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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Yen Intervention Take Three – Reminder That There Are No Safe Haven Currencies

October 31, 2011
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Yen Intervention Take Three – Reminder That There Are No Safe Haven Currencies

Japanese leaders intervened for the third time this year as JPY strength below 77 yen/usd is clearly constraining a recovery in the world’s third largest economy. Japanese Finance Minister, Jun Azumi announced a unilateral move with an additional pledge to keep selling in the future. The action took place because Japan believes the yen strength has broken from normal economic fundamentals and linkages. Japan’s leaders are right. In the recent couple of months, the US economy has been the most resilient of the developed market major economic zones. Normally when the US economic growth rate picks up relative to other nations, the dollar strengthens. The FX flows related to the fear of a financial crisis in Europe have thrown a lot of normal relationships out of whack. The Yen...

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Personal Savings Rate – Lowest Since 2007!

October 28, 2011
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Personal Savings Rate – Lowest Since 2007!

The personal savings rate has been an item of contention and debate as the profligacy of the US Consumer has been in focus throughout the 2000s decade. During the height of the housing market boom, the savings rate got down to zero and at times was even negative. US Consumers in the aggregate were thought to be dissaving – spending through total income. Many years later, the data were subsequently revised and the savings rate was altered to slightly positive rates during the mid-2000s time period. The data have some volatility on a month-to-month basis but I note that the data released this morning from the Bureau of Economic Analysis print a savings rate of 3.6%. For 2008, 2009, 2010, the rate has been over 5%. For the first...

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Europe’s Eleventh Hour Fix

October 27, 2011
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Europe’s Eleventh Hour Fix

After keeping the world on edge and pushing up against the brink of a European recession, details of the European fix have been trickling out. It is sure to be a headline filled Thursday, Friday, and weekend. I won’t focus on the specific details because many of them still aren’t known and the ones that have been announced are likely to evolve regardless. Europe has recognized the enormity of its financial crisis. The European financial system couldn’t fund itself, sovereign interest rates started to spiral out of control, and the Euro experienced a rapid and unhealthy correction. It seems absurd to highlight that Europe recognized that this was collectively a very big problem but at times, even right up until the end, European leaders at any moment could seem...

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Eurozone PMI – Continues to Slow as Europe Bickers

October 25, 2011
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Eurozone PMI – Continues to Slow as Europe Bickers

Economies don’t function well in a “crisis steady state”. In Europe, the business environment has actually been surprisingly good during the third quarter despite what at times has seemed like every effort to induce a collapse. A number of consumer and industrial companies have pointed out that growth hasn’t fallen off a cliff and if Europe can simply instill some confidence business could pick up. Unfortunately, Europe seems intent on going at its own pace, and not treating the current financial crisis, well – like a crisis. The longer the “fix” gets dragged out the greater the odds that the Eurozone leaders talk the region into a recession. A recession is massively counterproductive to solving Europe’s fiscal woes because it creates the need for more austerity and more spending...

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US Industrials See No Evidence of Global Recession – Results from Caterpillar (CAT) and Parker Hannifin (PH) Hammer Home the Point!

October 24, 2011
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US Industrials See No Evidence of Global Recession – Results from Caterpillar (CAT) and Parker Hannifin (PH) Hammer Home the Point!

Caterpillar (CAT) reported earnings that were very strong this morning beating estimates quite handily. The details were $1.71 in EPS vs. consensus of $1.57 (a 9% beat). As important, the company outlined an environment which is consistent with global growth persisting and a strong outlook for 2012. Caterpillar’s organic sales were up by 34% this quarter excluding the recent acquisition of Bucyrus. Caterpillar is a cyclical company that is overly sensitive to changes in the global economy. For perspective, in 2009, Caterpillar saw sales decline by 37%. Each of CAT’s business segments has what are called “trough plans” which are fire drills that prepare CAT in advance for sudden slowdowns in the global economy. This is a company and management team which is used to handling volatility in the...

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Uniqlo Launches Flagship in New York City – Prospects for the Brand and Fast Retailing (9983.JP)

October 23, 2011
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Uniqlo Launches Flagship in New York City – Prospects for the Brand and Fast Retailing (9983.JP)

Uniqlo is the main global brand produced and designed by Japanese parent company Fast Retailing (9983.JP). Uniqlo is a brand which has been around for quite some time but with a domestic focus on market share in Japan. The company has done a great job of growing as a Japanese specialty retailers with their compartmentalized presentations and spartan, clean, and colorful styles. The clothes come across as very neat, sharp and essentially Japanese. Over the past month, Uniqlo has initiated a major marketing campaign in New York City to build brand and flagship store awareness. The advertising has been all over the subway, grand central, bus stops, and taxis. The New York City flagship opening is on 5th avenue and 34th street. The store just opened on Friday and...

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Lyondell Bassell – Diversified Manufacturing Exposure with 25% Upside

October 21, 2011
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Lyondell Bassell – Diversified Manufacturing Exposure with 25% Upside

Lyondell Bassell Industries is a manufacturing company which produced chemicals, fuels, and polymers used for clean fuel, construction materials, automotive parts and medical equipment. LyondellBasell announced a shareholder-friendly $2.6B special dividend ($4.50/share). I believe this reflects management’s confidence in the company’s financial condition and substantial free cash flow in the medium and long term. Management indicated in its filing its intent to seek an investment grade rating over time. These actions demonstrate why the shares deserve to trade at a higher valuation. At present there is extreme value with the shares trading at sub-4x EBITDA. The company has substantially deleveraged and the risks are nowhere near the same as during the financial crisis. The cash tender offer is for $2.8B of secured notes which are due out in 2017....

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McRally – McDonald’s Posts Excellent Results with no Slowing in Europe

October 21, 2011
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McRally – McDonald’s Posts Excellent Results with no Slowing in Europe

McDonald’s posted an excellent set of results this morning and the quality of the reported earnings was very high because it came at an abnormally high tax rate. McDonald’s global same store sales came in at 5.0%. The results continue to confound many analysts and investors who fear that McDonald’s growth is not sustainable – in short it is sustainable. McDonald’s posted 4.9% same store sales in Europe and also indicated that September comp sales in Europe were up 6.9%. This strength of McDonald’s business is in Europe is rather stunning given all that is going on in the world. Perhaps the French are trading down from the brasserie and the German’s from the schnitzel and sausage houses (but I believe there is more to it than this). McDonald’s...

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Santa Will Come! – Strong Back-To-School Sales an Indicator for Holiday Season

October 20, 2011
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Santa Will Come! – Strong Back-To-School Sales an Indicator for Holiday Season

The back to school season was surprisingly resilient in August and September. We now have the full set of retail sales data available from company same store sales, the Johnson Redbook Survey, and Census retail sales. The back-to-school season varies by region and by state as school start dates aren’t uniform. Further complicating analysis is that some states offer tax-free shopping holidays which also have a variety of start dates and durations. In order to conduct a valid study, I looked at retail sales strength over the entire August-September period and correlated this to sales strength in the November-December period. I looked at all data in terms of y/y growth rates because this is what drives corporate earnings growth and expense leverage. The results are rather conclusive – with...

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Intel (INTC) – Strong Results Driven By Emerging Market PC Adoption

October 19, 2011
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Intel (INTC) – Strong Results Driven By Emerging Market PC Adoption

Intel has turned into a polarizing stock that most technology investors have a strongly positive or strongly negative opinion on. Taking a step back, Intel was clearly a premier growth stock of the 1980’s and 1990’s. An investment in Intel in 1986 at a price of $0.40 (not a typo) appreciated 100x by the end of 1999. Intel experienced a fleeting rally from $40 to $75 during the technology craze in 2000 and subsequently crashed during “tech wreck” down to about $20. The shares have remained around $20 for the next 11 years. For perspective on the de-rating Intel has experienced, shares earned $0.46 in 2002 while estimates are now around $2.50 for next year. While the Street has gravitated towards the bearish case that nothing at Intel is...

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Germany and France discussing a 2T euro rescue fund

October 18, 2011
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This is being reported in the Guardian and I have been emailed this from tape watchers. If it is true and the plan gets confirmed it would be a set up for a lift-off.  

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Big Blue (IBM) Posts Solid Q3 Results – Adamant That Macro Isn’t Slowing Meaningfully

October 18, 2011
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Big Blue (IBM) Posts Solid Q3 Results – Adamant That Macro Isn’t Slowing Meaningfully

IBM posted a solid third quarter result that exhibited 16% earnings per share growth and enabled the company to slightly raise full year guidance (from $13.25 to $13.35). IBM has been beating quarterly consensus results by some 2-4% in consistent fashion. The 1.8% beat for the third quarter is likely causing most of the sell-off in the after-market (shares down 4.5% from yesterday’s close). I watch IBM closely because their tentacles stretch deeply into the global economy and the stock is one of the largest weights in the Dow Jones which is a price weighted index. IBM’s quarter saw solid constant currency sales growth in both major markets (developed) and growth markets (emerging). The developed markets grew 1% in constant currency but emerging markets grew 13% at constant FX....

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