“A tie is like kissing your sister.”
How about if America woke up on November 7th and “269 – 269” was the headline on the front of major newspapers? The implication would be that the Electoral College was effectively tied. This is actually a somewhat plausible scenario in 2012. It could occur with Obama winning all of Kerry’s states from 2004 and adding New Mexico and Ohio. Currently, both New Mexico and Ohio, albeit marginally, are in the Obama camp.
In the event of an Electoral College tie, the decision gets handed to the House of Representatives. Given that the Republicans hold a majority in the House, Romney would then become the next President. Just as many moderates think that the Tea Party has hijacked the Republican Party, they would now be arguably the key reason that the Republicans gained the Presidency. After all, if it weren’t for the Tea Party insurgency (for lack of a better word) in the midterms, the Republicans would likely not currently control the House.
Regardless of whether you believe my 269 scenario, it is beyond argument that this race is getting too close to call. The averages of the major national polls are basically within 0.5 points, favorability ratings of the candidates are basically tied, and neither candidate has a definite edge in the Electoral College.
There are some credible outliers related to predicting the outcome of the election. One of these is Professor Ken Bickers from the University of Colorado. He has done an analysis that looks at state level economics as a predictor for the Electoral College. Currently, his analysis suggests that Romney and Ryan may win up to 330 seats.
We will be joined by Professor Bickers today at 1pm today for a conference call to discuss his analysis. For institutional macro subscribers, the materials and dial-in will be circulated this morning. If you are not an institutional macro subscriber, ping to inquire about access.
Politics matters as it relates to future economic policy, so we have been and will continue to focus closely on this election. In fact, we would postulate that some of the stock market weakness over the last few days, though largely driven by #EarningsSlowing, is being amplified by increasing uncertainty in political outcomes in the United States.
Globally, the bigger concern continues to be tepid economic growth. This morning HSBC’s flash PMI for China came in at 49.1 versus expectations of 47.9. Even if marginally better than expected, the number remains below 50. In Europe the numbers were bleaker as the Eurozone Flash PMI came in at 45.3 versus an estimate of 46.5. The German IFO business climate indicator also disappointed marginally coming in at 100.0 versus expectations of 101.6. Not surprisingly, the Euro is weak and Spanish yields are backing up this morning, as result.
It is a major policy day today in the United States with an announcement coming from the Federal Reserve. The FOMC rate decision will be held at 12:30pm today with a Bernanke press conference at 2:15pm. Even though the stock market basically peaked on the day of the last Fed announcement, it is unlikely that even Chairman Bernanke adds more fuel to the fire at this point. Although if the Fed were to signal they are going to take the money printing press up a gear, that would be the ultimate October surprise. It may even be bigger news than the October surprise that Donald Trump is purportedly going to reveal on Twitter today.
Our friends at Bespoke Investment Group actually did an interesting analysis looking at the return of the stock market on the days of Fed announcements in this period of zero interest rate policy. According to their analysis, the SP500 showed a positive return on 21 out of 31 of those days with an average gain of +0.71.
Even as history is a guidepost, we would suggest that investors are getting much better at front running the Fed. This is actually born out in the numbers as in the last year the return on a Fed day is closer to +0.30. Yes, this is still a positive return, but only marginally so. Today the setup seems more poised to disappoint as Chairman Bernanke will likely not have much new positive news on the economy, and is also unlikely to further ease. But, we’ve been surprised by the Fed before . . .
The broader issue with the Fed’s long-term zero interest rate policy is that extreme levels at which certain asset classes are getting priced. One example is the high yield market. As one high yield investor emailed me yesterday:
“Our basic premise is that there is massive technical support in the search for yield for the broader HY and leverage loan market driving yields to historically tight levels. There is such appetite in the loan market that terms are reverting back to 2007 peak levels…new issue spreads are being compressed and covenants are being pulled (45% of new issue is now ‘cov-lite’ vs. 10% last year). To a large extent this has been driven by the return of the clo…back from the dead…or at least from 2007. CLO issuance will be $40bn this year, which is more than the last 4yrs combined.”
Now we aren’t ready to make a big call on high yield market just yet, but the red flags raised above are well worth pointing out. After all, it’s not a tie if you are long high yield at the top.
Our immediate-term risk ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, EUR/USD, UST 10yr Yield, and the SP500 are now $1, $107.48-110.71, $79.58-80.16, $1.29-1.31, 1.71-1.82%, and 1, respectively.
Keep your head up and stick on the ice,
Daryl G. Jones
Director of Research
We qualify the miss since someone held well in July. Despite at least 4 sell-side downward revisions in October, we’re still below consensus EBITDA by 4%.
Thanks to Big Ben, this asset heavy, debt-laden company’s stock has held in pretty well. Meanwhile, management has done a good job refinancing its substantial debt and saved some dough on interest expense. Ah, but those pesky fundamentals. The Strip is going backward, not forward. Slot volume and non-Baccarat table play are moving in the wrong direction.
The slots have us particularly concerned as you may have noticed. We don’t agree with the commonly held perception that the Strip is stable. Slot revenue is high margin and the trend is down, not up. Q3 RevPAR will be down which was supposed to be an anomaly. We fear, MGM’s Q4 commentary will turn that anomaly into a trend.
The Street looks too high for 4Q 2012 and 2013. We are currently 13% below the Street in EBITDA for Q4 2012 and 10% below for 2013. Our below Street numbers are predicated on our cautious macro outlook, way too aggressive Street growth estimates, inflationary cost pressures, and the unfavorable demographic picture we’ve highlighted over the past 6 months.
MGM will report Q3 earnings on October 31st. We estimate $2.3BN of net revenue and $446MM of consolidated property level EBITDA. We also look at wholly owned EBITDA plus MGM’s pro-rata share of MGM China and City Center, less corporate expense which produces EBITDA of $395MM. Our net revenue estimate is in-line with consensus while our comparable EBITDA is 4% below consensus.
We project MGM’s Strip properties to produce net revenue of $1,196MM and EBITDA of $248MM, in-line and 7% below Street numbers, respectively: average RevPAR declines of 4%, low single digit casino and other growth, and low single digit operating expense increases.
- Bellagio: $286MM of net revenue and $76MM of EBITDA, 1% above and in-line with consensus, respectively
- 1% decline in RevPAR
- 4% growth in casino & other
- 4% expense growth
- MGM Grand: $239MM of net revenue and $34MM of EBITDA, 4% above and 9% below consensus, respectively
- 2% decrease in RevPAR
- 3% growth in casino & other
- 2% YoY expense growth
- Last year and last quarter both suffered from low hold, so this quarter has a low bar
- Mandalay Bay: $190MM of net revenue and $40MM of EBITDA, 3% and 4% below consensus, respectively
- 4% decrease in RevPAR
- 5% decrease in casino & other
- 5% decrease YoY expenses
- Mirage: $144MM of net revenue and $23MM of EBITDA, 1% above and 13% below consensus, respectively
- 2% YoY decrease RevPAR
- 4% increase in casino & other
- 5% increase in expenses
- This quarter should have an easy comp as 3Q11 casino and other revenue declined 14% YoY due to MGM’s comment that Mirage experienced “very low hold”. MGM also commented that hold was low in 2Q12.
- MGM Detroit net revenue of $139MM and EBITDA of $41MM, in-line and 2% above consensus, respectively
- Mississippi net revenue of $126MM and EBITDA of $34MM, 3% below and 6% above consensus, respectively
We’re estimating that MGM Macau will report $688MM of net revenue and $172MM of EBITDA (the street is at $668MM and $165MM, respectively.) Our assumptions in HK$MM’s are as follows:
- Net casino revenue of $5.3BN and total revenue of $5.3BN
- Net VIP win of $3.4BN
- VIP Turnover: 173,300 assuming 9% direct play
- Hold of 2.93%
- Rebate rate of 35% or 1.01%
- Net VIP win of $3.4BN
- Mass table win of $1,430MM
- Slot win of $503MM
- Variable expenses of $3,245MM
- $2,765MM of taxes and gaming premiums
- $451MM of commissions to junkets
- Fixed expenses of $715MM
- $93MM of branding fees
We estimate that City Center will report $48MM of EBITDA on $264MM of net revenues:
- Aria: $214MM of net revenue and $40MM of EBITDA
- Mandarin Oriental: $11MM of revenue and $0MM of EBITDA
- Crystals: $14MM of revenue and $9MM of EBITDA
- Vdara: $21MM of revenue and $5MM of EBITDA
- $6MM of development and administrative expenses
- D&A: $235MM
- Corporate & other: $39MM
- Stock Comp: $9MM
- Net interest expense: $276MM
- Income from unconsolidated affiliates & non-operating items from unconsolidated affiliates of ($24MM)
- $34MM of tax credits
- Minority interest of $67MM
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This note was originally published at 8am on October 10, 2012 for Hedgeye subscribers.
“Keep it simple. Tell the truth. People can smell the truth.”
If you’re looking for Steve Jobs like thought leadership, product innovation, and job creation in this country, look no further than Steve Wynn. The guy gets what most of us who have built something from nothing get – he has vision.
If you and your spouse and/or business partners are really going to build something on your own in this good life, you have to, deep down in your bones, believe that people will side with the truth.
If what you deliver is better than what they currently use, both you and your customers win. If you believe that people are dumb – and that they’re generally not smart enough to Smell The Truth, you’ve already lost. Politics might be a better career path.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
Whatever central planners want to throw at us this morning, I say bring it. The only certainty I have in my life is that the sun will rise in the East and, God willing, I will be sitting right here at my post, preparing to play the game that’s in front of me.
Yesterday, we got long again. We bought Apple (AAPL), Michael Kors (KORS), and Taiwan (EWT). We started the day with 7 LONGS, 8 SHORTS and closed the day with 11 LONGS and 3 SHORTS. Progress embraces change. So that’s what we do.
I’m not saying that our Top 3 Global Macro Themes for Q4 2012 have changed this morning. In fact, I’ll reiterate Theme #1 this morning (#EarningsSlowing) as that remains the market’s most important risk. That risk, however, gets overbought and oversold, fast.
The most important driver of the market’s daily beta isn’t AAPL. It’s the US Dollar. If you get that right, you tend to get a lot of other things right. Here’s the refreshed immediate-term TRADE correlation between the US Dollar Index and stocks:
- SP500 = -0.95
- EuroStoxx600 = -0.97
- MSCI World Index = -0.97
Those are wicked high correlations. So, you can either run around like a chicken with his 50-day Moving Monkey cut off on AAPL… or, you can just build a model that probability-weights where the US Dollar is immediate-term TRADE oversold/overbought, and then buy/sell AAPL (or whatever it is that you really like in the US or Global Stock market) using those signals as your headlights.
At the house of Marcus Goldman (when it was private and Partner Capital was on the line every day), they used to evaluate talent by asking themselves if their players could make money if locked in a “dark room” (by themselves) with only their process.
While they may have not put it that way precisely, I just did. Because I think that’s a great way to think about risk management and what it is, precisely, that you do. When everything goes straight down like it did yesterday, what do you smell? Buy or sell?
As a risk management process, smelling buy/sell opportunities should go both ways. That’s why I have had no problem changing my mind in the last 4 weeks. This isn’t politics – in real life business, flip-flopping your opinion is critical to success.
In the immediate-term, in particular for the beta implied in US stocks, there are always positives and negatives to consider.
- USD immediate-term TRADE overbought at $80.16
- EUR/USD immediate-term TRADE oversold at $1.28
- SP500 Immediate-term TRADE oversold at 1434
- VIX immediate-term TRADE overbought at 16.74
- UST 10yr yield holding 1.64% support
- II Bull/Bear Survey compresses by 1,000 basis points to the bear side
- Equity Volume is as dead as a doornail, nowhere to be found on last week’s bounce
- Tech (the market leader up until 3 weeks ago) is leading the decline
- S&P Sector Studies just saw 4 of 9 Sectors snap immediate-term TRADE support (XLK, XLI, XLY, XLB)
- KOSPI (South Korea) broke its immediate-term TRADE line again overnight
- Oil (Brent) is back above its TAIL risk line of $112.69/barrel
- Bernanke and Geithner are still gainfully employed
But, like any risk manager of any professional game, you have to make a call at some point on which way to lean. That’s why I have built a model that removes most of the emotion that I used to have when making those decisions. An emotional Mucker fights too much.
I don’t want to fight you. I want to help you. I don’t always lean, but when I do, I go with the process that most often tells me the truth.
My immediate-term risk ranges for Gold, Oil (Brent), US Dollar, EUR/USD, UST 10yr Yield, AAPL, and the SP500 are now $1761-1792, $112.69-115.01, $79.69-80.16, $1.28-1.30, 1.64-1.76%, $630-642, and 1434-1464, respectively.
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
The Macau Metro Monitor, October 24, 2012
MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL SUBSIDIARY MGM CHINA HOLDINGS ANNOUNCES AMENDMENT AND EXTENSION OF CREDIT FACILITY Newswire
- US$2BN facility consisting of a US$550MM equivalent term loan and US$1.45BN equivalent revolving credit facility. The new facility amend and restate the existing US$950MM credit facilities of MGM Grand Paradise, S.A., in their entirety, and extend the term of those facilities for a five year period to October 29, 2017.
- Pricing: HIBOR +margin (initially set for 6-month period of 2.5% per year, but thereafter the margin (1.75-2.5%) will be determined by MGM China's leverage ratio)
- Timing: Expected to close on or about October 29, 2012.
MACAU SEPTEMBER VISITOR ARRIVALS DSEC
Visitor arrivals totaled 2,161,566 in September 2012, down slightly by 0.2% YoY. In September 2012, the average length of stay of visitors stood at 1.0 day, up by 0.1 day YoY. Visitors from Mainland China increased modestly by 0.8% YoY to 1,255,962, with those traveling to Macao under the Individual Visit Scheme rising by 11.4% to 500,395.
OCTOBER BREAKS MICE RECORDS FOR MARINA BAY SANDS TSNN News
Marina Bay Sands has had its busiest MICE month ever, with 13 tradeshows and several key conferences scheduled for the Singapore-based venue. The 13 tradeshows – approximately four times the monthly average since Sands Expo & Convention Center opened in April 2010 – will attract up to an estimated 46,000 delegates from industries as diverse as architecture, property, travel and hospitality as well as energy, according to venue officials.
The Marina Bay Sands has 120,000 square meters of MICE space across six expo halls and 250 meeting rooms.
MGM'S COTAI PROJECT TO NEED 8,000 STAFF: GRANT BOWIE Macau Business
MGM China expects to need about 8,000 employees for MGM Cotai. MGM China CEO Grant Bowie said he is confident the government will come up with policies to help all the Cotai projects in the pipeline to get enough manpower.
In preparation for RCL's 3Q earnings release on Thursday, we’ve put together the recent pertinent forward looking company commentary.
2Q CONFERENCE CALL YOUTUBE
- "From 2012 through 2016, our berth capacity growth is less than 3%, and in fact, we don't have any ship deliveries in 2013 at all. But...we also can't stagnate. Given the long lead time for a new vessel, we're approaching the point where a new order could not be delivered until the middle to late 2016, by which time we will be enjoying much better profitability and much improved credit metrics."
- "Over the past couple of months, bookings have been running slightly ahead of this time last year from both Europe and North America. We have seen a shift to a closer in booking window in key European source markets, particularly those in Southern Europe. The booking window for North America and most other non-European countries is largely the same as it was at this time last year."
- "The fourth quarter is yet another story... as of the time of our last call, both load factors and APDs were running ahead of the same time last year. For the last few months bookings have been rather stable, and with only 28% of our inventory in the more volatile European itineraries we are hopeful to return to yield improvement in the fourth quarter."
- "Royal Caribbean International will decrease in capacity by 4% in 2013. Our growth trajectory will not resume until we take delivery of the first Sunshine ship in late 2014....the company overall will have 10% less capacity in Europe in 2013."
- [Q1 2013] "Our order book is solid at this point, our load factors are running ahead of a year ago."
- "For Q4 – we're ahead on both load factor and APD today."
- [Business booked] "For Q3, we're obviously behind where we would normally be at this time and for Q4, we're doing a little bit better than we would expect."
- "We've seen more contraction in the booking window in Southern Europe than we have in Northern."
- [Australia/New Zealand] "I don't regret having more capacity in a market that is getting very robust rates but those rates may be stable instead of going up."
- "For 2013, I'll give you the percentage of our capacity that is in Europe by quarter. It's 1% in Q1; it's 31% in Q2; it's 49% in Q3; 24% in Q4; and the overall is 27%, which is down from 30% this year. I think we are seeing in Europe a gradual healing I think from the incident in Italy."
- "Pullmantur...has gone from I think it was 87% Spanish customer-base to now closer to 40% Spanish customer-base as they shift demand to places like South America and Brazil."
- "The percentage of our customers on our European cruises in 2012 that are coming from North America will be a few percentage points higher than what they were last year or what we had originally expected them to be. It's not a seismic shift but it is slightly higher. Which means that notwithstanding whatever the impediments have been, we have in fact been able to get some additional help from North America with the various challenges that we face in Europe....I don't think that there has been a notable change in that trend."
- "What we see is that we are in fact able to drive the late business at good volumes. Clearly not at the rates we would like to be commanding for these products, but we are able to drive the business. So that is coming from actually all European source markets."
- "We've been a little bit more bearish on the Euro so we've not had quite as much exposure there. We tend to have a little natural hedge on our P&L for that so I think we've been less aggressive hedging our new-builds, and as a consequence if we were to hedge those today we'd have a benefit from when we originally entered the contracts, specifically for Sunshine."
- [Capex growth target] "We're now targeting more low to the top-end mid-single-digit growth within a given year."
- [Caribbean performance vs that in 2008] "I'd say bigger than we were in 2008... The number of guests that we're attracting on these cruises is higher and the yields are also commensurate with the 2008 levels at this point."
- "Volumes essentially will need to be higher on a year-over-year basis, the close-in volumes, because we have a larger capacity hole to fill in Europe because of the way that the market developed this year....and at this point, I can say that we are finding that."
- "Industry overall is making some changes which will probably result in Europe having a slightly less share of the overall cruise industry in 2013 than it had in 2012... I'm talking about something like about 33% this year to maybe somewhere between 31% and 32% next year. So again, it's not a seismic change. But it does reflect the fact that the industry and our company's assets are mobile, and over a two to three year period especially when we do our deployment cycles, we're able to make changes that are reflective of the market opportunities and challenges that we see."
The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.
LONG SIGNALS 80.45%
SHORT SIGNALS 78.37%