Client Talking Points
Expectations for liftoff have creeped right back into the equation. The bid yield of December Fed funds futures is higher than it’s been since before the September meeting at 22.5 bps. In addition to the risk the Fed hikes into a late cycle slowdown, the risk to consensus positioning is that it looks similar to late August. If the hawkish tone over the last month was a de-facto tightening, no hike would be the catalyst for an un-winding of deflationary consensus positioning in FX and commodities. That’s a policy risk within our deflationary Q4 view.
Brent crude oil up nearly +2% on news of Turkey downing a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border. Turkish officials reported having warned the plane to exit Turkish airspace nearly 10 times in the five minutes preceding the strike. Russian officials may or may not react in kind, but the country's benchmark RTSI Cash Index is down over -3% (leading declines in the Emerging World) and signaling an escalation in the conflict emanating from the Middle East. Can the the U.S. economy handle the 1-2 punch of a #StrongDollar tightening cycle that has been bearish for manufacturing, exports and corporate profits AND rising fuel prices that is bearish for the consumer?
The German IFO business survey showed month-over-month improvement in November (Expectations rose for a 3rd straight month to 104.7 vs 103.9 in the prior month). Meanwhile, the ECB’s Executive Board member Sabine Lautenschlaeger said that the central bank shouldn’t undertake any further monetary stimulus measures for now, saying that “data in the last few weeks indicate that the euro-area economy has so far shown itself to be resistant to uncertainty in the global economy.” Lautenschlaeger’s views are clearly divergent from those of ECB head Mario Draghi who is supportive of increased QE to support ailing growth and inflation. We reiterate our #EuropeSlowing theme and expect the 12/3 ECB meeting to be a catalyst for Draghi to signal additional supportive measures for the region.
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Top Long Ideas
MCD is reducing G&A by $500 billion compared to the $300 million target announced in May the vast majority of which they expect to realize by the end of 2017.
Expectations going forward are for system sales to grow faster than G&A. The incremental savings are primarily derived from savings coming from a more heavily franchised and less G&A intensive structure; streamlining of corporate and former Area of the World organizations and realizing greater efficiencies through the global business services platform. The G&A savings represent roughly a 20% reduction off of the G&A 2015 base of $2.6 billion.
Another big shift is that MCD is now aiming to refranchise 4,000 restaurants by the end of 2018, with mostly all of them to take place in the high-growth and foundational segments.
Below are two callouts from this Thursday's Willams-Sonoma (WSM) third quarter earnings print as it relates to Restoration Hardware (RH). RH will report earnings in early December.
West Elm – i.e. the only concept within the WSM family of brands that is growing square footage put up a 15.7% comp in the quarter which equated to a 40bps acceleration on a 2yr basis sequentially. The concept has always been a good bellwether for RH from a directional standpoint. The consumer/concept are much different. West Elm productivity is in the $800/sq.ft. range compared to RH at $3,300 (inclusive of e-comm) in the same size box. But it’s the only concept growing square footage. We are modeling a divergence in 3Q15 as RH pushed its growth into 2H from 1H with the release of two new concepts this Fall (Modern and Teen).
GM – was down 110bps in the quarter, with merch margins relatively flat offset by dilution from International franchise growth and increased shipping expense as WSM continues to iron out its inventory position from the West Coast port contract dispute. It's important to mention the contract dispute because it was resolved nine months ago (and yet the company still talks about it). On the shipping front, new rate hikes at FedEx and UPS haven’t hit the P&L, so this was all self-inflicted. Each of the negative drivers on the GM line appear to be unique to WSM and shouldn’t be contagious to a name like RH.
The long bond position is taking some heat with the rate hike fears, but that’s why you’re short JNK on the other side of it. Deflation and increasing rate hike expectations are the nemesis of poor credit. As mentioned last week, it’s called spread risk, and this leverage is fueled by low rate policy.
Since the Fed turned hawkish, bonds are down, rates have risen, and deflation has re-commenced. Admittedly, long-term treasuries haven’t worked. TLT is down -2.0% over the last month; BUT, if you’ve followed us with our short JNK call, that’s down -3.4%.
Three for the Road
TWEET OF THE DAY
$CMG claims to be the first non-GMO restaurant but the @NonGMOProject (the gold standard) does not recognize them as non-GMO! #problems
QUOTE OF THE DAY
The less men think, the more they talk.
STAT OF THE DAY
The NTF estimates that in 2013, more than 240.0 million turkeys were raised, more than 200 million were consumed in the U.S. According to the NTF 46 million of those turkeys were eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas and 19 million at Easter.