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10:03 am WTI Crude Hits New Overnight Multi-Year Low Of $41.35/Barrel Overnight

In recent, the dollar index has been climbing higher and is now back around the unchanged mark.

Overnight WTI crude dropped quickly lower, hitting a new multi-year low at $41.35/barrel, but that was short-lived. In recent trade, Sept WTI crude oil rallied to new highs for the day in morning trade and is now +1% at $42.66/barrel.

In other energy, Sept natural gas futures hit a new high for today in morning trade as well, but has pulled back some and is now +0.8% at $2.81/MMBtu.

Later today, the weekly Baker Hughes rig count data will be released at 1pm ET, which is likely to act as a catalyst for oil prices again.

Precious metals are trading higher, but are off early-morning highs. Dec gold is now +0.2% at $1117.20/oz, while Sept silver is +0.6% at $15.49/oz.

Early morning reports showed that China bought 600,000 ounces of gold in July, might be viewed as somewhat bullish since that amount was more than double the net monthly average that was bought between 2009-2015.

Copper is down one cent at $2.35/lb.

In related equities, Silver producer Pan American Silver (PAAS) reported results overnight and is trading +2.3% in morning trade.

9:39 am El Pollo Loco (LOCO)

El Pollo Loco (LOCO), a Mexican restaurant chain, is trading up sharply lower today (-19%) after reporting Q2 results last night. Pro forma EPS rose 19% YoY to $0.19, which was slightly better than expected. However, revenue rose just 3.0% year/year to $89.5 mln, which was below expectations. They did guide in-line for FY15 EPS.

In case you're not familiar, El Pollo Loco is a restaurant chain that specializes in fire-grilling citrus-marinated chicken. It operates in the fastest growing segment of the restaurant industry, the limited service restaurant (:LSR) segment. LOCO believes it offers the quality of food typical of fast casual restaurants while providing the speed, convenience and value typical of traditional QSRs, a combination which the company calls QSR+.

Its menu features its signature product (citrus-marinated fire-grilled chicken) and a variety of Mexican-inspired entrees that center around chicken, including burritos, salads, tostadas, bowls, stuffed quesadillas etc. The chain marinates and fire-grills its chicken over open flames, it hand-slices whole tomatoes, avocados, serrano peppers and cilantro to make its salsas, guacamole and cilantro dressings from scratch. The open design of its kitchens reveals its Mexican-inspired cooking process and allows customers to watch the Grill Masters.

El Pollo Loco is Spanish for "The Crazy Chicken." It opened its first location in Los Angeles in 1980 and has grown to 405 restaurants located in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas and Utah. LOCO uses an owned/franchise hybrid model. It currently has 166 company-operated locations and 239 franchised locations. Its typical restaurant is a free-standing building with drive-thru service that ranges in size from 2,400 to 3,000 square feet with seating for approximately 70 people.

LOCO was a high profile IPO when it made its debut in July 2014. It did well initially but the stock has been slumping pretty aggressively since mid-November, down about 60% since then.

Turning back to the Q2 results, system-wide comparable restaurant sales grew +1.3%, including a -0.5% decrease for company-operated restaurants, and a +2.6% increase for franchised restaurants. This was down from +5.1% overall in Q1 (+3.5% for company-owned stores, +6.2% from franchise locations).

LOCO says its Q2 results were impacted by the combination of higher priced offerings and a reduction of its value portion of its menu. Specifically, LOCO ran sequential promotions featuring premium entrees with shrimp and carne asada, at the same time, LOCO was eliminating its $5 Combo menu panel. This likely led to reduced visits from some of its more value-oriented customers.

It sounds like LOCO is...


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