’t care much to rally at all (closing up 0.12% and 0.27%, respectively). Asian Growth is still slowing and all Asian markets remain in Bearish Formations (bearish on all 3 of my risk management durations)
- EURO – immediate-term TRADE oversold at 1.32 is as oversold does (we covered our Euro short there) – now you get the bounce back up toward a lower-high of immediate-term resistance (1.34). Take your time with this and use the USD as your front-runner to fade the Global Macro market’s beta.
- COMMODITIES – same Global Macro trade (Correlation Risk) that’s associated with the USD; what went down last week goes up this morning (with the USD down) – important immediate-term TRADE lines of resistance I am watching are Gold $1726 and Copper $3.45. If both fail there, both are shorts.
Don’t forget that last week was the worst Thanksgiving week for US stocks since 1932 (not a good reference pt, fyi). The SP500 would have to close > 1203 for me to not be selling on green today. Covered all but 6 short positions last wk, so now we can re-populate the bench.
PNRA: Panera Bread is opening its second Manhattan location in 1Q12 after leasing a 4,556 square foot unit at 10 Union Square East in New York.
YUM: Yum! Brands has reached an agreement with Sinopec to open drive-through outlets at its gas stations and expressway service stations in China. Zhu Zongyi, President of Yum! Brands China Division, said, “We expect to expand our business in southwest China because that’s where social economic development is moving and we will open more in Chengdu in the New Year.”
The Macau Metro Monitor, November 28, 2011
ALL OPERATORS TO GET COTAI PLOTS: TAM Macau Daily Times
Secretary Tam has confirmed that the government is planning to grant a plot for casino development in the Cotai area to all of the six gaming operators. Tam also stressed the (average) 3% table growth cap from 2013-2023. “There are reasons for this figure. We don’t want this sector to grow too much, too fast,” he said. The official recalled that concession contracts were signed for a period of 20 years. “We are halfway there now so it’s the right timing to stop and look back,” he said.
Further restrictions would also pose a danger to the local economy, Tam warned. “If we were to stop the gaming sector from developing, we would have a risky economic environment. There would be consequences for the Macau society,” he said. "We want gaming to be just one element of a world-class tourism and leisure destination. But in the short-term, gaming will have to continue dominating the economy.”
UNEMPLOYMENT TO DROP: FRANCIS TAM Macau Daily Times
“We can expect a slight decrease in the unemployment levels [for 2012],” Secretary Tam said. With two-digit economic growth expected to continue next year, the working-age population could rise by 10% in 2012, Francis Tam said. Local hotels and restaurants had more than 7,400 vacancies at the end of September, despite hiring over 4,000 people in just half-a-year, official data shows.
EMPLOYMENT SURVEY FOR AUGUST - OCTOBER 2011 DSEC
The unemployment rate fell to a record low of 2.4% in August-October 2011, down by 0.2 % point compared with the previous period (July-September 2011). Total labor force was 346,600 in August-October 2011 and the labor force participation rate reached a historical high of 73.0%, with total employment increasing by 2,900 over the previous period to 338,200.
MACAU DIVERSIFICATION Reuters
MGM China's CEO, Grant Bowie, said Hengqin was a big plus for Macau and would be key to enhance engagement between mainland China and Macau. "Its greater land area allows other tourism, leisure and recreational assets to be introduced to support the diversification of Macau, which would not be possible in Macau," he said. Robert Drake, CEO of Galaxy Entertainment, said Galaxy was interested in investing in Hengqin and will explore options there. In a push to lure investment to Hengqin, China is granting tax benefits to companies that operate in targeted industries and will grant duty-free status for imported goods.
"We are encouraging all foreign companies to come, like Walmart for example, but just no casinos," said Zhao Zhen Wu, a Chinese government director working on the development of Hengqin.
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