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LEISURE LETTER (07/14/2015)

TICKERS: WYNN, HLT,  HTHT, CCL

EVENTS   

July 14 CCL Investor Event

July 23 9am:  PENN 2Q CC

July 24 11am-2pm:  PENN Plainridge tour and investor day

COMPANY NEWS     

WYNN - Wynn Macau Ltd says it will pay a summer bonus equivalent to one month’s salary to all eligible employees except senior managers. 

  • “Wynn Macau expects that the operating environment will still be challenging during the second half of the year,” the notice quotes company president Ian Michael Coughlan as saying.
  • “We hope our members will understand the difficulties that we may face, control each daily expense carefully and continue to provide excellent services.”

ARTICLE HERE  

Takeaway: Bonuses continue to be given out despite tough operating environment. No margin relief in sight.

 

WYNN - City of Boston Says WYNN Reps knew of Mob ties to land in Everett, MA. 

  • Five people interviewed claim that WYNN, knew a mob associate with felony convictions would profit from his stake in the waterfront land where the Las Vegas casino company plans to build a resort.
  • Boston, which is suing the state Gaming Commission over its decision to award Wynn a gambling license, says the witnesses told commission investigators that Wynn representatives were informed of or discussed Charles Lightbody's ownership stake before signing an option on roughly 30 acres on the Everett waterfront across from Boston.

ARTICLE HERE 

 

HLT - Hilton announced today its plans to recruit 500 full- and part-time, work-from-home positions to provide inbound reservation support for guests through the Hilton Reservations and Customer Care operation. 

 

HTHT - China Lodging Group, Limited announced its preliminary results for hotel operations in Q2 2015. Key takeaways from their results. 

  • Occupancy rate - Q2 2015 - 89% vs. Q2 2014 94% (-5%) YoY
  • ADR (in RMB) - Q2 2015 - 185RMB vs. Q2 2014 182RMB +1% YoY
  • RevPAR (in RMB) - Q2 2015 - 171RMB vs Q2 2014 164RMB (4%) YoY

ARTICLE HERE

Takeaway: RevPAR continues to decline for the economy scale in China. Not good news for WYN.

 

CCL - Carnival has taken shore excursions to another level by expanded offerings, adding exclusive new landside experiences and customized private tours, as well as new family-friendly enhancements, including fun complimentary beachside activities, value pricing and free tours in select ports for children under age five. 

ARTICLE HERE

Takeaway: CCL's onboard and other segment has seen stronger revenue growth recently. CCL is introducing new initiatives in that area. 

INDUSTRY NEWS

Macau Tourist Price Index - TPI for Q2 2015 increased by 0.82% YoY to 134.61, attributable to rising charges for restaurant services and dearer prices of local food products. Notable increase was observed in the price index of Entertainment & Cultural Activities +5.74%; Restaurant Services +5.13%; and Food, Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco +4.50%. On the contrary, price index of Accommodation decreased by (2.82%) YoY due to lower room rates for three-and four-star hotels.  

ARTICLE HERE

  

Macau Luxury Retail Sales - The Macau Importers and Exporters Association expects that retail sales of luxuries in the city will turn out to be 30%-50% lower in 1H 2015 vs 1H 2014. 

ARTICLE HERE

Takeaway: Weak luxury sales is expected given mass deceleration.

 

Las Vegas Luxury Retail Sales - According to a report commissioned by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the average expenditure in 2014 among visitors who reported shopping during their trip was $246.12, up significantly from $192.34 in 2010, though down slightly from a recent peak in 2014. 

  • Senior Vice President of Retail at WYNN LV Hedy Woodrow said, "Luxury is definitely back.  We’ve had tremendous growth. [In 2014,] we actually beat the numbers from pre-recession.” In the last year, Woodrow said, she’s seen spending from domestic customers pick up, with guests coming from California and Texas to shop on the Strip.
  • Crystals Senior Vice President and General Manager Farid Matraki said, “We’ve never had one month where we did worse than the month before or the year before. Every quarter we have a record quarter. With Chinese customer numbers down, domestic business is now much stronger — and while Americans may not have the buying power of the Asian whales, they’re likely to visit Las Vegas more frequently."

ARTICLE HERE

Takeaway: Luxury retail may be considered strong, sales are still down from last year. Moreover, RevPAR growth was sluggish in Q2 (and likely for the summer) and Las Vegas is still dependent on the Chinese whales. 

   

Coloane CasinoSecretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac said on Monday that he would consider amending the law to keep Coloane free of casinos – if the public wishes.   

ARTICLE HERE

 

Philippine Gaming -  Philippine casino stocks surged after the nation’s regulator said gaming revenue could increase 20% this year even as China’s anti-corruption crackdown has weakened revenue in other parts of Asia.

  • First-half gaming revenue at the country’s casinos grew 16% to $1.4 billion, Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. Chairman Cristino Naguiat said in a telephone interview.  There’s a “good chance” it will reach $3 billion this year as he has predicted before, he added.
  • Tourist arrivals in the Philippines increased 8.2% to 2.23 million in the first five months of the year, with most coming from South Korea, who accounted for 24.5% of the total, followed by the U.S. and Japan, according to government data. China is the fourth largest source of tourists, with a 7.1% share.

ARTICLE HERE

Takeaway: Good news for MPEL Philippines  

 

U.S. Hotel Industry - Some of the largest hotel brands are reporting strong group business growth this year, signaling that businesses and organizations are continuing to feel more confident about the post-recession economy. 

  • Joseph Bates, VP of research for the Global Business Travel Association, estimates group meeting volume declined by 1.9% in 2014. Bates said much of the decline was as the result of a cyclical snapback from 2013, which saw an 8.6% growth. 
  • The foundation estimates that group business will increase this year by 1.6% and another 2.5% in 2016. Most of the growth is coming from the corporate sector. 

ARTICLE HERE

Takeaway: This is consistent with our meeting planner survey from late last year.

 

Iran Oil Embargo - Iran and six global powers reached a nuclear deal that could result in the easing of sanctions against Tehran and a gradual increase in its oil exports just as Asian economies showed further signs of weakness.  The deal will grant Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, an Iranian diplomat said on Tuesday.

ARTICLE HERE

Takeaway: Lower oil impact has been a tailwind for cruisers and regional gaming.

MACRO 

China - new loans (June) 1.28T RMB vs. consensus 1T RMB and 900.8B RMB in May. 

  • Loan growth +13.4% YoY, vs. +14.0% YoY in May 
  • Deposits +10.7% YoY vs. +10.8% YoY in May

Takeaway: Loan data above expectations.

 

Singapore Economy - Numbers based on advance estimates:

  • Singapore economy grew by 1.7% on a YoY basis in the second quarter of 2015, lower than the 2.8 YoY growth in the previous quarter.
  • On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted annualized basis, the economy contracted by 4.6%, a reversal from the 4.2% expansion in the preceding quarter.

ARTICLE HERE

Takeaway: Though these numbers will be revised, it's not a positive sign for Singapore.


Hedgeye Macro Team is incrementally bearish on U.S. consumption growth, based on the consumer's continued efforts to deleverage their household balance sheet combined with the peaking of consumer confidence and stagnating labor productivity.   

Takeaway:  For now, US regional gaming slowed in June but North American cruise pricing still doing well.


Retail Callouts (7/14): RETAIL SALES SLOWING, VNCE, M

Takeaway: Yes growth is slowing. Yes we expected it. Compares throughout the rest of the summer, and fall, AND holiday, don't get any better.

Retail Sales Slowing

Expectations were definitely out of whack headed into this Retail Sales print given the big headline miss. Two things… 1) The level of sales growth relative to last year is absolutely positively decelerating. In January we saw 5.4% growth, and we've steadily decelerated to 1.9% in the following five months. 2) We're scratching our heads as to why this is a big 'surprise'. Commentary from large and small retailers alike have supported a decelerating growth rate. In addition, while the 2-year run rate in the real discretionary categories is below what we witnessed in 2H14 (4%) it is consistent with what we've seen over the past 3-months. The bottom line...Yes growth is slowing. Yes we expected it. Compares throughout the rest of the summer, and fall, AND holiday, don't get any better.

Retail Callouts (7/14): RETAIL SALES SLOWING, VNCE, M - 7 14 chart1 

 

M - Macy’s Sells Downtown Pittsburgh Building for Redevelopment; Store to Close

(http://investors.macysinc.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=84477&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2067241)

Takeaway: The Pittsburgh store sale doesn't appear to be a deviation from the company's prior store strategy or indicate any change in management's willingness to monetize other assets through a sale leaseback transaction. Fact is Macy's didn't belong in the downtown Pittsburgh market -- the co-tenant list alone surrounding the store confirms that. This is an opportunistic move by the company to monetize a 1mm+ sq. ft. property that was much too big for the market it catered to.

 

VNCE - CEO Jill Granoff To Depart After Transition Period

(http://investors.vince.com/press-releases/press-release-details/2015/Vince-Holding-Corp-Announces-Management-Reorganization/default.aspx)

CEO out just three weeks after the CFO 'resigned immediately'.  Should this be a real surprise to anyone given that the stock is down 73% in seven months, but is 56% owned by Private Equity? With today's announcement flushing out the last of the bulls, we think the stock is starting to look pretty intriguing. The reality is that the brand remains relevant. Management did not do any damage, it just failed to execute on a brand/distribution growth plan. With a total Enterprise Value below $500mm, and an achievable EBITDA level of $125mm, we're looking at a sub-4.0x EBITDA multiple. This name might be damaged goods for the investment community for a while, but we'd be surprised if it isn't part of a bigger company in 1-2 years (or sooner if the stock drifts into the single digits).

 

Chain Store Sales - Retail Sales slowed through June, and July doesn't appear to have picked up based on this morning's ICSC reading.

Retail Callouts (7/14): RETAIL SALES SLOWING, VNCE, M - 7 14 chart2

 

 

OTHER NEWS

 

CASY - Casey’s General Stores CEO to Retire

(http://www.wsj.com/articles/caseys-general-stores-ceo-to-retire-1436819564)

 

Kate Hudson athleisure line going brick-and-mortar

(http://www.retailingtoday.com/article/kate-hudson-athleisure-line-going-brick-and-mortar)

 

World’s largest mall slated for 2016 opening

(http://www.chainstoreage.com/article/world%E2%80%99s-largest-mall-slated-2016-opening)

 

DLTR - Dollar Tree plans South Carolina distribution center

(http://www.chainstoreage.com/article/dollar-tree-plans-south-carolina-distribution-center)

 

RCII - Rent-A-Center sells 14 Canadian stores to easyhome Ltd.

(http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/news/2015/07/13/rent-a-center-sells-14-canadian-stores-to-easyhome.html)

 

 

 


No Worries?

Client Talking Points

CHINA

They unhalted 250 names overnight (793 are still halted) and the Shanghai Composite Casino couldn’t hold it’s 3-day gains. The Sganhai Composite closed -1.2% and remains in crash mode (down -24% month-over-month) < @Hedgeye TREND resistance of 4,275. 

#EUROPESLOWING

If only they didn’t have to report the JUN and JUL data! Eurozone ZEW (economic sentiment) slows to 42.7 JUL vs 53.7 JUN as JUN CPI/PPIs across the board stops “recovering” – German CPI 0.3% JUN, Spain’s 0.1, Sweden slows to -0.4 vs +0.1 last.

OIL

Commodity (and Junk Debt) #Deflation = on as long as this Down Euro begging remains and Janet Yellen doesn’t get as dovish as the data is getting; WTI -1.9% with no immediate-term support to $49.08. Natutal Gas looks like a great short here too.

 

**The Macro Show - CLICK HERE to watch today's edition at 8:30AM ET with a full lineup including CEO Keith McCullough, Healthcare Sector Head Tom Tobin, Financials Sector Head Josh Steiner and Macro Analyst Darius Dale.

Asset Allocation

CASH 53% US EQUITIES 3%
INTL EQUITIES 6% COMMODITIES 0%
FIXED INCOME 29% INTL CURRENCIES 9%

Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration
GIS

General Mills remains on the Hedgeye Consumer Staples Best Ideas list as a LONG. GIS has a lot of things going for it and they are going to show it in the top and bottom line this year. Over the last couple of months, the company has announced the removal of artificial colors and flavors from their cereals. More recently, they have committed to using only cage-free eggs.  Many of these small actions that management is taking are going to have a snowball effect as they go throughout FY16. Below is a list of some of the biggest things that we are looking forward to this year:

  1. Yoplait in China
  2.  Gluten-Free Cheerios
  3. No artificial colors or flavors in the cereal
  4. Granola innovation / Muesli
  5. Greek Plenti / Whips
  6. Original yogurt sugar reduction
  7. Renovation on Grain Snacks
  8. Strong push on Natural & Organic products
  9. Delivering Value to consumer on brands like Totino’s and Hamburger Helper
  10. Bringing U.S. innovation International
PENN

Gaming, Lodging and Leisure Sector Head Todd Jordan reiterates his team's bullish high-conviction thesis on Penn National Gaming. The company remains one of our favorite names on the long side and boasts the best new unit growth story in domestic gaming. Jordan further notes that with more states releasing their June gaming revenues this past week, we feel more confident in our higher than consensus Revenue, EBITDA, and EPS estimates.

TLT

Long-term Treasury rates remain the best proxy for forward-looking growth expectations. We outline three components of secular stagnation below to explain the SAVINGS/INVESTMENT GLUT that is at the heart of the academic argument for current policy measures:

  1. Negative demographic trends globally (decline in population growth and aging population)
  2. Reduced capital intensity in leading industries (think of the capital and labor required to start Facebook over U.S. Steel)
  3. Falling relative prices of capital goods       

Three for the Road

TWEET OF THE DAY

VIDEO: This Could Crash The Market  https://app.hedgeye.com/insights/45178-mccullough-this-could-crash-the-market… via @hedgeye

@KeithMcCullough

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Commitment is the enemy of resistance, for it is the serious promise to press on, to get up, no matter how many times you are knocked down.

David McNally

STAT OF THE DAY

Nationally, Canadian Home Prices have risen around 160% since the turn of the millennium.


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CHART OF THE DAY: "New Tech" Valuation > Different This Time?

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from today's morning strategy note to our customers written by Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough. Click here to subscribe.

 

...As you can see in the Chart of the Day, the “New Tech” trades at, on average 149.5x earnings. So no worries there. As long as the products are cool, I’m sure this time will be different (until they miss a sales growth whisper).

 

Instead of debating why you shouldn’t sell some Netflix (NFLX) at 278x earnings this morning (why not just buy one of these names that has no earnings at all? #EasierToDebate), allow me to get back to doing what I do - risk managing growth.

 

CHART OF THE DAY: "New Tech" Valuation > Different This Time? - New Tech CoD


Why Sell?

“Ask ourselves why we do what we do…”

-Todd Gongwer

 

That’s a pretty basic leadership and risk management question. And I sincerely hope that you ask yourself that question every day. I do. Being transparent and accountable isn’t easy; especially where it all starts – with yourself.

 

Why did we build a firm that dares recommend you actually SELL things? Whether it’s hyped up “social” cloud stocks with “TAM multiples” or Ponzi-like MLP schemes that could only be concocted by Old Wall bankers, I’m sure glad we did.

 

How about the simpler market SELL calls, like the ones you should have heeded every time the SP500 is up +2-3% for 2015 YTD? The US stock market has mean reverted to DOWN YTD multiple times. I wonder if both growth and earnings slowing have had anything to do with it? Ask yourself. And be honest. Did you buy stocks expecting earnings to be down in 2015?

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

When top-down GDP growth slows, consensus needs central-planning to reflate markets. And when bottom-up earnings slow, we definitely need to beg the company to “buy back the stock.” This happens at the end of every economic cycle, fyi.

 

Another way to look at growth (when both US and Global growth are slowing) is to buck up for the growth that you can find. Our buddies at Morgan Stanley call this “New Tech” and, oh boy, are the chart chasers loving that stuff.

Why Sell? - bubble cartoon 09.30.2014

As you can see in the Chart of the Day, the “New Tech” trades at, on average 149.5x earnings. So no worries there. As long as the products are cool, I’m sure this time will be different (until they miss a sales growth whisper).

 

Instead of debating why you shouldn’t sell some Netflix (NFLX) at 278x earnings this morning (why not just buy one of these names that has no earnings at all? #EasierToDebate), allow me to get back to doing what I do - risk managing growth.

 

Let’s do #EuropeSlowing because, unfortunately post Greek Gong Show, they still had to report their data this morning:

 

  1. Eurozone ZEW (economic sentiment) slows again in JUL to 42.7 from 53.7 in JUN
  2. German and Spanish inflation (CPI) stalled at +0.3% and +0.1% year-over-year, respectively
  3. Swedish and Finnish  #deflation came back online with year-over-year prints of -0.4% and -0.1%, respectively
  4. Swiss Producer Prices (PPI) maintained #deflation at -6.1% year-over-year
  5. UK CPI of 0.0% y/y (JUN) and PPI of -1.5% y/y were pretty much flat with where the data was in MAY

 

In bottom-up-stock-picker speak:

 

  1. If you are a producer and you have no pricing power, that is bad
  2. If you are a consumer and you get lower-prices, that is good

 

The problem is that corporate profits lose during the #Deflation inasmuch as the consumer takes that spread. Now that would be a great thing for US and Global consumption demand, if only we were at the beginning (not the end) of a cycle.

 

NEWSFLASH: you can’t centrally plan economic cycles, age, and/or time

 

But you can squeeze the poor hedgie who chases high and shorts low. And, to a degree, I think that was the main driver of yesterday’s global stock market ramp to lower-all-time-highs. Here are 3 nuts to consider within that thought:

 

  1. CFTC non-commercial futures/options data showed a net SHORT position of -162,467 SP500 contracts
  2. Thursday’s front-month VIX close of 19.97 was at the top-end of my 13.52-20.63 risk range
  3. High Beta Stocks (in SP500 Style Factor terms) were -5.1% (vs. Low Beta +0.5%) on a 1-month duration

 

Oh, and Total US Equity market Volume (including dark pool) was -16% and -17% yesterday vs. its 1-month and 1-year averages, respectively. We former hedgie guys call that a no-volume squeeze.

 

So what do you do today? You sell.

 

Yep. That’s it. That’s my “call.” You look at everything you own and ask yourself whether or not what you own is at the top-end of its immediate-term risk range or not. And if it is (like SBUX is for example), you sell some.

 

If I’m the bad guy for thinking that way, so be it. Where I was bred in this business, when both top-down growth and bottom-up profit cycle earnings started to go from good to bad, I was taught to sell.

 

That’s what I did at the end of the 2000 cycle. That’s what I did at the end of the 2007 cycle. And that’s what I am telling you to do now at the end of the 2015 cycle. That’s what I do. Ask yourself what you did/do.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges (and intermediate-term TREND views in brackets) are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.19-2.47% (bearish)

SPX 2041-2105 (bearish)
RUT 1 (bearish)
Nikkei 191 (bullish)
VIX 13.52-20.63 (bullish)
USD 95.61-97.42 (bullish)
EUR/USD 1.09-1.12 (bearish)
YEN 122.14-124.10 (bearish)
Oil (WTI) 49.08-53.14 (bearish)

Nat Gas 2.65-2.89 (bearish)

Gold 1148-1165 (bearish)
Copper 2.43-2.62 (bearish)

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Why Sell? - New Tech CoD

 

****Join Keith LIVE this morning at 8:30am ET for The Macro ShowClick here.


LNKD: New Best Idea (Long)

Takeaway: The 1Q15 hiccup was largely due to a big investment into an accelerating macro tailwind. Rebased expectations + discount = entry point

INTRODUCTION

This is a summary of the main points behind our thesis.  As usual, we will be publishing follow-up notes with incremental analysis, and hosting a call to run through the detail.  In the interim, let us know if you have any questions or would like to discuss in more detail.

 

KEY POINTS

  1. REAL PLATFORM, REAL CASH: LNKD is a professional networking site, but its core value comes from its database of professionals profiles, which we believe can't be replicated at comparable scale.  That competitive moat has led to a premium-priced product portfolio that produces the margins/cash flow necessary to consistently reinvest in its business and expand its TAM. 
  2. EMPLOYEE’S MARKET = GROWING OPPORTUNITY: We see LNKD’s Talent Solutions segment as the swing factor; the bulk of that TAM is not in account volume (LCS customers), but in up-selling those accounts (ARPA).  Historically, that up-sell becomes much easier for LNKD as the burden to fill open positions intensifies, which the current macroeconomic backdrop suggests is the case (see tracker below). 
  3. TRANSITION = INVESTMENT: Mgmt didn't really emphasive what caused the salesforce account transition that pressured 1Q15 results.  LNKD ramped its salesforce by 51% (largest increase since 3Q13).  We see the ramp as an as investment given the improving selling environment mentioned above.  LNKD's 2015 guidance cut captured the transitory impact from the transition, but more importantly, rebased consensus expectations that were tracking above initial guidance.
  4. BUT NOT A SLEEPY LONG: Everything we discussed in point 2 above also means that we are late cycle in terms of employment, which makes us somewhat uneasy in terms of the holding period.  The other major risk is consensus upping estimates too much on a good print and pushing us out of the name.  In short, we may only be in this position for 1-2 quarters.  

 

REAL PLATFORM, REAL Cash

LNKD is a professional networking site, but its core value comes from its database of professional profiles.  Many of LNKD’s core services are essentially paywalls, predicated on various degrees of access (search & outreach) to these profiles.  LNKD's flagship & highest-priced product (Recruiter) allows employers/recruiters access to every profile in LNKD’s database, while its lower-priced products naturally offer less functionality, with 3rd-degree search and fewer InMails (solicitation emails).

 

LNKD: New Best Idea (Long) - LNKD   Products

 

We believe LNKD is one of those rare cases where the first-mover advantage really means something.  The profiles in LNKD's databases are user-generated, and the content within them is generally more extensive than that of other social media sites.  We doubt many of LNKD's existing users would be willing to recreate their profiles elsewhere given the time/effort necessary to do so (at least at any meaningful scale).  In short, LNKD has a virtual moat around its content.  

 

There may not be another platform that can offer a professional search capability comparable to the LinkedIn platform.  In turn, LNKD's product portfolio garners premium pricing, which has produced the margins/cash flow necessary to consistently reinvest in its business, and expand its TAM.  

 

LNKD: New Best Idea (Long) - LNKD   Rev Cash

 

EMPLOYEe’S MARKET = GROWING opportunity

We're going to break down LNKD's overall TAM in greater detail in a follow-up note, and within our upcoming deck.  Below, we're going to focus primarily on LNKD's current opportunity, i.e. the selling environment, which we define as the size of LNKD's TAM at different points in the economic cycle.  

 

We view LNKD's US Talent Solutions segment (primarily Recruiter & Job Postings) as the swing factor; not only because its the largest segment (~60% of revenue), but the one most sensitive to economic cycles.  There are two key considerations when dissecting LNKD's US Talent Solutions TAM, and its current opportunity.     

  1. TAM favors ARPA: The bulk of LNKD's TAM is not in account volume (LCS customers), but in up-selling those accounts (Average Revenue per Account or ARPA) via additional licenses/job postings.  
  2. Macro drives ARPA: Historically, that up-sell becomes much easier for LNKD as the burden to fill open positions intensifies (tracker below). 

 

We're attempting to illustrate both points in the below analysis.  We are calculating LNKD's TAM and current opportunity specifically for its flagship Recruiter product.  

 

We are basing our analysis on historical hiring needs (peak, trough, and current hiring rates by firm size according BLS data since 2001).  Note that hiring needs are based off of gross hiring (rather than net) since firms must replace open positions due to employee churn (i.e. terminations, quits and retirement).  More importantly, we're using rather restrictive assumptions to both simplify the analysis, and to err on the side of being conservative (see notes in table below for detail).

 

LNKD: New Best Idea (Long) - LNKD   Recruiter TAM condensed

 

Regarding the selling environment, note that current hiring rates are elevated, but not at historical peak levels; suggesting a healthy selling environment with room for improvement.  Historically, it becomes much easier for LNKD's salesforce to up-sell its existing customer base as the burden to fill open positions intensifies, which both the analysis above and our tracker below suggests is the case.  

 

LNKD: New Best Idea (Long) - LNKD   ARPA vs. JOLTS Tracker q q

 

TRANSITION = INVESTMENT

Management didn't really emphasive what caused the salesforce account transition that pressured 1Q15 results.  LNKD made a massive investment in its salesforce (up 51% y/y), which is what we want to see given the improving selling environment mentioned above.  

 

That said, we're not reading too much into the 2015 guidance cut on the 1Q15 release, especially since 1Q15 results came in above quarterly guidance.  We suspect management used the 1Q15 consensus miss to rebase full-year expectations, which were tracking ahead of guidance at the time.  

 

LNKD cut its full-year revenue guidance by ~$50M, which management attributed to the following:

  • +$20M-$25M: Lynda Acquisition Revenue (net deferred revenue write-off)
  • -$50M: Heightened Fx headwinds (EUR/USD)
  • -$30M: Operational issues, primarily in Marketing Solutions (display advertising) and Talent Solutions (salesforce account transitions)

Regarding the account transition, management stated that ~60% of its customer accounts now have a new sales rep, but implied the transition will be a temporary headwind.  We're inclined to take management's word on the latter only because the transition was due to the aforementioned investment in its salesforce, which grew at its highest rate since 3Q13.  Given the current macro backdrop mentioned above, we see the ramp in its salesforce as a coiled spring. 

 

LNKD: New Best Idea (Long) - LNKD   Sales Headcount 1Q15

 

As we mentioned above, we see the Talent Solutions segment as the swing factor, especially now that consensus appears to have concentrated their estimate reductions into the other two segments.  In the scenario analysis below, we're flexing LNKD's two core drivers for its Talent Solutions segment: LCS Accounts & ARPA.  

 

LNKD should have no problem exceeding consensus Talent Solutions estimates barring a notable deceleration in BOTH of these two factors from 1Q15 levels, which were depresssed by the account transition mentioned above, and heightened Fx pressure that should abate in 2H15 on easier comps.  

 

LNKD: New Best Idea (Long) - LNKD   Consensus 1Q15

LNKD: New Best Idea (Long) - LNKD   TS Scen 2015

 

BUT NOT A SLEEPY LONG

Everything we discussed regarding the strength of the job market also means that we are late cycle, which makes us somewhat uneasy in terms of the holding period.  The other main risk is consensus upping estimates too much on a good print and pushing us out of the name.  In short, we may only be in this position for 1-2 quarters. 

 

 

We will be publishing follow-up notes with incremental analysis, and hosting a call to run through the detail.  In the interim, let us know if you have any questions, or would like to discuss in more detail.

 

Hesham Shaaban, CFA

@HedgeyeInternet 


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