The fundamentals for the US dollar are terrible, but people keep dumping money into it like trained monkeys simply because nothing else in financial markets makes any sense. This perception of 'safety' is based on a complete myth - every credible fundamental suggests that the dollar is dangerously overvalued; but if not the US dollar, then which currency is the safe haven? The euro is garbage, the Chinese are fighting a depression, Japan is a disaster. And that’s precisely the point. When every option in the financial system is grounded in absurdity, the only solution is to start looking for safety outside of it.
Yesterday we showed a chart demonstrating that while the top 10 "Unicorn" startups have a private valuation of $156 billion on just $4 billion in revenue, what caught readers' attention is that the average employee among these 10 companies is worth a whopping $8 million. But what about the "value" of employees at public companies, and especially at the blue chips, names such as MSFT, XOM, JPM, MCD and, the more recent trailblazers, AAPL and FB? The answer is shown below.
A slow week devoid of virtually any macro news - last night the biggest weekly geopolitical event concluded as expected, when Greece voted to pass the bailout bill which "the government does not believe in" just so the ECB's ELA support for Greek depositors can continue - is slowly coming to a close, as is the busiest week of the second quarter earnings season which so far has been largely disappointing despite aggressive consensus estimate cuts, especially for some of the marquee names, and unlike Q1 when a quarterly drop in EPS was avoided in the last minute, this time we won't be so lucky, and the only question is on what side of -3.5% Y/Y change in EPS will the quarter end.
We love reading quotes from Hussman in 2000 and 2007. The air is getting pretty thin up here. A stock market driven by Google, Apple, Netflix and a few other tech darlings with no earnings does not make a market. Time is running out for the bulls. The same morons on CNBC ridiculed and scorned his facts then and they scorn and ridicule him now. Do we trust Jim Cramer and Steve Liesman or John Hussman? Guess.
A conventional housing recovery in the US is now dead: the builders have spoken and what the next generation wants is to rent, not to buiy.
Moments ago MCD reported its May comp store sales which confirmed what we cynically noted is the reason for the data halt, namely that no matter what it does, MCD simply can not "turnaround" its foundering business, and after a drop of -0.6% in April, May global comp sales dropped once again, this time by -0.3%. This was the 12th consecutive month of global comparable store declines. Next month will be the 13th. There won't be a 14th.
What do you do when month after month you have nothing but bad data to report. Simple: you have two choice - you either seasonally adjust the data (or in the case of US GDP, double-seasonally adjust it), or if that is not possible since unlike US GDP, your numbers are at least somewhat indicative of underlying reality, you stop reporting them altogether.
But all they wanted was $15 per hour...
One quick look at Shake Shack's "fundamentals", irrelevant as they may be in this market, put the company's valuation per restaurant in perspective not only to such established fast food names as McDonalds, but other recent "hot" restaurant debuts.
“In a democratic society,” observed Oakland police chief Sean Whent, “people have a say in how they are policed.” Unfortunately, if you can be kicked, punched, tasered, shot, intimidated, harassed, stripped, searched, brutalized, terrorized, wrongfully arrested, and even killed by a police officer, and that officer is never held accountable for violating your rights and his oath of office to serve and protect, never forced to make amends, never told that what he did was wrong, and never made to change his modus operandi, then you don’t live in a constitutional republic. You live in a police state.
If one steps back from the adjusted, non-GAAP EPS "beats" reported by companies this earnings season which benefit from what is set to be a record quarter of stock buybacks and an unprecedented drop in consensus expectations, Q1 earnings season for the "blue chips" so far has truly "blown", with revenue declines announced at IBM (12th in a row), McDonalds, Coke, and earlier today Procter & Gamble also reporting that its sales have fallen for fifth straight quarter. And then moments ago "diversified global tech" bellwether 3M reported that its sales declined 3.2% year-on-year to $7.6 billion. The company also missed its EPS, and adding insult to injury, "the company now expects earnings to be in the range of $7.80 to $8.10 per share versus $8.00 to $8.30 per share previously."
Today is shaping up to be a rerun of yesterday where another frenzied Asian session that has seen both the Shanghai Composite and the Nikkei close higher yet again (following the weakest Chinese HSBC mfg PMI in one year which in an upside down world means more easing and thus higher stocks) has for now led to lower US equity futures with the driver, at least in the early session, being a statement by the BOJ's Kuroda that there’s a "possibility" the Bank of Japan’s 2% inflation target will be delayed and may occur in April 2016.
Moments ago McDonalds reported its latest sales numbers which were basically atrocious, worse than usual, and missed across the board. At this point the operational challenges facing the company are clearly unfixable in its current iteration which is broken beyond merely a CEO switch, and not even a "buy 1 Big Mac, get 3 Big Macs (and Joseph A Banc suits) free" strategy will fix the ailing fastfood maker, whose secular collapse is best captured by the charts below. So what does the stock do? It jumps.
Whether it is in sympathy with the now relentless surge in the Shanghai Composite which tacked on another 2.44% overnight to close at a fresh multi-year high just shy of 4400, well more than double from a year ago, or because Mrs Watanabe was unable to read the latest Japan trade data whose first trade surplus in 3 years hinted that there will be no new easing by the BOJ any time soon, but overnight the Nikkei closed above 20,000 for the first time in 15 years, with "makers of chocolate, mayonnaise, potato chips and household appliances" helping lift the Tokyo market according to the WSJ. The now daily Asian euphoria however did not last long in the European session, and after opening higher, the Stoxx Europe 600 slipped into negative territory just an hour into trading, and was down 0.4% by midmorning, lead by a near 1% decline on Athens' mains stock index, which has since recouped losses stemming from the overnight report that the ECB is considering an up to 50% haircut on Greek bank collateral, a move that would wipe out the Greek financial sector with ease.
"At the bottom of the cycle, firms cut labor faster than output. The higher productivity led to improving margins, earnings and stock prices. Now labor is being added faster than output, and with large companies like McDonalds, Walmart and Target announcing pay increases, unit labor costs are likely to increase further. All told, there is a good chance earnings will actually shrink this year. We think the market is too high if earnings have, in fact, peaked for the cycle, and we have reduced our net exposure by adding more shorts."
- David Einhorn