Takeaway: Just the spark this underperforming stock needed. Solid all around.



  • Major corporate clients continue to tell HOT that they will travel more
  • International travel to and from US: +7%, reaching new highs
  • Mexico/Indonesia:  strong growth
  • 2 uncertainties:  Middle East and Europe
  • 2014 NA REVPAR: 7%
  • Group business continues to strengthen
  • Supply picture benign. Not enough supply to bring down occupancy
  • Little construction activity in upper upscale segments
  • Expect NA recovery cycle to continue
  • China:  2014 REVPAR up over 8% (ex Macau: +4%)
    • Accounts for 14% of fees
    • 15% of footprint
    • 1/3 of pipeline
  • Brazil/Argentina continue to struggle
  • In Europe, despite uncertainty, performance at hotels improved in 2H 2014.  2014 REVPAR: +3%
    • Spain/Greece bounced back. Germany picked up through 2014
    • Looking ahead, Europe still unclear. Not factoring in robust recovery for European business in 2015
  • ME and Asia-Pacific will be a mixed bag in 2015.
    • Thailand showing pickup in transient/group business
    • Africa held back by low commodity prices
  • HOT hotels outperformed its comp sets
  • Core fees grew ~7%
  • >60% of the rooms that entered HOT's system in 2014 were high end properties,
    • >8% located internationally
  • Net room growth below 4-5% target due to:  longer development times in emerging markets, fewer in the year for the year conversions, and higher proportion of select service hotels with lower average room counts
  • Plan to launch collection brand that will fit btw Luxury Collection and design hotels
  • US strongest market, particularly in select-service
  • Recent transactions with Aloft selling at prices well above their construction costs
  • Accelerate growth in NA by growing Aloft, Element, and Four Points
  • Expect to stay at or near target debt levels
  • Spinoff vaca ownership:
    • Conversion to asset-light
    • Want to drive growth in SVO on its own
    • Expect to place 5 hotels with the new company (key timeshare locations) - Los Cabos, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Sheraton Steamboat, Sheraton Kauai
      • $20m EBITDA, valuing $200-250m asset sale value
      • $400m headwind on leverage assuming they operate in 2.5-3x net leverage range
  • Post spinoff -
    • 75% of EBITDA  (pre-SGA) will come from fees
    • Expect to be well above 80% asset-light target in 2016
    • Expect HOT to continue to look for ways to cut G&A
    • HOT expects to receive new annual license fee of $30-40m from SVO
    • Transaction related expenses not included in guidance
    • Form 10Q filing in 2Q 2015
    • Will achieve 80/20 asset-light model earlier than expected 
  • 4Q NA REVPAR: +5.8% overvall: REVPAR in South/West up 8% and 9%, respectively. However due to heavier mix in north region esp. NYC, adversely affected performance.
  • Hawaii continue to be a challenge in face of lower demand from Japan due to weaker yen. Remixing business there by increasing focus on inbound travel from mainland US.
  • Group revenue up 9% for business into all future years.
    • Double-digit increase in revenue booked in the quarter for the quarter. December was largest group booking month in history.
    • >70% of 2015 business on the books
  • Nearly 60% bids in. Expect corporate rates in the mid single digits on average
  • Grew share in South America despite volatile markets
  • Q4 France REVPAR essentially flat
  • Q4 Germany REVPAR: +5%; UK REVPAR: +3%
  • Q4 mainland China REVPAR : +2.8%; austerity programs continue to impact the market there. North China remains weak
  • SG&A increased 3% - at low end of revised range - due to better cost controls
  • Closed 6 hotel dispositions including Sheraton on the Park, St. Regis Rome, Sheraton Ambassdor, and Philadelphia triplex.
  • Net debt/EBITDA: 1.4x (2.9x based on S&P)
  • ~950m cash located offshore
  • In February, paid down CP balance by roughly 400m using cash
  • 2015 guidance (before share repurchase)
    • Core fees should grow 8-10% in constant dollars
    • 42M EBITDA lost from hotels sold in 2014
  • M&A market in 2015 remain hot. Expect to close transactions in 2014 that will generate proceeds in line with 2014 levels or $800m worth of hotels.
  • Expect to return 550-600m in regular divs
  • Expect to remain at high end of leverage range: 2.5-3x 


Q & A


  • 2015 REVPAR guidance was actually raised: difference btw systemwide and company-operated is only 30bps.
  • Repatriation:  Sees strong opportunity to return foreign sales back to US through next couple of years
  • Acquisition focus not targeted at low end...probably in spaces they are currently competing today
  • CFO guidance of $700-800m includes the capital going into SVO
  • Share repurchase 2015 guidance: $300-350m
  • Could move up leverage level in the future
  • Seeing a little better Europe/ MEA. China is flat. North America going better. 
  • Owner feedback going in right direction in North America
  • Feel good on Westin brand
  • 2015: Good fee growth in North America (but not acceleration since many of the contracts haven't hit certain thresholds) but stronger international fees

Keith's Macro Notebook 2/10: USD | UST 10YR | SPX


Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough shares the top three things in his macro notebook this morning.

Hedgeye's Morning Macro Call with CEO Keith McCullough: The Bubble Formerly Known as 2014


Please enjoy this complimentary look at our Morning Macro Call, a daily conference call for institutional investors. In today’s Morning Macro Call, CEO Keith McCullough gives his daily global macro rundown, talks about Hedgeye’s bullish view on housing, and takes questions from viewers. 


Attention Students...

Get The Macro Show and the Early Look now for only $29.95/month – a savings of 57% – with the Hedgeye Student Discount! In addition to those daily macro insights, you'll receive exclusive content tailor-made to augment what you learn in the classroom. Must be a current college or university student to qualify.

YELP: Is Eat24 Another Accounting Gimmick?

Takeaway: The precedent set by its SeatMe acquisition makes us question management's motivation behind the Eat24 acquisition.


  1. PAYING FOR A DISTRACTION: YELP is establishing a trend of questionable acquisitions following disappointing earnings releases (last quarter, it was two international acquisitions).  Today, YELP purchased Eat24 for $134M ($75M in cash, remainder in stock).  The company is guiding toward an incremental $36M in acquired revenues, although the actual contribution could be more (no historical Eat24 revenues provided). 
  2. THE BIG QUESTION IS ACCOUNTING: Where will YELP account for its newly acquired Eat24 customers? For context, YELP acquired SeatMe back in 3Q13.  Beginning in 2014, YELP discretely reclassified its SeatMe accounts as Active Local Business Accounts, and then stopped providing its total number of SeatMe customers beginning in 2Q14.  In essence, YELP inflated its core advertising account metrics by including accounts paying for the reservation service it acquired.  So, why should we expect anything different this time around?


For our most current thoughts on YELP, see the note below.  


YELP: Shot Itself in the Foot (4Q14)

02/06/15 07:38 AM EST

[click here]



Let us know if you have any questions, or would like to discuss in more detail.


Hesham Shaaban, CFA


Retail Callouts (2/10): ICSC, KATE Flash Sale, TGT, FINL

Takeaway: KATE's First Flash Sale of the year, no change in promotional cadence. Chain store sales number respectable, but 3yr downtrend continues.


Retail Callouts (2/10): ICSC, KATE Flash Sale, TGT, FINL - 2 9 chart2



ICSC RETAIL SALES (80 General Merchandise Stores)


Takeaway: Going against the toughest comp in calendar Q1 the 1 year decelerated 180bps sequentially, with a 25bp pop in the 2yr. Not spectacular, but respectable. The trend we're most focused on here is 3yr trend which eliminates all noise. It's decelerated in all but one week this year.

Retail Callouts (2/10): ICSC, KATE Flash Sale, TGT, FINL - 2 10 chart1

Retail Callouts (2/10): ICSC, KATE Flash Sale, TGT, FINL - 2 10 chart3





KATE - Flash Sale Promotions


Takeaway: We track the promotional cadence for about 100 retailers by keeping account of the promotional emails. There are a few variables that we will admit are hard to account for, specifically the volume and depth behind each campaign. But, comparing the YY change in the direct business we think is the most efficient way.

There was a lot of noise surrounding the promotional posture of the handbag industry to start the year -- it eroded $710mm in market cap for KATE over a 15 day period. We dug into KATE's promotional cadence and came back extremely positive, which was proven true when the company  pre-announced on 1/29. Opening the inbox this morning, we were hit with KATE's first 'Flash Sale' of the year, so we went back to the archives to see if the sales matched the prior years' offerings. And the results were exact down the to the calendar days and % off (pictures and details below). KATE is slowly pulling back the 'Flash Sale' concept to promote full price sales in its direct channel. It's held true to its stance to date - we'd point to the exclusion of a 'Flash Sale' in December of 2014, which Management discussed in August, as proof. Though we question the effect it will have on comps. In year one of this new posture, the company just reported a 26% comp.

  • 2013 - 2 day sale 2/5 - 2/6, 75% off
  • 2014 - 3 day sale 2/11 - 2/13, 75% off
  • 2015 - 3 day sale 2/10 - 2/12, 75% off

Retail Callouts (2/10): ICSC, KATE Flash Sale, TGT, FINL - KATE 2 10





TGT - Target and landlords in court battle over sale of leases



FINL - Imran Jooma Joins Finish Line as Chief Omnichannel Officer, Executive Vice President



West Coast port congestion could cost retailers $7 billion this year



EXPR, UA - Express Signs NBA All-Star Stephen Curry



New Look chief says retailer ready for IPO



BOSS - Permira Pares Hugo Boss Stake



ARO - Aeropostale, Inc. Announces Executive Appointments



BABA - Alibaba Urged to Step Up Action on Fakes



Pam & Gela to Launch E-Commerce



Trading Post The Jobs Report

Client Talking Points


The USD is stabilizing in a narrowing risk range now (leading indicator for less FX volatility) and we think that takes out accelerating upside in both the CRB Index (+7% off the 213 lows) and Oil (WTI risk range = 43.07-53.88) from here, which would reverse plenty of sub-sector counter-TREND moves in the S&P 500 – we’ll see.


Day 2 of consensus saying what they’ve been saying for a year (“rates up, litftoff, etc.”) and we guess we will have to endure this until the USA #deflation data (CPI and PPI) is reported for JAN (next week). China and Norway printed -4.3% and -12.4% year-over-year PPI’s this morning!


The S&P 500 (SPX) meandering at -0.6% year-to-date doesn’t exactly inspire fund flows, so it’s probably time to start adding to U.S. Equity exposures that are not affected by the #deflation factors coming back into the market place. We still like U.S. domestic consumption plays like XLY (Consumer) and ITB (Housing) on the long side.

Asset Allocation


Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration

The Vanguard Extended Duration Treasury (EDV) is an extended duration ETF (20-30yr). As our declining rates thesis proved out and picked up steam over the course of the year, we see this trend continuing into Q1.  Short of a Fed rate hike, there’s no force out there with the oomph to reverse this trend, particularly with global growth decelerating and disinflationary trends pushing capital flows into the one remaining unbreakable piggy bank, which is the U.S. Treasury debt market.


As growth and inflation expectations continue to slow, stay with low-volatility Long Bonds (TLT). We believe the TLT has plenty of room to run. We strongly believe the dynamics in the currency market are likely contribute to a “reflexive deflationary spiral” whereby continued global macro asset price deflation and reported disinflation both contribute to rising investor demand for long-term Treasuries, at the margins.


Hologic (HOLX) is a name our Healthcare Sector Head Tom Tobin has been closing monitoring for awhile. In what Tom calls his 3D TOMO Tracker Update (Institutional Research product) of U.S. facilities currently offering 3D Tomosynthesis, month-to-date December placements signaled a break-out quarter after a sharp acceleration in October and slight correction to a still very high rate in November. We believe we are seeing a sustained acceleration in placements that will likely drive upside to Breast Health throughout FY2015. Tom’s estimates are materially ahead of the Street, but importantly this upward trend in Breast Health should lead not only to earnings upside, but also multiple expansion and a significant move in the stock price.

Three for the Road


Going LIVE in 15 min. Send in your questions for @KeithMcCullough and @HedgeyeDDale via Twitter or the YouTube chat.



Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.

 -Samuel Johnson


The percentage of Russians whose opinion of the U.S. is very or mainly bad rose to a record 81% in January from 44% a year ago, according to the latest poll by the independent Levada Center, which has tracked attitudes since 1990.

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