Cartoon of the Day | Earnings: Dead In The Water

Cartoon of the Day | Earnings: Dead In The Water - earnings cartoon 04.12.2016


In what is already expected to be an ugly quarter for corporate earnings, Alcoa kicked off 1Q earnings season with a bang last night. The aluminum producer missed revenue estimates, earnings fell by 92% and reduced guidance for the year. 

McCullough: ‘We Are Vigilantly Bearish On Corporate Earnings & Junk Bonds’

In a recent excerpt from The Macro Show, Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough responds to a subscriber’s question about the latest permabull narrative that a weaker dollar will lead to “widespread earnings beats.”

Hillary Clinton Presidency = Obama 3rd Term ... & Trump's Ground Game

Below is a brief excerpt from our Potomac Research Group colleague and Chief Political Strategist JT Taylor's Morning Bullets sent to institutional clients each morning. For more information on how you can access our institutional research please email


Hillary Clinton Presidency = Obama 3rd Term ... & Trump's Ground Game - obama


President Obama has been working full time to use executive powers to cement his legacy on many fronts, and now his latest gambit is to protect Hillary Clinton's flank. Within a week, the president has defended Clinton's qualifications for the presidency and has shown support for the Democratic frontrunner through her FBI investigations. Normally, a sitting president would not get involved in the primary, but Obama can't afford to let an opportunity like this pass. For the most part, a Clinton presidency will be  closer to an Obama a "third" term, while a Sanders presidency has the potential to be problematic for the Democratic party.


Hillary Clinton Presidency = Obama 3rd Term ... & Trump's Ground Game - trump forward


After narrowly losing the Iowa caucuses in early February to Ted Cruz, Trump vowed to get his ground game in order - and we're still waiting for that to happen. At the CO Republican convention, Trump's hastily assembled team unintentionally instructed Trump supporters to vote for Cruz delegates helping him sweep the state. States where Trump lost delegate ground to Cruz include IN, GA, LA, ND, SD and TN, and the election of anti-Trump delegates in these places mean that Trump is all but certain to lose support if there is a second ballot in Cleveland.


These mistakes may seem trivial, but they are adding up, and this disorganization could cost Trump a delegate majority heading into Cleveland. The road ahead hardly looks brighter - Trump's campaign emailed WA supporters to encourage them to register as delegates two days after the deadline. We think the arrival of his new top strategist and Washington political veteran, Paul Manafort, will help recalibrate the campaign - Trump has been mostly quiet for the last few days, and avoided all Sunday show appearances for the first time in five months. Good first step...


While Donald Trump maneuvers to amass enough pledged delegates to secure a majority, many pundits are resigned to predicting an open convention. The delegate math supports their predictions, however, those same pundits often ignore a major factor - that at least some of the unbound delegates will also vote for Trump on the first ballot. Many of the people running to be one of the 54 unbound PA delegates have pledged to vote according to the results of their district, while other delegates could easily be swayed to back Trump if he goes to Cleveland just shy of 1,237.  Let's not forget that this is the man that wrote The Art of The Deal.

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IMF Calls On Impotent Central Planners To Save Global Growth

Takeaway: As lackluster growth confounds stimulus-addicted economists & policymakers, markets signal breakdown in the central planning #BeliefSystem.

IMF Calls On Impotent Central Planners To Save Global Growth - growth cartoon 10.08.2014 large


In case you missed it, the IMF cut its 2016 global growth outlook again today, to 3.2% versus 3.6% put forth in October (see the revisions in the chart below). The IMF's policy prescription? More central bank monetary accommodation. 


IMF Calls On Impotent Central Planners To Save Global Growth - imf table


But hang on a sec. How effective can additional stimulus actually be?


After 600 rate cuts globally, $8 trillion in negative yielding bonds & years of central bank easy money, global growth has continually surprised IMF economists to the downside. Furthermore, we continue to highlight that central bankers are increasingly pushing on a string as equity and currency markets in Europe and Japan move in direct opposition to the ECB and BOJ's easy-money intent. 


IMF Calls On Impotent Central Planners To Save Global Growth - Kuroda cartoon 02.18.2015


Here's analysis on Japan from Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough in a note sent to subscribers this morning:


"The yen finally stops going parabolic (down -0.3% vs USD) on these poor Japanese central planners who are now calling for an “end to one-sided speculative moves”, lol. Nikkei gets relief on that obviously, +1.1% and still -24% since #TheCycle peak in July."


Here's the long-looking chart of Japan's TOPIX (-16% year-to-date) and USDJPY (-9.6% ytd) inclusive of today's modest bounce:


 IMF Calls On Impotent Central Planners To Save Global Growth - topix

Meanwhile, in Europe...


IMF Calls On Impotent Central Planners To Save Global Growth - Draghi cartoon 03.09.2016


"No relief for the Euro’s ramp ($1.14 vs USD) for European Equity bulls who not only have to deal with the reality of an economic slow-down from #TheCycle (2015) peak, but crashing banks and equity indices; Italy leading lossers (again) this morning taking the MIB Index crash to -27% since July."




Here's the chart of the Euro Stoxx 600 (-9.2% year-to-date) and EURUSD (+4.7% ytd):


IMF Calls On Impotent Central Planners To Save Global Growth - euro stoxx


The final holdout in the fast evaporating central planning belief system is the Fed. As we head into 2Q16, the U.S. faces its toughest GDP comp of the cycle, not to mention the ongoing industrial and corporate profit recessions. Make no mistake Yellen & Co. can't arrest economic gravity forever. 


More to be revealed...

About Everything: When Less is More

Takeaway: Millennials are trusting brands to pre-select the best products for them. They want the authoritative brands that Boomers rebelled from.

Editor's Note: In this complimentary edition of About Everything, Hedgeye Demography Sector Head Neil Howe discusses why "we’re entering a new era in which simplicity — not choice — is the hallmark of a cutting-edge brand." 


About Everything: When Less is More - scale



For the last half-century, America has fallen into a growing love affair with choice. It blossomed in the 1980s with supermalls, megamarts, and big-box retail, and amped up further in the 1990s by promises that you could always “have it your way”—even if that meant choosing your way through thousands of sizes, colors, styles, and tastes.


Today, Starbucks offers a mind-boggling 87,000 different beverage blends. The average American supermarket in 2014 carries nearly five times more items than in 1976.


About Everything: When Less is More - neil slide 2


But apparently, this romance is cooling. A countermovement toward simplicity is underway.


Look at some of these trends:

  • Last year, Walmart reduced its average number of store displays by 15 percent.
  • British grocery chain Tesco slashed its inventory by 30 percent.
  • Paintmaker Glidden drastically thinned its color palette from 1,000 to 282.
  • Procter & Gamble reduced its range of Head & Shoulders shampoos by nearly half.

Other changes aim to streamline the decision-making process. Tesco now groups typical meal ingredients together to save shoppers time. Sites with large inventories like Netflix offer recommendations to nudge users along. Travel companies like Expedia and Four Seasons Hotels curate high-end bundled vacations.


We’re entering a new era in which simplicity — not choice — is the hallmark of a cutting-edge brand (think Apple, Tesla, Chipotle, or Google’s home page). And a clutter of endless choices is now a symptom of a troubled brand (think JC Penney, McDonald’s, or Yahoo’s homepage).


About Everything: When Less is More - neil slide 4


About Everything: When Less is More - neil slide 5


About Everything: When Less is More - neil slide 6


About Everything: When Less is More - neil slide 7


About Everything: When Less is More - neil slide 8



Choice fatigue

In his paradigm-shifting 2004 work, The Paradox of Choice, psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote that, beyond a certain point, “choice no longer liberates, but debilitates.”


About Everything: When Less is More - neil slide 9


When choice builds up, consumers are bogged down. The average American now makes 70 decisions a day. Should we really spend so much time worrying about what to order from Starbucks?


Schwartz cites research (on products such as jam, chocolate, and 401(k)s) showing that consumers faced with fewer options are actually more likely to settle on one.


Growing desire for authoritative brands

Faced with endless choice, consumers often feel that companies don’t care about their time — or, even worse, that companies don’t understand their own products enough to know which one is clearly superior. Americans today want brands that they trust will give them what they want without choosing. They want brands that cut down on options, effectively deciding for the consumer.  


Generational change

When choice was shiny and new, Boomers were all for it. In response to a society that wallowed in Pleasantville sameness, young Boomers pushed for a bigger range of choices that allowed them to live life on their own terms and express their inner values.


Generation Xers followed suit. They learned to rely on themselves from an early age and equated choice with survival. Letting institutions choose for you was unthinkable. More options meant more freedom.


For Millennials, however, unlimited choice offers diminishing returns. When faced with countless options, this generation fears “missing out” (FOMO) on the best one. Millennials trust their favorite brands to pre-select the best products for them. They want the authoritative, in loco parentis brands that Boomers rebelled from. They’re relieved when their employer offers an opt-out default benefit plan, because they feel someone cares enough to recommend a “best” course of action.


About Everything: When Less is More - about everything 4 12



Businesses should break their inventory down into manageable chunks. Retailers with diverse product lines can limit choice simply by separating items into categories, such as brand, color, size, or flavor. E-tailers should offer robust search and filter functions, while highlighting some (but not too much) useful information about each product.


Millennials in particular appreciate companies that pare down the field for them. Default options are often characterized as paternalistic—yet this can be a positive attribute in the minds of young consumers. In scenarios with high trust and low knowledge (think health care, tourism, and retirement savings), fewer choices can be reassuring. 



If you’re in search of the next cutting-edge brand:

  • Don’t look for the firm that only knows how to proliferate option clutter.
  • Do look for the firm that knows how to simplify the complex — and augment its value by boldly choosing for you.

CHART OF THE DAY | Profits Past Peak: Next Up? Recession

Editor's Note: Below is a brief excerpt and chart from today's Early Look written by Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough. Click here to learn more.


"... As you can see in today’s Chart of The Day (slide 14 of the recently published Q2 Macro Themes Deck), Aggregate US Corporate Profits put in the mother of all peaks (all-time high) in the 2nd half of 2014. In this chart you can also see where:


  1. SP500 Operating Margin PEAKED and rolled
  2. US #Recessions typically appear AFTER profits and margins PEAK"


CHART OF THE DAY | Profits Past Peak: Next Up? Recession - 04.12.16 chart


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