Client Talking Points
She’s had quite the year of storytelling so far, but last night’s USD comment took the cake: “higher currency was a drag on the economy and consumer spending.” Wow. #StrongDollar (rising purchasing power, falling gas prices, etc.) perpetuated a 6 year cycle high in Real Consumer Spending in 2015; in Q1 Consumer Spending slowed alongside a weakening USD.
Another great day for the Long Bond yesterday, it continues to be the best way to be long #GrowthSlowing. The UST 10YR Yield of 1.71% is re-testing the FEB lows as Yellen tries to keep Oil/Commodities/Inflation higher. The Cycle call remains firmly intact; U.S. Equity Beta (like at OCT and DEC end) is behind the curve pricing in what should be the worst quarter of the slow-down (Q2).
Europe was just a train wreck this week, but they’re trying to bounce them again this morning (Spain +1.3% on the bounce but fully loaded with that still -29.1% from last year’s European economic cycle highs); we reviewed our European GDP forecast of 0.2% by Q4 on our Q2 Macro Themes Call yesterday in case you want to review the non-consensus view.
*Tune into The Macro Show with Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough live in the studio at 9:00AM ET - CLICK HERE.
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Top Long Ideas
McDonald's (MCD) hit an all-time highs last week. "They can't chase Energy Charts today, so they're just dog-piling into our long calls on GIS and MCD," wrote Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough on Friday.
We've said it before, McDonald's has all the style factors that we like during these turbulent macro market times; high market cap, low beta and liquidity. The stock is up 7.5% this year beating the S&P 500 by more than 600 bps. In August 2015, Restaurants analyst Howard Penney wrote that "2015 will be the last time this stock is below $100."
CME Group (CME) stock is among the small cohort of financial companies that benefit from volatile markets. With the exchange's open interest continuing to expand, which will drag trading volume higher, CME Group is one of the few lower beta longs that will hold up relatively better in the current environment.
The exchange guided to just a +1% operating expense increase for 2016, guided to slightly lower annual taxes for '16 (with more activity coming from abroad), and again announced that open interest was setting a new record, at over 111 million contracts. Even assuming some mean reversion to just over 16.5 million contracts (depending on product group), 1Q is running at ~$1.20 per share in earnings, which means the Street will need to perk up its current $1.06 estimate. Simply put, this is one of the few growth stories in the current macro environment within Financials.
Non-Farm payroll additions came in over +200 again (+215K to be exact) and private sector wage growth was also “good,” increasing +4.2% year-over-year on Friday. We’re most concerned with "better" or "worse" from a rate of change perspective. The non-farm payroll number is "less good" (i.e. "worse") from a year-over-year rate-of-change perspective. Growth in non-farm payrolls peaked in February 2015 at +2.3% year-over-year and the trend since then has been one of decline (+2.0% Y/Y for March 2016). And private sector salary and wage growth peaked on a year-over-year percent change basis in December of 2014.
We remain bullish on Long Bonds (TLT and ZROZ), Utilities (XLU) and short Junk Bonds (JNK). We expect more alpha after what was a great Q1, as the back-end of the Treasury curve continues to get flatter regardless of Fed rate hikes. We were alone in that camp, in December, when we first told you that a rate hike was in fact good for long-duration Treasury bonds. Stick with what's worked.
Here's the Q1 2016 Scorecard (data through 3/31):
Three for the Road
TWEET OF THE DAY
A Brief Warning On Q1 #Earnings https://app.hedgeye.com/insights/50141-a-brief-note-on-q1-earnings-from-hedgeye-s-macro-team … cc @KeithMcCullough @HedgeyeDDale $SPY #Stocks
QUOTE OF THE DAY
If you could say it in words, there'd be no reason to paint.
STAT OF THE DAY
According to the World Health Organization, 422 million adults have diabetes, which makes the worldwide rate 8.5% (that is up from 4.7%).