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PODCAST: The Three Points

 

On today’s Morning Investment Call held for Hedgeye subscribers, CEO Keith McCullough discussed an amalgamation of market catalysts ranging from the risk range of the S&P 500 to what lies next for the yield on the 10-Year Treasury. Keith is still a big buyer of US stocks and the US dollar and a seller of commodities. Remember: get the US dollar right and you get a lot of other things right. His three big points this morning focus on Chinese deflation, the 10-year and recent moves in crude oil. When Brent moves to the downside, it should get your attention



THE M3: SO COMMENTS ON BIRD FLU; CHING MING VISITOR ARRIVALS

The Macau Metro Monitor, April 9, 2013

 

 

AMBROSE SO FEARS H7N9 MAY AFFECT GAMING Macau Business

SJM CEO Ambrose So said the new H7N9 virus could impact the gaming business if by the holiday period its causes are still unknown, and no effective measures are put in place to control it.  Nonetheless, he said he remained optimistic about business during Golden Week, but added that if the H7N9 situation worsens it would be quite worrying.


Business Daily reports that at least one casino operator in Macau is already checking the body temperature of employees arriving at work.  So also said that SJM would consider “strengthening preventive measures” in its casinos against the H7N9 virus – possibly via body temperature checks on guests.

 

In a meeting yesterday, mainland, Hong Kong and Macau officials decided to step up surveillance of live poultry and poultry products, by increasing the sample size and frequency of farm inspections, official news agency Xinhua reported.

 

VISITOR ARRIVALS UP IN CHING MING Macau Business Daily

The number of visitors coming to Macau topped 457,000 during the four-day Ching Ming holidays, up by 4% from the same period of last year, the Public Security Police said.  The first three days of the tomb-sweeping celebration (April 4 to 6) also marked the first trial of a temporary two-hour extension in the opening hours of the Gongbei border.

 

Asked yesterday if the opening hours of Gongbei border would be extended again during next month’s Labour Day Golden Week, Macau CEO Chui declined to reply.  He hopes eventually the border will be open around the clock.


SJM CEO So said longer opening hours in the border was “good” for the gaming industry.  He noticed an increase in the number of people visiting casinos and of chips purchased during the Ching Ming holidays.  But he quickly added that figures for only a few days “cannot reflect a trend” on whether longer opening border hours would boost casino revenue.


The Perks of The Dollar

Client Talking Points

Chinese Deflation

The effects of the US dollar gaining strength week-after-week are being heard around the world. China is seeing a decrease in inflation as global food prices come down hard. Asian stocks are up this morning after Chinese CPI fell hard on a month-over-month basis to 2.1% in March vs 3.2% last month.

Confuse The Masses

The 10-year Treasury is in a nice little niche right now that can confuse the bulk of investors out there. "Which way will it go?" they'll ask. The 10-year has been making lower highs since March but is bearish on our immediate-term TRADE duration as 1.83% as resistance. If it can't break that level, expect lower yields as people think twice about Japanese and US bonds. 

Asset Allocation

CASH 26% US EQUITIES 28%
INTL EQUITIES 22% COMMODITIES 0%
FIXED INCOME 0% INTL CURRENCIES 24%

Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration
DRI

Darden stands to be a beneficiary from a housing recovery and an improved employment picture, which boosts casual dining trends. The company's net income declined on its recent earnings report but beat the Street's expectations.

FDX

With FedEx Express margins at a 30+ year low and 4-7 percentage points behind competitors, the opportunity for effective cost reductions appears significant. FedEx Ground is using its structural advantages to take market share from UPS. FDX competes in a highly consolidated industry with rational pricing. Both the Ground and Express divisions could be separately worth more than FDX’s current market value, in our view.

HOLX

HOLX remains one of our favorite longer-term fundamental growth companies given growing penetration of its 3D Tomo platform and high leverage to the 2014 Insurance Expansion from the Affordable Care Act.

Three for the Road

TWEET OF THE DAY

"Fidelity Considers Scrapping Securities Lending Program [GC]" -@alea_

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered." -Voltaire

STAT OF THE DAY

The March small-business optimism index of the National Federation of Independent Business fell 1.3 points to 89.5.


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Sturdy Horses

This note was originally published at 8am on March 26, 2013 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.”

-Prime Minister Winston Churchill

 

Winston Churchill smoked cigars effusively, ate almost whatever was put in front of him, came under fire in armed conflicts more than 50 times, and engaged in many political battles over the course of his life.  Despite these potential health risks, Churchill lived to the ripe old age of 91.  He was, by almost any estimation, a sturdy horse.

 

As it relates to his health, many observers often commented on the generous amounts of alcohol that Churchill drank.  In fact, Sir Alexander Cadogan, head of the Foreign Office, noted at the Yalta conference in 1945 that the Prime Minister was “drinking buckets of Caucasian champagne which would undermine the health of any ordinary man.”

 

Churchill himself was not shy about acknowledging aggressive consumption of spirits and once said:

 

“Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.”

 

For those of you that have been over served, and I will include myself in that camp, you know full well that to gain the upper hand on alcohol, and in particular hangovers, indeed requires that one have the constitution of a sturdy horse.

 

But the purpose of this note is not to delve into the fine details of Churchill’s bad habits, but rather to delve into the realm for which he is most well known – foreign policy.  Based on traditional measures of risk, like volatility, many markets are signaling a future without any major foreign policy blow ups.  In particular, U.S. equities, as highlighted in the Chart of the Day are making new lows in terms of volatility.

 

This, of course, is not to say risk has gone away, but currently equity markets are certainly discounting lower global risk in the future. As a result, it is probably a sign to be even more diligent when searching for TAIL risks.  In the realm of international security, we see a number of red lights on the horizon that are worth monitoring closely, specifically: 

 

1. North Korea – Even if Dennis Rodman has improving relations with this Communist nation, the rest of the world’s relations are deteriorating on the back of a nuclear test that coincided with President Obama’s February State of the Union address.  This followed a long range missile test in December.  In combination these two tests are an attempt by Kim Jong-un to show to the world that North Korea has, or is developing, the ability to launch long range nuclear missiles.

 

In recent history, North Korea has been more of rhetorical threat than a tangible one, but both the United Nations and United States are taking the most recent actions increasingly serious.  As well, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated he intends to re-allocate $1BN+ to build a missile shield in Alaska to bolster defenses focused on North Korean threats.  This morning the North Koreas upped the ante once more in announcing that they have placed military units tasked with targeting U.S. bases under combat ready status.

2. Iran –Iran has remained largely out of the headlines in the last few months, but this will likely change with the upcoming Presidential election in June 2013.  Current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is barred for running after being President for two terms and has taken to saying “long live Spring” at recent events, a cryptic phrase that is being interpreted as a call for change in the face of the Ayatollah’s attempts to manage the outcome of the election.

 

We emphasize the election because the last Iranian election is generally perceived to be the most tumultuous period of mass protests in Iran since the Iranian revolution.  Since that election in 2009, international sanctions on Iran have had their intended impact with oil subsidies falling and prices of basic foodstuffs accelerating.   So, even as the Ayatollah attempts to manage this election proactively, primarily by jailing potential reformist candidates, he can’t jail every citizen and the citizenry is much worse off now than in 2009.

3. Syria – Since the start of the Arab Spring more than two years ago, Syria has been a hot spot on the political map.  Unlike some of its neighbors in which a change in leadership was relatively swift, Syria continues to be ruled by President Assad, with the ongoing goal of the rebel forces to overthrow Assad by any means.  In fact, as recently as in the last couple of days there have been rumors that Assad had been assassinated. 

 

The reality is that Assad remains in power and the rebels remain disorganized with leadership largely in disarray since the resignation of Syrian National Coalition chief Mouaz al-Khatib. The other reality is that military activity appears to be accelerating with the worst bombing in Damascus since 2011 over the weekend.  Further, there were rumors this weekend that there was a gas attack near Aleppo.  Although even here confusion reigns as no one is sure whether it was the rebels or Syrian government that used the gas.

 

Churchill was well known for his interventionist leanings and once said about Russia that:

 

“Bolshevism must be strangled in its cradle.”

 

In contrast, the current leader of the free world, United States President Obama, has been decidedly non-interventionist. Over his first term, this has certainly not impacted the United States in the short term as the most prominent threat when Obama was first elected, Al-Queda, has been largely contained and there have not been other imminent threats to the United States or global peace.  That said, any acceleration of events in North Korea, Syria, or Iran may be cause for increased U.S. intervention abroad.

 

As we think about managing risk prospectively, especially at lower levels of implied volatility, keeping key areas of potential international conflict front and center will remain critical.  As it relates to our investment themes, accelerating international conflict is actually positive for the sturdy horse of international currencies – the U.S. dollar.

 

Our immediate-term Risk Ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), Copper, US Dollar, USD/YEN, UST 10yr Yield, VIX, and SP500 are now $1582-1605, $106.76-108.64, $3.36-3.47, $82.69-83.34, 94.01-96.72, 1.89-1.97%, 10.79-14.96, and 1543-1565, respectively.

 

 

Keep your head up and stick on the ice,

 

Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research 

 

Sturdy Horses  - Dollar is a sturdy Horse EL

 

Sturdy Horses  - Virtual Portfolio



Commodity Deflation

“We can’t afford to risk a downturn, no matter how much inflation.”

-Richard Nixon

 

Nixon’s legacy is Watergate. Trivial Pursuit presidential history doesn’t yet appreciate how horrendous he was for the US economy. On matters of economic policy, this guy was easily the most conflicted, conniving, and compromised president in the post WWII period.

 

If you’d like to re-educate yourself on the what, when and why (Nixon’s economic policies), chapter 4 “Gamble” of Volcker: The Triumph of Persistence is a beauty. The aforementioned quote came from Nixon during his 1972 re-election campaign.

 

Prior to that (1971), Nixon had already abandoned the Gold Standard and explicitly devalued the US Dollar. On the fiscal policy side, he hired a Democrat from Texas who polled well (John Connolly) to be Treasury Secretary. Connolly wrote later, “I was not an economist; I had really never studied monetary affairs. My experience with fiscal issues was limited largely to a familiarity with Congress…” (Volcker, pg 74)

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

Why do we care about the context of politicized currency devaluations (and the local inflations they drive) this morning? Well, because the only opportunity the US economy has to grow (on a real inflation adjusted basis) is through pervasive Commodity Deflation. It’s a Tax Cut.

 

To be balanced, cracker jack economists who have never traded a market in their life (i.e. don’t understand price expectations) want you to believe that currency devaluation will give you the elixir of an exported life. Now that the Japanese Yen is crashing (-24% from where we made the short call in 2012), they’ll have to let us know how that is going for the Japanese consumer who isn’t levered long Nikkeis.

 

The biggest Global Macro calls for 2013 YTD have been centered squarely on understanding the causal impact central planners have on their domestic currency:

  1. Get the central plan right, you get the currency right
  2. Get the currency right, you get the correlation right
  3. Get the correlation right, you get the money

“Show me the money!” –Tom Cruise

 

To review, the US Dollar has been strengthening ever since Bernanke tried to promise to print to infinity and beyond (SEP2012):

  1. MONETARY POLICY: Since, on the margin, market expectations for an iQe5 upgrade have been crushed (see Gold chart)
  2. FISCAL POLICY: after plenty of political spending wants, the US actually implemented marginally hawkish spending cuts

Again, if you get policy (monetary and fiscal) right, you’re going to likely get the local currency move right. On the margin is what matters most in macro, and when you combine marginally hawkish domestic policy with relatively dovish competing policy (Japan), ta-dah!

 

Japan’s currency devaluation is very easy to understand (primarily because Japan’s #PoliticalClass is doing precisely what America’s did):

  1. MONETARY POLICY: hit CTRL+P (print) and step that Japanese debt monetization up to 50 TRILLION more Yens (a year)
  2. FISCAL POLICY: get the LDP to take the Upper House in this summer’s election and implement “spend your brains out 2.0”

In other words, even if we are dead wrong on the USA’s marginal policy shifts in 2013, we could be right on our #StrongDollar via the rate of change in Japanese policy. Layer on some European Marxism onto the Euro, and I have myself quite a Keynesian treat.

 

Hedgeye Playbook: how do you make money on this?

  1. Long US Dollars vs Short Yens
  2. Short Commodities (they have hyper high inverse correlations to #StrongDollar)
  3. Long Asian and US Consumption Equities

Some of our competitors can pop this in their next report. “Last night the Chinese reported more of the same on this front. #StrongDollar = Down Food Prices (globally) = Down Inflation (for countries that have a US Dollar peg).” Chinese CPI fell from 3.2% in FEB to 2.1% in MAR – and yes, that is better than a bad thing for people who don’t take government car service to work and have to eat.

 

I shorted Wheat (WEAT) on the bounce yesterday (unlike trying to call tops in the SP500, it’s always easier to short things that have already started going down – Wheat prices are down -8.4% YTD). Corn and soybean prices are down -9.3% and -2.9% YTD, respectively.

 

Brent Oil is down -5.7% YTD – but seriously? Who cares about these YTD Commodity Deflations when you can look at how epic they’ve been since Wall Street front-running Bernanke on Commodity prices ended (in food prices especially) at their all-time highs of September 2012? On a 6 month basis, Corn and Wheat are down -14.6% and -17.2%, respectively.

 

Nixon had it wrong – so did Charles de Gaulle, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush. President Obama, like Clinton, has a choice on monetary and fiscal policy in his second term. Will he risk the Big Auto lobby for a weak currency? Folks, we need a #StrongDollar and Commodity Deflation. Oh yessir – Yes We Can.

 

Our immediate-term Risk Ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, USD/YEN, UST 10yr Yield, VIX, and SP500 are now $1, $103.19-108.02, $82.42-83.39, 95.23-99.31, 1.71-1.83%, 12.21-14.43, and 1, respectively.

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Commodity Deflation - Chart of the Day

 

Commodity Deflation - Virtual Portfolio


Daily Trading Ranges

20 Proprietary Risk Ranges

Daily Trading Ranges is designed to help you understand where you’re buying and selling within the risk range and help you make better sales at the top end of the range and purchases at the low end.

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