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MCD – CONSENSUS IS STILL TOO BULLISH

MCD’s November same-store sales growth came in below street expectations across the board, which signals to me that the street continues to be too bullish.  Relative to the ranges I outlined in my sales preview note last week, reported comparable sales trends in the U.S. and APMEA came in NEUTRAL with Europe posting a BAD number.

 

MCD – CONSENSUS IS STILL TOO BULLISH - MCD analyst ratings

 

In Europe, comparable sales increased 2.5% in November.  Relative to both the street and my expectations, Europe posted the biggest shortfall.  Even adjusting for the calendar shift, 2-year average trends decelerated rather significantly on a sequential basis from October.   MCD attributed the slowdown to continued weakness in Germany and more broadly, to the sluggish economy. Management has routinely stated that its business is not recession proof but recession resistant, and these reported November results, particularly in Europe, should convince investors that there is truth to that statement. 

 

In the U.S., same-store sales declined 0.6%.  Adjusting for the calendar shift, which hurt reported results in November but helped in October, same-store sales trends in November were about even with October on a 2-year average basis.  Although I outlined this outcome as NEUTRAL relative to my expectations, these top-line trends which have declined from prior months are not good.  MCD has now posted two consecutive months of comparable sales declines after having not reported a negative result since March 2008.  And, MCD has not reported consecutive monthly declines since early 2003. 

 

On its 3Q09 earnings call, MCD management stated that despite its expectation of flat to negative comps in October that it was still gaining market share.  MCD’s continued softness in the U.S. points to share losses or a narrowing of the gap between MCD and its peers at the very least.  As the first chart below shows, MCD has outperformed both Wendy’s and BKC since 3Q08.  I would not be surprised to learn that BKC’s $1 double cheeseburger, which was launched nationally on October 19, is gaining share.  BKC has underperformed its two biggest competitors in the most recent quarters, but I think the company will show signs of comparables sales recovery when it reports fiscal 2Q10 results.

 

In APMEA, same-store sales decline 1%.  The company was lapping an extremely difficult +13.2% result from last year so although 2-year average trends slowed sequentially from October, MCD is still putting up strong numbers in this segment.  Like YUM, MCD continues to experience weakened demand in China.

 

MCD – CONSENSUS IS STILL TOO BULLISH - Big 3 SSS

 

MCD – CONSENSUS IS STILL TOO BULLISH - MCD US Nov 09

 

MCD – CONSENSUS IS STILL TOO BULLISH - MCD Europe Nov 09

 

MCD – CONSENSUS IS STILL TOO BULLISH - MCD APMEA Nov 09


RETAIL FIRST LOOK: Real Estate Trends Show Lack of Foresight in Retail

RETAIL FIRST LOOK

December 8, 2009

 

 

TODAY’S CALL OUT

 

Companies that benefited from a tailwind due to the ‘trade-down’ effect are the most aggressive in signing new deals at the ICSC conference. These guys don’t get the Macro picture. They’re giving themselves too much credit for their performance. Setting up some nice shorts in 2010.

 

 

One of the themes coming out of this year’s ICSC (Int’l Counsel of Shopping Centers) Conference in New York is the change in mix landlords are seeing as it relates to composition of new lease deals. Specifically, the concepts looking to grow most aggressively are those that thrive in a weak economy – like dollar stores, off-price, and fast-fashion retailers.   So let me get this straight… These companies benefit from a ‘trade down’ effect in the most recent recession (i.e. 10% comps at Dollar General), and they use that incremental cash flow to grow more aggressively?  Guess what guys – you can’t straight-line sales/margin trends and market share gains from the past six quarters into perpetuity. It just doesn’t work that way. You may be performing well according to your plan, but amidst all the internal high-fives, keep in mind that you might not be as good as you think you are.  The Macro environment helped, whether you like it or not. Most of my favorite shorts continue to be in these trade-down segments (ROST, FDO, and DG after the KKR-inspired blow-out print).

 

 

LEVINE’S LOW DOWN

  • With most of the focus on the 2010 FIFA World Cup confined to Adi and Nike, it’s somewhat surprising to see Wal-Mart also getting involved. While soccer is clearly the world’s biggest sport, it does not have the same relevance in Wal-Mart’s home market of the U.S. However, in an effort to drive business across the chain, Wal-Mart signed a deal with the master licensee of the event, enabling WMT to open event-branded shops in many of its stores across the globe. Products will be both exclusive and tailored to specific markets. This is the first global sports licensing deal we’ve seen Wal-Mart partake in.
  • According to an MIT professor conducting research on luxury goods and the counterfeit business, 46% percent of buyers who purchase fakes subsequently purchase an original version of the same product within two years. Perhaps luxury brands ease off on the lawsuits? Don’t think so…
  • Snuggies in, High School Musical out. According to U.S import data, Snuggies are one of the biggest growth products for this holiday season. Year over year growth in these “infomercial” robes is astounding, with over 5 million units sold in the U.S so far. On the losing side, imports of products related to High School Musical are down 95%. Sounds like it might be time for another sequel…
  • Here’s a sign of the times in commercial real estate. According to WWD’s interview with DJM Realty, retailers that “normally require 7,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet are being offered the entire space of a bankrupt Linens-N-Things, Goody’s, Steve & Barry’s and Circuit City unit [typically 20,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet], but only pay the rent on the square footage they actually needed.”

 

MORNING NEWS 

 

Retailers Prepare to Increase Promotions - With last week providing little encouragement, the nation’s retailers appear poised to ratchet up promotions and trigger contingencies aimed at stirring shoppers. The promotional volume may not reach the cacophony of last year, but for consumers, the real bargains could be just around the corner. Many retailers have been in a “lull” since after Thanksgiving weekend, that is in terms of sales and traffic, and not promoting. The quiet period traditionally lasts until a week to 10 days before Christmas. Black Friday weekend, which generally was OK, is already a distant memory, given the lackluster comparable-store sales results for November reported on Thursday and the bad weather on Saturday from New England to Washington, D.C., putting a crimp in business. On the bright side, business improved on Sunday and temperatures are finally dropping, giving hope that cold-weather clothing and accessories sales could pick up. In addition, retailers have been working closely with vendors on markdown schedules, lower prices and inventory reductions and seem prepared for the worst.  <wwd.com>

 

Big retailers take market share as online sales grow during the holidays - Online holiday sales growth is holding up, but it’s the largest retailers that are enjoying most of the gains, reports web measurement firm comScore Inc. Last week’s online retail sales were up 5% over last year to $4.72 billion, and three days topped $800 million. That included last Monday, often called Cyber Monday, when sales matched e-retailing’s best day ever at $887 million; Tuesday was just about as good at $886 million, comScore says. For the holiday season to date—Nov. 1 through Dec. 4—comScore says online retail sales total $15.295 billion, up 4% from $14.767 billion during the same period last year. “We have now passed the halfway point of the season with the 4% growth in online spending to date slightly exceeding comScore’s forecast of an overall 3% growth rate for the entire season,” says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “It will be interesting to see if the encouraging growth continues as we head into the busiest days of the season. Nonetheless, I do expect that we will see the industry’s first $900 million online spending day during this next critical week of the season.” He notes particular strength in web sales of consumer electronics and computer hardware.  <internetretailer.com>

 

RedPrairie takes a step toward an initial public offering of stock - RedPrairie Holding Inc., a provider of web-enabled inventory, transportation and workforce management technology for retailers, manufacturers and distributors, has filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of stock. RedPrairie Holding, which is the holding company for RedPrairie Corp., says the proposed public offering is expected to consist of common stock offered by RedPrairie and certain stockholders. The Waukesha, WI-based company, which is owned by equity investors Francisco Partners, plans to use the proceeds from an IPO to pay off debt, for general corporate purposes, and possibly to finance acquisitions of other companies, technologies or products that complement its existing business, according to its SEC S-1 registration statement.  <internetretailer.com>

 

CVS Faces Scrutiny From Texas Fund in $1 Billion Contract Bid - A Texas pension fund will decide this week whether to award CVS Caremark Corp. a new pharmacy-benefits contract valued at almost $1 billion after the state’s attorney general sued the company for alleged Medicaid fraud. The Teacher Retirement System of Texas, which isn’t part of the litigation, will examine the lawsuit that claims the Caremark unit owes the state more than $70 million, said Charlotte Clifton, a trustee for the pension fund. The fund will also consider a 2008 state audit showing CVS charged a Texas university more than Medco Health Solutions Inc. for similar services, Clifton said. “The lawsuit and the findings by the state’s auditor will be given serious consideration,” Clifton said in a telephone interview last week. Clifton is slated to take over as head of the board’s benefits committee at the fund’s Dec. 10-11 meeting to award the contract.  <bloomberg.com>

 

Doha Side Deal... North American Trade Grows… - With the Doha global trade talks bogged down, 22 emerging economies, including India, Argentina, Brazil, Vietnam and Egypt, agreed to a preferential trade negotiations blueprint to cut tariffs by at least 20 percent on about 70 percent of goods exported within the group of nations. Jorge Taiana, Argentina’s minister of foreign affairs and trade, who is chairing the initiative, said in Geneva that plans are to conclude a final accord by September. Brazil’s foreign minister, Celso Amorim, noted the 22 nations taking part represent 15 to 18 percent of world trade and 16 percent of industrial production. The parties are also expected to broker an accord on rules of origin. <wwd.com>

 

Louis Vuitton Launches at Vegas' CityCenter - Louis Vuitton is lighting up the Crystals, the luxury retail component of Las Vegas’ glittering new CityCenter hotel-resort development, with its largest North American store. The facade of the 33,000-square-foot flagship is covered with 4,000 LED lights that are used for light shows along the Las Vegas Boulevard frontage from dusk until dawn, and the front windows have fluorescent neon display lights. Vuitton launched its third Las Vegas store last week as the gambling and entertainment mecca struggles with fallout from economic turmoil, which has hurt tourism and retailers — particularly in the luxury sector. “The whole idea of the store is to reflect Las Vegas, to appeal to the local clientele and visitors,” said Daniel Lalonde, chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton North America. “Las Vegas is a very important market for any luxury brand. There are so many international travelers who come here.” <wwd.com>

 

DSW Partners With Miss America - The footwear retailer announced Monday it would provide shoes and act as national sponsor for the Miss America contest. DSW also disclosed plans to collaborate with The Miss America Organization to jointly develop a new footwear brand. “DSW is proud to be associated with The Miss America Organization,” Mike MacDonald, president and CEO of DSW, said in a statement. “We look forward to sponsoring their important role as the world’s leading provider of scholarships for young women.” The agreement includes the current Miss America, Katie Stam, who is traveling on her national media tour. Next year’s title will be given on Jan. 30, 2010, when the pageant will be broadcast live on TLC from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. <wwd.com>

 

China: Disputes aganist possible anti-dumping extension - In view of the possible European Commission’s (EC’s) recommendation to extend the anti-dumping duties on Chinese and Vietnamese footwear, China has condemned the commission had violated World Trade Organization rules and would constitute an abuse of trade remedies. "China pays close attention to this case and reserves the rights to take a further measure," the country's commerce ministry spokesperson Yao Jian said.It will be up to the decision of the European Council to approve the extension. Earlier in November, 15 of the 27 member states casted their votes to oppose an extension, but it is now believed that some may have changed their decision. <fashionnetasia.com>

 

Consumer Credit in U.S. Declined Less Than Forecast - Consumer credit in the U.S. declined less than forecast in October, a sign the financial crisis is easing and households are gaining confidence the economic expansion will take hold. Credit fell by $3.51 billion, or 1.7 percent at an annual rate, to $2.48 trillion, according to a Federal Reserve report released today in Washington. Borrowing dropped by $8.77 billion in September, less than previously estimated. The worst recession since the 1930s eased at mid-year with the help of government spending programs. The recovery will get more of a lift from consumer purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, as the labor market improves. “It’s reflective of improved consumer activity, clearly more so with vehicle sales,” said Maxwell Clarke, chief U.S. economist at IDEAglobal in New York, whose forecast a $4 billion drop, the smallest in a Bloomberg survey. “The concern is for revolving credit, where banks are pulling lines of credit.”  <bloomberg.com>

 

Employers in U.S. Plan to Boost Payrolls, Manpower Survey Shows - Employers in the U.S. plan to increase payrolls next quarter for the first time in a year as confidence in the economic recovery grows, a private survey showed today. Manpower Inc., the world’s second-largest provider of temporary workers, said its gauge of employment for January through March rose to 6 from minus 2 for the final three months of this year. “Companies are seeing some demand so they don’t want to let anyone else go,” Jeffrey Joerres, chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Manpower, said in an interview. “They anticipate a slow but positive 2010.” The report adds to evidence the worst employment slump in the post-World War II era may be coming to an end. Labor Department figures last week showed payrolls dropped by 11,000 in November, the smallest decline since the recession began in 2007, while the unemployment rate fell from a 26-year high. The Manpower index improved as companies shifted from projecting additional staff cuts to no change. Seventy-three percent of employers surveyed said they anticipated staff levels will be stable in the first quarter, the highest level since the group’s records began in 1972. <bloomberg.com>

 

U.K. Retail Sales Annual Growth Slowed in November, BRC Says - U.K. retail sales increased at a slower annual pace in November as Britons curbed spending on food, the British Retail Consortium said. Sales at stores open at least 12 months rose 1.8 percent from a year earlier, compared with a 3.8 percent gain in October, the London-based BRC said in an e-mailed statement today. Food sales rose 2.1 percent in the three months through November, the smallest gain this year. Non-food non-store sales (internet, mail-order and phone sales) in November were 16.9% higher than a year ago compared with 18.0% in October. The slower growth rate in November than in October was in line with the slowdown in store sales. “We would have expected much stronger growth,” Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said in the statement. “Uncertainty over jobs and future tax increases and government spending cuts is making customers more cautious.” <bloomberg.com>   <brc.org.uk>

 

Thai Consumer Confidence Rises as Economy Recovers - Thailand’s consumer confidence rose in November after falling a month earlier as Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy began to recover from its recession. An index measuring sentiment advanced to 69.1 last month from 68 in October, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said in Bangkok today. The gauge tracks a nationwide survey of 2,242 respondents. “Signs of economic recovery and the government’s economic stimulus spending helped improve consumer confidence,” Thanavath Phonvichai, an economist at the university, said in Bangkok today. Thailand’s economy shrank 2.8 percent last quarter, the smallest contraction in a year, as an export slump eased. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has stayed in power for about a year, longer than his two predecessors, enabling the government to implement a 116.7 billion-baht ($3.5 billion) stimulus package in the first half of 2009. <bloomberg.com>


IGT: REVERSING CONVERSION COURSE

IGT is back supporting its old S2000 platform with new games after a year long hiatus

 

 

As we wrote about last year in our post entitled "BYE, BYE CONVERSIONS, HELLO...." (8/26/08), IGT ceased the development and installation of new games on its old platforms, including S2000.  The logic then was that casinos would be forced to buy new slot machines, rather than the cheaper conversions.  IGT would sell more of the new AVP platform games.  It looked to us like a pretty big bet on server based gaming.  We predicted that the company would lose share to BYI and WMS since there were almost 500k old platform IGT games in North America.  As a low cost alternative to a new slot machine, game conversions would've sustained market share for IGT.  Taking the conversion option away from a casino provided a jump ball for market share.  An IGT machine doesn't need to be replaced with an IGT machine.

 

Well, the strategy failed.  IGT is back in the conversion business.  The company is once again offering games for its S2000 platform.  Since it was the wrong decision to move away from S2000 conversions last year, it's probably the right move to get back in the game.  For this reason and a few others, IGT market share will likely stabilize although there is a possibility for lower box sales than some may be expecting.

 

2010 promises to be an interesting year for the slot suppliers and this just adds to uncertainty.  Will highly leveraged casino companies increase replacement buying enough to offset the significant drop off in new/expanded market opportunities?  Will server based gaming finally have an impact?  When will new markets begin to contribute?  Will the impressive content shown at G2E stimulate replacement demand?


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It's The Savings Rate, Stupid

"Anything that we can do to raise personal savings is very much in the interest of this country.”
-Alan Greenspan
 
This Greenspan quote remains one of the great hypocrisies of modern day monetary policy. Issue your aging citizenry a rate of return on their hard earned savings of ZERO, and tell them to keep on saving…
 
If Bill Clinton was today’s President of the United States of America and he was staring at these abysmal political approval ratings he would smack He Who Sees No Bubbles (Bernanke) upside the head and say, ‘It’s the Savings Rate, Stupid.’

If Clinton was Japanese, he’d probably smack Shirakawa upside the head too. This morning we are seeing Japan’s latest Prime Minister, Hatoyama, sign off on Japan’s 4th government stimulus in a row while his approval rating hits a new low of 59% (decelerating ever since his election). People are numb to these TRILLION Yen government handouts that have negative economic multiplier effects. Aging populations want a rate of return on their fixed incomes. It’s The Savings Rate, Stupid.
 
Having been on the road seeing investors for the last few months, I can assure you that it’s not the American, Canadian, or Japanese people who are stupid. They get it. Governments cut rates to ZERO so that they can finance Piggy Banker bonuses. This is very simple. You steal from your citizenry’s savings on the short end of the curve. Then you issue preferred credit to banks that are too big to fail. Then the bankers lend long at higher rates to the citizenry.
 
Timmy Geithner will have you believe that he is “saving” America money as bankers pay back TARP. Right. First the bankers pay themselves. Then they pay Timmy back. Then he celebrates political victory by telling us he is paying us back what he gave them to pay themselves with? C’mon Man. We aren’t stupid.
 
The best measure of the Piggy Banker Spreads being financed by Timmy and He Who Sees No Bubbles has a formal name in finance. It’s called the Yield Spread. That’s the spread between the long and short end of US Treasury yields. The spread between 10-year and 2-year yields is +268 basis points (2.68%) wide this morning. To put that in context, the widest Piggy Banker spread EVER was +276 basis points wide. Ever, by my math, is a long time.
 
Never mind the piggies. A monkey who gets government financing on these terms and could make money doing this. Borrow short, lend long. Then tell everyone you are amongst the chosen ones of modern day financial wizardry. Or say you are doing God’s work. Or something like that…
 
This is why people are enraged. This is why the University of Michigan Consumer Confidence reading in America has dropped, sequentially, for 3 consecutive months from 73.5 in September, to 70 in October, to 67 in November. Geithner and Bernanke are paying the Piggy Bankers with your savings. Sorry President Obama. Rahm and the boys are going to be sending you this note after you accept the Nobel Prize this week. It’s the Savings Rate, Stupid.

Fortunately, the long end of bond markets and the prices of global equity and commodity markets are not as politicized as the short end of the American Piggy Banker Curve. Now that the economic data no longer supports the interpretation of the Three Willfully Blind Mice at the Federal Reserve (Bernanke, Kohn, and Dudley), marked-to-market prices are moving in the direction of that data.
 
People can argue that Bernanke pandered again in his comments yesterday at the Economics Club of Washington. I will be the first to agree with that. But markets are moving away from US policy leadership and pricing in where Bernanke is ultimately going to be in the next 3-months. He’ll be removing his unsustainable and unreasonable policy that remains “exceptional and extended.”
 
The US Dollar is the leading indicator on this front. After trading up +1.5% week-over-week on the heels of last week’s US employment report, the Bombed Out Buck has finally started to stabilize. As a result, most things that were REFLATED (in terms of devalued dollars) are starting to lose their upward price momentum. Here are some prices that have recently broken what we call the immediate-term TRADE line of support:
 
1.      Oil’s TRADE line = $78.11/barrel

2.      US Energy (XLE) TRADE line = $57.38

3.      US Financials (XLF) TRADE line = $14.69

4.      Russian stocks (RTSI) TRADE line = 1,411

5.      Middle Eastern debt and stock markets (UAE stocks down another -6% this morning and down -31% since mid-October)

6.      Vietnam, Greece, Japan, Korea, etc (Vietnam down -2% overnight and down -22% since mid-October; Greece down -21%)

 
I know. I know. Poor Timmy doesn’t do global macro, so how can we expect him to see anything other than a failed hedgie, turned CEO of Citi, Vikram Pandit chirping at him about getting him some more political TARP points? Unfortunately, the answer here is we can’t get the willfully blind to see. They never have.

Yesterday, on weakness, I bought back some of the Gold that I sold last Wednesday. I have a 7% position in the Asset Allocation Model in Gold again. With the US market down for 2 of the last 3 days, I have invested 6% of the Cash position in the model, taking Cash down to 61% from 67%. My immediate term support and resistance lines for the SP500 are currently 1088 and 1117, respectively.
 
Best of luck out there today,
KM

 

 

LONG ETFS


XLK – SPDR Technology We bought back our position in Tech on 11/20. Rebecca Runkle has an innovation story in Mobility and Team Macro has an M&A story in our Q4 Theme, the “Banker Bonanza”. We’re bullish on XLK on TREND (3 Months or more).

GLD – SPDR Gold We bought back our long standing bullish position on gold on a down day on 9/14 with the threat of US centric stagflation heightening.   

CYB – WisdomTree Dreyfus Chinese Yuan The Yuan is a managed floating currency that trades inside a 0.5% band around the official PBOC mark versus a FX basket. Not quite pegged, not truly floating; the speculative interest in the Yuan/USD forward market has increased dramatically in recent years. We trade the ETN CYB to take exposure to this managed currency in a managed economy hoping to manage our risk as the stimulus led recovery in China dominates global trade.

TIP – iShares TIPS The iShares etf, TIP, which is 90% invested in the inflation protected sector of the US Treasury Market currently offers a compelling yield. We believe that future inflation expectations are currently mispriced and that TIPS are a efficient way to own yield on an inflation protected basis, especially in the context of our re-flation thesis.

 
SHORT ETFS
 

EWJ – iShares Japan While a sweeping victory for the Democratic Party of Japan has ended over 50 years of rule by the LDP bringing some hope to voters; the new leadership  appears, if anything, to have a less developed recovery plan than their predecessors. We view Japan as something of a Ponzi Economy -with a population maintaining very high savings rate whose nest eggs allow the government to borrow at ultra low interest levels in order to execute stimulus programs designed to encourage people to save less. This cycle of internal public debt accumulation (now hovering at close to 200% of GDP) is anchored to a vicious demographic curve that leaves the Japanese economy in the long-term position of a man treading water with a bowling ball in his hands.

XLI – SPDR Industrials We shorted Industrials again on 11/9 on the up move as the US market made a lower-high.  This is the best way for us to be short the hope of a V-shaped recovery.   

EWU – iShares UK Despite areas of improvement, broader fundamentals remain shaky in the UK: government debt continues to expand, leadership in critical positions lacks, and the country’s leverage to the banking sector remains glaringly negative.  Q3 saw its GDP contract by -0.3%. Further bank stimulus and the BOE’s increase in its bond purchasing program suggest that this will not end well.

XLY – SPDR Consumer Discretionary We shorted Howard Penney’s view on Consumer Discretionary stocks on 10/30 and 12/2.

SHY
– iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bonds  If you pull up a three year chart of 2-Year Treasuries you'll see the massive macro Trend of interest rates starting to move in the opposite direction. We call this chart the "Queen Mary" and its new-found positive slope means that America's cost of capital will start to go up, implying that access to capital will tighten. Yields are going to continue to make higher-highs and higher lows until consensus gets realistic.


THE M3: AIR MACAU

The Macau Metro Monitor.  December 8th, 2009

 


AIR CHINA INJECTS AROUND US$20 MILLION INTO AIR MACAU macaunews.com.mo

National flag carrier Air China has injected MOP19.84 million (US$19.84 million) into the share capital of Air Macau.  The investment brings Air China’s shareholding in the local airline to 80.86% from 51%.  Air Macau’s board approved and ratified the capital injection last Friday.  The global financial crisis and liberalized access to flights across the Taiwan Strait are said to be contributing to the carrier's lack of profitability.  However Air China remains confident in Macau's future, citing "fast economic growth" in the region and potential synergies between Macau International and Hong Kong International that will arise if the bridges connecting the two special administrative regions via Zhuhai are completed.

 

Following the completion of the capital injection, the shareholding structure of Air Macau – excluding its non-voting redeemable preference shares – is composed of two million ordinary shares, of which 80.86% is now owned by Air China, just 0.1% by SEAP, 14% by STDM, and the remainder by the government and other shareholders.


US STRATEGY – Revisiting the “Bottomed Out” BUCK

On Monday there was no follow thru from the big move in the dollar on Friday.  Yesterday, the dollar index was down 0.2% to close at 75.76.  If the dollar index closes up today it will have been up three of the last five days.  Yesterday I started to make the case that if the dollar were a “stock” as an equity analyst I can make the case that the “fundamentals” are bullish.     Taken together - the labor market, the rising savings rate, the trade picture, corporate profitability and the Fed’s free money policy – do not support a weak dollar.       

 

Yesterday, the S&P 500 declined 0.2% and made a second outside reversal in as many days.  While there was not any BIG theme to drive yesterday’s performance, the S&P continues to show signs of breaking down.  Yesterday, comments from Fed Chairman Bernanke that the US economy faces "formidable headwinds" was a non event for the market.  The MACRO calendar is quiet today except for the ABC consumer confidence number due out after the market close today.   

 

Despite the Fed’s cautious comments, parts of the RECOVERY trade were alive and well yesterday.  The three best performing sectors were Utilities (XLU), Consumer Discretionary (XLY) and Materials (XLB).  Rising 6.8%, the XLU has been the best performing sector over the past week.  The XLY was the second best performing sector yesterday and for the past week, benefiting from the better labor markets.  Driving the XLB higher was OI (4.1%), DOW (2.0%) and BLL (1.8%). 

 

Driving the S&P lower was the Financials (XLF).  Within the XLF the REITs and regional banks were the biggest drag on performance; names such as KEY (4.4%), BBT (2.8%) and PNC (2.7%) were among the worst performers.  While there did not seem to be any specific news, it should be noted that the FDIC announced six more bank failures on Friday, bringing the year-to-date total to 130 from 25 in 2008 and 3 in 2007.

 

Helping to put some incremental pressure on the S&P 500 was the 4% move in the VIX.  In total seven of the nine sectors outperformed the S&P 500, but only three showed positive performance on the day.   The two sectors that did not outperform were the Industrials (XLI) and the Financials (XLF).  Energy (XLE), the other sector broken on TREND, was down 0.2% in line with the S&P 500.      

 

From a risk management standpoint, the ranges for the S&P 500, the Dollar Index and the VIX are seen in the charts below.  The range for the S&P 500 is 35 points or 1.5% upside and 1.5% downside.  At the time of writing the major market futures are trading slightly lower.

 

Crude oil is trading lower as the dollar is stronger in early trading today.  The Research Edge Quant models have the following levels for OIL – buy Trade (74.30) and Sell Trade (78.11).

 

Gold is basically trading unchanged on the day, but the trends are still bullish.    The Research Edge Quant models have the following levels for GOLD – buy Trade (1,150) and Sell Trade (1,186).

 

Copper is higher for the first time in four days on the back of the Fed’s comments.  The Research Edge Quant models have the following levels for COPPER – buy Trade (3.09) and Sell Trade (3.26). 

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

 

US STRATEGY – Revisiting the “Bottomed Out” BUCK - sp1

 

US STRATEGY – Revisiting the “Bottomed Out” BUCK - usdx2

 

US STRATEGY – Revisiting the “Bottomed Out” BUCK - vix3

 

US STRATEGY – Revisiting the “Bottomed Out” BUCK - oil4

 

US STRATEGY – Revisiting the “Bottomed Out” BUCK - gold5

 

US STRATEGY – Revisiting the “Bottomed Out” BUCK - copper6

 


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