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Anchorman

“60% of the time it works….everytime”

-Brian Fantana, Anchorman (Clip)

 

Over the 2001-Present period (n = 160 months), the sequential, directional change in Nonfarm payrolls is the same as that of the ADP Employment series 64% of the time.

 

The ADP report for January released yesterday showed the sequential change in net payroll adds declined by -40K to +213K from an upwardly revised December total of +253K.

 

The current Bloomberg estimate for January Nonfarm payrolls is +230K, down sequentially from the +252K reported in November.  By the numbers, the sequential decline in net payroll gains reported by ADP suggests consensus is sitting on the right side of the 2:1 asymmetry into the print tomorrow.

 

What do you do with that? 

 

Not much really - it’s more analytical anecdote than investible projection.  Convictedly forecasting the NFP numbers on a month-to-month basis with precision is a quixotic endeavor.  We can generally handicap the balance of risk as it relates to consensus expectations but we haven’t found a method for reliably forecasting a point estimate – so we don’t.    

 

The current price/quant signals and our TREND view on domestic fundamentals generally drives our positioning into the number and we simply take what BLS gives us on jobs day and respond accordingly. 

 

We Get What We Get…& Don't Get Upset

 

Anchorman - EL Chart 1

 

Alongside its inveterate interest in wage inflation, the prospect for shale state employment pressure to derail the labor market recovery – and the current expansion more broadly - sits as an acute and rising investor focus into the January Employment report. 

 

We’ve discussed the energy economy and the developing macroeconomic impacts associated with the strong dollar driven commodity price cratering in scattershot over the last couple months but it’s worth compiling and recapitulating. 

 

Starting broadly and narrowing: 

 

Evolution of US Oil intensity:  U.S. Oil intensity - oil consumption per unit of (real) GDP – has declined by some 56% over the last 3 decades.  Summarily, as the economy has moved away from industrial production and towards ICT and Services production growth’s dependence on energy has declined.  The implication is that while the energy renaissance and the concomitant growth (& potential over-investment) in related industry makes it particularly vulnerable to an acute price shock, the transmission/amplification of that shock through the broader economy should be more muted relative to prior instances of heightened oil-price volatility. 

 

Oil Sector Employment:  The BLS catalogues oil & gas related employment within four major subsectors:  Oil and Gas Extraction, Oil & Gas Pipeline Construction, Support Activities for Oil & Gas Operation and Mining/Oil/Gas field Machinery. 

  • Share of Total:  Collectively, BLS estimates these industries employed 780K people as of November 2014.   Relative to Total Nonfarm employment of 140MM, those most directly employed in Oil and Gas extraction represent 0.6% of the NFP labor force.   
  • Growth From Trough:  Relative to the NFP employment trough in February 2010, Oil and Gas related employment is up +274K – a remarkable 54%.  This compares to growth of +8.1% for total NFP employment over the same period.  Further, Oil related employment gains represent 2.6% of the total increase in employment since trough (274K of 10.4MM total increase in employment) – certainly an outsized contribution relative to its share of total employment.  

Energy State Employment:  An alternate measure of the energy sectors impact on employment is to look at total employment gains in “energy” states relative to the rest of the country.   Analyzing employment changes at the state level provides an indirect (albeit largely imprecise) measure of the multiplier effects stemming from relative strength in the energy economy.  We have been using a basket of eight energy states  (AK, LA, NM, ND, OK, TX, WV, WY) in analyzing the initial jobless claims data for negative divergences in recent months.  We use the same basket here in analyzing state level employment changes

  • Share of total:  Collective Energy State employment is currently 12.9% of total.  This is roughly in-line with the baskets share of the economy with collective energy state GDP at 13.2% of total as of 2013.  
  • Growth From Trough:  Energy state employment has increased 1.998MM since the February 2010 employment trough with its share of total employment rising from 12.5% to 12.9% over the same period.  In other words, by this ‘crude’ measure, energy states have accounted for a moderately outsized 18.7% of the total gain in employment.     

Initial Claims:  We’ve been monitoring the trend in initial jobless claims for the basket of 8 energy state highlighted above for negative divergences from the National Trend.   

  • Energy State Decoupling:  We’ve indexed both the National and Energy State series back to May of last year and have monitored the spread between the two indices in the wake of the oil price collapse.  As can be seen in the Chart of the Day below the spread between the two series has held at around 15 points the last couple weeks.  In short, the accelerating decline in oil prices since late September has coincided with a moderate acceleration in energy state initial jobless claims relative to the US as a whole.  We’ll get the incremental update this morning at 8:30am.    

So, energy state labor market trends do appear to be deteriorating on the margin and (at least partially) corroborating anecdotes of energy companies reducing headcount and scaling back capex.  At the same time, the U.S. is significantly less oil intensive than it once was, employment directly tied to oil and gas extraction is a relatively small fraction of the total, and there are the oft-highlighted consumption benefits of lower energy prices – although these are likely to play out on a decidedly different timeline than oil sector employment adjustments. 

 

Practically, is a moderate retreat in energy employment clearly discernible above the seasonality and month-to-month noise in the monthly employment data?  Perhaps, but it would have to be a large percentage change if those losses are, indeed, concentrated in the narrow set of BLS classified oil & gas extraction industries.

 

Remember also that the standard error on the NFP estimate is approximately +/- 90K at the 90% confidence interval.  In other words, if we happen to get a print of +90K on Friday, that means the BLS is 90% sure we gained between 0 and 180K jobs. 

 

Further, with USD correlations as strong as they are, a weak dollar move could augur sizeable, expedited upside for stuff priced in those dollars.   According to the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report for January, American consumers aren’t convinced of the sustainability of the oil price retreat either.  In fact, the prevailing expectation is that gas prices rise 20 cents over the next year and ~$1 over the next few.

 

#MeanReversion: 100% of the time it works….everytime. 

 

Ultimately, the net impact of many of the oil price shock dynamics are equivocal and forecasting whether the collective impact will catalyze a negative, self-reinforcing inflection in the labor market is not one we’re comfortable making.  However, with the data context above and our weekly tracking of the high frequency labor data, we do feel comfortable in our ability to monitor incremental changes and dynamically update our view.

 

Plus….there’s bits of real panther in our risk management model  - so you know it’s good. 

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 1.65-1.87%

SPX 1

VIX 16.06-21.78
YEN 116.09-118.87

Oil (WTI) 42.24-51.97
Gold 1

 

Prepare. Perform. Prevail.

 

Christian B. Drake

U.S. Macro Analyst

 

Anchorman - EL Chart 2



February 5, 2015

February 5, 2015 - Slide1

 

BULLISH TRENDS

February 5, 2015 - Slide2

February 5, 2015 - Slide3

February 5, 2015 - Slide4

February 5, 2015 - Slide5

 

BEARISH TRENDS

February 5, 2015 - Slide6

February 5, 2015 - Slide7

February 5, 2015 - Slide8

February 5, 2015 - Slide9

February 5, 2015 - Slide10

February 5, 2015 - Slide11
February 5, 2015 - Slide12


Reverse Keynes

This note was originally published at 8am on January 22, 2015 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“If you die in the short run, there is no long run.”

-Larry Summers, offering a little reverse Keynes in discussing hysteresis & secular stagnation

 

 

If you stick your arms straight up over your head and hold them there, it’s impossible to stay angry.  Seriously, try it.

 

I’m not sure what you do with that nugget of empirically derived kindergarten teacher insight, but it may serve as a nice low-intensity therapeutic post this morning’s central planning event or as you puzzle further over the prospects of secular stagnation. 

 

Most mentions of secular stagnation in the financial press convey some vague notion of protracted ‘sub-trend’ growth due to an amorphous mix of lousy demographics and debt overhang.   

 

Despite the indefiniteness with which the idea is typically delivered, people find it intuitively appealing and seem willing to (at least partially) accept it simply because it plausibly characterizes our current, collective experience. 

 

In his 2014 address to the NABE, Larry Summers – who is credited with re-popularizing the term – presents a commonsensical and analytically tractable contextualization of the dynamics underpinning the secular stagnation thesis.   

 

Notably, Summers argues that the entre into economic purgatory actually began some 15+ years ago and what we had formerly viewed as “normal” growth was largely an unsustainable outcropping of overly expansive policy. 

 

Summers highlights recent expansionary periods across industrialized economies to illustrate the point:

 

  • USA 2002-2007“How satisfactory would the recovery have been with a different policy environment, in the absence of a housing bubble, and with the maintenance of strong credit standards.”
  • USA 1995-2000:  “there was very strong economic performance that in retrospect we now know was associated with the substantial stock market bubble of the late 1990s”
  • JAPAN 1994-2014:  “it is hard to make the case that over the last 20 years, Japan represents a substantial counterexample to the proposition that industrial countries are having difficulty achieving what we traditionally would have regarded as satisfactory growth with sustainable financial conditions.”
  • EUROPE 1999-2005:  “It is now clear that the strong performance of the euro in the first decade of this century was unsustainable and reliant on financial flows to the European periphery that in retrospect appear to have had the character of a bubble”

 

In short, Summers makes the case that the magnitude of growth in recent cycles overstated potential, was footed in a ‘sandy loam’ of loose policy, and would not have been achievable absent the associated increase in financial instability.

 

The fact that secular stagnation sits at the fore of the current macro discussion is simply because its realities become increasingly tangible at the lower bound in rates where policy becomes impotent in cushioning the blow of the financial instability it helped propagate in the first place. I encourage you  to read and consider Summers proposition for yourself >> HERE

 

Meanwhile, Super Mario’s on deck with the latest currency war announcement out of the ECB this morning.  With the alphabet soup of Eurozone stimulus programs to-date largely ineffectual in impacting the real economy, consensus sitting on an expectation for ~€600B in QE, and anything short of “unlimited” likely to be underwhelming, is the recent re-crescendo in interventionism more likely to propagate financial stability or volatility?

Reverse Keynes - Draghi cartoon 01.20.2015

 

…….If Florida is heaven’s waiting room, Frankfurt is fast becoming the central bank triage center for #DeflationsDominoes as the multi-decade policy to inflate reaches its terminal end. 

 

In other, less dismal news – we still like housing on the domestic macro front.   We don’t like it at every time and price and don’t think the industry goes full escape velocity in the intermediate term but we do think the dynamics are such that it goes from 2014 underperformer to 2015 outperformer. 

 

We detailed the thesis on our 12/16/14 Conference Call but understanding why we like housing in 2015 is, perhaps, most easily explained by why we didn’t like it in 2014:

 

  1. Taper + Tighter Credit:  2014 started with a thud as rates peaked into 2013 year-end and the twin terrors of QM (January 10, 2014) and lower FHA loan limits (January 1, 2014) constricted the underwriting box right out of the gate.
  2. Polar Vortex & Major Investor Retreat: Wicked weather capsized early-year demand while the end of the REO-to-Rental trade by private equity firms drove a substantial decline in both total volume and price uplift in select markets like Phoenix, Las Vegas, SoCal and much of Florida.
  3. Decelerating HPI: After rising at 11-12% year-over-year throughout the bulk of 2013, US home prices began to decelerate by March 2014 and continued to decelerate until just recently.

 

Looking forward, 2015 is essentially setting up as the obverse: 

 

  1. Easy Comps: 2014’s collapse is the 2015 comp
  2. HPI stabilization:  Housing related equities follow the slope of home price growth and HPI is stabilizing
  3. Expanding Credit Box:  Lower FHFA down payment requirements, lower FHA premium costs, housing as a 2015 policy focus
  4. Lower Rates:  Rates are nearly a half point lower than the 2014 avereage already.   A 1% reduction in rates equates to ~10% increase in affordability
  5. Labor Market Improvement:  Improvement remains ongoing and is picking up in key housing demand demographics. 

 

Yesterday’s housing data offered further confirmatory evidence of firming demand and the trend toward improving rate of change as we head into the new year. 

 

  • Purchase Applications:  Purchase demand registered a second week of positive year-over-year growth - the 1st weeks of positive growth since December of 2013 – accelerating to +3.7% in the latest week from +2.6% prior.  Growth is currently tracking +9.2% on a QoQ basis. 
  • Housing Starts:  Total Housing Starts rose +4.4% to 1.089MM units in December with both October and November estimates revised higher. Notably, single-family starts rose +7.2% sequentially to +782K, the highest level since March of 2008.   The Chart of the Day below shows the (improving) TTM trend in Housing Starts. 

 

To close, the current challenges faced by policy makers remain acute.  Investors tasked with front-running reactionary policy measures and discounting their prospective impacts and collateral damages remain equally challenged.  Neither condition is particularly amenable to a proverbial raising of the arms type remedy.  

 

“You don’t really know how tall you are until you have your back against the wall”

 

….that’s another axiomatic gem I picked up along my short stint on the kindergarten teaching circuit.  It seems fitting.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

SPX 1987-2040

VIX 16.66-23.07

EUR/USD 1.15-1.19

WTI Oil 44.96-49.85

Gold 1251-1312

Copper 2.48-2.64 

 

To (sustainable) growth,

 

Christian B. Drake

U.S. Macro Analyst

 

Reverse Keynes - Starts Total   SF TTM


Early Look

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KSS - All IN ON THE KSS SHORT

Takeaway: We liked the short at $63, and after digesting the puts and takes, we love it at $67.

After stepping back and picking apart our short thesis on KSS to see where we could be wrong, we’re sticking to our guns on this one. The reality is that we thought KSS was a great short at $63, and we think it’s even a better one at $67. Was the 3.7% comp better than we expected? Yes. Would we rather have been better positioned heading into today? Absolutely. But we’re sticking by our statement that the year KSS just preannounced is likely the last time the company will ever print EPS starting with a $4. We think that the Street’s 3-year earnings ramp to nearly $6/share ($5.76) is an absolute pipe dream. Over that same time period, we have earnings hitting $3 even (and $2.75 the year after). With a -48% earnings delta, we’re willing to take the beating on a sales comp.  If our numbers prove right, which we obviously think will be the case, then we’re probably looking at about an 11-12 multiple on $3 in earnings – or about $35.

 

We get the whole ‘it’s got good cash flow’ argument. But even at a price in the mid-$30s, the stock would be at a 12% free cash yield. Yes, that borders on cheap, but names like Dillard’s have traded as high as 20%+. Furthermore, we’ll worry about that when the stock is in the $40s.  With the stock at $67 today, that’s about $30 downside and maybe $5 upside if KSS pulls one out of the hat this coming year and earns $4.75 ($0.25 above the consensus). To be clear, KSS hasn’t traded at this multiple since March of 2007. It’s already trading at 15x the consensus numbers. To own KSS here you NEED to believe that the company is going to crush numbers. We don’t see how anyone could argue that with any fundamental analytical support.

 

KSS - All IN ON THE KSS SHORT - Kss 1 2 4

 

There are two big points we’d hit on…one short term, and the other long term.

 

NEAR-TERM CONSIDERATIONS

As it relates to shorter term considerations, we think the comparison between Macy’s and Kohl’s is overblown – or at a minimum lacks context. True, the number of times that the perennially-hated KSS puts up better numbers that the perennially-loved Macy’s are few and far between. The quick and easy conclusion on the open that all the hype around new brands (Izod, Juicy), initiatives like Beauty, and the company’s new Yes2You Rewards program have turned this company around. Could they have helped on the margin? They probably did. But consider the following…

a) This is retail, and the best companies occasionally have a bad quarter, and the worst always have their moment in the sun.  Just because the numbers were higher by 2% does not mean that earnings are going up by a dollar next year.

b) One X factor this quarter is last year's January washout. KSS comps were -8%, assuming a 14% weight for the month. To be fair, we completely knew about this, and thought we modeled it appropriately. And Macy's had an even greater impact with -10% last Jan, and it put up a 2% owned comp for the quarter which implies a 1.5% comp for January. KSS is the rare standout. But modeling the holiday hangover this year for department stores is particularly tough.

c) People are only looking at Macy’s as a comp here. But consider similarly poor quality retailers like Belk and Bon-Ton (and even Old Navy – which is in KSS comp basket) comped negative all year, and then gave holiday updates that were 500-600bp higher.  When you look at KSS’ numbers relative to those companies, it is hardly a stand out at all.

KSS - All IN ON THE KSS SHORT - kss comp table

d) By our read, KSS had a killer January in its e-commerce business. This is in large part as it comped last year’s delivery issues, which benefitted it this year. The results mirror the comp differential with Macy’s well.
KSS - All IN ON THE KSS SHORT - kss 3 2 4

 

LONGER-TERM CONSIDERATIONS

We think that KSS’ target market is far more tapped than most people think. We think KSS knows this, which is why it changed up its rewards program. But how we’re doing the math, it simply will not work over the long term – and perhaps the shorter term. It offers up meaningful risk on the SG&A line of the P&L.

 

Keep in mind that KSS is one of the last remaining retailers that links its rewards program to the loyalty program. Or at least it did. The company decoupled late last year. Everyone knows that, but few people talk of the risks. They should given that 57% of KSS sales flow through the card.

Last year – according to Capital One – it booked $805mm in income related to the KSS Card, and then rebated $405mm to KSS (a standard practice in such partnerships). Though this is not unusual, keep in mind that it served as a 9.5% counter-expense to SG&A.

Now with the new Yes2You rewards program, KSS decoupled that card from the rewards program. As such, a customer could shop in a KSS, get full rewards, and then use Amex, Discover, or whatever card, and get those rewards too. In effect, the customer can get similar rewards but double the benefits if they DON’T use the KSS card.  So…KSS might still get the sales, but then we’d see SG&A rise simply as the counter-cost begins to deflate.

 

We analyzed the number of customers that KSS would need to win in order to offset this risk.  The bottom line is that for every 5% of the 57% of sales that shifts to the new rewards program, the company has to find about 395,000 new customers to fill the void. In the table below, we built up to the customer count based on KSS’ average basket and visitation statistics. So if the credit card ratio decreases by 10% (very plausible), we need about 800k people in order to offset the $0.12 per share hit in EBIT from lost credit income.

 

KSS - All IN ON THE KSS SHORT - kss 4 2 4

 

800k customers might not sound like a big deal for a company as big as KSS, but consider the share it currently has of it’s target market. We calculate it two ways, and the results are very similar (scary).

1) Household Share: There are 79,000 households within a 15 minute driving distance of the average KSS store. The company has about 58,800 customers in each market. That tells us that the company has 74% share of relevant households.

2) Customer Share: The core demo for KSS is a 30-60 year old woman, and secondly is a 61-80 year old woman. When we look at this core, we get to a total market size of 73.2mm consumers (assuming that 75% of women in the age group are potential KSS customers, and 5% of males are prospects).  Today KSS has about 64.3mm customers. In other words, it has about 88% share according to this metric.

 

So with extremely high consumer share penetration, KSS will largely be attracting new customers from either a) a less desirable age demo, b) a greater driving distance, or c) they’ll be looking to attract more men. We don’t want to bank on any of those. It’s no wonder that KSS has store productivity that is ahead of Macy’s. It’s not going to get much higher.  

 

KSS - All IN ON THE KSS SHORT - kss 5 2 4

KSS - All IN ON THE KSS SHORT - kss 6 2 4


Our Favorite Sector (on the Short Side) When the Market’s Ripping

Editor's note: This is a brief excerpt from Hedgeye research earlier this morning. Click here to learn more our options for individuals.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

On big U.S. equity beta chases in 2015, our favorite sector to lie out on the short side when we’re at the top-end of the risk range remains the Financials (XLF).

 

Why?

 

Mainly because we think long-term rates continue to make lower-lows. Incidentally, if we get a bad jobs print this Friday, we can get you UST 10YR Yield of 1.61%, in a hurry.

 

Our Favorite Sector (on the Short Side) When the Market’s Ripping - br8


Cartoon of the Day: Dove Is in the Air

Cartoon of the Day: Dove Is in the Air - central planning cartoon 01.04.2015

Is anyone really surprised by the recent dovishness of central planners around the world?


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