The Economic Data calendar for the week of the 19th of July through the 23rd is full of critical releases and events. Attached below is a snapshot of some (though far from all) of the headline numbers that we will be focused on.
HST should beat and raise guidance. Blah, blah, blah. What’s your macro forecast?
We expect Host to report 2Q FFO and EBITDA of $0.26 and $262MM, respectively. Not surprisingly, we are ahead of the Street for the quarter. Like everyone else, our estimates for 2010 are ahead of company guidance and we expect HST to take up their guidance range when they report next Wednesday.
Yesterday, we wrote a HOT preview and gave our thoughts on lodging stocks. Sorry to be repetitive but we are reprinting that paragraph since it applies to HST as well. After all, why recreate the wheel on a great piece of prose? Well, maybe not great but hopefully clear enough.
Now more than ever, the macro environment will drive revenues and lodging profits, and investors’ views of the future macro environment will drive stock prices. Current RevPAR trends are strong but the reported quarterly results and weekly RevPAR numbers just give investors a glimpse into the rear view of the mirror. We find it amusing listening to the sell-side repeatedly asking questions on 2011 trends and beyond. Face it, there is very limited visibility in this space and hotels only have pricing power when occupancies exceed 70%. Lodging trends have historically been lagging indicators, since what’s on the books today was booked at some point in the past. If sentiment changes or things begin to deteriorate, future bookings are impacted, and by the time the numbers show a slowing trend, it would be already too late. No matter what these companies report, how they trade depends on people’s outlook. The issue today is that investors’ collective view of the future is dimming and comps get much tougher in 2H 2010.
Of particular interest for HST will be the cost side of the equation. Flow through is the reason why investors pay a premium for REITs and real estate owners early in the lodging cycle. HST’s hefty multiple also implies that investors believe that they can get back to peak margins of 25-26% over the next few years. After 7 quarters of declining direct expenses, we think that 2Q2010 will mark the first quarter of absolute increases in property level expenses. 2Q2010 should also be the first quarter where we see an increase in CostPAR, as HST laps 4 quarters of declining CostPAR.
Total revenue of $1,105MM; $26MM of which comes from rental income
Property level EBITDA of $269MM, with margins up 70bps
Keith’s covering of CAKE this morning was executed at a critical risk management level in his model. The fundamental case, however, is unchanged.
As we described in our post yesterday outlining the SIGMA positions in the restaurant space, CAKE faces increasingly difficult restaurant-level margin comparisons going forward. The second half of this year will be especially difficult in this respect. CAKE’s management team, along with several peer management teams, has stated that food costs are going to be a headwind in 2H10. For CAKE, with higher restaurant margin hurdles to comp down the track, this anticipated cost pressure could prove meaningful. Also evident in the chart is the degree to which top line trends will be harder to lap as the year unfolds.
We also are monitoring the considerable downside risk that exists in the macro-consumer sphere; today’s University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment release is yet another bearish consumer macro data point. In light of this, and the SIGMA analysis summarized above, we believe estimates will be moving lower in 2H10. Our EPS estimate for 2010 is currently $1.31 versus the street at $1.36.
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Conclusion: The Chinese say U.S. Treasuries are important and a long term holding, but they are consistent net sellers. This will be negative for the price of Treasuries if the trend is sustained.
In May, total foreign holding of U.S. Treasury debt increased slightly by $5.8 billion to $3.96 trillion. The most noteworthy change was in Chinese holdings of Treasury debt. In May, China’s holdings fell by $32.5 billion to $867.7 billion, which was a 3.6% drop month-over-month. Japan, the second largest holders of U.S. treasuries, also dropped their exposure month-over-month.
Interestingly, since August 2009, foreign holdings of U.S. Treasuries have increased from $3.5 trillion to $3.9 trillion, which is growth of 11.4%. In the same period, Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasuries have declined from $936.5 billion to $867.7 billion, or 7.7%.
It is always interesting what the Chinese say.
On March 13, 2009, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said: “We lent such a huge fund (sic) to the United States and of course we’re concerned about the security of our assets and, to speak truthfully, I am a little bit worried.”
And more recently the Chinese statement on the State Administration of Foreign Exchange website stated: “US bonds constitute “a very important market for China” and “any increase or decrease in our holdings of US Treasuries is a normal investment operation”.
So, recently the Chinese have been both defending Treasuries, and selling them.
As Keith noted in the Early Look today:
“This morning, on the heels of a very disappointing earnings report out of one of America’s largest growth engines (Google), yields on 2-year US Treasuries are trading down to 0.58%. The inverse of this yield equates to the highest prices for short term US Treasury Debt EVER.
Ever, as we like to say at Hedgeye, is a very long time. Particularly when considering bubbles and the tail risks they incubate, it’s critical to never accept ever as forever.”
The fact is, short term Treasuries are priced to perfection. As such, any incremental change in demand, will have a meaningful impact on price and yield.
So, as you think about the next move in Treasuries and what the largest holder is doing, watch what China does and not what they say. The chart below outlines what they’ve been doing. And the trend is negative for the price of Treasuries.
Daryl G. Jones
I said this yesterday, and I will say it again today, until the consensus view begins to catch up with the weakening reality, reporting risk continues to be to the downside of expectations.
I understand why the market is selling off on this news, but who is actually surprised that confidence is declining?
Today’s decline in confidence is a clearly not a one-time event. Two of our key themes in 3Q10 (Bear Market Macro and Housing headwinds) have only just begun to play out. Unfortunately, if our themes are right, the consumer will face a difficult time in 2H10.
Jefferies initiated coverage on LVS with a buy rating. Fair enough. Using the correct share count drops the price target by 20%. Still a buy?
As we pointed out in our 09/14/09 post, “Check Your Models”, many analysts continue to use the wrong share count in calculating earnings and price targets. This isn’t a minor error. In Q1, LVS reported a loss, so ordinary shares of 660 million were used as the share count. However, going forward, we expect LVS to be continually profitable so fully diluted shares must be used. Since LVS has a convertible outstanding and significant common stock warrants, the share count will be much higher – 815 million per our math.
Jefferies price target is $30 based on 660 million shares, implying an equity target value of $19.8 billion. If the analyst was using an appropriate fully diluted share count close to our estimate, the price target would only be $24. Since the stock closed yesterday over $24, this stock can hardly be rated a Buy with that price target.
Will Jefferies downgrade the stock upon recognition of their error? Unlikely. Look for a subtle model and valuation revision magically resulting in the same $30 price target.
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