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Takeaway: Current Investing Ideas: MCD, RH, XLU, LNKD, UUP, ZOES, FNGN, DXJ, HOLX, FL, VIRT, PENN, GIS, VNQ, EDV & TLT

Investing Ideas Newsletter       - China cartoon 08.11.2015

Below are Hedgeye analysts’ latest updates on our sixteen current high-conviction long and short investing ideas. We will send CEO Keith McCullough’s updated levels for each ticker in a separate email. Please note we added McDonald's (MCD) this past week. 



Shares of Hologic have risen over 9% since we added the name to Investing Ideas one month ago on July 16th. Healthcare Sector Head Tom Tobin has no new update this week.


"We are very bullish on McDonald’s," says Restaurants Sector Head Howard Penney. "We like where this company is going. We like the new CEO and the changes they’re making."

Penney notes that there are a lot of things going on inside the company which we can’t see that are extremely meaningful to where this company will be in 12-18 months.

"I’ve said this a dozen times recently, but 2015 will be the last year McDonald’s trades at an average price below $100," he says. 


Retail Sector Head Brian McGough maintains that Restoration Hardware is to Home Furnishings what Ralph Lauren is to Apparel and what Nike is to Athletic Shoes. That’s a meaningful statement given that RH has only 3% share of a $140 billion relevant market. 

While the company's recent announcement about the launch of RH Teen is not groundbreaking by any means, it is a positive one nonetheless. And it is absolutely consistent with the path that RH needs to take in order to double its revenue by 2018 and reach $11 in earnings – a number that is $5, or ~80% above the consensus. If we’re right on our numbers – which we think we are – then that suggests a long-term CAGR in earnings and cash flow better than 40%. If that’s the case, then the current 28x forward multiple looks flat-out cheap given the growth profile.  

Bottom line remains that RH is the preeminent brand in the space, and sets/leads consumer style trends/wants/needs but with very little fashion risk. Importantly, we think that RH is in second inning of a game that ultimately may prove to be a double header.

We believe the company will add $3 billion in sales over 3-years and climb to $11 in EPS. The earnings growth and cash flow characteristics to get to that kind of number would support a 30+ multiple. In the end, we’re getting to a stock in excess of $300.


Virtu Financial and other algorithmic market makers missed a big opportunity this week when the People’s Bank of China devalued the Yuan peg to the U.S. dollar. These large, unexpected macro events historically have caused big trading opportunities across asset classes which tend to drive daily revenue generation for the high frequency trading community.

Virtu has largely pushed back its timeline for entering the Chinese market saying last week that a Chinese trading operation shouldn’t be expected until the end of the year (or beginning of 2016).

In addition, the Sino regulatory authorities continue to maintain a suspension of 28 algo and high frequency trading firms until an investigation on the cause of the precipitous decline in Chinese equities is completed. The regulatory positioning of Virtu is weak in our view as the high frequency trading community globally is always fodder for both political and legislative ire.

Over time, we expect a more restrictive regulatory regime coming out of Europe by 2016 for the HFT community in new MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) rule sets and there is always the risk that long running U.S. scrutiny intensifies again.

We see fair value -30-40% lower on VIRT shares.


Hedgeye Internet & Media Sector Head Hesham Shaaban reiterates his bullishness on LinkedIn.

He notes that this is a company that has carved out its own identity within the social media space.  LNKD’s value comes from its database of member profiles, which has a virtual moat around it since we don’t believe another player could replicate that database at comparable scale. Its product portfolio is primarily paywalls: varying degrees of access to these profiles, for which LNKD charges premium pricing. LNKD’s average annual revenue per customer in its largest Talent Solution segment is roughly $45K.

The opportunity for LNKD currently is that it is investing in its salesforce into an improving selling environment.  This investment created a near-term hiccup in the 1Q15 results, but the company is already showing improving trends in 2Q15, which we expect to continue into 2H15.  Meanwhile, LNKD has bought themselves some breathing room on its overly conservative guidance on its last two earnings releases, which has come at the expense of its stock price; hence a good entry point.


Hedgeye's veteran Restaurants analyst Howard Penney views Zoe's Kitchen as one of the best small-cap growth names in the Restaurant category.

The company is set-up for long-term success for the following reasons:

  1. Superior brand positioning
  2. Management philosophy and execution
  3. Unit opening geographic profile
  4. Early-stage average unit volumes and returns


Our Financials analyst Jonathan Cateleyn will be meeting with the new CEO of Financial Engines in New York City in 10 days. Casteleyn notes that the meeting comes at a good time as FNGN shares are at an important pivot point.

The new Chief Executive took over at the end of last year from the legacy executive that originally took the company public, so it will be valuable to understand how his stewardship differs from the prior strategy that made this a solid small cap grower.

We will have a detailed update after our meeting with the firm’s management.   


Foot Locker is a healthier company today than it has ever been in the history of the company. Management deserves credit for that. But unfortunately, the low hanging fruit has been picked, and then the ‘tough to reach’ fruit was picked, and now we need to reach for those last few apples on the top of the tree. 

So, while this might be a healthier company, there’s almost no room for error. At this valuation it is a far less defendable stock.

Remember that this company’s RNOA went from 5% to 28% over six years as it pulled capital out of the model (closing stores/repositioning banners) while boosting productivity and margins to all-time highs. At the same time, it’s percent of sales from Nike (traffic driver) went up by 2,500bps to 72% of COGS – and near 80% of sales.  That’s not going any higher.

FL’s answer is to become a unit growth story once again and sustain a mid-single digit comp while maintaining the leanest cost structure out of any retailer around. And for all that, the stock is trading at 17.5x forward earnings – an all-time high. The ‘going private’ angle here is moot given its high Nike exposure.

Lastly, the stock is having more muted reactions to good news.


We remain long of Japanese equities and re-iterate our expectation for QQE expansion by the end of the year or the beginning of 2016 which will be YEN BEARISH and BULLISH for Japanese equities.

As mentioned in last week’s report, the “manufacturing/production/export side of the economy is humming along,” while inflation expectations continue to trend lower. A decent manufacturing sector, with deflationary pressures and QQE knocking on the door is something we want to be long.

  • Industrial production accelerated sequentially on a Y/Y rate of change basis for June (+2.3% vs. +2.0% prior)
  • Machine Orders decelerated sequentially on a Y/Y basis but that reading is still tracking up double digits (+16.6% for June vs. +19.3% prior)
  • PPI readings came in worse than expected and declined sequentially Y/Y (-3.0% vs. -2.9% est. and -2.4% prior)


"As we predicted, regional gaming revenues surged in July which gives us confidence in our Q3 EPS estimate of $0.23, which is $0.04 above the Street," writes Hedgeye Gaming, Lodging & Leisure Sector Head Todd Jordan.

"We continue to like Penn National Gaming here due to stable regional gaming trends, better than expected quarterly and annual earnings, and the Plainridge and Jamul contribution to PENN’s two-year growth story."


General Mills remains one of our favorite names in the Consumer Staples space.

FY16 Hedgeye Guidance ―

Looking into FY16 we are excited about the possibilities. Management is working hard on their “Consumer First” initiative and making great changes to current product while also introducing new products. Below is not a comprehensive list but 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

Bottom line is they are still struggling; we don’t want to shy away from that. But the core of the portfolio is growing and management seems to be working tirelessly on implementing changes to grow the rest of the portfolio, especially cereal. We also still believe that to have continued growth into the future a sizeable acquisition or divestiture would be beneficial to the business. 


With the relative central planning policies abroad perpetuating a de facto tightening, the USD pulled back this week on the FX devaluation from Beijing. Market participants pulled back the expectation for a rate hike and the USD got tagged on Wednesday (-1.1% on the day and finished down ~1.1% on the week). It may be a slight pullback, but the next currency catalyst will be in Jackson Hole on August 27-28th where the ECB's Mario Draghi will have his turn. We expect the event to be Euro bearish, dollar bullish on the margin.

The U.S. remains one of the less bad spots to put your money. We reiterate our #EuropeSlowing call as one of our big 3 macro themes for Q3. Take the confluence of awful July data out of China and Friday’s GDP reports out of Europe as a sign that Beijing and the ECB will ring the monetary cowbell louder when it’s all said and done (hopefully they don’t ring as the Fed tightens) --> Dollar BULLISH even if the Fed pushes on a rate hike and kicks the can.

Eurozone Q2 GDP Report:

  • Eurozone: missed expectations (+0.30% Q/Q vs +0.40%) 
  • Germany: improvement from the prior quarter but missed expectations (+0.40% Q/Q vs +0.50%)
  • France: Big Miss --> 0.0% (exp. +0.20%) vs last quarter of +0.60%

Carnage in China: July Data

  • Industrial production missed estimates, printing +6.0% Y/Y in Jul. vs. +6.6% est. (+6.8% prior)
  • Fixed asset investment hit a 15-year low
  • Property investment growth slowed to +4.3% Y/Y which was the lowest reading since March 2009
  • Factory output slowed Y/Y sequentially
  • Exports declined -8.6% Y/Y vs. -1.5% est. (+2.8% in June) --> Chinese crude steel output -4.6% Y/Y (-1.8% Y/Y through first 7-months of 2015)


The rotation to growth-slowing asset classes continued this week. One of our top long sector ideas in utilities (XLU), which was added last week to Investing Ideas, leads S&P sectors month-to-date (+3.7%).

The set-up for the September FOMC meeting is as follows:

  1. The Fed runs the risk of tightening into a late-cycle slowdown which could ultimately flatten the yield curve (BULLISH for TLT, EDV, VNQ).
  2. Slower growth and deflationary headwinds are acknowledged and the can is kicked on a rate hike which should also be good for bonds. Until growth inflects positively, you’ll see TLT in our investment conclusions as the yield curve is the best proxy for forward looking growth expectations.

The largest discrepancy in our Growth, Inflation, Policy model vs. consensus and central bank estimates is our full-year inflation forecast which is much lower (+0.2% vs. +1.4%). It’s not that central bank forecasts are credible; it’s the fact that they will eventually have to acknowledge growth slowing and deflationary headwinds which will put pressure on long-duration rates.

The possibility of reaching 2% inflation has been a pipe dream in the recent past and we’re nowhere near pre-crisis levels. Deflation is real, and central banks will continue trying to do something about it.

PPI data released Friday slowed sequentially on a Y/Y basis:

  • PPI Final Demand -0.8% y/y for July vs. -0.7% in June
  • PPI Ex. Food and Energy +0.6% y/y  July vs. +0.8% in June

Investing Ideas Newsletter       - z run 08.14.15 PPI Percentile

PPI data released Friday slowed sequentially on a Y/Y basis:

  • PPI Final Demand -0.8% y/y for July vs. -0.7% in June
  • PPI Ex. Food and Energy +0.6% y/y  July vs. +0.8% in June