"The Constitution does not just protect those whose views we share; it also protects those with whose views we disagree."
Good or bad, everything happens for a reason. Like the late Ted Kennedy once said, the constitution is working to protect those with differing views, especially those with views of the current administration in Washington.
It’s fitting that “this change of guard” is happening in Massachusetts, a state that has played a big role in American history:
(1) Plymouth was the second permanent English settlement in North America.
(2) During the eighteenth century, Boston became known as the "Cradle of Liberty" for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution and the independence of the United States from Great Britain.
(3) It was also a center of the temperance movement and abolitionist activity before the American Civil War.
(4) In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage.
(5) In 2010, Massachusetts has become Obama’s nightmare.
The S&P 500 has rallied 69.9% since March 9, 2009 and the average American is fed up! In light of where we may have been heading a year ago and where we are today, this does not make sense. Or does it? After the close, the weekly ABC consumer confidence reading came in at -49 versus -47 last week and -50 a year ago. Consumer sentiment is virtually unchanged from a year ago as most consumers are concerned about their personal finances because Washington is not.
The nasty consumer confidence reading, combined with Scott Brown winning a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, helps put things into perspective - Americans are fed up with the “Piggy Banker Spread” and the fact that Obama does not represent “change” in Washington.
The S&P 500 is up 3.2% so far in 2010 with the leadership coming from Healthcare, up 6.2% and the Financials, up 5.1%; both sectors are the target of the Obama administration and the re-regulation short sellers.
Looking forward to today’s trading, here are some risk management items to consider:
(1) Big intraday reversal to the upside in C got the Financials up again yesterday– XLF looks bullish (big driver of this recent breakout)
(2) Yesterday was the 9th day out of 11 trading days this year that the S&P 500 has been up - short sellers of year-end feeling shame; pain trade is still up.
(3) The closing price of the S&P 500 at 1,150 and the NASDAQ at 2,320 are higher highs – this is bullish.
(4) A loss for the Democrats in Massachusetts puts all of the re-regulation short sellers in the penalty box – XLV outperformed the S&P 500 yesterday by 120 bps.
Our 1Q 2010 MACRO themes continue to play out as planned.
“CHINESE OX IN A BOX” - In China, it’s the “end of an emergency” as the cost of borrowing money is on the rise. According to the China Securities Journal (citing unidentified people in Beijing and Shanghai), some of the nation’s banks have been told to “limit lending.” The Shanghai index was down 2.9% last night and is now down 3.9% year-to-date.
Also, the “BUCK BREAKOUT” theme got a lift from the events in the Commonwealth, as the Dollar is once again looking more like a safe haven, trading at levels not seen since September 2009. Yesterday, the Dollar index rallied 0.6% and is up 0.6% in early trading again today.
Change is good!
EWC – iShares Canada — We remain bullish on the intermediate term TREND for Canada. With a pullback in the ETF on 1/15/10 we bought Canada.
XLK – SPDR Technology — We bought back Tech after a healthy 2-day pullback on 1/7/10.
UUP – PowerShares US Dollar Index Fund — We bought the USD Fund on 1/4/10 as an explicit way to represent our Q1 2010 Macro Theme that we have labeled Buck Breakout (we were bearish on the USD in ’09).
VXX - iPath S&P500 Volatility — The VIX broke down to our immediate term oversold line on 1/6/10, prompting us to add to our position on VXX.
EWG - iShares Germany —Buying back the bullish intermediate term TREND thesis Matt Hedrick maintains on Germany. We are short Russia and, from a European exposure perspective, like being long the lower beta DAX against the higher beta RTSI as well.
EWZ - iShares Brazil — As Greece and Dubai were blowing up, we took our Asset Allocation on International Equities to zero. On 12/8/09 we started buying back exposure via our favorite country, Brazil, with the etf trading down on the day. We remain bullish on Brazil's commodity complex and believe the country's management of its interest rate policy has promoted stimulus.
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 mispriced and that TIPS are a efficient way to own yield on an inflation protected basis.
IEF – iShares 7-10 Year Treasury — One of our Macro Themes for Q1 of 2010 is "Rate Run-up". Our bearish view on US Treasuries is implied.
RSX – Market Vectors Russia — We shorted Russia on 12/18/09 after a terrible unemployment report and an intermediate term TREND view of oil’s price that’s bearish.
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.
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 Constitution does not just protect those whose views we share; it also protects those with whose views we disagree."
The Macau Metro Monitor. January 20th, 2010
GALAXY ANNOUNCES MANAGEMENT UPDATE & SELECTED UNAUDITED 2009 FOURTH QUARTER FINANCIAL DATA Galaxy Entertainment Group
- StarWorld continues to outperform the market with all time record quarterly revenue of $3,455 million
- StarWorld records six consecutive quarters of revenue growth
- StarWorld delivers record VIP turnover volumes of $98 billion
- StarWorld reports a very strong hotel occupancy of 96%
- Galaxy Macau on schedule to open in the first quarter of 2011
- Financing of Galaxy Macau progressing on schedule
NEW FLU OUTBREAK IN MACAU macaudailytimes.com
H1N1 outbreaks have led to the suspension of a Taipa kindergarten and two classes from a special education center this week. In addition, 5 more inmates at Macao Prison have tested positive for the virus. The Health Bureau confirmed that none of the infected students had been previously inoculated against the H1N1 flu.
NEW GAMBLING CONCESSIONS UNLIKELY IN MACAU Alibaba.com
In a Reuters interview yesterday, director of Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, Manuel Joaquim das Neves, stated that "I think the possibility of more concessions is very low." Genting and Harrah's were sited among hopefuls for new future gaming concessions.
VIVA MACAU AIRLINES TO FLY HANOI-MACAU ROUTE Viet Nam News
Starting on February 13th, Viva Macau will add a direct Hanoi-Macau route 3x per week, offering off-peak economy fares for just US$25 one way. Viva Macau currently flys between Macau and HCM city.
SHANGHAI WORLD EXPO TO THE 'LARGEST EVER' macaudailytimes.com
The Shanghai 2010 World Expo, running between May 1 and Oct 31, is expected to attract more than 70MM visitors to Macau, according to Zhou Hanmin, deputy director of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai Committee. As of Sunday, more than 18MM tickets had already been sold. The Expo, whose Chinese Pavilion permanent infrastructure has cost RMB$80 billion to construct, will focus on peace, development and the environment.
IGT should beat the Street for the Dec Q but the next two Qs could be tough.
We are projecting a beat by IGT, $0.22 vs. consensus at $0.20, driven by higher unit sales. Tempering our enthusiasm, however, are lower estimates for the March and June quarters. Longer term, we think there is potential for IGT and the rest of the suppliers to out earn Wall Street expectations. The big caveat for IGT is stability in the Wheel line of products. As wrote about in our 11/27/09 post, “IGT: HOW LONG WILL THE WHEEL KEEP TURNING?”, IGT remains heavily reliant on the Wheel games at the same time recent court decisions have opened the playing field.
FQ1 2010 Earnings Call Preview
We think that IGT will beat the street this quarter but that estimates need to come down for the rest of the year. Longer term we think there could be upside to the numbers provided there is little degradation in the Wheel and the timing of new markets does not slip
- We’re at $0.22 cents vs. $0.20 cents for FQ1 2010 and $0.82 for FY2010 vs. consensus of $0.89
- FQ2 (March) at $0.18 vs the Street at $0.20
- We think the Street’s F2011 estimate of $1.11 could actually be low, again if new markets do not slip and the Wheel is stable
- Product sales of $267.1MM & gross margin of 51.2%
- 6.8k North America shipments, comprising of 4k new unit shipments, 0.3k deferred units, and 2.5k replacements. We have total new & expansion shipments to NA markets of 12.5k units in the Dec quarter. We assume that IGT gets 40% share excluding Aria, which will be recognized on a deferred basis. We estimate that NA replacements will be 7.5k for the market in the Dec Q
- ASP of $15.5k in NA: we expect MLD to become a greater % of AVP sales as IGT has materially expanded the content available on MLD making the $3,000 price difference more compelling
- International product sales are more of a guess, but we have roughly 8k units
Gaming operations revenues of $285.2MM and gross margin of 59.0%
- 250 net new casino participation placements
- 100 net new racino & leased placements
- Average win per day of $50.30
- IGT procured a 50% share of CityCenter’s 1,940 slots, which will be recognized over the next 8 quarters
- Systems revenues for CityCenter will remain deferred for 2 years, after which MGM must decide whether to buy the system for a fixed fee or pay based on a variable daily fee model. CityCenter will take the next 2 years to determine the ROI of IGT’s SB system.
- Currently there are 8-10 locations with SB banks (including those trialing the product)
- SG&A: $95.0MM
- R&D: $53.5MM
- Net Interest expense: $26.0MM
- Tax rate: 39.5%
With the odd turn of events into the Massachusetts special election, one of our top 10 ‘probable improbables’ (presented on 1/8/10) is looking even more scary. Number 8 on our list is, “labor and the threat of unionization become a major issue in 2010”. The could be a big, big deal for retail.
As it stands, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was introduced and championed by the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Today’s candidates are on complete opposite sides of the topic. Coaklely (D) is a strong advocate of the bill and vows to continue to keep Kennedy’s legacy alive. Brown (R) strongly opposes the EFCA, and with his lead at the polls, could put the bill into jeopardy. Regardless of the outcome, there is no question that the idea of increased labor organization is gaining mindshare. While our original thoughts may be slightly altered with a Republican victory, the key point is worth republishing.
#8. Unionization Becomes a Major Issue. Regardless of your political view, one thing that is pretty difficult to deny is that after a tough 2009, Obama is backed into a corner as it relates to placating the masses. He’s not doing so with the Economy, and certainly not with Afghanistan. Health Care Reform is likely a bust. So what’s next? Stepping up to vilify the self-proclaimed Wall Street Elite much the same way FDR did in launching the Mellon Tax Trials in 1935 (Andrew Mellon was then the former Treasury Secretary, and the richest man in America). For what it’s worth, Mellon was exonerated, albeit two years after he died. So goes the shallow world of politics.
Is this possible today? You bet. But another way to show his support for those that voted for him, Obama could go the Labor route. Tom Tobin, our Health Care Sector hear, said it perfectly…
“Kids and independents elected Obama. It may be that the 2010 midterm elections do not matter since the likelihood of losing a majority in the House appears slim. But a political focus would also have to include the 2012 Presidential election as well. Where Labor was a factor in the 2008 elections, replacing the optimistic kids who were on a messianic mission and the independents will be a tall order. This is why I have the Employee Free Choice Act on my radar. I think Obama may have made a mistake in pushing Health Reform I first, but rather should have used his fleeting political capital to secure what will surely be an enduring and growing base of union members should the Bill pass.”
What does this mean for retail? Everything! Call a retailer and ask them what this means. They’ll probably say something that sounds like “We pay our store employees well and don’t think this is a problem.” C’mon man, are you kidding? Don’t you realize that you should be monitoring the gap between your pay and work rules and those of your competition? Also, if you’re managing an Abercrombie, your competition for employees is not just American Eagle. It’s also the Nathan’s selling greasy hot dogs in the food court. Retailers should turn to China to see how labor changed the competitive landscape. Why did factory wages rise in China by over 30% in 2006? Because the migrant workers coming in to factories to cut, sew, glue, and generally get treated like dirt by non-compliant factories saw that they could go to a major city like Beijing and work at a KFC instead for more money and a better lifestyle. This is an extreme example, of course, but if this Employee Free Choice Act gains traction, then it will be a big, big deal for retail.
With the December 2009 CPI now in the history book, the inflationary pressures following the collapse of oil prices in 2008 has worked its way through the system, leaving annual CPI inflation close to 3%.
Importantly, what follows in the months ahead will be still higher annual inflation, with the pace picking up in response to the weak dollar policy of the “WE SEE NO BUBBLES” administration. The 2009 weakening of the U.S. dollar resulted in a spike in oil and energy prices, as a well as in other dollar-denominated commodities. Our 1Q2010 theme “RATE RUN-UP” is based on inflation stemming from 2009 monetary policy decisions, not from stronger economic demand in the USA.
The increase in the December CPI was primarily due to the Energy index, which rose 18.2% in 2009 after falling 21.3% in 2008. The December CPI confirms some of the key issues facing the consumer. The increase in the Energy index was caused by the gasoline index, which rose 53.5% in 2009 after declining 43.1% in 2008. The food index, which rose 5.9% in 2008, fell 0.5% for the 12 months ending December 2009, the first December-to- December decline since 1961. The December CPI report was the first time since June 2009 that food-at-home prices rose faster than food-away-from home, and both increased for the month.
Given the underlying reality that the economy is being propped up by the Obama Administration and a more serious inflation problem than is generally expected, the risks to reporting a trend towards higher-than-expected inflation and weaker-than-expected economic growth is growing.
An analyst jacked up her Q4 estimates to unrealistic levels.
We were fans of WYNN and its Q4 outlook. Expectations were creeping up along with the stock price and today Bernstein dropped a bomb. Their Revenue and EPS estimates went to $878 million and $0.46 up from $771 million and $0.13, respectively. Consensus is $0.10 and $781 million. That’s quite an outlier. Why they still have a market perform rating and a $64 price target on the stock with those estimates is a another issue.
In our 1/8/09 note we discussed higher numbers for WYNN. While there could be upside to our $818 million revenue estimate and our $204 million EBITDA estimate, we think Bernstein is over the top, potentially setting the stage for a disappointment come earnings day. EPS is less important for WYNN but our projection there is $0.17.
Now that Q4 expectations have been ratcheted up the focus should be on the forward numbers. The Baccarat business in Vegas and Macau has been off the charts. Is it sustainable? We worry about the sequential slowdown in the Chinese economy, the waning federal stimulus, and the Chinese stock market. These macro variables could deflate the baccarat VIP “bubbles” in both Las Vegas and Macau.
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