Tag Archives: restaurant sales

Chipotle ($CMG): Boom Goes The Dynamite – Redux

And once again Chipotle ($CMG) is in the news for business operations negligence.  Where the hell is the local Department of Health?  E-coli, customer credit card hacks, novovirus and now rats falling from ceiling – Are You Sure That’s Pork?.   As the tried and true adage declares, “where there’s smoke…” – Short Seller Journal subscribers have been short CMG since 5/7 at $475 – it’s now down $110 in 10 weeks and still trading at 113 p/e…

I stopped eating at Chipotle the second I heard about the e-coli thing. Used to grab dinner there at least once a week. Have not been back. Along the way I’ve avoided the credit card hack to their payment system that surface a few months ago. Now it looks like there’s another viral outbreak at Chipotle of some sort: Virginia Chipotle Closed.

I presented the idea of shorting CMG in the Short Seller’s Journal in the May 7th issue:

This was my rationale:

“I personally used to eat at Chipotle once a week before the e-coli problem. I have not been back since then. This is probably not he last we’ll hear of issues like at CMG.  After the most recent unjustified bounce in the stock up to $475, CMG still sells at a 147 p/e. This is an insane p/e. With restaurant revenues declining across the industry, extremely overvalued stocks like CMG are vulnerable to big cliff-dives. You can see in the graph above that the stock appears to rolling again for another trip below its moving averages and under $400, at least. This is confirmed by the RSI and MACD indicators.

Wall St. was gushing over CMG’s Q1 2017 performance as it exceeded expectations with revenues up 28% vs. Q1 2016 and net income $46 million vs a loss in 2016. But don’t forget that Chipotle’s Q1 2016 was hammered by the e-coli scare. The more appropriate analysis is to look at Q1 2017 vs. Q1 2015.

It’s an entirely different story if you compare Q1 2017 to Q1 2015, where Q1 2015 was on the books before the e-coli problem. Revenues in Q1 2017 were $1.07 billion vs. $1.09 billion in Q1 2015. Net income in Q1 2017 was $46 million, or $1.60 vs $122 million in Q1 2015, or $3.98/share. If we consider Q1 2017 and Q1 2015 to be more of an “apples to apples” comparison, Q1 2017 was not good. Furthermore, CMG had 2,291 stores open at the end of Q1 2017 vs. 1,831 at the end of Q1 2015. Looked at on a revenues per store basis, Q1 2017 was a total failure vs. Q1 2015. But Wall St and company management will not discuss this type of comparison and the morons buying the stock will not look for it.”

In addition to presenting the idea and the fundamental rationale, I suggested a couple strategies for playing the down-side, including using January 2018 puts.  Than January 2018 $350’s have been a home run.  By the way, CMG is still insanely overvalued.

Several ideas have been working since last August and have been working really well since January.  This is because beneath the marquee indices, many stocks are at 52-week or all-time lows.  You can check more about how this service works here:  Short Seller’s Journal information.  There’s no minimum monthly term requirement but the churn rate to this SSJ is surprisingly low.

Silver Demand Shows A Consumer In Trouble

Global demand for silver declined from 2015 to 2016 by 123 million ozs per numbers from the Silver Institute presented in an article on The Daily Coin yesterday.   In fact, for the demand categories primarily driven by the consumer, demand plummeted 125 million ozs, or 15.3%.   Industrial demand for silver increased slightly but this was because of the global expansion in the solar panel industry, primarily in India and China.

The consumer portion of global silver demand is derived from jewelry, coins and bars (investment), silverware and electronics.  The 15.3% plunge in demand reflects the fact that consumer disposable income is drying up.   After making required monthly expenditures – food, mortgage/rent, debt service, healthcare – consumers, especially in the United States, are out of money.

Disappearing disposable income explains only part of the equation.  The illusion of economic improvement in the U.S. was created by debt issuance.   Between Q3 2012 and now, total household debt expanded by $1.38 trillion dollars.  In fact, total household debt is now at an all-time high, driven by auto, student, credit card and personal loans.  The truth is that “discretionary” consumption was fueled by the Fed enabling the average U.S. household to accumulate a record level of debt.

The economy likely hit a wall in late 2016 and is now contracting.   Today’s retail sales report – to the extent that the numbers have any credibility – showed a .4% gain in retail sales for April vs. March.  But these are nominal numbers.   On an inflation-adjusted basis, retail sales declined.

While demand for silver products reflects the fact that the average consumer is out of money, restaurant sales confirm this.   April restaurant sales declined 1% in April and foot traffic into restaurants dropped 3.3%.  This was the 12th month out of the last 13 that restaurant sales fell.  Restaurant sales have dropped five quarters in a row.  The last time a streak like this occurred was 2009-2010.   Sound familiar?

Regardless of what the Fed says in public, the U.S. economy is in trouble.  The illusion of economic growth post-2009 was a product of debt issuance.  Now the consumer – 70% of the economy – has hit a wall with regard to its ability to take on more debt – look out below. In today’s episode of the Shadow of Truth, we review the silver demand numbers and discuss the implications for U.S. and global economy:

The Consumer Is Broke: “Restaurant Sales Worst Since July”

At -1.3 percent, disappointing restaurant sales growth in November was the ninth consecutive month of negative same-store sales; and the worst sales growth since July…Same-store sales for third and fourth quarters, at the end of November, are both -1.1 percent.Black Box Intelligence

That’s the restaurant industry.  Here’s a retail sales report from Dollar General, which would represent about 40-50% income and spending demographic:

Interestingly, we talk to our consumers each and every quarter through panel data as well as we bring them in and talk to them in general and I can tell you as late as mid third quarter, they were telling us that their sentiment – feeling – is even more dire than it was in previous quarters in early 2016  – Dollar General CEO in response to an analyst question on the quarterly earnings conference call.

Granted, DG’s core customer is low-income. However, as more Americans slide into the “low income” segment, it will affect overall retail sales, especially with regard to disposable income. My point here is that, despite the sense of “hope” signaled by the “Trump rally,” in general the average American is not feeling optimistic about the economy and I believe this will translate into a poor holiday season for both retailers and the overall economy. – Short Seller’s Journal, Dec 4 issue

Retail sales this holiday season are going to be abysmal.  Everyone with whom I’ve chatted who’s been out holiday shopping – I mean everyone – has commented on how eerily quiet the stores are this year.

The Census Bureau and the National Retail Federation will issue phony sales reports that will be contradicted by the actual sales reports from and guidance from retailers.  This report written by NY Post editor, John Crudele, outlines the methodology by which the Census Bureau manipulates the monthly retail sales reports:

Halfway down the page is a listing for Health and Personal Care Stores. It had a 7.6 percent increase in October. But underneath that calculation, there are no data, only an asterisk. That’s explained in the footnote to mean “advance estimates are not available for this kind of business.”

So how did Census determine that there was a 7.6 percent increase in Health and Personal Care Stores when the only category listed doesn’t provide data? “Furniture and home furnishing stores” also had a 3.4 percent sales increase. But, again, Census came up with a calculation despite no data.  – John Crudele on October retail sales report

If you pull up the actual retail sales report issued by the Census Bureau, you’ll see that several categories are “asterisked,” meaning the CB imputed its own estimate for October retails sales for that category.  In other words, about half the reported headline number is made up.

Restoration Hardware’s earnings report yesterday is an example.  The stock is down 18% after missing Wall Street’s earnings estimates – badly – and issuing dismal guidance on holiday sales and its outlook for 2017.

The point here is that the average household real disposable income is declining. As such, the average consumer is choking on debt, Obamacare premium increases, and the spiraling cost of everyday living – especially those households with children.

Despite a stock market that is going parabolic and in the final stages of a blow-off top, several of my stock picks in the weekly Short Seller’s Journal have provided profitable trades since August (some have not, to be fair).   One retailer in particular dropped 20% after I presented it in August and is now back up to the price at which I recommended shorting it.  I will be discussing this stock as a great short idea in this week’s issue.  You can access the SSJ using this link:  Short Seller’s Journal.

Payment terms are monthly and you can cancel at any time.  The SSJ issues are weekly and delve in-depth into economic data and analysis that you will not necessarily find on in the mainstream or alternative media.