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CMG: IN MCD’S CROSSHAIRS?

McDonald’s has been dominating the QSR space of late and is looking at expanding its reach with a new product.

 

McDonald’s is testing a larger premium version of its Chicken Snack Wrap.  The wrap is burrito-sized and costs about $3.99, according to media reports this morning.  Containing chicken, cucumber, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and coming in three varieties, this product is clearly aimed at the chipotle customer.   The current, much less substantial, Snack Wrap product costs $1.49.

 

CMG: IN MCD’S CROSSHAIRS? - MCD vs CMG

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director


THE DAILY OUTLOOK

TODAY’S S&P 500 SET-UP - September 24, 2010

As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 19 points or -1.05% downside to 1113 and 1.62% upside to 1143. Equity futures are trading higher ahead following a weak close yesterday and ahead of key US Durable Orders data later today. Also, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Lacker speaks today on economics and policy, while the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser speaks on monetary policy. Today's macro highlights include: August Durable Orders at 08:30 ET and Aug New Home Sales at 10:00 ET.

  • Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) forecast 3Q rev. ~$1.58b-$1.64b, vs estimate of $1.71b
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) plans to cut 3% of global workforce during next 6 months
  • Comtech Telecommunications (CMTL) reported 4Q rev $257.0m vs estimate of $236.7m
  • Finish Line (FINL) reported 2Q EPS 31c vs est. 36c; rev. $301.1m vs estimate of $317.4m
  • Nike (NKE) reported 1Q EPS 17c vs estimate of 15c
  • Vical (VICL) plans to sell shares, amount undisclosed

PERFORMANCE

  • One day performance: Dow (0.72%), S&P (0.83)%, Nasdaq (0.32%), Russell 2000 (1.20%)
  • Month-to-date: Dow +6.47%, S&P +7.20%, Nasdaq +10.08%, Russell +7.77%
  • Quarter-to-date: Dow +9.09%, S&P +9.13%, Nasdaq +10.33%, Russell +6.46%
  • Year-to-date: Dow +2.25%, S&P +0.87%, Nasdaq +2.55%, Russell +3.75%

EQUITY SENTIMENT:

  • ADVANCE/DECLINE LINE: 1216 (-452)
  • VOLUME: NYSE - 944.37 (-1.08%)  
  • SECTOR PERFORMANCE: All sectors were down and the XLF was the first sector to break TRADE.  The MACRO calendar was somewhat of a mixed bag, with little upside evidence of a recovery in the labor and housing markets.
  • European sovereign contagion concerns continued to escalate - Ireland and Portugal the big focus.  Concerns seemed to be exacerbated by weak Q2 GDP data out of Ireland, along with the seven-month low in the Eurozone September composite PMI.
  • MARKET LEADING/LAGGING STOCKS YESTERDAY: Red Hat +9.02%, Washington Post +4.31% and NY Times +4.30%/Novell -6.61%, Wynn -4.53% and Metlife -3.88%
  • VIX: 23.87 +6.04% - YTD PERFORMANCE: (+10.10%)
  • SPX PUT/CALL RATIO: 1.70 from 2.14 -20.57%

CREDIT/ECONOMIC MARKET LOOK:

  • TED SPREAD: 14.13, 0.203 (1.458%)
  •  3-MONTH T-BILL YIELD: 0.16% unchanged
  • YIELD CURVE: 2.11 from 2.12

COMMODITY/GROWTH EXPECTATION:

  • CRB: 280.14 +0.45%
  • Oil: 75.18 +0.63%
  • COPPER: 359.05 +0.72%  
  • GOLD: 1,295 +0.48%

CURRENCIES:

  • EURO: 1.3356 -0.07%
  • DOLLAR: 80.01 +0.23%  

OVERSEAS MARKETS:

 

Europe

  • European markets are trading lower on the back of Irish banking concerns which was offset by better than expected German Ifo business confidence data.
  • Trading remains choppy amid low volumes as investors remain unsure on market direction.
  • Basic resources, Oil & Gas, Construction and Telcos are pacing declining sectors with Autos and industrial Goods showing modest gains.
  • Germany Sep Ifo Business Climate Index 106.8 vs consensus 106.2 and prior 106.7
  • Current Conditions Index 109.7 vs consensus 108.5 and prior 108.2
  • Business Expectations Index 103.9 vs consensus 104.0 and prior 105.2
  • French Q2 GDP revised up to +0.7% vs prev given +0.6%
  • European Automobile Manufacturers' Association;  Commercial Vehicles Registrations +5.4% y/y in July, +10.1% in August

Asia

  • Asian Markets: Nikkei (0.99%); Shanghai Composite (closed)
  • Asian markets were mixed today.  Indonesia +1.81%; India +0.93
  • Automakers led South Korea higher on expectations that the strong yen will harm their Japanese rivals.
  • Technology stocks fell on bad economic data from the US.
  • Miners fell in Australia despite higher metals prices. Rio Tinto fell 1% after it said it would invest $230M to expand its Pilbara operations.
  • Banks followed their US peers down.
  • Japan started down, turned positive as the yen weakened, but then finished down again.  More intervention; the yen is trading at 84.57 to the US dollar.
  • China was closed for Mid-Autumn Festival.
  • Singapore’s industrial production slowed M/M
 
Howard Penney
Managing Director
 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - levels and trends

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - S P

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - VIX

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - DOLLAR

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - OIL

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - GOLD

 

THE DAILY OUTLOOK - COPPER


FINL: A Few Callouts

FINL’s earnings of $0.31 after the close yesterday came in considerably lighter than consensus estimates at $0.35 causing shares to trade sharply lower in the aftermarket. After taking a closer look at the numbers, here are a few notable callouts ahead of the company’s call this morning:

  • Top-line growth of +1% marked a clear divergence between on and off-mall players in the space with both DKS (+9%) and HIBB (+14%) posting solid numbers while results out of FINL and FL (-0.3%) lagged their off-mall counterparts considerably.
  • Inventories down only -2% relative to +1% sales growth resulted in the most significant SIGMA turn in the space following several quarters of significant reductions in inventory. Similar to top-line trends, within the four company peer group, Q2 was evenly split between those building inventory (DKS +4% & HIBB +2%) versus those reducing inventories (FL -5% & FINL -2%). While top-line trends lagged for mall-based players, inventories remain tighter. With sales in August and into September improving materially, this is a good scenario and likely to continue to keep promotional activity in check.
  • The comp (+2%) is reflective of just how soft Q2 was during June and July. Additionally, while the early read on Q3 was positive with comps up +7% in the first 3-weeks of June, it’s important to consider that comps were considerably more difficult on a 1-year basis due to the timing of stimulus checks in ’08 - see the monthly comp trend table below. Comps up +6.7% on a +7% comp in the same period last year so far through September 19th is consistent with what we are seeing in weekly data trends.  
  • Footwear comps up +2.0% were in-line with softgoods comps up +2.1% in Q2.

While comps are catching our eye once again, we are confident that industry weakness in June and particularly July was the primary cause of a weaker comp relative to consensus expectations. We’ll have additional color after the call at 8:30am EST.

 

FINL: A Few Callouts - SG SIGMA 9 10

 

FINL: A Few Callouts - FINL MoComp 9 10

 

FINL: A Few Callouts - SG CompTable 9 10

 

FINL: A Few Callouts - SG CompChart 1 9 10

 

FINL: A Few Callouts - SG CompChart 2 9 10

 

Casey Flavin

Director


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R3: TSA, HD, Kobe, and China F/X

RESEARCH ANECDOTES

 

-Call it a sign of the times and a huge opportunity for the action sports industry. Skateboarding is slowly making its way into gym classes across the country. A standardized skateboard P.E. program developed by a company called Skate Pass has now been approved by 500 schools in 31 states and countries including Canada, Germany, Singapore, and the Dominican Republic. It is estimated that 1 million kids now have the opportunity to take “skate” as part of their phys ed requirements.

 

-The fashionista Twitterati are all over the Prada’s Spring/Summer ’11 line which brought back bright pinks, day-glo orange, and other neon hues. If this is the beginning of a trend, then Express is the place to go for mainstream prices on 80’s styled goods. Or, better yet dig into your closet and pull out your favorite neon wares that are now coming up on age 30.

 

-Keep an eye on mall traffic and the practice of banning unaccompanied minors from malls. It turns out that the trend of banning unaccompanied teens from the mall is gaining some steam and it has having a positive impact on traffic. Apparently, kids appear to be dragging their parents to the mall to comply with the rules, which in turn is likely leading to additional purchases by mom and dad. It’s unclear if the traffic/sales trend will continue, however the practice of turning away mall rats appears here to stay. 66 malls currently ban unaccompanied minors, up from 37 just 3 years ago.

 

OUR TAKE ON OVERNIGHT NEWS 

 

Sports Authority Taps Team Detroit - Team Detroit has landed creative and media duties on Sports Authority after a review, the brand has confirmed. Team Detroit managing director Brad Audet said he was "delighted to partner with Sports Authority to help them become the number-one retailer in sporting goods."  <brandweek.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Gearing up for an IPO with a fresh creative effort.  Smart move.

 

Home Depot and MRM Split Up After Just 9 Months Because HD Won't Pay Up - MRM, a direct and digital marketing unit, has split with Home Depot, just nine months after landing digital and customer relationship management duties for the retailer, according to an internal MRM e-mail. Sources attributed the split to Home Depot requesting work beyond the original scope without paying additional compensation. In the e-mail, MRM New York managing director Corey Mitchell wrote that "for reasons based on a fair exchange of services and a mutual inability to arrive at realistic expectations, we are choosing to walk away from our relationship with The Home Depot completely."  <brandweek.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Without being privy to the intricacies of the arrangement, there’s not much to say here.  Despite this snafu, we expect the digital platform at HD to continue to grow in relevance both from a sales and marketing standpoint.

 

Kobe Bryant Repeats as Top-Selling Jersey in China - During the 2009-10 season, reigning two-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant had the top-selling NBA jersey in China for the fourth consecutive season. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  We wonder if Starbury and Iverson and can unseat Kobe this year with their moves to actually play in China?  Yes, that’s a joke. 

 

U.K. Online Shopping Will Slow `Significantly,' Verdict Says - U.K. online shopping will grow at a “significantly” slower pace as the Internet becomes more common among the population and government spending cuts weigh on shoppers, according to Verdict Research. Average annual growth will be 12% between 2009 and 2014, compared with 35% in the previous decade, the market researcher said. Online sales rose to 20 billion pounds ($31 billion) in 2009, or 7% of total retail spending. <bloomberg.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  While this survey appears to be taking the path of conventional wisdom, it’s important to note that many of Europe and the UK’s most relevant retailers are just entering the world of e-commerce now.  As such, we’d expect growth rates to remain robust, much like we see here stateside over the near to intermediate term.

 

Forrester Study on American M-Commerce - 5% of U.S. adults who own mobile phones have used their phones to research products before making purchases. 2% of those consumers have purchased merchandise via their phones, according to a new study from Forrester Research Inc. This translates into millions of consumers engaging in mobile commerce, which experts believe will continue to grow as more consumers purchase smartphones, a key driver of m-commerce. The market has shown over recent years that the more smartphones that land in consumers’ purses, hands and pockets—and their number is growing dramatically—the greater the use of the mobile web. <internetretailer.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  With only 25% penetration of smartphones, there is still substantial runway ahead for m-commerce growth.  Over the intermediate term, product research is likely to remain the key use of the device until a better shopping interface evolves on a tiny screen.

 

Tourism Spending Grew Faster than GDP in Q2 - Real spending on travel and tourism rebounded much fast than the overall economy in the second quarter as travel and lodging prices continued climbing, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported. Spending on all tourism goods and services, including passenger air transportation and traveler accommodations,  increased at an annual rate of 3.0% in the second quarter, following an increase of 5.0% (revised) in the first quarter. By comparison, real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 1.6% (second estimate) in the second quarter after increasing 3.7% in the first quarter. Travel and tourism prices increased 2.7% and 4.1% respectively during the two quarters. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:   While improved, we’re still not seeing retailers with tourism-centric locations driving disproportionately positive results as we have seen at times over the past couple of years. 

 

US-China Currency Battle - President Obama has put China’s currency policies front and center. Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had their longest and most “intensive” discussion about the issue on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on Thursday, the White House said, as tensions between the two nations escalated on the eve of a vote in the U.S. Congress on a punitive bill targeting China’s currency. The leaders’ bilateral meeting came after a week of tough talk that prompted concerns in the business community about a new trade fight over China’s allegedly undervalued currency. Critics say the yuan is undervalued by as much as 40 percent, putting U.S. products at a competitive disadvantage to China’s cheaper exports.  <wwd.com/business-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  The battle here is ongoing, but the qwest to find companies with a macro process and an ability to manage/mitigate currency risk is becoming increasingly more relevant.  Nike and Li & Fung remain companies well positioned relative to the ever changing China/US/ROW currency battle.


EARLY LOOK: Don't Eat Yellow Snow

 

 

“Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.”

-Will Rogers

 

 

EARLY LOOK: Don't Eat Yellow Snow - Will Rogers

 

 

 

Oklahoma’s favorite son, Will Rogers, probably didn’t know it at the time but he made a very important contribution to modern day risk management with the aforementioned quote.

 

Rogers was our kind of guy. Multi-factor, multi-duration, and not afraid to put his thoughts out there for everyone to criticize every day. He was transparent and didn’t feel compelled to live a professional life of opacity. He lived his life out loud.

 

By the time he passed away in 1935, Will Rogers penned more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns and produced 71 movies. He also traveled across the world 3 times. This gave him a unique perspective on the interconnectedness of human behavior.

 

The most important thing we can acknowledge about human behavior when we buy or sell something is that we are human. By nature, we are more likely to think something we own is worth more than it’s worth. Ultimately, the market’s last sale decides the price.

 

Another critical acknowledgment in modern day risk management is that the game is changing at a rate that’s representative of global economic imbalances, fund flows, and geopolitical risks. Never before has the US government sponsored so much market volatility. Never before has the hegemony of US economic power been such a question mark. Never is a long time.

 

My son Jack is barely 3 years old, but as winter approaches he will be old enough to learn his first few rules in risk management. Never eat yellow snow, and never trust a professional politician.

 

Whoever chooses to trust Greek, Irish, or US politicians who are telling us that they’ll never have to default on any long term liability because they have figured out how to print short term debt-upon-debt-upon-debt subscribes to a belief that the history of sovereign debt cycles doesn’t support.

 

 

EARLY LOOK: Don't Eat Yellow Snow - Flags

 

 

If you choose to trust what you see, recognizing this globally interconnected game of risk is always “risk on”, you are most likely going to see this Fear of Government trading environment plainly. You don’t have to “just sit there” and suck it up. You can keep moving.

 

There are two ways that I’ve applied this basic strategy of motion to express my investment views: 

  1. Hedgeye Asset Allocation Model: Managing the gross exposure of my CASH position dynamically.
  2. Hedgeye Virtual Portfolio: Managing my LONG versus SHORT positions, aggressively, on a net basis. 

I don’t run a hedge fund anymore. So far, this is the best I can do to communicate what it is that I am trying to recommend you do out there. I know that other people don’t do it this way. I also know that I’ll need to keep changing what it is that I do or I’ll get “run over.”

 

Back to explaining what it is that I’ve been doing this week…

 

1. Dynamic Asset Allocation to CASH:

  • On Tuesday when I “Walked The Line” (title of Early Look note that morning) and the SP500 was testing a breakout above my intermediate term TREND line of 1144, I moved to 64% CASH = selling strength.
  • On Thursday, after the SP500 closed down for the 3rd day in a row, I reinvested 6% of that CASH position into Commodities (DBA) and German Equities (EWG), taking my CASH position down to 58% = buying weakness.
  • This morning my Hedgeye Asset Allocation is as follows: Cash 58%, Int'l FX 21%, Bonds 9%, Int'l Equities 6%, Commodities 3%, US Equities 3%.

 

2.       Aggressively Managing Risk Around My Net LONG/SHORT position:

  • On Monday morning at SPX 1125 I had 13 LONGS and 10 SHORTS.
  • On Wednesday morning at SPX 1139 I had 8 LONGS and 10 SHORTS.
  • This morning at SPX 1124 I have 11 LONGS and 7 SHORTS.  

 

Naturally, some “fully invested” asset managers are going to look at this and say a few things: 

  1. You can’t hold a cash position like that.
  2. You can’t time markets like that.
  3. You can’t … 

But, yes I can.

 

Rather than just sit here and accept that at any given moment in my day the government can either squeeze me or displease me, for now I’m going to keep moving with an explicitly large amount of cash on the sidelines to deploy whenever I see the opportunity to do so.

 

My immediate term support and resistance levels for the SP500 are now 1113 and 1143, respectively.

 

Enjoy your weekend and best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

 

EARLY LOOK: Don't Eat Yellow Snow - 1



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