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LNKD | Thoughts into the Print (4Q15)

Takeaway: We closed the long, now mulling the short. Expecting light 2016 guide, but street reaction tough to gauge. Debating whether to pull trigger

KEY POINTS

  1. CLOSED LONG, MULLING SHORT: Our Talent Solution TAM analysis suggests that the majority of LNKD’s opportunity is in the up-sell opportunity (vs. account volume).  We believe that opportunity is largely driven by the selling environment, which is largely driven by macro; specifically where we are in the employment cycle.  Our Macro team has been flagging that we are late cycle, and recently suggested that we may be heading into a recession as early as 2Q16.  With that backdrop, we closed the long once we saw our tracker deteriorate more than seasonality alone would have suggested.   Now, the question is whether that deceleration is a blip, or the beginning of a bigger trend.  If the latter, our TS Economic Sensitivity analysis suggests the up-sell will get much tougher from here (see first table and note below for detail).
  2. EXPECT LIGHT 2016 GUIDANCE: We suspect it's even less likely now that mgmt guides to street expectations if our tracker is correctly flagging a deteriorating selling environment.  Consensus may have been asking for too much to begin with.  The implicit assumption in consensus Talent Solution revenues estimates is calling for an acceleration in ARPA, which would be a challenge even if the selling environment wasn’t deteriorating as our tracker suggests.  Futher, consensus is assuming accelerating growth in LNKD's other two segments, meaning any upside from both Sales Navigator and the dissipating Display headwind appear to be captured in estimates.  Further, Fx remains a headwind YTD, which we expect to be top of mind for this mgmt team since FX was the largest source of its guidance cut last year.    
  3. BUT CAN’T QUITE GAUGE REACTION: We doubt we’re alone in our expectation for soft guidance since LNKD’s mgmt team is notoriously conservative with its guidance to begin with.  The setup right now isn’t all that dissimilar to the 2015 guidance release, which was inline with consensus revenue and slightly lower on EBITDA, with 1Q15 missing across the board.  However, LNKD crushed 4Q14 estimates, and the stock ripped.  We believe mgmt gave itself enough breathing room on the 4Q15 guide, so it’s possible that the stock could pop on this print as well.  Then again this isn't 2015, and LNKD’s recent outperformance suggests expectations are rising into the print.  We're debating whether to pull the trigger on the short before LNKD reports on Thursday.

LNKD | Thoughts into the Print (4Q15) - LNKD   ARPA vs. Tracker 4Q15 2

LNKD | Thoughts into the Print (4Q15) - LNKD   TS TAM Analysis

LNKD | Thoughts into the Print (4Q15) - LNKD   TS Scen 2016

LNKD | Thoughts into the Print (4Q15) - LNKD   Consensus estimates 4Q15

 

LNKD: New Best Idea (Long)
07/14/15 08:00 AM EDT
[click here]

 

As a reminder, we will be hosting our quarterly Internet Best Ideas call this Thursday at 1pm EST.  In the interim, let us know if you have any questions, or would like to discuss further.

 

Hesham Shaaban, CFA


@HedgeyeInternet 



Out Of Ammo: Central Planners Grasp For Straws As Global Equities Crash

Takeaway: European equities are continuing to get royally crushed.

Out Of Ammo: Central Planners Grasp For Straws As Global Equities Crash - Draghi cartoon 01.08.2015

 

The fear is palpable. Despite the best efforts of central planners around the globe, equity markets are continuing to crash as investors begin to recognize that the magical monetary policy jig is up.

 

In other words, the emperor has no clothes.

 

Here's Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough's analysis of Europe this morning: 

 

"Too bad both the Draghi devaluation move (and the Japanese negative rates one) only gave those stock markets 2-day rallies; straight down again for the DAX, IBEX, and MIB Index (all are in #crash mode with Spain leading the draw-down at -27.4% from its 2015 bubble peak) #EuropeSlowing"

 

It gets worse.

 

  

 

Add central banker egos to the laundry list of quickly deflating assets. Unfortunately for our omnipotent, un-elected central planners, they are slowly arriving at the difficult realization that they are incapable of arresting economic gravity.

 

Equity markets are spooked. 

 

Here's Germany... 

 

Meanwhile, over in Britain...

 

How about Spain?

One thing is becoming increasingly clear with each passing day... Reality is confounding global central planners. 

 

Stay tuned - this is going to get really interesting.


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HEAD SCRATCHER | San Fran Fed Head John Williams Walks Back Hawkish Rate Hike Talk In Just 25 Days

Takeaway: The preponderance of economic data is rolling over. The Fed missed it. Again.

HEAD SCRATCHER | San Fran Fed Head John Williams Walks Back Hawkish Rate Hike Talk In Just 25 Days - Fed cartoon 04.30.2015

Dear John,

 

What happened?!?

 

HEAD SCRATCHER | San Fran Fed Head John Williams Walks Back Hawkish Rate Hike Talk In Just 25 Days - mktwatch fed 1 4

 

From MarketWatch (1/4/2016):

 

"...I think we have really really strong fundamentals, in terms of consumer spending, in terms of our economic trajectory ... [For 2016] I think something in that three to five rate hike range makes sense at least at this time," Williams said in an interview on CNBC.

 

fast forward to this past Friday...

 

HEAD SCRATCHER | San Fran Fed Head John Williams Walks Back Hawkish Rate Hike Talk In Just 25 Days - fed reuters 1 29

 

From Reuters (1/29/2016):

 

"Standard monetary policy strategy says a little less inflation, maybe a little less growth ... argue for just a smidgen slower process of normalizing rates," Williams said.

 

"We got a little stronger dollar, some mixed data on the economy, some weakness in (fourth-quarter U.S. GDP growth), all of those coming together kind of tell me that we probably need a little bit more monetary accommodation this year than I was thinking in the middle of December."

 

(sigh)

 

Here's a recent video of Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough evaluating the Fed's economic models.


1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON

Takeaway: The recessionary bell tolled loudly in yesterday afternoon's Senior Loan Officer Survey data as banks are tightening the screws on credit.

 

The note below was written by the Hedgeye Financials team and distributed to clients earlier this morning. To the extent you're interested in the team's work, email for more information

 

---------- 

 

How The Economic Machine Works

For anyone interested in a simple and (moderately) entertaining primer on the role credit plays in economic growth, we recommend Ray Dalio's youtube video "How The Economic Machine Works".  In a nutshell, he explains how credit is simply the pull forward of consumption, which is why the credit cycle drives the business cycle. With that in mind, the Senior Loan Officer Survey data out yesterday afternoon is indeed troubling.

 

 

Two of Three C&I Measures, CRE Standards, and Expectations are Negative

The Fed released its 1Q16 Senior Loan Officer Survey yesterday afternoon. The survey was conducted between December 29 and January 12 and covers lending standards and loan demand across business and consumer loan categories.

 

In the previous survey (4Q15) banks began tightening, on net, C&I and CRE lending standards. This quarter (1Q16) not only did the net percentages of lenders tightening standards for those categories increase, but demand for C&I loans declined. Additionally, the Fed's survey this quarter included special questions regarding forward expectations, and loan officers indicated that they expected a further tightening of standards, increasing of spreads, decreasing volumes, and deteriorating credit quality over the course of 2016.

 

A small silver lining is that consumer lending showed benign conditions; a net positive, albeit sequentially smaller, percentage of banks continued to report easing of consumer lending standards.

 

  

Here is the main takeaways this quarter:

1. A net percentage of banks tightened C&I lending standards for the second quarter in a row. Moreover, demand for C&I loans inflected into negative territory this quarter. 11% of banks saw C&I loan demand decrease from large and medium firms (13% saw it decrease from small firms), signaling that borrowers expect a decreased need for capital. 

 

Here's why this matters. We've gone back historically and looked at the Senior Loan Officer Survey many different ways in an effort to discern its usefulness as a forward indicator. After much trial and error, our biggest takeaway is that when two of the three C&I questions have turned negative historically, it has portended a recession in the near future. This isn't coincident, it's causal. Banks tightening the screws, increasing the price of money or reporting reduced demand for money all portend a slowing of econimc activity. The problem is that the cyclical activity tends to autocorrelate, or self-reinforce. In other words, banks tighten credit => consumption/investment decline => workers are laid off => delinquencies rise => banks further tighten credit => and so on and so forth. Below is a chart showing the three questions in the C&I survey back to 1990. To be clear, we've inverted the primary y-axis and we've also reversed the demand question so that all three categories are directionally consistent, i.e. when credit is constricting/price is rising/demand is falling, the survey measures on this chart fall, and vice versa.  

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart1

 

Perhaps of equal interest is the fact that the Fed has historically had an enormous policy cushion in response to recessions. The table below shows that since 1969, the Fed has eased by an average of 750 bps in response to every recession. The last two cycles have seen the Fed ease by 560 bps and 520 bps. The challenge this time around is that the Fed's current policy cushion is 36 bps.

 

To summarize, credit conditions are tightening, which has historically ushered in a recession, and the Fed's short by around 5 percentage points on its ability to soften the blow. 

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart2

 

The Data: The percentage of banks tightening C&I lending standards for large and medium firms increased to 8.3% in 1Q16. This is the only instance since the last recession that a net positive percentage of banks tightened standards two quarters in a row. The chart below illustrates. 

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart3

 

Here's the Second Most Important Takeaway This Quarter:

2. CRE Tightening. Commercial real estate lending also saw continued tightening this quarter across all three categories: C&D, Nonfarm Nonresidential and Multifamily. Unfortunately, the survey format changed with the 4Q13 survey when the Fed replaced the single category of CRE loans with the three aforementioned subcategories. As such, it's not possible to compare apples to apples historically. That said, in the 10 quarters since the new format began, this marks the third (and third consecutive) quarter in which standards have tightened on C&D loans. It marks the second (and second consecutive) quarter in which Nonfarm Nonresidential loans have seen standards tighten. The Multifamily category has been bouncing between easing and tightening over the last two years, but it has never reached as high as the 22.6% of banks tightening this quarter.

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart4

 

And Here's the Third:

3. Banks expect things to get worse throughout 2016. This quarter's survey included special questions on lenders' forward expectations for standards, spreads, volumes, and quality, and the results are not inspiring. The first chart below shows that banks expect standards to tighten in all commercial and industrial categories in 2016. They also expect to increase spreads across all surveyed loan categories. Also, while banks expect increasing C&I volumes, a significant percentage of banks expect CRE, multifamily, and GSE-eligible residential mortgage volumes to decrease over 2016. Finally, the second chart below shows a sea of red in expectations for credit quality. There is not a single category in which banks expect improvement in credit quality. To put it simply, a net positive percentage of senior loan officers believe that we have reached and moved past the inflection point of deteriorating credit conditions.

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart5

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart6

 

Given the increased number of negative responses and the negative forward expectations, we appear to have reached the inflection point signaling that Financial equity prices are past their peak. Unlike the prior positive tick in 1Q12, this time the economic cycle is showing many signs of being late stage, and the survey has deteriorated further quarter over quarter.

 

The chart below looks at the historical C&I lending standards (LHS) juxtaposed against the S&P 500 Financials Index (RHS). C&I lending standards have historically begun tightening coincident with or ahead of peaks in Financial equity prices. We've highlighted in green the periods during which Financials stocks have risen. In the 1990s it was clear that lending standards were tightening by late 1999, suggesting the roll was near. In the 2003-2007 period standards began to tighten in 2007.

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart7

 

A Quick Review of the Senior Loan Officer Survey by Category:

 

C&I: The Canary In the Coal Mine

C&I loans continue again signaled the credit cycle peak with standards tightening for two quarters in a row now. The net percentage of banks tightening standards for loans to large firms moved from +7.3% in 4Q15 to 8.3% in 1Q16. Additionally, +4.2% of banks tightened standards for C&I loans to small firms. 

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart8

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart9

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart10

 

CRE: Tightening Across the Board

Banks continued to tightening standards for all three CRE categories in 1Q16. Additionally, the percentage tightening standards for multifamily loans, which had previously swung back and forth from negative (good) to positive (bad), is definitively positive (bad) at +22.6% in 1Q16. This inflection in CRE standards adds to our concern over the inflection in C&I standards.

 

Meanwhile, demand for all three categories of CRE loans increased, albeit at sequentially lower percentages, in the first quarter.

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart11

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart12

 

Residential Mortgage: Mixed

Starting in 1Q15, the Federal Reserve broke the survey's residential Prime and Nontraditional categories into six new categories and kept the Subprime category for a total of seven different categories. The six new categories include: (GSE-Eligible, Government, QM non-jumbo/non-GSE eligible, QM jumbo, Non-QM jumbo, and Non-QM/non-jumbo). The categories we're most interested in are the GSE-Eligible (Fannie/Freddie) and Government categories (FHA/VA) since these two categories account for ~90% of all origination volume. The GSE-Eligible category showed 14.3% of banks, net, eased standards Q/Q in 1Q16. Government standards were unchanged. Standards for Subprime auto were also unchanged, an improvement from the 20% tightening in 4Q15. All four other categories eased.

 

We pay little attention to the demand component of the Fed's Survey because it reflects shifting refi demand and isn't a good barometer for purchase activity. Nevertheless, we include both charts below.

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart13

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart14

 

Consumer Loans: Easing

Standards for credit cards, auto loans, and consumer loans ex-cards and autos all eased in the third quarter.

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart15

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart16

 

1Q16 SENIOR LOAN OFFICER SURVEY | CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON - Chart17


CoreLogic HPI | A (Defective) Solution To A Problem That Didn't Exist

Takeaway: CoreLogic HPI has gone from first to worst in terms of usefulness. We explain why below.

Our Hedgeye Housing Compendium table (below) aspires to present the state of the housing market in a visually-friendly format that takes about 30 seconds to consume. 

 

CoreLogic HPI | A (Defective) Solution To A Problem That Didn't Exist - Compendium 020216

 

Today's Focus: December CoreLogic Home Price Report

The CoreLogic HPI series has essentially become a satirical version of its former self. 

 

We’ve profiled the emergent problems with the HPI series in recent months but to quickly review: 

 

The Pattern:  Over the past year the prevailing pattern in the home price series has been one in which the estimate for the latest month reflects a material acceleration in home price growth – an estimate which then gets revised down significantly in the subsequent release. This serial overestimate-subsequent large scale negative revision pattern has characterized every month since early 2015.  

 

This pattern was conspicuous again in the reported December data released this morning.  We compare the latest month’s estimates and last month’s November estimate in the chart below.

 

The CoreLogic data used to provide the most accurate, real-time read on home prices.  Released on the 1st week of the month for the period 2-months prior (i.e. data released today was for the month of December), the data led the Case-Shiller HPI series by a full 2-months.  Inclusive of the front-month projection (i.e. today’s official release for December also includes a projection for January) which, historically, was highly accurate, the CoreLogic data was almost 3-months more current than other HPI series and only 1-week lagged to the latest month.   

 

The estimation error manifest following the (specious) decision early last year to base the forward projection on a new econometric model rather than the direct tabulation of MLS data that drove the preliminary estimates historically.   

 

Whether the methodological change – which effectively made the front-month projection unusably inaccurate  - is also responsible for the serial overestimation in the monthly estimate is unclear but it’s probably not incidental.  We have yet to receive a satisfactory response from the company. 

 

The Problem:  Given the strong tethering of housing related equities to the slope of home price growth, the revisions are not inconsequential as it completely distorts the read-through.  Whereas the original estimates over the last year reflected conspicuous acceleration and a positive read-through for housing related equities, the revision to flat-to-modest HPI carries a less bullish read-through for the complex.  In fact, the collective revision to the Apr-July period shows HPI decelerating modestly and completely reverses the HPI-Equity Performance conclusion.

 

The Penalty Box:  We’ve decided to stop using both the front-month projection and the initial estimate for the latest month.  In other words, we’re going to disregard both the January projection and the initial December estimate in this morning’s release as a distorted and potentially completely inaccurate reflection of 2nd derivative price trends and view the revised November data as the latest month.

 

As a reminder, we expect HPI to follow the slope of demand growth on a 9-12-month lag and begin to flatline and decelerate as we move through 2016.  Decelerating price growth will serve as a modest-to-moderate headwind for the group and the builders in particular. 

 

 

 

 

CoreLogic HPI | A (Defective) Solution To A Problem That Didn't Exist - Corelogic Revision Highlight

 

 

 For reference, here's the same chart from one month earlier ...

 

CoreLogic HPI | A (Defective) Solution To A Problem That Didn't Exist - Corelogic YoY

 

... and two months before that ...

 

CoreLogic HPI | A (Defective) Solution To A Problem That Didn't Exist - HPI Revision

 

and the month before that ...

 

CoreLogic HPI | A (Defective) Solution To A Problem That Didn't Exist - HPI TTM Current vs Revision

 

 

About CoreLogic:

CoreLogic HPI incorporates more than 30 years worth of repeat sales transactions, representing more than 55 million observations sourced from CoreLogic's property information database. The CoreLogic HPI provides a multi-tier market evaluation based on price, time between sales, property type, loan type (conforming vs. nonconforming), and distressed sales. The CoreLogic HPI is a repeat-sales index that tracks increases and decreases in sales prices for the same homes over time, which provides a more accurate constant-quality view of pricing trends than basing analysis on all home sales. The CoreLogic HPI covers 6,208 ZIP codes (58 percent of total U.S. population), 572 Core Based Statistical Areas (85 percent of total U.S. population) and 1,027 counties (82 percent of total U.S. population) located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia."

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA

 

Christian B. Drake


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