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Improvement in Single Family Housing Starts Leads Improvement in Unemployment

The folks at Calculated Risk (calculatedriskblog.com) showed an interesting chart yesterday of Single Family Starts versus unemployment.  We’ve recreated this chart below.  As you can see, an improvement in single family starts typically leads an improvement in unemployment by 12-18 months.  (The 2001 recession was an exception.) Single family starts have not been improving in recent months; rather, following the expiration of the tax credit, they’ve trended sharply downward.  This suggests that we are not in for a swift improvement in unemployment from here – in fact, the downward move suggests that unemployment could increase on a reported basis (though clearly the labor force participation rate is affecting the unemployment print, as we demonstrated two weeks ago). 




Initial Claims Climb 

Initial claims rose 12k last week to 465k (rising 15k before the revision).  Rolling claims came in at 462.25k, a decline of 3.25k over the previous week. Reported claims climbed back toward the middle of the range of 450-470k that the series has occupied for all of 2010. While the rolling claims number was incrementally bullish, we are still looking for initial claims in the 375-400k range before unemployment meaningfully improves.






Our firm's expectations for an ongoing economic slowdown relative to the first half of the year will keep a lid on new hiring activity as management teams focus on cost control. All of this raises the risks that a prospective slowdown in GDP will precipitate an incremental slowdown in hiring/pickup in firings, which will, in turn, further pressure growth. We continue to look to claims as the best indicator for the job market, as they are real time and inflections in the series have signaled important turning points in the market in the past.


Yield Curve

The following chart shows 2-10 spread by quarter while the chart below that shows the sequential change. The 2-10 spread (a proxy for NIM) has been under significant pressure in the past two quarters.  Yesterday’s closing value of 212 bps is down from 224 bps last week.






The table below shows the stock performance of each Financial subsector over four durations. 




Census headwinds should abate at the end of September, as this is the last month in which Census has historically been a drag. 




Joshua Steiner, CFA


Allison Kaptur


Costs are too much to absorb, according to CEO Howard Schultz.


August 31, 2010: SBUX says it has no plans to raises prices, even though it expects higher coffee costs to weaken its profits in the upcoming fiscal year.  Management said it is able to maintain its current prices because it has long-term relationships with farmers, traders and co-ops in multiple coffee-growing regions.  Importantly, it also has bought the majority of its coffee for its upcoming fiscal year.  No change in the fiscal 2011 EPS guidance of $1.36 to $1.41, which factors in an expected $0.04 hit from higher coffee prices. 


September 21, 2010: At a conference in LA, CEO Howard Schultz predicted a “tough” 2011, with conditions improving the following year.  At the time I thought this was a very odd comment.  What was going to make FY2011 so tough given how strong sales are?  Or have they slowed?


September 22, 2010: From the SBUX press release, SBUX is raising some prices “due to the recent dramatic increases in the price of green arabica coffee, currently close to a 13-year high, as well as significant volatility in the price of other key raw ingredients, including dairy, sugar and cocoa.”


So what had changed between late August and now?

  • Coffee is up 1.8%
  • Milk is up 3.8%
  • Sugar is up 23.1%
  • Cocoa is up 2.4%



While we think same-store sales have slowed in 4Q10 on a one-year basis, the company reiterated its comfort level with current guidance, as management affirmed its forecast for the current fiscal year.




Going into 2011, expectations will remain high as the company’s FY11 same-store sales guidance of low-to-mid single digit growth assumes a fairly steady improvement in two-year trends.  For reference, +1% same-store sales growth in the U.S. in FY11 would imply a 350bp improvement in two-year average trends from FY10 (assuming 6.5% growth for FY10).  I think same-store sales and margin growth will continue to materialize in FY11 but the rate of growth will slow and the company’s ability to continue to surprise to the upside from both top-line and bottom-line perspectives will likely diminish. 


Howard Penney

Managing Director

QE Mees

“Lacking much experience with this option, we do not have very precise knowledge of the quantitative effect of changes in our holdings.”

–Ben Bernanke


While it’s entertaining, it’s also quite frightening to watch the same failed policy makers and the pundits that pander to them fundamentally believe that they understand exactly how this “QE” experiment is going to play out. Fortunately, Ben Bernanke is not one of those people.


Now that they’ve been liberated from Larry Summers assuring them that he knows exactly what he is doing, here’s a simple risk management exercise for Groupthink Inc in Washington today. Consider this part of your post Summers rehab – baby steps guys:

  1. Re-read the aforementioned quote
  2. Then count how many times you hear the media say QE today
  3. Then re-read that quote again before you go to bed tonight

Now we don’t purport to have “precise knowledge of the quantitative easing effects” on the US economy either. Einstein himself said that “if we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it?” That said, our fundamental macro research does point us toward Japan’s experiment with QE as being an unsuccessful one.


While the United States of America in 2010 may not “precisely” be Japan of 1997, there are plenty of similarities developing in terms of Big Bureaucratic Government resolve. If you have any recovering friends from Groupthink Inc who make it past the remedial exercise above, please send them our Chart of The Day (see below) that overlays the Japanese real estate bubble with ours. *Note the duration.


For really advanced stage rehabilitation from the Academic Dogma that’s been driving Ben Bernanke and Larry Summers policy making decisions, you can overlay Japanese Government Bonds Yields (JGBees) with US Treasury Yields (QE Mees). While we don’t have “precise” measurements on how low the rate-of-return on America’s aging population’s hard earning savings accounts can go, we do see ZERO percent as a credible gravitational force.


We’ll be expanding our Japanese research effort in Q4, but if you’d like a taste of the contrarian Hedgeye cool-aid, please send an email to and we’ll get you a solid report from our Hedgeye Jedi, Darius Dale, who punched out a not yesterday titled, “Japanese Pensions: Risks to the Global Economy.”


Post-rehab students of objective macro-economic research have learned that the Japanese demographic curve started to age before America’s baby boomers did. Importantly, this doesn’t mean America can’t age in due course. Advanced research studies on campus here in New Haven have revealed that time, as a risk management factor, is actually quite hard to reverse.


All the while (alongside time), there’s this other little research critter we monitor here at Hedgeye called price. Again, this is getting into the really advanced stuff folks, so try to “dumb this down” if you attempt to explain this to anyone in Congress, but TIME and PRICE are significant factors in a modern day risk manager’s search for more “precise” knowledge about future probabilities.


Now let’s go to the future state - if we really want to dial up Washington’s fully loaded rehab research engine we gotta go where Heli-Ben has never gone before. As Buzz Lightyear would say, “to infinity and beyond” – the cosmic galaxy of the hedgie universe – REAL-TIME PRICES!


I know, I know… this is deep. But let’s suspend disbelief for a moment and take a gander into the cosmos of Hedgeye REAL-TIME PRICE research and look at what we see:


1.  Currencies: The US Dollar is down for the 14th week out of the last 17, breaking to lower-lows that we havn’t seen since mid-April when chaos theorists in New Haven said something about May Showers. Sounds serious, because when you Burn The Buck at the stake, it starts to become a very bad thing - importing crazy critters that Bernanke has never seen (like inflation, shhh…).


2.  Bond Yields: US Treasury yields are getting pulverized again this morning on the short end of the curve, with 2-year yields in America hitting their lowest levels ever. Ever, of course, is a long time… and while we can’t tell you “precisely” how poorly this ends for a lot of people in this country, we can assure you this ended poorly in Japan.


3.  Equities: US stocks have backed off of the line I said I was going to walk this week (1144 in the SP500), leaving our intermediate term TREND line of resistance intact. Whether or not the perma-bulls want to admit that lower-highs in everything US equities since 2007’s leverage-cycle-peak matter or not is something that Nikkei bulls in Japan have been powdered by since Gordon Gekko’s last 1980’s dance.


QE ain’t for me.


My immediate term TRADE lines of support and resistance for the SP500 are now 1127 and 1146, respectively.


Best of luck out there today,



Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


QE Mees - Japan U.S. Real Estate

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TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP - September 23, 2010

As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 19 points or -0.64% downside to 1127 and 1.03% upside to 1146. Equity futures are trading lower tracking a sell off among European indices. Concerns resurface over the state of the European economies. Banking stocks lead the sell off as Bank of America Merrill Lynch lowers its estimates for US investment banks. Also caution prevails ahead of the jobless claims. Other macro highlights include August Existing Home Sales.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) raised FY 2011 EPS growth forecast to 20% from 15%
  • BioMed Realty Trust (BMR) is offering 13.5m shares to fund acquisitions and repay debt
  • DineEquity (DIN) reported domestic comp sales up 2.7% 3Q through Sept. 19
  • Edwards Lifesciences (EW): Sapien valve prevented more deaths than standard treatment, according to study
  • Red Hat (RHT) reported 2Q rev. $219.8m vs estimate $211.5m
  • Steelcase (SCS) forecast 3Q rev. $625m-$650m vs estimate $627.7m
  • Tessco Technologies (TESS): Discovery Group offered to buy remaining shares outstanding at 31% premium to September 21st close
  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) plans to sell $375m senior convertible notes


  • One day performance: Dow (0.20%), S&P (0.48%), Nasdaq (0.63%), Russell 2000 (1.20%)
  • Month-to-date: Dow +7.24%, S&P +8.10%, Nasdaq +10.43%, Russell +9.08%
  • Quarter-to-date: Dow +9.88%, S&P +10.05%, Nasdaq +10.68%, Russell +7.75%
  • Year-to-date: Dow +2.98%, S&P +1.72%, Nasdaq +2.88%, Russell +5.03%


  • ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: -764 (+75)
  • VOLUME: NYSE - 954.65 (-8.91%)  
  • SECTOR PERFORMANCE: 4 sectors up and 5 down.  While another meaningful pullback in the dollar offered some semblance of support for the XLB, it failed to underpin the broader risk trade amid heightened concerns about the potential global economic backlash surrounding a competitive currency devaluation push.
  • MARKET LEADING/LAGGING STOCKS YESTERDAY: Carmax +8.46%, Sears +5.31% and Alcoa +4.74%/Adobe -19.23%, New York Times -6.52% and Gannett -6.15%
  • VIX: - 22.51 +0.72%  YTD PERFORMANCE: (+3.83%)          
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO:- 2.14 from 2.01 +6.33%


  • TED SPREAD: 14.03 0.304 (2.218%)
  •  3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: 0.16% -0.01%
  • YIELD CURVE: 2.12 from 2.18


  • CRB: 278.89 +0.19%
  • Oil: 74.71 -0.35% - oil continues to flash bearish intermediate term TREND in our model w/ TREND line resist = $76.29; bodes bearish for US economic growth.
  • COPPER: 356.50 +2.41%  
  • GOLD: 1,289 +1.23%


  • EURO: 1.3366 +1.81%
  • DOLLAR: 79.83 -0.76% - US Dollar getting annihilated; breaking to lower-lows like it did in April and August when Dollar Down = bad (as opposed to reflation)



  • UK may be close to introducing additional quantitative easing measures.
  • Disappointing PMIs from across the Eurozone exacerbated the declines.
  • Financial, mining and construction sectors bore the brunt of the limited selling pressure although turnover remains light
  • The Irish Examiner reports, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, has given the strongest indication yet that the riskiest lenders to Anglo Irish Bank will soon be told they will not get all their money back.
  • Astrazeneca announced positive phase II results for Fostamatinib (Rheumatoid arthritis), sees phase III beginning soon
  • French Economy Minister said that a capital surcharge was not a "panacea" for addressing the risk of systemically important banks, and she favored resolution mechanisms and tighter regulation.
  • Eurozone Sep Advanced Services PMI 53.6 vs cons 55.5, Manufacturing PMI 53.60 vs cons 54.50
  • Germany Sep Preliminary Services PMI 54.6 vs cons 57.0, Manufacturing PMI 55.3 vs cons 57.6
  • France Sep Preliminary Manufacturing PMI 55.4 vs cons 55; Services PMI 58.8 vs cons 60.0



  • In quiet trading with the major bourses across the region closed, Asian markets did not move much today.
  • Australia finished barely higher as the effect of stronger miners marginally outweighed the effect of weaker banks.
  • Taiwan finished flat.
  • South Korea was closed for Chusok.
  • China is closed through 24-Sep for Mid-Autumn Festival.
  • Hong Kong was closed for the day after the Mid-Autumn Festival and will re-open tomorrow.
  • Japan was closed for the Autumnal Equinox.
  • The yen is trading at 84.46 to the US dollar. 
Howard Penney
Managing Director

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - levels and trends













Nike: Got An Umbrella?

If you’re one of the half dozen people who can look through any form of near-term volatility – then congratulations. You can stop reading this now. If you’re part of the other 99% who has to at least carry an umbrella when there’s rain in the forecast, then read on.



My phone always rings off the hook in advance of Nike’s print. One thing that’s different this time around is that I’m worried about the event. Don’t get me wrong -- I think fundamentals look great. I’m at $1.08 vs. the Street at $1.01. Futures look fine. The business is in check, and I remain convinced that estimates for the next 2-years are 10-15% too low.


If you’re one of the half dozen people working at a shop that completely looks through any form of near-term volatility – then congratulations. You can stop reading this now. If you’re part of the other 99% of the population who has to at least carry an umbrella when there’s rain in the forecast, then consider these factors.

From a near-term perspective...

  • We all know that this is a company that HAS TO beat numbers. This is Nike, after all -- exceeding expectations is what they do (and how they’re compensated). We’ve had some analysts come up to our EPS level, and salespeople at one major buldge-bracket Firm going out with a message that this will be a ‘blowout – i.e. between $1.14ish ps’ quarter.
  • Then there was a very bullish preview by another major Firm who laid out the case as to why this is such a great three-year call. Some of the verbiage around the drivers and cadence of growth at Nike was conspicuously spot-on (to the extent that one client called me at 7am that morning laughing) with what we came out with in February when Keith first added Nike to the Hedgeye Virtual portfolio. Dare I say that the call from 9-months ago has become the consensus?
  • Sell-side sentiment is extremely bullish, with only 3 months over the past 5-years where the Street was more positive. (See chart below).
  • Short interest is near all time lows of 2.5% of float. The one saving grace is that management stock sales have been minimal since spring. That’s a good sign; actually, as this management team is not afraid to sell stock when the time is right (restricted stock and options play a major role in executive compensation).
  • FX is not a disaster – but based on our proprietary index of Nike’s sales by country vs. blended forex rates, NKE is about to print a quarter that includes the most unfavorable second derivative in FX since summer of 2008. Assuming current rates prevail, we’ve got another quarter of slight erosion, then a slight pickup in 3Q.


Nike: Got An Umbrella? - NKE Fx 9 21 10


  • As it relates to guidance, keep in mind that Nike is far less impacted by industry margin pressure than the average company in retail given a) disproportionately low cotton exposure, b) better supply situation in Asia associated with footwear, c) better R&D cycle helping demand for footwear in the US, and most importantly d) simply having a superior brand with pricing power that just stripped the ball from the QB and is once again on offense. But mark my words, the simple fact that these outside pressures exist will be all management needs to point to in order to get expectations to be beatable in 2Q.  
  • Lastly, keep in mind that today we’re looking at a sales + GM improvement story. But as the year progresses and GM improvement eases on the margin, Nike starts to get SG&A leverage as it anniversaries the World Cup. Then it also starts to benefit from better non-operating income due to the mark-to-market of its FX hedges. My sense is that there less room for error from a valuation perspective when it’s a sales + SG&A +other income story as opposed to sheer sales and GM improvement.


Synching With the Long Term Call

Perhaps I’m being a bit too anal (can I use that word in a note? Wikipedia says Yes) around unusually positive near term sentiment factors. The reality is that this story dwarfs most others in Global Consumer as it relates to the company’s ability to grow profitably and consistently.


Yes, the sentiment is bullish, but I still think that many longer-term investors underestimate the real 3-year call here.

I think that people ‘sort-of ‘get whole concept of how Nike is changing its ‘go to market’ strategy, and how it impacts the business at wholesale, retail, and dot.com. Same goes for global impact on top line.


Do people get the upside in GM% as Nike executes? I don’t think so.


The kicker is this… The average ‘long and strong’ PM I talk to that is scared about the consumer and looking for something to own out there still gets a bit of a ‘wide eye’ factor when we collectively lay out the long term call.  “This is the leader of a global duopoly in a GDP plus industry that is about to see considerable strengthening in its structural low cost advantage. Why? Nike has outsized sales exposure to China, while having disproportionately low cost exposure. Case in point… Of Nike’s $10bn in COGS, only about $2.6bn are Yuan-denominated. Yet the company has close to $2bn in sales in China. That gap is narrowing, and should be closed within 2-years. That would make Nike one of the only Global companies that would have a structural sales and margin benefit as the Yuan floats higher.” When you can point to an improving R&D cycle, consensus numbers that are too low by 10-15% in each of the next 2-years, and $5bn in net cash on the books, this name is a pretty darn safe place to be.


The punchline? If you have an umbrella, definitely keep it handy over the next 24 hrs. Sentiment is so bullish – but for some of the wrong reasons. You might have an opportunity to buy more of an underappreciated story at a lower price.


Nike: Got An Umbrella? - nke

BBBY: Reality Isn't So Bad

Solid quarter for BBBY across the board.  Beat our $0.67 estimate driven almost entirely by leverage on better than forecast sales.  Comps came in at 7.4%, street was looking for just below 6%.

  • GM’s improved 56bps.  First quarter that results prove they can expand gross margins on top of last year’s gains.  Important event our view given that this provides less reason to be concerned about tougher near-term compares.  On a two year basis, GM’s were up 107bps, but still below 2006 peak 2Q levels of 42.2%.  To get back to peak, there is still room to expand GM’s by 130 bps.
  • SG&A leveraged better than expected on better topline results.  Absolute dollars came in line with our projections, up 4.8%.  Same dollar increase % as reported in Q1.  On a rate basis, SG&A improved by 174 bps as a % to sales.
  • Inventories up 8.5%, sales up 11.6%.  Sales/inventory spread continues to erode, although still positive on an absolute basis.  See SIGMA below for the trend.
  • Biggest surprise to us was the same store sales results and the share buyback activity. BBBY purchased $193 million or 4.9 million shares in the quarter, the biggest commitment to the buyback we’ve seen in a long, long time.  The balance sheet remains in solid shape, ending the quarter with $1.6 billion in cash/securities. There is more room to go here.
  • Guidance for 3Q of $0.61-$0.65, Street at $0.64 within the guided range.  Management took up full year to 20% EPS growth, which equates to $2.75.  Street currently at $2.71.  We still see results coming in closer to $2.80 for the year.

All in a solid quarter.  Incremental positives include gross margin gains on top of gross margin gains, stepped up share repurchase, and less than expected conservatism from management on the outlook.  Incremental negative is the erosion of the sales/inventory spread.  Yes, the latter point is nitpicky.  This was a solid result all around and it is consistent with the results we’ve seen over the past four quarters.  We continue to believe the de-layering of the multi-year period in which BBBY engaged in aggressive promotional activity and couponing remains key to driving EBIT margin expansion over the next year.  The quarter only adds confidence to this view.


BBBY: Reality Isn't So Bad - bbby2q


Eric Levine


Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.51%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.32%