Dashboard Capital Markets September 2023

Sep 5, 2023 | Dashboard, Restaurant Research

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Economic Outlook

  • The Philadelphia Fed is forecasting +1.9% real GDP growth for 3Q23 which is significantly lower than the Atlanta Fed’s +5.9% GDPNow forecast as discussed in this post. This brings to mind Winston Churchill’s admonition that if you put 2 economists in a room, you get 2 opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three opinions… 
  • In any case, the Philly forecast is looking for a steady slowing of GDP growth for the following 3 quarters as the labor market continues to loosen.
  • Who can say whether the sub 3% CPI forecast will be sufficient to keep the Fed from hiking interest rates. It should be given such a tepid GDP forecast, but we are analysts and not economists so what do we know!
Philly Fed August Update
Philly Fed Chart August

Capital Markets Commentary

  • August was a bad month for QSR stocks, which is somewhat surprising given ongoing commodity relief and decent July retail numbers reported for restaurants in this post.
  • Maybe August’s results were just about profit taking, just in case, given strong YTD stock performance.
  • FSR stocks were hit even harder than QSR during August as investors generally consider dine-in as more discretionary than fast food.
  • All-the-same, eating out does represent an affordable luxury that consumers are slow to relinquish, and Brinker recently reported that its quarterly dining room traffic improved y/y and there was no sequential frequency decline from low-end customers, a slight decline with middle-income customers, and an increase among high-income customers.
FSR Stock Chart August

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Latest Release for Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE)

The consumer still looks good according to the government’s recent release of personal consumption expenditures (for August 2023) as there have not been any material changes in growth for either disposable income or consumption expenditures.

Small Biz Insights on Trucking Industry

In this post, we discuss the massive post-covid changes to the trucking business with Tony Lovallo who has been running his own freight company since 2010. Tony’s insights provide a 360 look into the shipping business & consumer patterns with important economic implications.

Darden 1Q24: Sales +11.6% Y/Y, Comps +5.5% Y/Y

Darden reported that industry same-restaurant sales increased +0.9% and industry same-restaurant guest counts decreased -4.2% during its fiscal 1Q24. The chain’s comps outperformed the industry by +4.1% and its traffic outperformed by +4.3% (= flattish traffic for Darden during the quarter).

Job Market Looks Solid

In this chart, we subtract total quits from total hires. The excess of hires over quits looks very good relative to the historical level even though the positive gap recently dipped slightly. Workers are staying at their jobs longer even as they continue to have new employment opportunities.

The Economics of Politics

As the U.S. gears up for the 2024 elections, it is important to consider changes to our elections and governance that can unite the citizens of this great country.

2Q23 Retail Same Store Sales

NoBull’s Retail Same Store Sales Report benchmarks 80+ large consumer retail companies by domestic same store sales including annual (2019 – 2022) and quarterly results (2Q22 to 2Q23).

Walmart Investor Presentation: Inflation Here to Stay

While general merchandise prices are lower y/y, they remain elevated compared to 2 years ago. As Walmart does not believe general merchandise and food (dry grocery) & consumable prices are ever going to completely disinflate, management suggests the need for a country-wide wage increase rebalancing.

Interesting Conversation with Fed Chair Powell

Okay, Powell didn’t actually take our call, but we offer a transcript of a potential discussion between the Fed Chair and John Q. Public. It’s very insightful, so please read on.

The Problem with Investment Diversification

Every investment advisor and business student knows that portfolio diversification is key to wealth building. Show me an investor who can beat the S&P 500 Index by buying a few handpicked stocks and I will show you a hedge fund manager in the making. However, there is a huge problem with this strategy that no one is talking about.

Part 3: Analyzing Performance of Low-Income Oriented Retail Companies

We created an index for the financial performance of 5 low-income oriented retail companies to assess the health of this demo. While we recognize that these companies have benefited from the trade-down of higher-income consumers, things look reasonable at least through calendar 2Q23. 

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