Building Expectations

This note was originally published at 8am on November 20, 2014 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“In the end, if you build it, they may not come.”

-Jim Rickards


Whether it’s the Japanese burning their currency, a demigod named Draghi “saving” Europe, or the Fed’s perpetual Policy To Inflate asset prices, I often wonder if Rickards is right – now that markets have built these expectations, will the growth come?


So far, the long-end of the bond market says no. On growth that is… but what are markets telling you about the centrally planned illusion of growth (i.e. inflation expectations)?


And “what happens when you manipulate markets using price signals that are the output of manipulated markets?” (The Death of Money, pg 86) Never forget that the biggest risks to markets are the critical answers to the toughest questions.


Building Expectations - Monetary policy cartoon 11.07.2014


Back to the Global Macro Grind


I spent all of yesterday seeing Institutional Investors in Greenwich, CT. The meetings, as always, were tremendous learning opportunities. And there was one moment in one of the meetings that I’ll never forget.


As I was sitting across from a Portfolio Manager, the Federal Reserve’s “Minutes” (from their last meeting) were released. So, I sat there and watched Liesman @CNBC spew his interpretation of what he thought the Fed said…  and the seasoned PM just giggled.


Even at the most sophisticated funds, whether they like it or not, this is modern day “macro” – where you have to not only think about what you think… but seriously consider what everyone else was told they should think…


Here’s what I think was incremental in those Fed Minutes:


  1. Inflation expectations are falling
  2. The Fed only has one move to address that newfound concern
  3. In the next 3-6 months, as US inflation falls, the Fed will get more dovish, because of that


Since our “Bad #Deflation” view is not yet consensus, it’s really hard for consensus to get why this is bearish for bond yields (and bullish for the Long Bond, TLT, EDV, etc.). But markets almost always front-run consensus – and that’s already in motion.


After our interlude with the English-major turned pretend macro savant (who has never traded a market in his life), the Portfolio Manager asked me a very simple question that I get asked a lot: “what things should I look at to monitor your #deflation view?”


I answered by referring him to exhibit 15 (the slide in my #Quad4 Deflation Macro deck) that shows #InflationExpectations:


  1. TIPs (5 year Breakeven Rate)
  2. Fed 5Y-5Y Forward Breakeven Rate


Then I said:


  1. The price of Oil relative to my bearish TREND view
  2. CRB Commodities Index (TREND resistance = 281)
  3. Russell 2000 relative to my bearish TREND view


The price of Oil ($74.20/barrel) continues to crash this morning (-31% since June); the CRB Index is trading at 267 (-4.6% YTD); and after having another horrendous day (both absolute and relative to US Equities yesterday) the Russell 2000 is DOWN (again) for 2014 YTD.


Back to real economic growth expectations, I told investors yesterday what I’ve been telling them all year long – my catalyst is the cycle. As the growth cycle data slows, whatever these “bullish surveys” are telling you will look wrong.


That’s what’s happening from China to Europe this morning (they release Producer Manufacturing and Services data for November). Literally all of the growth data slowed.


While China’s PMI print of 50.0 wasn’t as bad as France’s (47.6 NOV vs. 48.8 OCT), that’s not saying much. Bond Yields are falling because the rate of change in global growth is slowing.


When both growth and inflation data slows, expectations for asset price inflation in those things slow. So BUY slow-growth-yield-chasing assets (TLT, EDV, MUB, XLV, XLP, XLU) and keep SELLING growth and/or inflation expectations (IWM, KRE, XOP, EWQ, VWO).


And that’s all I have to say about that.


Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 2.29-2.36%

SPX 2005-2055

RUT 1141-1173

France (CAC 40) 4139-4281
YEN 116.02-118.64

WTI Oil 73.01-76.13


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


Building Expectations - 11.20.14 EL Chart

Cartoon of the Day: The (Real) House of Cards

Cartoon of the Day: The (Real) House of Cards - Card house cartoon 12.03.2014

This central planning game will not end well.

JNS - Can Janus Return to Deity Status? Hedgeye Financials Speaker Series Call with Lipper Funds

Our Financials team of Josh Steiner and Jonathan Casteleyn will be hosting a conference call tomorrow Thursday, December 4th at 11 a.m. EST with Lipper Fund Research, a leading mutual fund ratings and research firm to discuss the current "money in motion" within the investment management industry. Representing Lipper will be the Head of Americas Research Jeff Tjornehoj. Our topics to be addressed on this call include:


  • The historical importance of the Bill Gross move from PIMCO to Janus and why it has been an industry watershed event.
  • Estimates of how much investor capital will eventual flow out of PIMCO Total Return and other funds and which firms stand to benefit most.
  • How much capital and the total impact that Bill Gross can have on stock fund manager Janus Capital.
  • Other current industry topics including a stabilizing Invesco after a major PM departure and the early results from new products including Liquid Alts.


This call aims to be applicable to investors in the following stocks:




Participant Dial-In Instructions - Thursday December 4th at 11 am EST:

  • Toll Free Number:
  • Direct Dial Number:
  • Conference Code: 176731#
  • CLICK HERE to automatically add this call detail to your Outlook calendar


Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT



Joshua Steiner, CFA

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Will Draghi Deliver the Drugs Tomorrow?

To issue sovereign QE, it ‘tis the question.

We polled our customer base earlier today and the verdict is decidedly mixed --  in fact it's a dead heat.  50% say “YES” Draghi will announce a QE program when the ECB meets tomorrow.  50% said “NO” he won’t.


Will Draghi Deliver the Drugs Tomorrow? - yy. poll


Unfortunately, our crystal ball is in the repair shop. But as we’ve noted in a previous note, recent language from Draghi, his VP Victor Constancio, and other policy heads (including those of the governing council) all seem to suggest that tomorrow’s meeting will disappoint the YES vote. The likeliest scenario? The ECB will remain in a “wait-and-watch” mode to assess its concurrent programs.  


We do suspect a lack of action (hold on rates and a QE announcement) is due to the fact that the Bank only just started to purchase ABS (November 21), the 2nd tranche of the TLTROs will only be allocated a few days following the ECB meeting, and the covered bond purchasing program is in early innings. In addition, we also suspect that the ECB will have to contend with the Germans who oppose sovereign QE on legal grounds.


Tomorrow we’ll also get updated ECB staff GDP and Inflation estimates – you know our call is for the estimates to be revised DOWN #EuropeSlowing.



What’s our investment call?

As Keith noted this afternoon, European Stocks (EuroStoxx 600 Index) are signaling immediate-term TRADE overbought with a risk range of 337-351. The EUR/USD is signaling immediate-term TRADE oversold at $1.23. Broadly, with the “risk ranges” being at the top and/or bottom end of the range increases the probability of a short-term reversal – the probability is as high as it’s been of seeing a big macro reversal.


Will Draghi Deliver the Drugs Tomorrow? - yy  stoxx 600

Will Draghi Deliver the Drugs Tomorrow? - yy  EUR USD


Matthew Hedrick



BOBE: The Clock is Ticking

BOBE remains on the Hedgeye Best Ideas list as a long.


Investment Thesis

We continue to believe BOBE represents an under-the-radar special situation story.  The company first caught activist investor Sandell Asset Management’s eye back in July 2013.  Bob Evans successfully fended off the activist for over a year.  However, in August 2014, Sandell won four seats on Bob Evans’ board of directors.  We understand Sandell’s infatuation with the company, due in large part to an abundance of low-hanging fruit.  In our view, these opportunities would undoubtedly narrow the gap between the stock’s current price and its intrinsic value.


We believe the board could create significant value for shareholders in a variety of ways, the most appealing of which would be a spinoff of BEF Foods, which has an estimated enterprise value of $600-800 million.  Not only would this immediately generate a substantial amount of cash for a cash-strapped company, but it would allow management to re-focus its efforts on efficiently running its restaurants.  We continue to believe a separation of the foods business is likely, considering the board recently engaged Lazard to serve as an independent financial advisor (this time under a different scenario).  Outside of this, opportunities exist to refranchise restaurants, cut excess SG&A, and explore the sale of restaurants and real estate. 


With a spinoff of BEF Foods and harsh SG&A scrutiny, we value the stock at approximately $70-80 per share.


The quarter was slightly disappointing, but we didn’t expect much else.  For what it’s worth, FY15 earnings guidance looks achievable, but we’re waiting for a transformational transaction.


The Good in 2Q15

  • 3Q15 QTD same-store sales running at 2.7% (3Q15 estimate at +1.7%)
  • Guided FY15 same-store sales between +1.5-2.5% (above current estimate of +0.7%)
  • Broasted Chicken platform drove same-store sales at lunch and dinner; outperformed restaurants without the platform by 130 and 690 bps at lunch and dinner, respectively, during the quarter
  • Off-premise sales were strong at Bob Evans Restaurants, up +13.5% in the quarter
  • Plant efficiencies at BEF Foods resulting in a 280 bps y/y improvement in adjusted operating margin
  • Side dish volumes up 9% y/y at for BEF Foods
  • BEF Foods should benefit from reduced full-year forecasted sow costs (down from $1.80-1.90 to $1.78-1.82), operating efficiencies, and higher sales volumes
  • Company is exiting its interest in a private aircraft
  • Board of Directors' Finance Committee (3/5 members newly elected to the Board) is "engaged in a comprehensive, fresh review of strategic, financial and capital allocation plans"
  • Finance committee has engaged Lazard to serve as an independent financial advisor
  • Company has retained Deloitte to complete a review of the company's SG&A structure
  • Company is exiting its interest in a private aircraft
  • Plan to drive 300-350 bps of operating margin improvement by FY18


The Bad in 2Q15

  • Missed revenue estimates and guided FY15 consolidated sales to $1.35-1.37 billion (below current estimate of $1.38 billion)
  • On-premise sales were weak at Bob Evans Restaurants, down -1.7% in the quarter
  • On-premise sales deteriorated across all three dayparts (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Food costs expected to increase 60-80 bps y/y in 2H15
  • Off-premise sales driving higher cost of sales, due in large part to higher packaging costs
  • Expect continuation of increased healthcare costs in 2H15
  • BEF Foods' net sales were flat y/y and guided FY15 net sales to $3.88-398 million (below current estimate is $412 million)
  • -16.4% decline in sausage pounds sold at BEF Foods


Howard Penney

Managing Director


Fred Masotta


McCullough on Fox Business: Reading the Market Signals

Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough discusses his outlook for the markets, economy and Fed with Fox Business "Opening Bell" host Maria Bartiromo.

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