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EAT - WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH

Which companies are toughening up in this macro environment?

 

The most bearish data point for the restaurant industry came with Friday’s jobs report.  Private payrolls added for the month of May was reported at an anemic 41,000 – the first marginal deceleration since December of 2009.  There are a number of factors that drive incremental trends in eating out but, in the current environment, jobs take center stage.  The biggest benefit to current top-line trends will be having more consumers collecting a paycheck.

 

As you can see for the chart below, the casual dining industry is right to be focused on the employment trends.  The Knapp figures correlate strongly with employment growth – more strongly, in fact, than retail sales figures do.

 

EAT - WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH - sales

 

Right now it appears there are two key consensus calls in the restaurant sector.  The first is that MCD will continue to dominate the QSR space.  Second, Bar & Grill is an uncompetitive concept and will not be able to take share.

 

MCD is a power house and the absolute trends are very impressive.  But it looks like expectations are ahead of current trends.  The beverage initiative is an important initiative for the company and driving some improvement is current trends.  Longer term it complicates operations and will not be a long-term driver of traffic.  In May, two-year trends have slowed for MCD around the world.  Lastly, GMCR is trading on rumors that MCD is going to buy them.  I will say categorically, MCD will never purchase GMCR. 

 

As for the Bar & Grille space, the negative sentiments can be summed up in two thoughts.  (1) High-end brands will take significant market share from mass-market brands and (2) Convenience-based brands are more likely to see sales lag in a recovery than destination-oriented brands. 

 

It’s a very difficult and often a losing proposition to pigeon-hole a certain company/brand/stock in a certain classification.  In the early stages of the improving top line trends, the consumers with money went to places where they feel comfortable with the food and the service.  Over the next 12-month the MACRO environment will be very challenging. 

 

I continue to believe that it’s important to focus on those companies that are being proactive and changing the variable cost structure.  Those that can create leaner, meaner cost structures will be better positioned to mitigate any margin erosion. 

 

EAT is one name that is pursuing a proactive strategy and remains a core focus name.

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director


Charting the Euro . . . Time For A Bounce?

Conclusion: A theme we will be discussing more and more is the sovereign debt issues in the U.S., which could lead to a bounce of the Euro versus the U.S. dollar.

 

If there has been one global macro trend that has remained consistently intact in the year-to-date, it is the decline of the Euro.  Since its short term peak in December of 2009 at ~$1.50, the trajectory has been basically straight down.

 

The decline in the Euro seems to be accelerated by new headlines every day, which continue to support the longer term structural impediments facing the Eurozone.  Specifically, as we recently wrote: 

  1. Interconnectedness - It should come as no surprise that the eurozone has willfully ignored its own rule-making. European economies are too interconnected to permit anything else. Most nations within Europe borrow from, and lend to, each other: Spain holds one-third of Portugal's debt; Spain owes Germany $238 billion; Italy owes France more than twice that. So while the Maastricht Treaty requires the eurozone to direct Greece to restructure its debt, most major banks within the eurozone are holders of Greek debt and would distinctly feel the pain of any Greek debt restructuring. 
  2. Lack of Political Consensus - The sovereign debt crisis has exposed the ineffectiveness of a one-size-fits-all monetary policy for a continent with significantly disparate economies. Spain shapes its monetary policy to combat its 20% unemployment; Germany's works to keep its economy from overheating. The absence of a stronger political union to manage the divergent economic goals of the member nations destines the Maastricht Treaty to regular flouting by its members. 

So, while the Euro remains in a bearish formation, we are starting to consider trading off the immediate term oversold readings on the long side, then sell high/buy low on the short side on rallies to $1.22-$1.25 from $1.19-$1.20.

The key catalyst for a rally in the Euro versus the U.S. dollar, will be the US facing a European-like sovereign debt crisis in 6 months.  While arguably the U.S. doesn’t have the structural issues outlined above, the U.S. does indeed have major fiscal issues with its defict-as-a-percentage-of-GDP in the danger zone of north of 10% and gross-public-debt-as-a-percentage-of-GDP north of 90%. With debt maturities accelerating in the U.S. over the next couple of quarters, the number one reason to buy Euro is being bearish on USD, not being bullish on the Euro in absolute, due to these coming maturity catalysts.

 

Keith McCullough

Chief Executive Officer

 

Daryl G. Jones

Managing Director

 

Charting the Euro . . . Time For A Bounce? - Euro


Check the Chart: Favorable German Factory Orders Number on Compare

With German Factory Orders getting a fair share of mention this morning I thought it worth noting what most aren’t pointing out: the latest +29.6% annual number is versus last April’s abysmal -37.1% reading! Also, month-over-month orders slowed to +2.8% versus +5.1% in March.

 

While positive, taken in context, the orders were less fabulous. As the chart below points out, Factory Orders have “easier” comps for the next four months off depressed (negative) levels before bumping up against tougher compares in September (+12.8%).  

 

We continue to believe that Germany has some of the best fundamentals in Europe, yet remain wary of contagion threats in the region.  Below is a review of recent German data points.

 

Positives:

  1. An improvement in the unemployment rate, ticking down to 7.7% (Eurozone Ave. = 10.1%)
  2. Managed fiscal balance sheet: German Deficit-to-GDP = 5.0% (versus double digits for Spain, Greece, and Ireland) and bullish comments today from Chancellor Merkel on additional government spending cuts.

Negatives:

  1. Manufacturing PMI was flat and Services PMI improved only marginally in the latest reading; the coming months look to roll over.
  2. Consumer Confidence (GfK) turned down. 3.5 in June versus 3.7 in May.
  3. ZEW economic sentiment index plunged to 45.8 in May from 53.0 in April. 
  4. Retail Sales fell -3.1% in April Y/Y versus +3.7% in March.

Our risk/reward profile for Germany weighs to the downside.  While a weaker Euro will favor the export-heavy economy, sovereign debt concerns across the region continue to enhance market volatility in the capital markets across Europe, and we think that the DAX is setting up to give back some of its YTD outperformance.

 

We currently do not have an investment position in Europe, but are looking to trade countries like Spain, France, or Italy on the short side on a bounce.

 

Beware of scheduled strikes in Spain tomorrow!

 

Matthew Hedrick

Analyst

 

Check the Chart: Favorable German Factory Orders Number on Compare - Gorders


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R3: 6/6/10: WMT, NKE, FL

R3: REQUIRED RETAIL READING

June 7, 2010

 

WMT’s Apparel comments good for everyone. If today’s downgrade of NKE by Citi rocks either Nike or FL, we like the other side.

 

 

 LEVINE’S LOW DOWN 

 

- Wal-Mart's Downplays Apparel - WMT claimed that apparel was a small portion of their overall business and a work in progress. Wal-Mart asserted they are going back to basics, as in business basics and the product itself. Socks, underwear, jeans, and T-shirts are their sweet spot. Apparel is important only “because it completes the trip,” Castro-Wright commented. “If you’re buying groceries and consumables and can pick up [soft goods], that’s the model we’re using to enrich the [product] mix and the overall basket.” WMT maintained that they are not a department store. <wwd.com/business-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: This is good for everyone that sells apparel.

 

- A Harris Interactive poll suggests users of social media are heavily influenced by online reviews. According to the poll, social media influences 45% of adults and 50% of those aged 18-34. The results are staggering, especially when considering how much brands and companies spend themselves to influence purchase decisions. Once again it seems like peers and friends are amongst the biggest influencers in retail.

 

- Brace yourself for the next installment of the Twilight series to hit the big screen, Eclipse. In advance of the likely-hit, Nordstrom is getting into the movie tie-in game with the launch of an exclusive line of Eclsipse apparel, ranging from $38-$50. The promotional calendar also calls for several in-store events. It looks like blockbuster movie promo’s are no longer relegated to collaborations with soft drink makers at Wal-Mart or McDonalds!

 

- With nail polish becoming the new lipstick, it was only a matter of time before a scented version hit the shelves. Revlon just released a line of scented nail polish for the summer that is now available in drugstores across the country. The scents include ocean breeze, beach, cotton candy, bubble gum, and peach. Word has it the product is hit so far, which has got to be a direct result of the product being so outrageous. Who’s smelling their finger nails on a regular basis?

 

 

MORNING NEWS 

   

Chinese Footwear Brands Making Inroad to US - Taking inspiration from heritage brands in the People’s Republic of China, young entrepreneurs are bringing classic Chinese looks to U.S. customers — and finding space in the hippest shops. At this fall’s trend-focused Compass sneaker trade show in New York, at least four brands with Chinese roots showed up to hawk their casual canvas kicks, including Warrior Footwear, Shulong Shoes, Ospop and The People’s Shoe. In addition, Feiyue, a French revival of a Chinese brand, has scored A-list retail accounts, such as Odin in New York and American Rag, and been photographed on the feet of Orlando Bloom.  <wwd.com/footwear-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: We noted this about six months ago as a major risk for the US footwear industry. This is not a question of ‘if’ the Chinese brands make inroads, but when. It sounds like sooner than later. We’re more concerned for incumbents on the fashion side.

  

Hockey and Yoga Top Participation Growth in 2009 - Hockey and yoga were the two fastest growing sports in terms of participation last year, according to the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). Participation in hockey grew 60.0% while participation in yoga, which grew 21.9% in 2008, grew 20.9%. Participation in most fitness activities, including camping, hiking, XC skiing, alpine skiing and snowboarding rose, while participation in all team sports except hockey and soccer declined. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Yoga comes as no surprise, but hockey up 60%? That’s so big it makes me question the validity of the numbers. Then again, one trend that has been gaining remarkable momentum is girl’s hockey in the US. Score 1 for girl power.

 

BRC warns Government against increasing VAT - The British Retail Consortium has called on the Government to focus on public spending cuts rather than tax rises in order to tackle the deficit, reiterating its belief that VAT should not be increased. <drapersonline.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: More posturing. But limiting VAT increase has a decent shot in the current economic climate in Europe.

  

Adidas and Slam Magazine Pair for Apparel Line - This holiday season, Adidas will launch an apparel line, featuring cover art from world basketball magazine Slam. Adidas, in partnership with Source Interlink, will design apparel, headwear, footwear and accessories—all to feature iconic covers and photographs from Slam's archives. The line will hit select retailers for holiday 2010.Besides the Adidas/Slam collection, the companies will also launch the brand identities of Slam and Surfer magazines in a range of apparel, headwear, footwear and accessories. These lines will also be available by holiday. <licensemag.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Makes sense for Adidas – a perennial top performer in sports apparel.

 


WEEKLY RISK MONITOR FOR FINANCIALS - MORE NEGATIVE THAN POSITIVE

Last week, 5 of the 8 risk measures registered negative readings on a week-over-week basis, while 1 was neutral and two were positive - a negative overall reading suggesting the market is still in high anxiety around Europe concerns and a domestic economic slowdown. Interesting to note is that Greece bond yields have begun to widen considerably once again, after stabilizing for a period following the EU trillion dollar bailout announcement.

 

Our risk monitor looks at the following metrics weekly:

1. CDS for all available US Financials (30 companies).

2. High Yield

3. Leveraged Loans

4. TED Spread

5. Journal of Commerce Commodity Price Index

6. Greek Bond Spreads

7. Markit Subprime Spreads

8. AAII Bulls/Bears Sentiment Survey

 

1. Financials CDS Monitor – Mortgage insurers and AIG saw credit default swap spreads decrease last week, but all other Financials saw spreads widen.  The largest decreases week over week were AIG, PMI, MTG, and RDN. Swap prices remain considerably elevated compared to a month ago, with the most widening at XL, MBI, ABK, and AGO. Conclusion: Negative.

 

Contracted the most vs last week: AIG, PMI, MTG, RDN

Widened the most vs last week: ACE, ALL, TRV, SAN-ES

Contracted the most vs last month: GS, COF, SAN-ES, POP-ES

Widened the most vs last month: XL, MBI, ABK, AGO

 

WEEKLY RISK MONITOR FOR FINANCIALS - MORE NEGATIVE THAN POSITIVE - cds

 

2. High Yield (YTM) Monitor - High Yield rates rose 11 bps last week, remaining above their elevated levels preceding the Greek bailout. Rates closed the week at 9.09% up from 8.97% the week prior. Conclusion: Negative.

 

WEEKLY RISK MONITOR FOR FINANCIALS - MORE NEGATIVE THAN POSITIVE - high yield

 

3. Leveraged Loan Index Monitor - Leveraged loans were almost flat last week, closing at 1463, down one bp from 1464 the week prior. Conclusion: Neutral.

 

WEEKLY RISK MONITOR FOR FINANCIALS - MORE NEGATIVE THAN POSITIVE - lli

 

4. TED Spread Monitor - The TED Spread is a great canary. It rose last week closing at 39.7 bps up from 37.1 bps in the week prior. Conclusion: Negative.

 

WEEKLY RISK MONITOR FOR FINANCIALS - MORE NEGATIVE THAN POSITIVE - ted spread

 

5. Journal of Commerce Commodity Price Index – This week the JOC smoothed commodity price index replaces the VIX in our Risk Monitor.  We believe it to be a more useful leading indicator than the VIX, which is coincident.  A sharp sell-off in this index starting in July ’08 heralded further declines in the stock market.  This week, the index fell from 25.97 last Friday to 23.02 on Wednesday.  (No price data is available Thursday and Friday.) Conclusion: Negative. 

 

WEEKLY RISK MONITOR FOR FINANCIALS - MORE NEGATIVE THAN POSITIVE - joc

 

6. Greek Bond Yields Monitor - The Greece situation remains in flux and so we include Greek Bond 10-Year Yields as a reflection of that dynamic. Last week yields rose 41 bps to 762 bps from 823 bps. Conclusion: Negative.

 

WEEKLY RISK MONITOR FOR FINANCIALS - MORE NEGATIVE THAN POSITIVE - gr bond

 

7. Markit ABX Index Monitor - We use the 2006-2 series and look at the AAA, AA, A and BBB- series. The Markit ABX Index was generally up vs the prior week. We include this measure as a reflection of what is going on in deep subprime distressed paper. Conclusion: Positive.

 

WEEKLY RISK MONITOR FOR FINANCIALS - MORE NEGATIVE THAN POSITIVE - markit

 

8. AAII Bulls/Bears Monitor - The Bulls/Bears survey grew more Bullish on the margin vs last week. Bulls increased by 7.27% to 37.09% while Bears fell 10.03% to 40.85%, putting the spread at 4% on the bearish side, versus 21% to the bearish side last week. Conclusion: Positive.

 

WEEKLY RISK MONITOR FOR FINANCIALS - MORE NEGATIVE THAN POSITIVE - aaii

 

Joshua Steiner, CFA

 

Allison Kaptur


THE M3: UNIONPAY/VISA ALLOWED IN MACAU; ADELSON COMMENTS

The Macau Metro Monitor, June 7th, 2010


VISA TO LET UNIONPAY BE USED IN BOTH SAR'S Macau Daily Times, Intelligence Macau

Visa Inc. will allow Unionpay cards in Macau and Hong Kong.  According to IM, merchants and banks prefer Unionpay to be the facilitator of cross-border payments and currency movements for Macau.  Unionpay's influence in Macau could grow if it increases its transfer amounts between the mainland and the concessionaires (and junkets), which would reduce the influence of middlemen and loan sharks.

 

EDMUND HO GAVE CONDITIONAL 'YES' TO LVS APARTMENT SELLING: SHELDON ADELSON Macau Business

During the Sanford C. Bernstein Decisions Conference, CEO Adelson said that Edumund Ho "made a commitment to us that, if we started parcels 5 and 6 and if we did an IPO, then for sure we could sell [the Four Seasons apartment hotel as] strata condos..But now the old regime is out and a new is in.”  According to Adelson, there are already several Japanese customers interested in buying a units there although. 

 

Adelson continues to deny that there is a labor shortage at sites 5 and 6, despite the new government restrictions on employing foreign workers.  He added that,  “we are not employing the labor directly, except, perhaps for the locals.  The laborers are being brought in by the contractors and subcontractors; they are responsible for getting the labor."

 

Adelson was also explicit that his goal for LVS is “to get the value of the company back to where we were when we were at the highest point” before the global financial crisis.

 

Good luck Sheldon...


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