The December print should be a big headline but underlying metrics remain soft.
November Strip revenues as reported last week were ugly, due in part to a difficult slot hold comparison but also soft volumes. For December, the hold comparison is very easy – 5.8% in December 2011 versus a normal 7.4%. Table hold was also a little low last year. If hold was normal in December 2012, total GGR could be up double digits easily which could spark a favorable reaction from the investment community. However, we’re not sure the underlying volume metrics are improving much.
So that’s the math. Anecdotally, we’re hearing gaming demand levels remain sluggish in Las Vegas. When Vegas is busy due to conferences or events, it’s the lower margin, non-gaming elements that are benefitting.
One bright spot might be a transaction. The scuttlebutt in Vegas is that The Mirage might be back on the block and Phil Ruffin may again be interested. But that might not be the only transaction involving MGM MIRAGE. We continue to think MGM should outbid PNK for ASCA. They could easily pay more than $30 and make it very accretive, value added, and de-leveraging. Time will tell.