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LVS YOUTUBE

In preparation for LVS's 4Q earnings release Wednesday, we’ve put together the recent pertinent forward looking company commentary.

 

 

POST-EARNINGS ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

1/28/13: SANDS CHINA GETS APPROVAL FOR 200 NEW TABLES: CEO 

 

1/28/13: SANDS CHINA ANNOUNCES INTERIM DIVIDEND OF HK$0.67 CENTS PAYABLE ~FEB 28  

 

1/28/13: SHERATON MACAO HOTEL AT SANDS COTAI CENTRAL ADDS 2,067 NEW ROOMS 

 

11/26/12: LAS VEGAS SANDS BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPROVES $2.75 PER SHARE SPECIAL DIVIDEND PAYABLE DEC 18 

 

YOUTUBE FROM 3Q CONFERENCE CALL

 

MACAU

  • "Holiday Inn is running at extremely high rates. The Conrad has more demand than it has supplies and the Sheraton just opened recently last month and we're doing splendidly at the Sheraton."
  • Parisian Macao:  "As soon as government approval comes, we will put piles in the ground and begin the construction period which will last a little bit more than 30 months, and hope to be opened in that property by the end of 2015."
  • [Macau malls] "We've got about $9 billion to $10 billion today. And I'm not going to sell Macao until we finish the bridge which is next month, in December, and we let in the cross traffic....If it does impact it well, I think we could probably reach another billion or maybe more....In terms of monetizing it, we should wait until we get the approval for the Tropical Mall and we put the new retail in Lot 3. So we're still in the midst of that in any event, this is a good turn. There's a good cap rate." 
  • "We also have 26 more stores opening in the Four Seasons, 43 more stores opening and five in Cotai Central, and the potential of an 800,000 square foot, 300 store mall next to the Sheraton on the Tropical Garden space. So there's a lot more retail to mature for us to essentially maximize that retail facility."
  • "Sands Cotai numbers are good, but they can be better. Again, the margins are hurting a bit due to a lack of premium mass."

SINGAPORE

  • "We're implementing new marketing programs to both the premium mass market and VIP markets, beefing up our sales force and investing in aircraft. The customers we are targeting with these efforts will come from the areas surrounding Singapore: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the wider Southeast Asian region as well as from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Japan, and Korea, and Vietnam."
  • "We're putting a team on the ground, incentives on the ground to try to drive more of that premium mass customer into Singapore, more tourist-driven and we think it's going to be very successful. We have started that a few months ago. We're looking to put a lot of boots on the ground and our belief is that's the growth in Singapore in the near future."
  • [VIP RC trends] "I think it's stayed pretty flat....Singapore looks like a $45 to $50 billion annualized gold market at this time... We don't fear the credit side. We just would like to see more demand in the right kinds of customers. So our bigger challenge, very candidly, is going to be to make sure that premium mass growth returns again. That's the margin 65% plus we'd like to get back to and that's the segment we're really focusing on as far as we think there's short-term appreciation hope."
  • "Slot revenue has decreased by 8% this quarter... because of a decrease in local play. This concerns us and we are putting strategies in place in terms of how we can replace that business with additional business that we're after. The hotel room and MICE businesses have performed exceptionally and are operating at near capacity. There is rarely an empty room in the Marina Bay Sands these days. Retail has also grown meaningfully and we are in the process of developing additional dining and entertainment offerings in our mall."

DEVELOPMENT OUTLOOK & UPDATES

  • "In Japan, we are awaiting legislation, which is supposed to be submitted in April to the Diet. After that, there will be an approval process for a year or maybe two as it goes through the Japanese procedures. We're looking at sites in both Osaka and Tokyo and we continue that investigation and have people hired on the ground working on our behalf."
  • "In Korea, we have met with government officials at the federal government level, as well as the city levels in Seoul and Busan, Korea where we're interested in attractive sites for our business. I want to emphasize in Korea that we have non-negotiated tax rates, that it's also a must that we have some kind of local play available to us in order to pursue our Korean activities and we expect to have a situation where we have presented a Singapore type of restriction on local play, so that we can in fact get into the Korean market."
  • "Vietnam, we have looked at numerous sites in Vietnam. We continue to work with the government there. Our eyes are on Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Progress is being made. However, there's a longer way to go there at the present time than in the other areas."
  • "We've also been on the ground in Taiwan. We are not interested in islands offshore. We're interested in the mainland in Taiwan. We haven't made much progress there, but there is some interest going forward."
  • "In Europe, our operation in Madrid for the Euro Vegas Strip continues. We continue to meet with the government. There continues to be activity in the area of grants and incentives, in the areas of the tender for land acquisition as well as the financing. We are expected by the government to present our plans in some detail in early January, and at that time we will also have more information on what the legislation is that will be passed in our favor."
  • "In North America, we are working with the Ontario Gaming Commission as far as a potential downtown site in Toronto. We have decided on the location. There are lots of things in the way at this point, including the approval of the Toronto City Council."
  • "In South America, we have had people on the ground in Brazil, both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, looking at opportunities there, and we have started initial investigations in Argentina."
  • "There's been some press about Willets Point. We've looked at it, continue to look at it."

 

OTHER

  • "We have every intention of increasing the dividend in the years ahead as our business and cash flows continue to grow."
  • [Las Vegas]  "We had some group cancellations since last quarter but the volume of group bookings for 2013 looks quite a bit stronger."

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN?

Takeaway: The fundamental research signals suggest the respective outlooks for Indian and Brazilian stocks is not a clear as it once seemed.

SUMMARY BULLETS:

 

  • By cutting interest rates today, India's central bank sent a clear message to the market that it no longer takes the threat of structural inflation very seriously. In doing so, the RBI has risked perpetuating key tail risks that threaten the very sustainability of the Indian economy.
  • It’s unclear whether or not the mere threat of a sovereign downgrade to junk status would be enough to derail Indian financial markets without actually being a tangible, near-term event(s). In light of this, we’ll continue to wait for both a better time (start of 2Q) and price (TREND support if it holds on any [pending] correction) to increase our long exposure to India.
  • All told, if you missed the move up in Indian equities, there’s no sense in chasing ‘em up here with a dour near-term fundamental outlook. From a index constituent factor risk perspective, tech, telecom, low debt, low beta, and large caps are all outperforming of late and pose the most risk from a mean reversion perspective on any potential correction – which should be shallow in and of itself if our fundamental outlook materializes. Macro markets are already discounting for a fair amount of economic surprise risk via the recent run-up in implied/historical volatility spreads.
  • Jumping to Brazil, it appeared the market was not yet prepared for the central bank to step in and intervene directly on the currency and probably took it as a signal that Finance Minister Guido Mantega isn’t yet ready to ease capital controls, which more-or-less translates to Brazilian policymakers not yet being ready to be friendly towards foreign capital.
  • Still, this is ultimately a positive fundamental signal (assuming the resulting currency strength is sustained) as FX appreciation continues to be the only way for Brazil to combat accelerating inflation readings amid President Rousseff’s prohibition of higher interest domestic rates, which should continue to stay glued to the floor, per Central Bank Governor Tombini’s guidance. BRL appreciation remains a critical factor underpinning our intermediate-term bullish bias on Brazilian equities.
  • The Bovespa, now bearish-TRADE on our quantitative risk management factoring, looks like it wants to hold its TREND line of support here. A recapture of the TRADE line would be an explicit signal to investors who aren’t yet involved on the long side of Brazil to do just that (i.e. get involved). From a index constituent factor risk perspective, consumer staples, industrials, high debt, large caps and cheap (EV/EBITDA) are all outperforming of late.

 

Central banks in India and Brazil were very active in the past 24 hours. The former expectedly/unexpectedly (depending on who you asked) eased monetary policy by lowering interest rates -25bps across the board:

 

  • Repo cut to 7.75% from 8% prior;
  • Reverse Repo cut to 6.75% from 7% prior and;
  • Cash Reserve Ratio cut to 4% from 4.25% prior, which should free up 180 billion rupees ($3.4B) into the Indian banking system

 

The latter pseudo-tightened monetary policy by auctioning FX swap contracts, which is the functional equivalent of selling USD to the market on favorable terms for the domestic currency. The BRL strengthened +1.7% on the day (yesterday) and is up an additional +0.5% today, bringing its week-to-date gain to an impressive +2.2%.

 

WHY THAT WAS BAD FOR INDIA

Given our short-cycle outlook for the Indian economy (i.e. Quad #3 in 1Q = Growth Slowing as Inflation Accelerates), we didn’t think the RBI would be inclined to ease as soon as many market participants were hoping for and we thought this likely pushing out of monetary easing expectations by at least one quarter would lead to the SENSEX and the INR underperforming and/or outright correcting in 1Q.

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - INDIA

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - 2

 

With the advent of today’s -25bps rate cut, our fundamental research call has been wrong here. We do, however, find a small degree of solace in the fact that the SENSEX closed down -0.6% on the day. Is this as good as it gets in the near-term for Indian financial markets?

 

From our analytical purview, there’s hardly any reason for the market to believe the RBI will continue cutting rates as more inflation data comes in during 1Q, but Governor Subbarao and his motley crew have obviously been surprised here before. Year-after-year, the RBI is surprised to the upside with respect to its inflation forecasting, but their recent focus on shoring up Indian growth takes credibility pressure off of them for now – at least for financial market participants. We’re all but certain the ~800-plus million Indian citizens living on less than $2/day aren’t too thrilled with this gross lack of vigilance on the inflation front.

 

What is perhaps most alarming about today’s policy maneuvers is that the RBI confirmed to us that it has absolutely no clue what it’s doing with the following commentary:

 

  • “There is an increasing likelihood of inflation remaining range-bound around current levels going into 2013-2014.”
  • “This provides space, albeit limited, for monetary policy to give greater emphasis to growth risks.”
  • “[Further] policy guidance will be conditioned by the evolving growth-inflation dynamic and the management of risks from twin deficits.”

 

Inflation staying “range-bound” around +7% YoY on the WPI series and +10% YoY on the CPI series is not supportive of any sustained pickup in Indian economic growth. In fact, we’d argue a lack of control over inflation is the key factor underpinning the country’s most pertinent economic risk – i.e. twin deficits (sovereign budget balance and current account).

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - 3

 

Both Fitch and Standard & Poor’s have warned in 2012 that this risk continues to threaten the country’s investment-grade status, so a continued lack of commitment towards addressing these imbalances in a meaningful way may culminate in the country being downgraded to junk by one or more of the “Big Three” ratings agencies at some point over the intermediate term.

 

That would have negative implications for Indian debt inflows – which are at/near record highs a TTM basis (aided by various policy maneuvers such as multiple increases to foreign institutional investment quotas) – and the country’s ailing currency, which is at/near all-time lows.

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - 4

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - 5

 

Still, it’s unclear whether or not the threat of the aforementioned catalyst would be enough to derail Indian financial markets without actually being a tangible, near-term event(s). In light of this, we’ll continue to wait for both a better time (start of 2Q) and price (TREND support if it holds on any [pending] correction) to increase our long exposure to India.

 

Additionally, we’ll likely have more color on Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram’s FY14 budget by then. We’re on record stating that it’s somewhat imperative for continued strength across Indian financial markets that his team proposes a meaningful reduction in public expenditures and subsidies and/or a complete overhaul of the Indian tax code (lower rates; wider base).

 

A failure to do either will likely culminate in the market challenging his already-lethargic fiscal consolidation platform: the 5.3% of GDP budget deficit in FY13 is projected to narrow to only 3% of GDP by FY17 – very underwhelming indeed.

 

All told, if you missed the move up in Indian equities, there’s no sense in chasing ‘em up here with a dour near-term fundamental outlook. Our updated quantitative risk management overlay is highlighted in the chart below.

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - SENSEX

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - 7

 

From a index constituent factor risk perspective, tech, telecom, low debt, low beta, and large caps are all outperforming of late and pose the most risk from a mean reversion perspective on any potential correction – which should be shallow in and of itself if our fundamental outlook materializes. Macro markets are already discounting for a fair amount of economic surprise risk via the recent run-up in implied/historical volatility spreads.

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - India Macro Factor Model

 

For more details behind our intermediate-term outlook on India, please refer to our 1/8 note titled: “PATIENCE SHOULD PAY DIVIDENDS IN INDIA”.

 

WHY THAT WAS GOOD FOR BRAZIL

It appeared the market was not yet prepared for the central bank to step in and intervene directly on the currency and probably took it as a signal that Finance Minister Guido Mantega isn’t yet ready to ease capital controls, which more-or-less translates to Brazilian policymakers not yet being ready to be friendly towards foreign capital.

 

Still, this is ultimately a positive fundamental signal (assuming the resulting currency strength is sustained) as FX appreciation continues to be the only way for Brazil to combat accelerating inflation readings amid President Rousseff’s prohibition of higher domestic interest rates, which should continue to stay glued to the floor, per Central Bank Governor Tombini’s guidance. BRL appreciation remains a critical factor underpinning our intermediate-term bullish bias on Brazilian equities.

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - BRAZIL

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - 10

 

All told, we continue to like Brazilian consumer names and industrial names on the combination of currency strength promoting domestic purchasing power and lower interest rates reinforcing penned-up demand for capital outlays (World Cup and Olympic Games preparations are generally well behind schedule) boosts both sectors.

 

The Bovespa, now bearish-TRADE on our quantitative risk management factoring, looks like it wants to hold its TREND line of support here. A recapture of the TRADE line would be an explicit signal to investors who aren’t yet involved on the long side of Brazil to do just that (i.e. get involved).

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - Bovespa

 

That [pending] signal would be supportive our view that there is indeed a silver lining to what the Brazilian central bank is doing – specifically in that in the absence of rate hikes, currency strength really is the only way for Brazil to combat the bevy of inflationary pressures being built-up across its economy.

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - 12

 

Moreover, the county’s multi-year international debt binge has really exposed Brazilian corporations to a fair amount of currency translation risk with respect to earnings growth. It’s easy to see why the Bovespa Index has an -0.78 inverse correlation to the USD/BRL exchange rate (trailing 5Y).

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - 13

 

From a index constituent factor risk perspective, consumer staples, industrials, high debt, large caps and cheap (EV/EBITDA) are all outperforming of late. Also, the 400bps spread between 3M and 1Y BRL non-deliverable forwards suggests the FX market expects further strength in Brazil’s currency in the weeks to come.

 

INDIA AND BRAZIL: UN-ACCORDING TO PLAN? - Brazil Macro Factor Model

 

For more background on this thesis, please refer to our 12/5 note titled: “DID MANTEGA JUST GIVE US THE GREEN LIGHT ON BRAZILIAN EQUITIES?”.

 

Darius Dale

Senior Analyst


WE’LL TELL YOU WHAT’S WRONG WITH REGIONALS

And it’s not much different from what’s wrong with Vegas.

 

 

A competitor put out a note questioning the vitality of the regional markets.  We wholeheartedly agree that there is something wrong with the regional markets.  We’d take it even farther to say that there is something wrong with domestic gaming, not just regional.  Indeed, beginning in April of 2012, we put out a series of notes and analyses, discussing the lack of recovery in Las Vegas and the regional markets and the reasons behind it. 

 

The best explanation for domestic gaming weakness is twofold:  demographics and economic sensitivity.  The core slot player demographic is in decline – younger players are not playing slot machines.  There is no new customer base to fill the void of shrinking baby boomer generation.  Unfortunately, most attempts at attracting a younger base of players have failed.  Here are the bullets:

  • Average age of slot player
    • Still rising
    • Efforts to appeal to younger generations have not worked
    • Video game generation not attracted to archaic technology and random outcomes
  • Boomers artificially inflated gaming revenues
  • Smaller generations entering sweet spot

On the cyclical side, gaming has proved to be more sensitive to an economic downturn than virtually all other consumer sectors.  We don’t believe the macro will be an economic tailwind until the economy is consistently and strongly growing.  Higher taxes in 2013 will not help.

 

Back in April 2012, our sequential projection model was showing that the underlying trends in the regional markets were actually not getting better and could actually be getting worse.  Since then, monthly regional gaming revenues have generally flat lined on a sequential basis – adjusted for seasonality – and actually deteriorated in the summer.  Interestingly, as shown in the chart below, December was actually the best month of the year relative to our model even though the absolute YoY growth was -2%.  Unfortunately, Q1 is not shaping up well for the regional markets.

 

WE’LL TELL YOU WHAT’S WRONG WITH REGIONALS - slot0

 

In Las Vegas, we follow the slot volume metric closely as this represents the highest margin revenue driver and ultimately is the best barometer of the health of the Strip.  Monthly strip slot volume was down most months of 2012 and generally lower since 2009 as the chart below shows.  This is very consistent with our demographic views and supported by the data.  As we’ve written about consistently, the data shows that:

  • Lower % gambling
  • First time visitors at all-time low
  • Smaller casino budgets
  • Daily hours gambled all-time low
  • Increasing average age of casino visitor
  • Younger crowd clubbing, not gambling 

 WE’LL TELL YOU WHAT’S WRONG WITH REGIONALS - SL.OT1

 

Please let us know if you would like a copy of our April presentation “THE SLOW DYING OF DOMESTIC CASINOS”.


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TRADE OF THE DAY: NKE

Today we bought Nike (NKE) at $53.92 a share at 9:57 AM EDT in our Real-Time Alerts. Buying back Brian McGough's long-term TAIL bullish position in one of the best companies levered to Global #GrowthStabilizing in the world. Still one of our best long ideas in retail, we buy on red.

 

TRADE OF THE DAY: NKE - NKETOTD


Construction At A Glance

We view the Architectural Billings Index as a way to gauge non-residential construction activity. Despite the index gradually easing in December, it continues to show expansion at 52.0. The index is supposed to lead non-residential construction activity by 9-12 months and thus indicates that activity may strengthen by mid-2013.

 

Construction At A Glance - arch


Playing The Retail Giants

Hedgeye Retail Sector Head Brian McGough has been quite vocal recently about his short Macy’s (M)/long JCPenney (JCP) trade. After the news hit that that Macy’s Chief Administration Officer Thomas Cole would be retiring after 41 years with the company, the stock sold off this morning. We covered the position in our Real-Time Alerts after buying it into the close yesterday and booked a gain. It still remains one of our top short ideas in retail.

 

Playing The Retail Giants - JCPM

 

On the other side of the trade is going long JCPenney. Improving sales trajectory for 2013 and incremental improvement in store layout and their e-commerce business will drive the stock higher this year. We like the price lower than where it is now but there’s room to consider buying it if you’re less sensitive to price.


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