Retail Callouts (6/16): UPS Pushes On Pricing, Chain Stores Sales, UA, NKE

Takeaway: UPS pushes on pricing, with retail margins at peak, and retail sales slowing.

UPS Bulk Item Rate Hikes Bad For Retailers


Takeaway: Any way you cut it, this is bad news for retailers. The fact is that consumers increasingly expect retailers to offer up free shipping. In fact, we think that 'free shipping' will be an industrywide standard by the end of 2016. So the question is this -- If the shippers are starting to push back on pricing due to capacity constraints, and if consumers are highly unlikely to broadly accept paying for shipping when it was otherwise free -- then who is going to foot the bill? Yes, the retailers. If the retailers can find a way to push it back to their suppliers, then they'll do it. But very few have that power.  This is not what we want to see when retail margins are tracking at an all-time high, and makes it increasingly difficult to be bullish on this group, broadly speaking.

Retail Callouts (6/16): UPS Pushes On Pricing, Chain Stores Sales, UA, NKE - 6 16 chart1


UA - Class C Stock Dividend to Maintain Plank's Control

Takeaway: We rarely see stock splits structured in this manner, but this is all about Plank keeping control of the Board. He's currently sitting on 66.5% of the vote with 100% of the class B stock, but his ownership position has fallen almost 2 percentage points in a year from 18.5% in 2014 to 16.8% in 2015. At an ownership position below 15%, Plank's class B shares would be converted to class A and his grip on the company would be far less secure than it is today. The new class C structure the company announced yesterday is designed 100% to mitigate that risk.


UA, NKE - Sold-Out Curry MVP Shoe Price Doubles Online


Takeaway: This is the first time we've seen UA basketball kicks hit the resale market in a material way. Nike engineered its distribution process to build hype in the aftermarket long ago, and has a few SKUs (The Air Yeezys for example) that are listed on eBay for $10k+. For UA, it's likely more supply than demand related...but whichever way you slice it, it's a win for UA. The company has found a star in Curry. The company has a lot of wood to chop both on the product and infrastructure side before it declares victory -- its footwear sales in 2014 at $430mm were only 25% greater than what Lebron James did for Nike alone. But it now has an asset it can use to grow the platform and demand is building evidenced by the activity in the resale market. The reality is that the technical merits of a product become far less important when they are for an athlete who is as universally likeable as Curry.

Retail Callouts (6/16): UPS Pushes On Pricing, Chain Stores Sales, UA, NKE - 6 16 chart2


Retail Sales Begin What Should be a 15-Week Deceleration

And so it begins… sales this week according to the ICSC index were up only 1.9%, the lowest rate in 15 weeks. Unfortunately, the weekly sales growth rate should be under added pressure through the end of September (i.e. through back-to-school) as we comp against a solid Summer of 2014.

Retail Callouts (6/16): UPS Pushes On Pricing, Chain Stores Sales, UA, NKE - 6 16 chart3

Retail Callouts (6/16): UPS Pushes On Pricing, Chain Stores Sales, UA, NKE - 6 16 chart4





House Bill Aims to Close Internet Sales Tax Loophole



GPS - Gap Closing 175 North American Stores



LL - Lumber Liquidators promotes marketing head, cuts merchandising chief



OLLI - Ollie’s eyes IPO and 950 stores



Kmart taps DSW executive as marketing chief



Client Talking Points


The U.S. 10YR Yield is down -22 basis points in less than a week after the U.S. Dollar failed to reclaim TREND support. We’ve been looking for a dovish Fed since the March 18th meeting, so we’ll reiterate what they should do, given the slowing data – USD agrees – so if the Fed opts for one rate hike “just because its time” we think stock, bond, and commodity market risks ramp.


The German DAX continues to breakdown alongside a stabilizing Euro (Down Dollar = Up Euro); risk range there is finally tightening to $1.11-1.15 ahead of the Fed meeting. European stocks do not like a strong Euro and are still signaling bearish TREND across the board (ex-FTSE).


Terrible data, terrible day for the XLI (industrial stocks) – we shared the rate of change chart for Industrial Production in May (not affected by the “weather” excuse) – we don’t know how someone could signal bullish on cyclicals with Transports and Industrials looking like they do.



The Macro Show - CLICK HERE to watch a replay of today's show with guest analysis from Energy Sector Head Kevin Kaiser. 

Asset Allocation


Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration

Penn National Gaming will likely tee off on the bears with a strong Q2, upward 2015/2016 EPS revisions, and the start of a 2 year growth period. PENN’s stock has climbed 27% this year on stabilizing regional gaming revenues, transaction-fueled optimism (real estate) surrounding the regional gaming companies and proximity to the opening of the new Plainridge racino on June 24. So what will drive even more upside? More and better. We think regional gaming trends are even better than anticipated by the Street and Q2 earnings should be a solid beat even before Plainridge contributes.


Housing outperformed in the latest week alongside choppy price action in equities and further, extraordinary volatility in sovereign bond markets.  Fundamental data was light with weekly purchase applications data from the MBA the lone release of import for the industry.  The first, high-frequency update on purchase demand in June, however, was positive. Purchase demand rose +9.7% sequentially, taking the index to its strongest level in 2 years at reading of 214.3. On a year-over-year basis, growth accelerated for a  4th consecutive week to +14.6%. Inclusive of last weeks gain, demand in 2Q is tracking +14.3% QoQ and +13.4% YoY.


The market has been jockeying for positioning in front of next week’s policy statement from Janet Yellen. We believe Yellen signaling that she remains “data dependent” (i.e. repeats what she said at the March 18thmeeting) is the most probable outcome. To be clear, we remain the long-bond bulls (TLT, EDV, MUB). With that being said we aren’t claiming to be able to predict the outcome of next week’s meeting (sure we do have biases). What we do know is that Hedgeye estimates for growth and inflation shake out much lower against both consensus and central bank forecasts for the full year 2015 (remember that this is after their forecasts have already been downwardly revised).

Three for the Road


ASIA (ex-Shanghai): in the last mth, Hang Seng -6.4%, Singapore -4.8%, KOSPI -3.7%

#GrowthSlowing @HedgeyeDDale



Create your future from your future, not your past.

Werner Erhard


The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the 3rd in 6 seasons with a 2-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Final last night.

CHART OF THE DAY: Fed Funds Rate vs Unemployment Rate (Since the 1950s)

Editor's Note: Below is a brief excerpt and chart from today's morning note from Hedgeye. It was written by Daryl Jones who is Director of Research. Click here for more information on how you can subscribe.


...In the Chart of the Day below, we show the Federal Funds rate versus the unemployment rate going back to the 1950s.  We don’t need an advanced degree in mathematics to see that this period is different than many others.  Despite the unemployment steadily coming down (albeit unemployment is not necessarily the best measure of the health of the employment market domestically), the Fed has, well, not moved.


CHART OF THE DAY: Fed Funds Rate vs Unemployment Rate (Since the 1950s)   - z 06.16.15 chart

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The New Frontiers

“There exists limitless opportunities in every industry.  When there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.”

-Charles Kettering


Charles Kettering may be one of the most accomplished men you’ve never heard of before.  He passed away some 60 years ago, but his ingenuity lives with us today.   As Wikipedia describes him, he was an inventor, engineer, businessman, and holder of 186 patents.  The last point is what got me: 186 patents!  Now that’s a lifetime of work.


His handwork and ingenuity touched a number of industries– he was responsible for the Freon refrigerant for refrigeration and air conditioning systems, he developed the first aerial missile, and the electric starter for the automobiles.   To the point of his quote, Kettering was not afraid of new frontiers.


Speaking of new frontiers, tomorrow the FOMC gives us their rate decision.  We aren’t expecting any surprises. We continue to stick with our view (as emphasized in the Hedgeye cartoon below) that economic growth will remain lower for longer, which in turn means that the Fed is likely to be dovish for longer. 


The new frontier in monetary policy of course is the Fed’s decision to remain at effectively zero percent interest rates for the last, oh, seven years.   Not only has the Fed been more accommodative than any time in its history, but it has been accommodative longer than at any point in its history.   In exploring this new frontier, though, the question we should ask ourselves is whether the Fed has completely missed the economic cycle.

The New Frontiers - Growth cartoon 11.10.2014


Back to the Global Macro Grind...


In the Chart of the Day below, we show the Federal Funds rate versus the unemployment rate going back to the 1950s.  We don’t need an advanced degree in mathematics to see that this period is different than many others.  Despite the unemployment steadily coming down (albeit unemployment is not necessarily the best measure of the health of the employment market domestically), the Fed has, well, not moved.


The challenge now with potentially starting to increase interest rates is that we are very near the top of the business cycle.   As we highlighted in our Q2 Themes deck, we are at month 74 of the current expansion.  This is in comparison with a mean expansion of 59 months and median of 50 months over the past century. 


As it relates specifically to the employment market, initial claims are probably one of the best leading indicators.  Currently, jobless claims are in the 300K range, which are literally as good as they get.  Historically, going back to the mid-1960s, jobless claim improvement has peaked 7 months before the economic cycle peaks.


So, as it related to a new frontier, we are certainly in one.  In fact, we would submit that never before has the perceived plan been to tighten monetary policy into the peak of an economic cycle!  Of course, maybe the Fed will actually stay dovish longer than expected...


But if you need any insight of where consensus is on interest rates, look no further than a poll from CNBC (as consensus as consensus gets) this morning.  According to the poll, 92% of respondents see a rate hike this year, which is up from 84% in the April survey.   The only poll we’ve seen this morning with more certainty is the poll of whether July follows June (93% of respondents believe that to be true). 


Other than the FOMC decision tomorrow, the other topic that is dominating global macro market headlines this morning is Greece.  Some are calling it a tragedy, some are calling it a victory, and some may even see it as an opportunity.   Back in small town Canada, they would probably call it a gong show, but here we are . . . on the brink of another Greek default.


As U.S. centric equity investors, the central question of course is whether Greece defaulting or leaving the Euro really matters.  The short answer is probably not.   As it relates to Europe, the answer is much less clear.  Setting aside the actual financial implications, perhaps the most significant fact is simply that the ECB has provided 118 billion euros in loans to the Greek banking system, which is equivalent to 2/3rds of Greece GDP.  That, my friends, is a lot of euros!


The larger issue though is one of confidence- confidence in the euro by outside investors, confidence in the economies in the peripheries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain, and confidence in a European sovereign debt market that is all but priced to perfection.  It seems like an elixir for sustained weakness in the euro.


Certainly, though, it is possible that the proposed emergency summit on Greece tentatively scheduled for this Sunday may forge some cooperation between Greece and her creditors.  Of course, the reality of that happening is, well, not very realistic.  Or as John Lennon said:


“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”




Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 2.11-2.48%

SPX 2070-2095

Nikkei 20032-20661

VIX 14.20-15.93

Oil (WTI) 58.01-61.90

Gold 1167-1199 


Keep your head up and stick on the ice,


Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research


The New Frontiers - z 06.16.15 chart

Policy Mistakes

This note was originally published at 8am on June 02, 2015 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”

-Alan Greenspan


In a solemn testimony to Congress way back in October 2008, former FOMC Chairman Alan Greenspan had that to say in response to the following question from Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), which was in reference to the low interest rates and lax regulatory oversight of the securitization market which perpetuated the housing bubble:


“Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”


History has spoken loudly for Mr. Greenspan with respect to determining whether or not the Federal Reserve’s actions (or lack thereof in many cases) contributed to the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression. And while they may not readily admit it, policymakers – like investors – do indeed make mistakes (see: Chart of the Day below).


Policy Mistakes - z g1


Back to the Global Macro Grind


If you’re in the camp that a rate hike(s) would be a dangerous mistake(s) for the FOMC to make at any point over the intermediate term, then you, like us, are definitely not in line with Wall St. consensus which came into the year expecting ~3% real GDP growth, ~2% core inflation and ~3-4% annual wage growth – for the sixth straight year, might we add.


If you’re in the aforementioned camp, you probably also agree with our lower-for-longer thesis on interest rates and expect the yield curve to flatten [perhaps materially] if the Fed embarks on what it believes to be a “policy normalization” cycle.


Recall that the 10Y Treasury Yield rallied +69bps in the three months preceding the first of 17 rate hikes back in June ’04. It proceeded to retrace all but 2bps of that rally over the NTM.


We bracketed “perhaps materially” earlier to highlight our #LateCycle Slowdown theme. As recently detailed in an institutional research note, trends across a variety of economic indicators put the U.S. economy roughly ~12 months away from recession.


While that may sound like good news to investors, our predictive tracking algorithm has YoY real GDP growth slowing throughout the balance of 2015. In lay terms, we believe the U.S. economy is past peak in rate-of-change terms and, much like in early 2007, the consistent and fervent missing of expectations for economic data appears set to continue on a trending basis throughout this period.


We underline “on a trending basis” to give a sincere golf clap for yesterday’s MAY ISM Manufacturing and APR Construction Spending beats. Additionally, the details of both reports were quite good on an absolute basis.


In the interest of not having perma bond bears tune us out, we’ll just ignore yesterday’s miss in Real PCE growth. Who cares about household consumption anyway? It’s only 69% of GDP.


For what it’s worth, the Atlanta Fed’s “GDPNow” model revised down its estimate for real consumption growth in 2Q by -50bps to +2.1% on yesterday’s print, but, again, I digress…


Another very important reason we consider it a mistake for the Fed to embark on what we believe to be a misguided “policy normalization” cycle is the current entropy of domestic and global demographic trends. Without recreating the wheel, here is the CliffsNotes version of our deep dive on this subject:


  1. Aging has a statistically significant inverse relationship to both real GDP growth and inflation.
  2. Both the U.S. and global economy are aging at their fastest rates ever. In the U.S.’s case, the rate of change in aging itself is +172% faster in the five years ended 2017 than it was in the five years ended 2011.
  3. The flip side to accelerated domestic and global aging is slowing growth – and even outright contraction – in the world’s core consumption demographic, which, both empirically and theoretically, happens to be the 35-54 year-old population. In the U.S. in particular, the YoY rate of change turned negative in 2008 and is projected to remain negative through 2019. This compares to growth rates of +3.0% and +0.6%, on average, in 1990-99 and 2000-09, respectively.
  4. As a result of this entropy, we believe both the U.S. and global economy are firmly entrenched in the process of seeing both potential growth and potential inflation – if there is such a thing – decline.
  5. To the extent this hypothesis is indeed correct, we think the aforementioned consensus expectations are materially off base in that they are based off of models which do not take into account the aforementioned demographic changes.


So it’s up to you whether or not you choose to overweight the steep increase in the Prices Paid component of yesterday’s ISM Manufacturing report or the deceleration in the YoY rate-of-change in Core PCE, which is the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge; you can’t do both:


  • MAY ISM Prices Paid: 49.5 from 40.5 prior. While still in contraction territory, 49.5 represents the highest reading since OCT ’14 and the +9pt MoM increase represents the fastest MoM increase since AUG ’12.
  • APR Core PCE: +1.24% YoY from +1.32% prior. The +1.24% increase represents the slowest rate of inflation since FEB ’14 and marks the 38th consecutive month below the Fed’s +2% target.


Here are three more lines in the sand investors must draw if they are to effectively handicap interest rate risk from here:


  1. Do you side with the Fed’s [on-target] 5Y-Forward Breakeven Rate of 2% or do you believe the TIPS 5Y Breakeven Rate of 1.6% to be a more prescient indicator of inflation?
  2. Do you side with the +34bps back-up in the 10Y Treasury Yield since its April 3rd higher-low at 1.84% or do you believe the -1bps decline in the DEC ’15 Fed Funds Futures Implied Yield over that same time frame to be a more prescient indicator of the Fed’s likely path of policy? It’s worth noting that since April 3rd, the implied probability of “liftoff” has declined -420bps, on average, across the five remaining FOMC meetings in 2015 with the December 16th meeting being the highest at 53%.
  3. Do you side with Bloomberg Consensus real GDP growth estimates which call for acceleration in QoQ SAAR terms throughout the balance of the year or do you believe Hedgeye Risk Management’s real GDP growth estimates which call for deceleration in YoY terms throughout the balance of the year to be a more prescient indicator of the direction of interest rates?


All told, the Hedgeye Macro Team reiterates its intermediate-to-long term bullish bias on bonds and bond-like equities.


Regarding the latter, we think the $3.5B in YTD redemptions from REITS and Utilities funds is somewhat reminiscent of investors broadly selling the 2009 lows in the broad equity market – specifically in the sense that we believe such selling is predicated on consensus fear (rate hikes now vs. Great Depression redo then) and not on thoughtful analysis of the underlying fundamentals (i.e. the economic cycle).


Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:


UST 10yr Yield 1.99-2.28% (bearish)

SPX 2098-2122 (bullish)

USD 94.65-98.19 (bullish)
EUR/USD 1.08-1.12 (bearish)

Oil (WTI) 58.09-61.49 (bullish)

Gold 1175-1214 (bullish)


Keep your head on a swivel,



Darius Dale



Policy Mistakes - z Chart of the Day

June 16, 2015

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Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.43%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.34%