There’s not a boatload of companies anymore in retail that have the kind of setup into the quarter that we see in HD, which can’t be ignored on top of a bullish formation. There’s a trade to be had – but be careful about timing, and ‘Keep a Trade a Trade!’
HD is a name that Keith’s models flag as looking solid on his short-term TRADE duration. Specific levels are as follows…
TRADE = 28.36
TREND = 27.49
TAIL = $25.19
Looking at the financials, let’s keep this simple. HD is going up against a -17% comp, and an 800bp erosion in operating margin last year. Underlying trends have been improving on the margin (looking at 2 and 3-year numbers), and yet the consensus is modeling a flat quarter. Upside is likely.
The SIGMA chart below (as always, call if you need a hand interpreting -- someday I'll figure out a way to simplify it) also shows the disconnect that we saw in 4Q of last year with working capital as it relates to sales. Simply put, the delta between sales and inventories was the worst we saw last year since well before the recession began. Combine that with one of the worst margin quarters in HD history, and it led to the mother of all squeezes on cash flow. We don’t need to bank on better snowblower and rock salt sales to do better than that this go around.
But as noted, Keep a Trade a Trade! After 1Q, you’re gonna need to bank on a housing recovery. If you’re in that camp, then we wish you the best of luck – you’ll need it. Actually, to the extent your process supports a housing recovery, give our Macro team a call. They’ve got plenty of research that should help balance any such view.