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Quote Of The Week: Captain Jack Sparrow

"Have you not. It's very kind of you. But it would seem that as I possess a ship and you don't you're the ones in need of rescuing and I'm not sure that I'm in the mood."
-Captain Jack Sparrow

This quote from Disney’s ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ provides a metaphor for “The New Reality.” At a few points in time this week, the S&P500 was down -52% from its 2007 peak, Somali Pirates were holding the Saudi's for ransom, the “Pandit Bandit” was pleading for Citigroup’s mercy, and Big Auto was begging for a government bailout.

“The New Reality” of global trade is quite simply that he with the cash (and the ship) will take what he wants, on his terms, and at his price. Argh!
KM

Chart Of The Week: The Queen Mary

This is one of the most poignant charts in my notebooks. The 60 year chart of long term US Treasury Yields.

An important factor in our "New Reality" investment outlook for 2009 is the thesis that the Queen Mary (see chart) is set up to turn up into the right. Long term US interest rates are unsustainably low, and preventing real US savings in this country to find a bottom. Give liquid investors the ability to earn a real return on their capital, and they will start lending it again - liquidity will follow.

Being prepared for an environment where access to capital continues to be tight as long term cost of capital begins to heighten is critical. The free money days of slapping leverage onto levered long bets are ending, abruptly.
KM

US Market Performance: Week Ended 11/21/08...

Index Performance:
Week Ended 11/21/08:
DJ (5.3%), SP500 (8.4%), Nasdaq (8.7%), Russell2000 (11.0%)

November 2008 To Date:
DJ (13.7%), SP500 (17.4%), Nasdaq (19.6%), Russell2000 (24.4%)

Q408 To Date:
DJ (25.8%), SP500 (31.4%), Nasdaq (33.8%), Russell2000 (40.2%)

2008 Year To Date:
DJ (39.3%), SP500 (45.5%), Nasdaq (47.8%), Russell2000 (46.9%)

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BYD MGMT DOESN’T BUY OFTEN BUT WHEN THEY DO…

Bill Boyd and Bob Boughner are the two most influential people at Boyd Gaming. Both recently bought stock. Should we care?

The last time there was a significant cluster of insider buying was in April and May of 2004. The stock more than doubled in 8 months. Management can trade as well. A year later they sold near the top, just before a 25% move down in the stock. Chairman Bill Boyd doubled his money on over 300k shares in a year’s time. Not bad.

I’m not exactly predicting a double in a year just because management bought stock again. However, it wouldn’t surprise me. I’m pretty sure BYD will generate between $1 and $2 of net free cash flow per share next year for a massive 30-60% free cash flow yield on today’s stock price. The stock could double and still yield a compelling 15%, worse case scenario.

The move could happen quickly. Short interest represents 20% of the float. Only 5 out of 19 analyst ratings are buys.

Now or later, there is real value in Boyd Gaming and they are not going bankrupt. It’s encouraging to see that management feels the same way.

Management buys low, sells high

Commodities – Milk prices

According to the cattle network, milk prices are trending much lower than a year ago due to lower cheese, dry whey and nonfat dry milk prices. The October Class III price was $17.06 and will decline in November to around $15.55, nearly $3.70 lower than a year ago. The Class IV price was $13.62 for October and will be around $13.50 for November, about $6.90 lower than a year ago. Milk prices are not expected to improve and could go even lower in the first half of 2009.

WMS: THE ANALYSTS LOVE IT!

Stealing market share can take you only so far. We expect North American slot sales to fall around 50% in the first half of calendar 2009. Yet, the sell side currently projects WMS to grow its revenue 9% year over year in 1H CY2009 (2H FY2009). That would be quite a heist, especially now that the gorilla that is IGT is beginning to flex its muscles. IGT will likely be using its balance sheet more aggressively in the financing area to “buy” some business. Wait until they flex on pricing.
  • From our posts over the past few days it is pretty clear we don’t think WMS will make the Street numbers for 1H CY2009. The December quarter looks very good for the company and we actually expect upside to consensus. As part of their FQ2 release, however, WMS will have to address guidance for the remainder of its fiscal year and we don’t think it will be pretty.
  • So what does this do to the stock? This isn’t like a casino operator lowering guidance, AGAIN. WMS has raised or affirmed annual guidance for 10 straight quarters including raising guidance in 4 of those quarters. That is quite a track record and management deserves kudos. However, this consistency has set the stage for a major disappointment. WMS could become a victim of its own success.
  • The analysts love the stock. Indeed, 13 out of 15 ratings are buy. Downgrades are more likely than upgrades. Yes, the stock is down 45% on the year which, on the surface, appears to be washed out, until you compare it to the sector. IGT and BYI are down 82% and 70%, respectively. The gaming operators are down even more.

    The more they are loved, the farther they can fall.

With such an impressive track record comes high expectations
Analyst groupthink

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