Goldman Sachs at Barclays Conference Notes

Harvey Schwartz – President and Co-Chief Operating Officer

The environment could get better

“We also know that the environment could get better. For example, both interest rate and volatility could increase from near record levels. The yield curve could steepen. Our investing clients could post better performance and have more conviction. There could be more clarity on economic policy and the global economy could grow at a higher rate. Any or all of these factors could drive greater client activity and a better opportunity set for the firm. That would provide even more potential revenue upside to both our initiatives and the firm more broadly.”

Wells Fargo at Barclays Conference Notes

Tim Sloan – Chief Executive Officer

Loan losses are the lowest I’ve seen in my career

“As I mentioned, our loan losses in the second quarter were 27 basis points, it is the lowest that I have seen in my 30-year career in the company. If you take apart the various parts of our portfolio, the residential first mortgage portfolio is continuously performing incredibly well. As I mentioned, we had net recoveries in the second quarter, similarly the home equity portfolio, the second portfolio, I think the losses in the second quarter are 21 basis points, so it is again the lowest that we have seen that I can remember.

On the auto side because of the changes that we made in our auto business, we experience a slight decline in auto losses. I would caveat the expectations for the third and the fourth quarter in that, there are a lot of cars right now that are underwater in Texas and in Florida, and so there may be some issues there. We do not have a sizing of that right now, I don’t think anybody does. The credit card business continues, the losses have ticked up across the industry and up slightly for us, but it’s not something that we’re overly concerned about.

On the commercial and C&I and CRE side of the house again, some of the lowest in history and we really don’t see anything on the horizon that’s going to drive higher losses in that portfolio. There will be some impact I’m sure from the hurricanes, but we don’t believe at this point that it’s going to be significant. So overall, we’re in a very benign credit environment, I think you got to be careful when you are in a benign credit environment like this that you believe because you do want to believe that it’s going to continue forever, but geez while it lasts, it’s absolutely terrific. And I think it reflects not only a slow but steady growth in the economy, but also some good credit decisions that have been made by my colleagues over the last few years.”

Netflix at Goldman Sachs Conference Notes

David Wells – CFO

Content spend going to continue to grow

“it took us about a decade to get to where we are, over 100 million global subscribers, so we’re super excited about the potential for what the next decade might hold for us. We’ve got about 5 billion to 6 billion content spend growing beyond that, Ted I think mentioned $7 billion number lately, that’s going to continue to grow if we’re able to continue to grow our global subscriber base like we think we can.”

There is diminishing marginal return to content spend at some point

“What I think that there is generally strong belief that there is diminishing marginal returns to content spend. And certainly, at some point, that has to become true whether you believe that there is a growing body, a library of content that’s already been paid for, or whether you feel like there is so much content on the site you’re starting to cannibalize your own content and there is sort of no point to adding more.”

JP Morgan at Barclays Conference Notes

Jamie Dimon – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

US economy doing fine

“The U.S. economy is doing fine, it’s been chugging along at 2%, less than 2% on average probably for the last seven or eight years. It’s the longest – one of the longest recoveries we’ve ever had, 10 years is the longest, I don’t think that has end to not end. I would say a very important factor is it’s been half of a normal recovery.”

Synchronized recovery

“I think the question that then comes to me is, why is it half of a normal recovery and if you do a quick turnaround the world by the way, Europe is doing better than 2%, Japan is doing 1.5% to 2%, China is going to make is 6%, Brazil has gone from negative 4% to 0%. So you kind of have for the first time called synchronized, the first time like 12 years, just about everything is starting to grow a little bit, which I think is a plus for everybody.”

Regulatory environment not changed a lot because don’t have people in their jobs

“I think the regulatory environment has not changed a lot because we don’t have the people in their job, so you now have the OCC head which was passed by the Senate, Randy Quarles, Fed Chair, Vice Chair just passed by the senate. You don’t have an FDIC person yet, so you are not going to have these huge changes in regulations. We don’t expect to have any regulatory legislative changes so that’s not our hope or belief. We do think the treasury laid out a very good math of issues that that should be looked at all calibration.”

Hoping that QE reversal is seamless but who really knows

“The QE is still going on, so like even in the last couple months something like several $100 billion of purchased securities, all you hear now is talk about reversing that….QE, I’m hoping, I think the circumstance which they reverse it are important, so if you have a healthy economy and they are kind of raising rates and reversing QE that is very, very different than if something else is going wrong. I think it’s a little bit of wishful thinking, so I’m not predicting bad things, but you don’t really know, it is going to be a multi-year plan. We hope it’s seamless, we hope it’s painful, the hope the economies are good, what is the chance if not? We never had QE therefore we never had the reversal of QE and it will have some consequences when people reverse it.”

My view is hold onto your hats

“So my view is, hold onto to you hats, it’s not clear and we are going to be sitting here from a year some might get hurt, things might be more volatile of the economy…So, I think that we can’t expect serendipity forever, so as a company while I’m not predicting bad things, we’re always prepared for it.”

One day people will panic

“It’s definitely cyclical folks, I mean you have a volatile market one day again, markets and markets people panic, people panicked in 2008 and 2009, they panicked in the 1989, they panicked in 1994, they panicked in Asia in 1997, they panicked in the Internet thing in 2000, the people will panic, you will panic. You will all be running through the door like everybody else and regulators will panic and – come on, and I just said, the government support $12 trillion securities that has to have some effect on depressing volatility, particularly around all the benchmark, all the benchmarks. Remember the benchmarks do affect the non-benchmarks and stuff like that. So market will become more normal again one day and again I think the most important thing to keep in mind is the why”

Credit is almost the best it’s ever been

“Well, it’s not credit. You know if you look at credit, it’s almost the best it’s ever been ever, so also my credit card, middle market, large corporate, there are tools, there is exception of subprime, I do think somebody get hurt leasing in subprime, but it’s not systemic, there is problems to lending, but it’s owned by the government which means you’ll never know about it, though you will pay for.”

Bitcoin is a fraud

“The currency isn’t going to work okay you can have a business where people can invent a currency and that’s in air. And think the people who are buying it are really smart. It’s worse than two of the balls okay it won’t end well. And it won’t end well for two reasons. One is someone’s going to get killed and then the government is going to come down. The second is you just saw in China governments like to control their money supply. The first thing a nation does when it forms itself literally the first is form a currency they have a bank and it has some kind of support legal support legal tender sometimes support like gold or silver that is a currency. So whatever and where think that bad that is this one is worse. So it will blow up China just kicked them out it’s selling through its money somewhere else it will be but I don’t ask me if it is short I’m not going to it could be 20,000 for this happens, but it will eventually blow up it’s a fraud okay. And honestly I’m just shocked anyone can see it what it is.”

CBRE at Barclays Conference Notes

Jim Groch – CFO and Head, Corporate Development

It’s been a long cycle but don’t see anything that would suggest a recession coming

“Sure, well I guess first I think it’s perfectly rational that the sales cycle relates to business cycle, the last four cycles have been seven to 10 years, the last recession started in beginning of ’08, we’re a couple of months from beginning at 2018. So, it feels like we’ve been out there for a long time…the data they weren’t used to see, none of it really indicates is that a recession is coming in the foreseeable future. So how long that could go, it’s impossible to know, the people who will be better in predicting it from my own perspective being in the business through a number of cycles can easily run for three to four years. And that seems counter intuitive given how long the cycle has been. And we are running our balance sheet with the mindset that if a recession could hit tomorrow, so we’ll be prepared to invest into a downturn.”

I don’t think there’s a real estate cycle

“First thing is I always like to say there is no such thing as a real estate cycle. I think it’s just a business cycle and real estate can have more or less data to the business cycle depending on kind of supply and demand dynamics. So, I think for me personally there is a disconnect between stock market that shows no sign whatsoever of us being or no big sign that were late cycle and the anxiety around kind of the real estate cycle and that just. And then on the supply demand side, I think it’s in reasonable balance couple of the metrics that we provided on that.”

Spreads are wide, assets reasonably priced

“The same thing on the valuations. If you’ve been in real estate for a few decades, just go back 10, 15 years ago cap rates were sort of just 9% for office cap rates and then for a long time, at least sort of suburban office just didn’t have much connection in the interest rates. Clearly that’s not been the case for the last 15 years or so. And the fact that spreads are as wide as they are, I think is an indicator to me at least that assets are priced to perfection, I think they’re reasonably price…I’m afraid that people who are not controlling about the real estate business look at an absolute cap rate of 4.5 or [indiscernible] office building or whatever the number, it’s five and they think on my god that’s terrible, but they kind of forget that investment — required investment in terms of any other asset comes down followed by the same amount.”

BB&T at Barclays Conference Notes

Kelly King – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Loan growth lower because higher payoffs amid lower rate environment

“When we announced our second quarter earnings in July, things were actually moving at a pretty good pace, and we were more optimistic. So we had a higher guidance for loan growth at 1% to 3% from the third quarter. We’re now revising that to be slightly down for the third quarter. And here is why. So, obviously, you will not to see – not like to see average loan growth go down. But in this case, after analyzing, what happened is loan production, loan pipelines have continued. It’s just that in late July, early August, when we saw a material reduction in long-term rates, there was a huge spike in payoffs. And so that’s kind of an uncontrollable event.”

Not concerned about loan growth

“What I think the importance is, as rates begin to creep backup and as those payoffs exit the systems, you’ll see a more return to more kind of normalized loan growth in this period of time. So we’re not concerned about loan growth. We believe it will be steady and solid as we go forward. Hard to know exactly what it will be for the fourth quarter right now, because it’s hard to predict those level of payoffs. But certainly as we head into 2018, we think those payoffs will subside and we will continue to have a good solid loan growth.”

Main street is coming back

“Main Street is beginning to come back. When I travel around, I just completed my tour of our 26 regions, visiting with business people and our lenders in those marketplaces. I’ll tell you that small and medium-sized business people are much more confident, much more optimistic, they’re beginning to make replenishment type investments and that is beginning to cause more activity for us in that marketplace. ”

Digital is happening even faster than it was

“The digital focus is a really big deal today for all of us in banking. Frankly, it is changing really fast and a bit faster frankly than a few years ago. I might have guessed, but it is moving in a very, very fast and positive direction. The key there is for banks to be investing properly in their digital platform, in the digital marketing, and all aspects on digital interaction with our clients and BB&T is doing.”

Small business has been more optimistic since the election but still waiting to make expansion investments

“Consistently what I have found is, after the election they immediately became more optimistic and started moving towards investing what I call passive or replenish investment. These companies will tell you consistently that they have been driving folks with 350,000 miles, they’ve using 20 year old computers, and they just been scared to death laying, because all of the taxes, all the health reform, all the regulations are just in place. So after the election they became more optimistic, they started making replenishment, replacing their fleet, now they are not doing expansion or investment, yes they are not building expanding the plant, they are not adding a lot of new products and services. In that case, that – they are waiting on I think mostly tax reform. I think when you see tax reform, I personally believe will happen by the first quarter or so of next year, and I’m saying that will move then from just passive or replenishment investing to expansion oriented investment, which will call the GDP to kick up from the 2% kind of range to 2.75% to 3%.”

Kroger 2Q17 Earnings Call Notes

Rodney McMullin

We’re doubling down on digital

“we’re doubling down on digital; and we’re leveraging new and ongoing partnerships to deepen our connection with customers and drive revenue.”

Really too soon to say any impact of the Amazon WFM purchase

“In terms of the impact, obviously, it’s way early, but there isn’t anything that would cause you to develop any point of view at all, in terms of changing trends, but it’s only been a week and a half. So, I would caveat it a million different ways.”

Private label plant is currently operating at capacity

“In terms of our plant capacity, if you asked our manufacturing team, they would probably tell you they’re at almost capacity. I’ve always found and we’ve always found that we always figure out ways to produce incremental product and do it very efficiently. So, in terms of capacity, it is one of the great things about knowing how to operate plants, we could easily expand capacity, either through process change or additional expanding plants, things like that, whether is needed.”

Customers look for total experience

“The biggest thing that the 84.51° insight shows us is the customer decides where to shop based on their total experience. And obviously that total experience is what’s the shopping environment like, so what’s how the associates treat the customer. What kind of rewards do you have, what type of personalized offers are you making, which is very hard for anybody to see that other than each one of us as a customer individually. And then, obviously from fresh product standpoint having great produce, meat, deli, dinner tonight, these kind of things. So, the thing that’s really important is the all of that together, the price, the specific price items, really each one of us would have different items that are in our biggest hot button.”

Mike Schlotman

Have product cost inflation for the first time since 2015

“Another positive sign is that we had overall product cost inflation for the first time since 2015. As you know, the change from inflation to deflation and back again is one of the toughest environments to operate in for our stores, and we’re proud of our team’s ability to manage through it.”

Qualcomm at Citi Conference Notes

Steve Mollenkopf

5G is the next big thing

Sure, so, 5G is – it’s the next big step in cellular. I think it’s interesting for two reasons. One is it’s another generation of cellular technology. You essentially get higher speeds. You get advanced robustness, and so you’re setting up the business for the massive Internet of. You also get a number of features that make services that are very difficult to big mission-critical services essentially.

The network will begin to be absorbed by other industries

“the more interesting part I think is that this is the case, this is the time, and this is when cellular road map really starts to be absorbed by other industries beside cellular. So automotive, things like self-driving cars, the network that will be used for self-driving cars has a different set of circumstances and requirements than what you would have in just the case of just pure cellular, and that is replicated across a number of different verticals, healthcare, the industrial space.”

Commercial 5G in 2019

“You’ll start to see the first commercial devices in 2019. You can go to the store, buy a device with 5G in it in 2019. You’re already seeing people doing trials and early developments in the marketplace now. But the real standard compliance, new radio 5G will happen in 2019 time frame and we’ve been accelerating our plans for that.”

This is the first time that China is pushing not just waiting

“If I were to answer that same question a year ago, I would have said 2020, and it’s being pulled in part in The United States also in Asia. Interestingly, it’s not – this is the first time I’ve seen this happen with the G transitions, but I’ve been in a number of G transitions. This is the first time that China is not waiting, and they’re really wanting to go pretty aggressively as well.”

Not going to be a strong 5G player unless you were strong in 4G and 3G

“just like in the 4G transition, I don’t think you’re going to be a strong 5G player unless you were already a strong 4G and 3G player. And that has to do with the way in which the network will be deployed. It will be deployed with regional hotspots of 5G where maybe they have spectrum allocations, very favorable. They have millimeter-wave frequencies depending on the geography or the location, and it will be on top of a sea of 4G.”

Data center is being architected by big cloud providers for themselves

“So the data center is an interesting space for us because it’s going through a transition. And the transition, I think, there are at least three aspects of it that I would highlight. One, is the growth is happening in data centers that people are architecting and building themselves, meaning that these are the big cloud providers. They are building their own cloud areas, or they are offering cloud services broadly. And they want to have control over the architecture of the data center, and they want a willing partner that has scale and someone instead of just their normal option.”

Chinese cloud another big change in datacenter

“The second one is that you’re seeing the advent or the growth of the Chinese cloud. So China wants to have its own cloud, and we’re leveraging a joint venture in China that’s Guizhou to participate in the growth of that cloud. So as a new participant in the data center space, we want to figure out how do we build scale and get some of these big trends, get on the front-end of these big transitions, so we’re doing that”

First time in a long time that transistor leadership is not happening in the PC space first

“And then the second – the third one, the final one is that this is probably the first time in the history of semiconductors where transistor leadership is not occurring in the PC space first. So we’re seeing through Samsung and TSMC particularly extremely competitive just raw transistor capability, which we think enables us to compete not only in the handset space, but we can leverage that investment to see it – a real disruption, we think, competitive disruption, in the data center space.”

IBM at Morgan Stanley Conference Notes

Deborah DiSanzo – General Manager of IBM, Watson Health

Need scale to collect data for AI

“artificial intelligence is not easy, so you need to have the scale in the resources to be able to do it. I think when I think about our advantages, I do think that we took the IBM crowd and we really did make it medical grade and we’ve spent a lot of time — it’s not just having the data because now everybody comes and says to me, so many million records, but it’s like what is the quality of those records; have you curated them? Have you cleaned them? They’re ready to put — are they ready to do something important. 10 years, 65 AI services specified for help. IBM knows the work that went into that, tremendous amount of work and then finally our collaborations have gotten so much more rich, though fundamentally if you do good work for your clients and partners then you get to do more good work. “

Company Notes Digest 9.8.17

Each week we read dozens of transcripts from earnings calls and presentations as part of our investment process. Below is a weekly post which contains some of the most important quotes about the economy and industry trends from those transcripts. Click here to receive these posts weekly via email.

September is a light month for earnings but a busy month for investor conferences. This week tech companies spoke at a Citi conference and Consumer companies spoke at a Barclays conference. The two conferences actually dovetailed nicely considering that technology is currently up-ending the consumer products industry.

The EVP of Johnson and Johnson’s consumer products division did a great job of summarizing the immense challenges facing the industry and features heavily in this week’s post. He argues that historical barriers to entry are crumbling and that data is the new barrier to entry. It’s an interesting thesis, and only time will tell if it’s the right one, but it explains why companies are scrambling to use machine learning to make sense of the data that they have access to. One might wonder though, if old-line companies are leveraging tech companies’ cloud and engineers to unlock insights into their data, who’s data is it anyways?

On the macro front, there is clearly underlying inflation creeping into the system. Commodity costs are rising, but companies don’t feel they have the pricing power to pass cost increases on to their customers quite yet.

The Macro Outlook:

Commodity costs are rising but companies don’t have pricing power

“[we] continue to see competitive pricing in a challenging commodities environment…when you compare year-over-year…DRAM cost will be roughly double…but we continue to expect to see a very difficult pricing environment. We are not anticipating that easing up in the near term. So that would provide some pressure ” —HP Enterprise CFO Tim Stonesifer (IT)

“The flow of imported steel into the US has dramatically slowed due to duties and the threat of additional counter availing duties by the current administration. The result is an increase in the cost of this product with a limited ability to pass the increase onto the come customer, due to the competitive environment.” —HD Supply CFO Evan Levitt (Industrial Distributor)

Currency is becoming a tailwind

“if rates stay where they are today and hold, then that would certainly provide some tailwinds for us. Now we’ll have to see what happens at the beginning of the year, but as I said, if they hold where they are today, that should provide some uplift.” —HP Enterprise CFO Tim Stonesifer (IT)

The political environment could still rattle the economy

“I am still a believer…that if there is not real legislative progress other than extending a debt limit by 3 months to give relief down to the people in Texas they needed, but if there is not real legislative progress the sense that I get is that it will be a different conversation” —Korn/Ferry CEO Gary Burnison (Executive Recruiting)


Britain is challenged from Brexit

“I think when Brexit was first announced, we did see a pause in the demand in the UK market…customers were trying to decide do they want to build their next datacenter in the UK or should they be building that datacenter someplace else in Europe. I think we are still feeling some after-effects from Brexit, because it’s not clear exactly how this is all going to work. So I would say, the UK market is a bit challenged for us.” —HP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman (IT)


The head of J&J’s consumer division laid out the problems facing consumer products companies:

Competitive advantages are being dismantled

“the reality is that the pace of change in our industry is truly accelerating…If you look at our last few decades in this industry, there were a series of barriers for entry or sources of competitive advantage that were well established but those are becoming less and less unique.” —Johnson and Johnson EVP Jorge Mesquita (Healthcare)

It’s hard to have a monopoly on talent

“It used to be that companies like ours would acquire the best talent through our recruiting human resources mechanism, but it’s never been easier for you to source great talent across the world on demand.” —Johnson and Johnson EVP Jorge Mesquita (Healthcare)

It’s never been easier to build a brand

“Our ability to build and nurture brands, brand building competencies used to be again a source of competitive advantage but the reality is it’s very easy for you to start building a business, building a brand from scratch and you really don’t need a ton of money to get a community of active users that support you.” —Johnson and Johnson EVP Jorge Mesquita (Healthcare)

It’s not hard to access global manufacturing expertise

“Large scale manufacturing assets used also to be a source of competitive advantage. But the reality is if you want to compete in this industry, you can access high quality contract manufacturing work any place in the world.” —Johnson and Johnson EVP Jorge Mesquita (Healthcare)

Retailer relationships are no longer a moat

“Retailer relationships used to be also a source of advantage and a barrier for entry, but as you all know, new companies can now sell directly to consumers profitably in most markets. And then financial firepower for companies like J&J is not as critical as it used to be because new startup entrants can access capital relatively easy through VCs.” —Johnson and Johnson EVP Jorge Mesquita (Healthcare)

The disruption is digitally enabled

“So this disruption that is happening is digitally enabled and is changing the face of our industry. You see these new players coming into our category and at the heart of this disruption, there is a new consumer centric paradigm and that’s challenging completely the cost of goods scale and the value scale as we know it and its forcing a change in both the retail and the media landscape.” —Johnson and Johnson EVP Jorge Mesquita (Healthcare)

Small companies are succeeding because they stay close to the consumer and have digital DNA

“small players are the ones that are gaining share and majority of large companies are losing market share…they are really committed to breakthrough innovation by staying really close to consumers and customers and staying on top of consumer trend. They see where the product is going and they are designing to what that emerging consumer need is. They are focused on building digital first brands that have a clear purpose and a reason for being that resonates with millennial consumers. They capitalize on the rise of emerging channels. They don’t just play in the legacy channels but they figure out what are the new shopping behaviors, new emerging channel trends and they disproportionately drive growth in those channels. They are hyper efficient. Normally have very lean cost structures, flat organizations, no bureaucracy and as a result they move very fast. Speed is a great currency for them.” —Johnson and Johnson EVP Jorge Mesquita (Healthcare)

Big companies are becoming value added VCs

“the innovators are launching hundreds of new products every year. But once they’re successful, they all have the same kind of issues, issues like buying, procurement, like selling, distributing, manufacturing and capital. And so, we have a venture group that we started about ten years ago and, basically, it goes out to all the entrepreneurs and says, instead of going to private equity to get money, why don’t we work with you, we’ll invest in you and we’ll help you. And we’ll help you take your idea, solve some of the issues you might have, and we can see how you can be a part of what we’re doing and we can help you achieve your dreams as an entrepreneur…All of that allowing us to kind of source external innovation, so that when you take a healthy core, build strong, new businesses, and then bring all the next businesses in, it gives you a sustainable top line.” —Coca Cola EVP Sandy Douglas (Beverage)

Data is the new barrier to entry

“And what we’re seeing now is there is a new playbook emerging, a new how-to-win playbook that is really characterized by an asset light infrastructure. And the control of the consumer relationship, via the acquisition of the…data that allows for you to have a highly personalized iterative on demand consumer experience. And the ownership of this relationship with consumers and associated ecosystem that comes with it is now the new playbook. It is now the greatest new source of competitive advantage.” —Johnson and Johnson EVP Jorge Mesquita (Healthcare)


Every business is becoming a data business

“Cloud was originally a place for startups, a place for surplus capacity, sort of a cost savings thing. And now with every business becoming a data business, the Cloud, people are moving to the Cloud to be secure and they’re moving to the Cloud to gain competitive advantage.” —Google SVP Diane Greene (Cloud)

Companies are data mining for business intelligence

“I think the big driver for server demand…is simply there are massive amounts of data that have been collected that have sat unused for a long time and you now have people using more and more and more of that data to try to form business insights and business intelligence…So, AI is an important trend…this is a trend that will sustain demand we believe on a going forward basis.” —Micron CFO Ernie Maddock (Digital)

Alert to NVDA investors. Google is building its own chips for machine learning.

“we have a lot of GPUs in Google Cloud, and we work very well with NVIDIA. And the TPU…for the big data machine learning, training and using the models, we saw an opportunity to build a custom chip that would give an order of magnitude performance advantage, which actually saves us a lot of money and also lets us do a better job on the machine learning because you could turn things around so quickly.” —Google SVP Diane Greene (Cloud)

Miscellaneous Nuggets of Wisdom:

Not all market share is good

“As the CFO, I get quite nervous about having a goal of market share, because you could go out and buy a lot of bad units. And you could high-five on the market share. So, it’s important that it’s profitable and then it’s then consistent with our strategy.” —HP CFO Cathie Lesjak (PCs)

The more you try the more likely you are to succeed

“we did a pretty exhaustive study to try to figure out how we could become more innovative. And the net is that there are a lot of things going on in innovation, but the one thing that had the highest correlation with success was the number of at-bats. It wasn’t the super brainy process. It wasn’t the eight-page request for authorization form that was better than another. It was, you had the general idea of what you’re trying to do and where the consumer is going and you create the opportunity for lots of tries. And the only way we could figure how to do that was to get other people to try and then to give us the chance to help them make the more likely winners succeed. But even then, the more likely winners don’t all win.” —Coca Cola EVP Sandy Douglas (Beverage)

Full transcripts can be found at