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WHEN: WEDNESDAY, JULY 15TH
WHERE: CNBC'S "Squawk on the Street"
Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Jeffrey Gundlach, DoubleLine CEO and CIO, and Bill Miller, LMM LLC Chairman and CIO, live from the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference in New York City on Wednesday, July 15th.
Following is a link to the video of the interview on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000397781
Mandatory credit: CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference.
KELLY EVANS: Good morning, everybody. Welcome. Hope you had a good coffee break. I think we'll have a jolt of caffeine after this discussion, if nothing else, and so I'm going to get right to it. I'm so thrilled to be joined now by Bill Miller and Jeff Gundlach.
And there's a lot of stuff we need to talk about, but just before we get into that, Bill, today is Amazon Prime day where you can get like a TV for $75. They're celebrating their 20th anniversary. I think even at one point they were giving away a gift card if you bought a gift card or something like that, rendering one remark that you could basically be a 4X trader if you were involved with Amazon in some of these deals today.
But how are they making money on this? Do you still like Amazon as an investment?
BILL MILLER: Well, so full disclosure, I have known Jeff Bezos since before they came public. I spent some time with him last week. It is our largest position. We actually entered via some call options late last fall when they were down 30% last year.
So what was the question again?
KELLY EVANS: So I guess you like it.
How much of your fund is it?
BILL MILLER: About 6%.
KELLY EVANS: Okay. So you like Amazon here.
Explain to people who say they are giving stuff away, they're not making money, they've never turned a profit, why are they a good investment?
BILL MILLER: Well, people talk about they don't make any money. What they don't do is report much in the way of GAAP accounting profits. The way Amazon became public, they became public at a $400 million market cap. Today they have a $215 billion market cap. They have never sold any shares to the public, and they have billions of dollars of cash on the balance sheet. So if they didn't make any money, where did all that come from?
So if you look at what correlates with Amazon's long-term price growth, it is growth of gross profit dollars, so it's the cost of goods sold, minus the sales, minus cost of goods sold. And those dollars are all invested one way or another. So that doesn't comport with the way GAAP does things, but Amazon has earned very high returns on almost all the stuff which is why the market gives them the valuation that it does.
And one of the interesting things is AWS, Amazon Web Services, which we estimate will do close to $8 billion of revenues this year. The market was surprised with the growth in the first quarter because the operating margin was around 18%, miles ahead of what Amazon's long-term sustainable operating margins are. And if AWS were a separately traded company growing at close to 100% a year, dominating the cloud business, if you look at other companies, things like Palo Alto Networks for example, LinkedIn in its high growth days, that would be worth ten times revs in the marketplace.
When they both have AWS and -- $160 billion market value. So something with only $8 billion of -- we estimate revenues would be half of Amazon's valuation. There's a lot of stuff like that buried in Amazon that people are unaware of.
KELLY EVANS: Jeff, do you want Amazon? Do you have one or -- because if not, I'm happy to talk about Yellen but --
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: No, I don't own Amazon, no. I don't know nearly as much about it as Bill does, it's clear, but I'm allergic to things that don't make money, basically. He says that the -- it sounds credible, what he's saying, but what he just said, I was unaware of.
I'm not a buyer of -- like I said in the clip, I don't like things at all-time highs. My stock guys, they look at charts of stocks that have gone parabolic and they say I love this thing. And I come from a place where when something is up a lot, I just feel like I kind of missed the boat.
So on thing that's interesting about that, our average -- in the current fund that I do, our average cost of Amazon is $21 a share. In the previous fund, it cost us $8. So we like to buy things when they are at the bottom of the page, but we like them to have the opportunity to grow and grow.
BILL MILLER: There's nothing better talking to a client when he's got cost 21 -- makes it hard to sell. You lose that good-looking cost versus last.
KELLY EVANS: And you, Bill, think they're going to 500 and beyond?
BILL MILLER: I don't know what they're going to do. The stock was down 30% last year because people were worried about the growth rate, lack of reported profitability. I think that they're long-term addressable market opportunity is so large.
They're cutting back in China where they haven't been very successful, but what's happened with Amazon, which is surprising, is they have already moved to number one in India, putting more money in India.
They just introduced this thing you might have seen called the Echo, which is a kind of a thing that sits on a tabletop and you talk to it. It sounds like a little bit of a gimmick, but when I was talking to Jeff last week, I said is that -- Jeff, is that basically to -- the Amazon Fresh, the grocery thing, and to like reorders what the Kindle is to electronic books? He said exactly.
KELLY EVANS: Is that good or bad?
>> That's fantastic.
KELLY EVANS: Yeah.
KELLY EVANS: Jeff, Janet Yellen today right now is continuing to take questions from Congress. She's seemed in her testimony to reiterate that the Fed is on track to raise interest rates this year.
Are they going to be successful in doing that?
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: I don't think so. Nothing new is coming out of the Fed. Basically for the past couple of years, a little more loudly this year, they have been saying if economic growth improves like we hope it will or think it will, which I think is more hope it will, then we will raise interest rates. It's conditional.
People hear that and what they say is, oh, they are going to -- Janet says she's going to raise rates this year. No, that's not what she said. She said if the economy improves, we will raise rates.
I mean, the economy's improved to a certain extent because real GDP has improved with falling inflation. I have, Bill, started to wonder if real GDP is really all that great of a number. It is really nominal GDP that's a strong number, you know, that you can kind of count the things, and then you take out -- and the inflation rate and yet the inflation rate is a little bit squishy.
Those that want to believe in higher interest rates and the Fed tightening, they cite the employment cost index, the ECI, which has been going up, but the Fed for years has spoken about their favorite indicator on inflation is the PCE deflator and it's going down. So it looks like an alligator's jaw. You've got this one that's going up and one that's going down.
But the thing I think about the Feds is the most interesting here in 2015 is the Fed's forecast for economic growth for this year, 2015, is now the lowest it's ever been. Way back in like 2014 or '13, they guessed the 2015 growth would be 5.3%. Then it got downgraded and downgraded.
KELLY EVANS: 5.3%?
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: Every year it's the same thing, the triumph of hope over experience, just like a second marriage, you know. So --
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: They basically say we're hoping for high growth and they have to revise it down so that now, most recent expectation for 2015 is the lowest ever been. And even more interesting than that is it's lower than the forecast ever was and what the actual was for 2013 and 2014.
If you had just been off on Mars and came here and looked at that one chart of GDP, you'd say, gosh, I wonder if the Fed is going to ease. You wouldn't be talk about tightening, but the Fed really wants to get off zero because who wants to be at zero should the economy actually go in some sort of recessionary mode.
So I can see why they want to get off of zero, but the economy just hasn't really been able to corroborate what they have been showing.
I don't think it's going to -- I mean, retail sales data that came out yesterday, yet another setback, and so we'll see what happens. If the data improves, then, yes, the Fed will tighten, but look what happened today in the bond market.
Today, Janet Yellen has been interpreted as saying something slightly new, maybe a little bit different, saying we think we'll be able to raise rates this year. She's been saying that.
What happened? The short end of the market sold off and the long bond is up today. Why is that? It's because the long bond wants the Fed to tighten.
People that own long bonds at 3.2% want a depression in terms of building their real purchasing power. And against an economy that is lower in terms of growth than it's been for three years, I have to believe that raising interest rates would end up with the same dynamics that we have seen in other developed countries for the past several years, which is they raise rates because they think the coast is clear, then they stick out a high-yielding currency, and the next thing you know they cut rates again. That happened in Sweden, happened in Denmark, happened in New Zealand. Again, Canada just cut. So I just think the setup is going to really play out for rate hike in 2015.
KELLY EVANS: You mentioned the recession, depression, prior examples where they have gone too quickly.
Bill, how weak do you think the economy is?
BILL MILLER: I don't think it's terribly weak. I agree with everything Jeff said, though. I think from a long-term policy perspective, the Fed is better off waiting, because even if inflation goes up and that happens, that means the equilibrium interest rate will longer term be higher. That means they'll have more room to tighten.
Whereas, again, if he -- if they do it and we have ample experience in the last several years, if they do it too soon, then it really cuts off their ability to respond to poor conditions.
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: What's really been remarkable about the U.S. economy the last few years -- I mentioned nominal GDP I like better than real GDP -- it's been really stable. It's just incredible how stable nominal GDP has been at about 4% year-over-year rate.
And someone did a study a few months ago looking at all of the Fed rate hikes since 1913, when the Fed came into existence and they said that -- I forget the number now, something like 118 hikes, some big number. And they said that, 112 of them, nominal GDP was higher than 5%. Only a couple nominal GDP was around 4%. And both times they had to reverse course. So nominal GDP has been really stable.
I like looking at nominal GDP because it's been incredibly good indicator of ten-year treasury bills. On a secular basis, nominal GDP bottomed around 1950 and went up in a trend that -- until 1982.
What did interest rates do? They were about where they are today in 1950 and ended up at 15 to 20%, depending on what part of the curve you are looking at, in the '80s.
Ever since 1982, nominal GDP has been trending lower. And so because -- and interest rates have been falling.
The best indicator of secular trends that I have found for the ten-year treasury yield is seven-year moving average of nominal GDP. That's a little bit, admittedly, data mined to get to that. But what scares me about that or gives me concern that maybe the rates -- we talked about DoubleLine back in 2013 or 2012 actually, July 2012, is the seven-year moving average of nominal GDP -- rolling off the seven-year average, '08 and '09, which were pretty lousy years.
So nominal GDP is actually starting on a trend basis to go up and nominal GDP is higher than the ten-year treasury yield today. And that's almost always the time that interest rates -- our path of least resistance may be gradually higher.
KELLY EVANS: Bill, you would share that view that we are entering or are already in a bear market for bonds?
BILL MILLER: Yeah, I think Jeff hit it on the head. We live in a nominal world, not in a real world. So the nominal number I think was much more important than this equilibrium rates for the ten-year is going to be around the rate of nominal GDP.
Yeah, my personal view is that what we had was a bottom in the ten-year, what was 2012, I think --
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: July 2012.
BILL MILLER: -- 130 -- 1.38. So what we had was a ratcheting up of interest rates since then. I think the bond -- the bull market ended then, and the bond bear market began then, but it's a benign bear market. It's not a -- it's going to be something that's much more like the 1950s.
KELLY EVANS: Tell the story about 1981 or '2, was it, when you inherited the portfolio.
BILL MILLER: Yes. I had this relative of my wife's, who was born in 1900. And her husband made a fair amount of money, but he died in the 1940s. She went to the trust officer at the bank in Washington and said what do I do with -- I have this portfolio of money, but I'm going to have to live on it. I don't have a job. And he said, well, look, we had this war, and usually wars are followed by economic dislocation and recessions, and so you don't want stocks. Plus, the stock market isn't back to where it was in 1929. Bonds can protect you under all circumstances. They were around 3% I think it was. And so she puts all her money in treasuries.
Of course what happens, not every year, but almost every year, the rate creeps higher. At the end of each year, what you do is call a bond swap. You sell your bonds and you buy another set of bonds, you take a tax loss on that and you go forward. So now we fast-forward to 1981, so 35, 34 years later.
And I get into the professional side of the business around that time. And she said, oh, will you look at my portfolio? I said, sure. So interest rates -- the treasury was 14, 15% at that point in time. I think the real rate was 7 around that time.
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: It was as high as 10%. There was a moment where the ten-year treasury yielded 14, and CPI was 4 and falling. Imagine. And nobody wanted them. Of course back in 2012, you had the opposite situation where you had the negative rate versus inflation and suddenly everybody loved them. So great about --
BILL MILLER: She says to me, what should I do? I said, look, you should keep all your money in bonds. The real rate of return is tremendous on these things.
So then one year later, '82, and look at the portfolio. So she says, what should I do? I said, you're good to go. Oh, I have to do my bond swap. I said, no, interest rates are lower. I said, you have a profit in your bond portfolio. She said what? I said, you have a profit in your bond portfolio. She says, is it legal to have a profit in bonds?
So I would say probably the equivalent of her today, 35 years from now, might be saying the same thing.
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: For years people would ask me what are you going to do to protect us from rising interest rates, which we know will start next Tuesday.
Finally, come 2012, somebody came to me for the first time ever in my career -- this is in June of 2012 -- and this was someone who was managing a huge platform, fund of money, he said, what are you doing to help us benefit from falling interest rates? And that's when I said to myself, you know what, this is it. This is the low.
And people even today say, when are interest rates going to start rising. I said, don't you understand, they have been rising. The two-year treasury yield bottomed four long years ago. It hasn't gone up by much, but looks like a trend if you look at it.
And the 30-year bond went to a new low last business day of January of this year, and it was the only part of the yield curve that took out the 2012 low and it went to 222 at the end of January, taking out the 245 low of July '12. And that's when we started looking at it saying if we reject that low, that's just further corroboration of a low in bond yields.
And that's exactly what happened. I mean, nine business days later, that's all it took to take the entire January rally and wipe it out.
So bond yields are probably rising on a secular basis. There's always a chance that you get a melt-up with some sort of geopolitical event, but the way I think about bottoming interest rates, Ernest Hemingway, "Sun Also Rises," good quotable stuff in there, he has a character say, How did you go bankrupt? Two ways, Mike said, gradually, then suddenly. And that's the way interest rates rise, first gradually and then suddenly.
Look at Greece. I mean, an extreme example, interest rates started to rise gradually, then rose very suddenly.
KELLY EVANS: Talking about the fund for a second and how you guys make money in this environment, Jeff, this has come up with Morningstar where they have looked at you and said this is a risky fund, you are involved in a lot of exotic or esoteric, you know, nonagency mortgage-backed securities, et cetera.
So for a time, those were exactly the right kinds of investments to be making for that period. The housing market was recovering, the economy was recovering. So both regarding your -- the types of instruments you are investing in and the types you think are going to work right now, what makes sense to you as an investment?
BILL MILLER: First of all my total return fund, contrary to the poor analysis that's done in some places, is one of the most liquid, lowest credit risk funds in the entire industry. We have two-thirds of the portfolio in government bond.
I'm not sure how that is risky. We do have a third of the portfolio in nonguaranteed types of mortgages, commercial and residential, but I'm not -- you're right that the prices of those assets were incredibly depressed, like everything else in 2009. They have gone up a lot but the fundamentals are radically different than they were.
So higher prices are justified and you can get yields of 5 to 6%, which in an environment where home prices are gradually rising and not falling, the trend of the fall and credit problems is one of the better sectors in the bond market. But my favorite sectors of the bond market for 2015 have actually been things I don't own in my total return fund. I own them in diversified funds, which are dollars -- emerging market debt, which I started to like once the dollar stabilized after going up 25%. Stable dollar means emerging market debt will be reasonably good in the near term. I think the dollar will be stable on the long-term dollar but not in the short-term because it made such a big move. And that will be incrementally helpful for emerging market debt.
High yield bonds, which I think are going to be a debacle in about three or four years, I think they are pretty safe. So for now I own high yield bonds. I think this is a carry trade type of requirement for the rest of 2015 with the Fed not raising rates.
And though I don't like high-yield bonds for the long-term, I'm willing to dance the risk dance near the door, keeping an eye on it. But I do have more than normal weight in both emerging markets that, dollar nominated, and in high yield bond.
KELLY EVANS: Well, and you have a freaky ability to kind of call the top and bottom in the market. And you mentioned -- be anecdotal evidence the way somebody said to you, oh, you know, how are you going to protect me in a falling rate environment. And you knew the end of that was the --
BILL MILLER: -- has been a rising rate environment. And our funds are up a little bit more than the yield of a general bond fund, so we haven't had any price losses. And there's other funds that we run that are designed for the higher interest rate crowd, those that are afraid. So they have interest rate risk of like a two-year treasury. It's invested in credit, but you get yield of about 5%. And a fund like that is up 3% year-to-date, so it's not that bad. And so it's been a rising rate.
The last thing I want to say about rising rates is people don't understand that for many bond portfolios like a two-year duration portfolio, you want rates to rise.
If rates rise, you will be reinvesting at higher rates. Even if the ten-year treasury went to 8% yield, about eight years from now, you have the higher return than if the yield stayed where it is because you are reinvesting at higher rates. People don't understand that the reinvestment aspects are very important.
KELLY EVANS: And, Bill, speaking of housing, are the builders still one of your favorite investments for this year and the next couple?
BILL MILLER: Yeah, so the builders -- big part of the portfolio, we own Lennar -- we own a bunch of them. They are mixed. Lennar is up 20% this year. Pulte is down so we like Pulte better than Lennar right now.
But yet the housing environment -- the housing segment is radically different from all the other -- warehousing cycles because of the 35% drop in housing, of prices. But we also have a cycle which is going to be very, very -- even a million housing starts are putting up 500,000 long-term deficit per year, so we think the major builders, which all trade at below market multiples on next year's numbers and on this year's numbers in many cases are going to grow their earn 20, 25% a year.
And the old valuation metrics we used to use don't work because they are booked out. So it's a very different environment and this next three to five years are great.
Airlines are -- we're up 12% even though housing is flat, one of our -- our biggest sector, and airlines, our second biggest, down 25%. So the airlines are marking time. They crushed the market the last three years.
And if you look at something like Delta, which is -- Delta reported this morning the stock was down a couple percent. They have 20% operating margin at Delta, 15% free cash flow yield. If it was a junk bond it would be twice the current price.
The cruise lines all played at double the valuations of the airlines, and the only reason is that the cruise lines had controlled capacity and there are only a few major cruise lines -- small ones. And so they have a long history of profitability, where the airline industry has the worst record of profitability in the industry. So as that moves on out, we think airlines are in a long-term secular uptrend in terms of valuation.
KELLY EVANS: Jeff, you still feel differently about the home building market?
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: I was quite negative on home building about a little over a year ago simply because it seemed that what was embedded in market psychology was a reversion to the mean concept, that we'd go back to the type of home building we saw in 2004, 2005, and I just deeply believed that that would lead to disappointment.
And so the home builders actually had a pretty soft patch last year, dropping when the S&P was flat, so -- and I think a lot of that overbelief was realized and led to the underperformance. So I think there's more rationality now regarding the outlook for housing. But I believe -- Bill mentioned the 35% drop in prices.
I believe that that has a psychological damaging impact on millennials. I think when you see something that traumatic happen, I don't think millennials will ever see homeownership as security the same way other generations did. I think they will see it more as risk.
Demographically in the United States, we have a really big demographic change underway, and a lot of Baby Boomers, all their wealth is in real estate. A lot of that might be sold. My dentist who happens to be dentist to the stars, he was on Dr. Phil, because he -- he was. He's so technologically advanced. He was bending my ear saying he was going to sell his home and buy a condominium if he's going to retire from his practice. That's just an anecdote of, I think, one of the pressures.
I think home building will never go back to where it was, but I'm not negative like I was a year ago.
BILL MILLER: I think the opportunity and the builders -- I agree with everything Jeff said, but here's the opportunity of the builders.
Lennar, which is I think probably the best quality builder, in 2005, ten years ago, they delivered 57,000 homes. Last year they delivered 23,000 homes. And think of how many industries where the market is at an all-time high aren't back to where they were ten years ago. So that's why I think you have many years of steady growth as opposed to a spike.
KELLY EVANS: Bill, I know you prefer the U.S. market for the most part.
Jeff, you were saying that you find a couple of real interesting investments, not that it's an emerging market debt but also Japanese and India equities, is that right?
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: Yeah. I'm really quite bullish long-term. In fact, I'm like a 10 on a skill of 1 to 10 bullish on Indian equities for the next generation.
What happens next month, I have no idea. Year to date, it's been pretty sleepy, although last year they killed it. And the reason is basically a demographic reason.
One of the reasons China had such an incredible economic performance over the last generation is they had a couple hundred million people entering the labor force, and they also made some reforms and they took some of the glue out of the gears in the economy.
Well, India is in that same position. There will be a couple hundred million people entering the labor force in India and they have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to the legal system, the cronyism and all this. When I mention Indian equity market, people bring out these negatives. And I say, well, that means there's room for improvement.
Early in my career I was having lunch with Howard Marks. I was sitting there and I said, you know what, Howard, I don't understand why anybody ever buys a AAA-rated corporate bond because they can only go one way, right. They can only go down.
And so markets that have problems generally have some sort of discount built in to them.
So I believe that if you are going to -- I was speaking and a guy came up to me, he was like 24 years old, what should I buy and not touch it, I have a 50-year horizon. I said I would buy the Indian stock market. And Japan, you're betting on currency, devaluation game there. And also some structural --
KELLY EVANS: More devaluation than we've already seen?
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: Oh, yeah, then yen never goes up. I mean, it goes up on days -- the yen was at 80 and went to 100, it sat at 100, went to 110, sat 110, goes to 120, but people ask me, I say, yeah, first it's going to -- first 120, then it's going to 140, then it's going to go lower, higher than that. I think it was to 200. I don't know how long it's going to take. Five years? But that's the game you are playing. And the Japanese market has been one of the better markets in the world this year.
KELLY EVANS: Bill -- and we are almost out of time, but, Jeff, because Greece has been in the headlines, concerns about Europe, obviously trying to maybe having a bubble moment, are you doing anything -- are you just sort of focusing on your investments, you're ignoring it, or is there some opportunity value that you see created in the middle of this?
>> Not really. I mean, the Greece thing is now on hold for a while. The China situation is up and down, but the Chinese numbers -- Singapore's GDP declined 4.6% last quarter. Singapore's numbers you can trust. You can't trust the Chinese numbers. That's a good sense of how much the Chinese economy has slowed down. But that has a much greater impact on that region than it does on us. It does have an impact on commodity prices. We have no energy stocks at all.
I'm personally short oil, so I think that that -- the rally that we had from January to a few weeks ago was an oversold rally, and I think you're probably --
KELLY EVANS: Do you want to say how much lower?
>> I think the equilibrium range is probably 40 to 60. And if people get panicked about Iran and about the production, which isn't slowing down, in fact, rig counts are starting back up again, you could -- that supply-demand curve looks like this, so what happens is the elasticity such that oil could go 30, 20, temporarily, not long-term.
KELLY EVANS: Jeff, last word -- and you could pick any one of those things, oil, China.
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: Yeah, China is kind of interesting. I agree with Bill that the numbers are suspect. But what I'm struck by is how people have so much faith in this authoritarian type of regime that they can just push a button and get growth back up above 7% or 8%, to which I say if that's really true, why are all of us wandering around extolling the virtues of free market capitalism? Why don't we get an authoritarian government in there and get this baby moving.
KELLY EVANS: You going to go return Morningstar's call?
JEFFREY GUNDLACH: Morningstar's just another analyst firm. It's one that doesn't seem to really understand what we are doing, so once you stop bashing your head against the wall, you feel better.
KELLY EVANS: Jeff, Bill, thank you so much for being here this morning at Delivering Alpha. Really appreciate it.
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