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LVS 2Q CONFERENCE CALL NOTES

In-line quarter after adjusting for Singapore low hold. Management very bullish on Macau

 

 

CONF CALL NOTES

  • 4.6 million visits to Sands China, 40% increase YoY
  • 2Q Macau VIP RC share 17.4% vs 14.8% year ago
  • Venetian Macau leads in Macau visitation 
  • Sands Cotai Central visitation (40,000 visits per day) increased 142% YoY
  • Parisian Macau substructure under construction; based on timely govt approvals, timing for opening is late 2015
  • Korea still has potential
  • Madrid - still need govt approvals and finalization of land grants

Q & A

 

Macau

  • SCC ramp up:  big driver was mass business; cross-traffic between SCC and Venetian continues to build; 
  • SCC hotel occ lower yoy:  as they get more retail, occupancy should increase
  • Four Seasons condo sales:  lining up project mgmt and sales team; no further govt approvals needed
  • Consumer trends:  going in right direction; macro concerns in China not affecting Macau 
  • Junket operators extending credit? Does not believe strong VIP growth is driven by credit
  • Mass table yields:  flattish even as number of mass tables increases; will keep on adding mass tables 
  • Slot ETG yields declining as number of ETGs decline; still believe $1BN ETG market as an aggregate
  • Four Seasons:  transitionary period; moving into premium-mass, direct play business  
  • Better infrastructure driving Macau visitation growth; excited about HK-Zhuhai-Macau bridge
  • Labor shortages?  No.

Singapore

  • Low Singapore hold %:  5th quarter below 'average' - no concerns about that; will go back to 2.85% over time
  • VIP Volume:  $1MM bets are contributing to the strong volume; still same source of customers (mainly Mainland China/Hong Kong); 
  • Slot ETG: govt more restrictive of local play; have been challenging (less S'pore visitation offset by more visitation by Mainland Chinese, Indonesian); remains confident there will be some growth there

Other

  • Las Vegas needs to grow ADR, optimistic on 2014; gaming dependent on high-end Asian players; slot/table businesses have been 'mediocre'
    • CZR has been undercutting LVS, WYNN in room rates
  • CFO search:  in final stages
  • Japan:  gaming bill will be submitted in November; there may be a limit where the casino has to be built in two years

RAI Results Mention E-Cigs and The FDA on Menthol

On what continues to be nasty volume trends across the cigarette industry, RAI reported relatively solid results in Q2. Despite volume declines of -6% (above the industry average of -6.1%) and RAI's total market share down 0.3% to 26% versus the prior-year quarter, the company was able to offset volume declines by pricing and strong performance from Camel and Pall Mall, its two growth brands in the premium and value categories, respectively, and positive results from Camel SNUS (80% market share) and moist-snuff leader Grizzly that saw brand share up 1.0% in the quarter.

 

We’re optimistic on RAI’s 2H performance due to the migration and growth of smokeless tobacco and e-cigs as contributing factors offsetting declining cigarette volume trends and tougher comps in the back half of 2013.

 

We do expect cigarette volume declines to persist. The company expects volumes to decline 4-5% for the year and cited such contributing factors as: ongoing weakness in the economy, high unemployment, higher retail prices, and tougher comps given lower volume declines last year (-2.3%), and growth in smokeless tobacco and smoke-free technologies like electronic cigarettes (e-cigs).

 

 

On e-cigs: the company looks to continue to invest in its e-cig brand VUSE in the back half.  Interestingly, it opened its earnings call by underling that it’s excited that VUSE is expanding into its first major market, Colorado. In the Q&A, the company noted that VUSE will grow to have a commanding presence in the e-cig market, already out in 500 retail stores in the first week, with a flavor profile it calls superior to its competitors.

 

On industry trends, it claims it’s too early to talk about the consumer response, but said retailers are extremely positive. It noted that while e-cigs have strong trialing, so far the conversion is low. RAI also said that while its products may have product displays at retail that are available to the customer, it’s a clerk-assisted sale with the actual product housed behind the counter.

 

 

On Menthols and the FDA: Yesterday the FDA released a second review on menthol cigarettes that essentially reached the same conclusion of its first: menthol cigarettes appeal disproportionately to younger smokers and are more addictive than other cigarettes. This is noteworthy given that one-third of RAI’s total cigarette volume is menthol.

 

RAI took numerous questions on its outlook and strategy given the announcement, but its only main response was it will continue to review the proposed rule making before responding. 

 

In response to the first report, Big Tobacco filed its own report with the FDA, making the case that menthols pose no different risk to public health than any other cigarette and therefore should not be subject to special regulation. It also sued the FDA over the experts it had appointed to the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee tasked with the 2011 study.

 

We’ll be monitoring both the regulatory and company actions in response to this release.

 

 

Results: On the quarter, EPS beat consensus by one cent at $0.84. Revenue was lighter at $2.18B vs the Street at $2.19B, and increased 0.1% versus the prior-year quarter. RAI repurchased 3.1 million shares for $150MM.  On the year, RAI reaffirmed EPS ex-items of $3.15-3.30.

 

 

Matthew Hedrick

Senior Analyst


China: Dour Indeed

Consistent with our recent work, the Chinese growth outlook for the remainder of the year appears rather dour indeed.

 

China: Dour Indeed - China PMI

 

This is evidenced by this morning’s data, which showed manufacturing growth hitting an 11-month low in July. Asian markets were mostly lower on the news, with the Shanghai Composite falling 1.3%.

 

The consensus response (i.e. “Must… Stimulate… Now…”) remains largely offsides. Pulling forward railway construction won’t move the needle on Chinese growth. In reality, all it does is create a vacuum of reduced outlays to muddle through on the back-end. 

 

Still, we don’t want to be short anything that even remotely resembles a stimulus package. The buy-side is trained to buy stimulus now, and ask questions later.

 


Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.30%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.51%

RCL YOUTUBE

In preparation for RCL's F2Q 2013 earnings release tomorrow, we’ve put together the recent pertinent forward looking company commentary.

 

 

YOUTUBE FROM Q1 CONFERENCE CALL

  • "The higher ticket yields were driven by Caribbean, Brazil and Asia itineraries."
  • "We saw improvement in all categories for onboard revenue. Ships that have been recently revitalized and vessels sailing on new itineraries did particularly well."
  • "We believe marketing spend is key to driving higher revenues and expect to invest these savings throughout the balance of the year."
  • "Over the last few weeks though, we have seen an improvement in booking activity and we are still forecasting record yields for the Caribbean."
  • "Our average lead pricing is currently about 3% higher than the same time last year for sailings departing within the next 12 months."
  • "On average, our guests are booking their cruise about two weeks earlier this year than they were in 2011 and 2012. In fact, the booking curve has looked strikingly similar to 2008 for the last several months."
  • "We will have more Americans cruising with us on itineraries away from North America in 2013 than we had expected. Conversely, we will have more guests from outside North America cruising with us in the Caribbean in 2013 than we had expected."
  • "We considered our European summer revenue projections to have more risks attached to them in comparison to other spheres of deployment. Although there is still somewhat limited visibility for all of our summer deployment, at this juncture, in Europe, we are sufficiently ahead of 2012 on both rate and occupancy, to be comfortable that our European deployment is of comparable risk to our other programs."
  • "Turning to China, the region that represents 5% of our capacity in 2013. The hostility between Japan and China surrounding the disputed islands in the East China Sea continues to affect our itineraries and our demand generation. We have now removed the Japanese ports of call from nearly all of 2013's North Asia program. As a result, most itineraries from our China homeport of Shanghai and Tianjin are calling only on ports of call on South Korea."
  • "You're going to continue to see promotions by us. You're going to see them by our competitors."
  • [Negative publicity] "For now, it will probably have more of an effect on potential first-timers. The problem is that people don't call us on the phone to tell us that they're not booking with us."
  • [Q3 Europe] "We had said back in early February that we were a little less than 50% booked for Europe. And today, we're around 70% booked, to give you some sense of where we are. We're still counting on more business. But the fact that we have maintained our full year guidance, despite the fact that we had a good first quarter, certainly implies that we've taken a little bit of a haircut in Q2 through Q4."
  • "The markets that I would say we're seeing the most softness in would be, of course, Spain. And then probably secondarily the UK would be a little bit weaker than maybe we would have expected. Germany has actually held up quite well for us with – particularly with our TUI Cruises brand, we're very pleased with its performance. And then the other markets, in general, seem to be doing well."
  • [Australia] "In the near-term is flat to slightly lower yield outlook for us for this year. we would expect that Australia, as a southern summer market, would continue to grow and be a mainstay of the cruise industry going forward."
  • "Pullmantur's performance is inevitably affected by that [Spain] very strongly and that's been a big disappointment and I don't see any quick turn away from massive improvement given the economic situation."
  • "The French, the CDF, Croisières de France, situation is actually doing quite well for us. And we would expect to continue to expand that to take advantage of a good market position."

HOT YOUTUBE

In preparation for HOT's F2Q 2013 earnings release tomorrow, we’ve put together the recent pertinent forward looking company commentary.

 

 

YOUTUBE FROM Q1 CONFERENCE CALL

  • "As of the end of the quarter, we sold and closed about 86% of Bal Harbour residences. That means there's only about 40 units left, and we expect to complete the sellout this year."
  • "As we look at China, our business is generally picking up...we expect the Q2 REVPAR trend in China to be in the middle of our worldwide outlook range of 5% to 7%. New deal signing and new hotel opening pace remain robust."
  • "Helped by the holiday shift, we expect North American REVPAR growth to be sequentially higher at the high end of our Q2 outlook range of 5% to 7% for company-operated hotels. Rate increases should approach 5% as we hit peak occupancies."
  • "Group business continues to pace in the mid-single digits."
  • "Government travel is about 2% of our North American business, so the sequester itself is less of a drag today than you might think. We are keeping an eye, however, on whether the austerity measures are having a broader effect on demand."
  • "We also continue to sell owned hotels with long-term contracts. These two sources of growth, along with the continuation of the recovery, mean we have the potential to grow our fees at 9% to 12% per year. At the same time, we don't see the need to grow our SG&A faster than 3% to 5% a year. And most of our capital investments in making our system more attractive for owners is covered by our breakeven funds."
  • "As maybe expected, European companies are watching their costs, groups are smaller, staying closer to home and booking"
  • [Ex China] "the rest of Asia  should grow in the upper half of our Q2 REVPAR outlook range."
  • "With REVPAR up 7.1%, Africa and the Middle East was our fastest-growing region in Q1. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we were all there for the month of March. Jokes aside, the UAE is booming again with REVPAR growth of almost 14%. Saudi was up 8%. In North Africa, while the situation remains volatile, we are seeing some visitors return to the region. Egypt was up 30% in the quarter. We expect these trends to continue into Q2."
  • "In Latin America, REVPAR was flat, dragged down by Argentina, which dropped 15% at company-operated hotels. Local inflation has significantly slowed travel into the country. The GAAP between the official and unofficial exchange rates continues to widen. Our margins are squeezed by weakening demand and rising local costs. This situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon."
  • "In our vacation ownership business, trends remain stable. As a result, the reserves we need to set aside for loan losses continue to decline. Cash flow from this business remained strong."
  • [M&A] "Our sense is that volume in this kind of environment should continue to pick up. In the U.S., it's the public REITs. There's the sovereign-wealth funds and high net worth outside the U.S. We are not yet seeing a market that is looking for what you might call large deals, truly multi-hotel deals, billion-dollar plus deals. It is still a market for one and two hotels at a time."
  • "On buybacks, too, our goal is to be disciplined and be focused on buying back when we can, buy back at levels that are good relative to intrinsic value. You have seen us be very aggressive on buybacks in the past. So, again, this is something that we will review on a regular basis, and you should expect that our past behavior will tell you a lot about what we might do in the future."
  • "A little over 60% of our same-store managed properties are paying incentive fees. Outside of the U.S., if you look at it purely on the outside of the U.S., that number is about 75%. In the U.S., it's probably in the 30% range."
  • "We do have some modest ForEx headwinds. I mean, the move in the yen, as you know, has been quite substantial. And the Australian dollar and the Canadian dollar are also a little weaker than they were earlier in the year. So, the exchange rate impacts of another $3 million to $4 million."

Where In the World Is Keith?

Where in the world is Waldo Keith McCullough?

 

In case you haven’t been following the "Flow from Thunder Bay" on Twitter, Hedgeye’s CEO is mixing it up in Aspen on the front line of growth and innovation at Fortune's Brainstorm TECH conference. The annual event attracts some of the world’s top technology and media thinkers, operators, entrepreneurs, innovators, and influencers.

 

Keith has been tweeting away at the event (see below “McCullough’s Top-10 Tweets” from the Fortune conference.)

 

Where In the World Is Keith?  - innovation

 

According to Michael Blum, President of Hedgeye (who is with Keith at the conference), “One of the overarching themes this year is the value and monetization of great content. While a lot of the old media guard took issue with the interpretation of success for these new forms of media, many new business models are attracting the attention of content creators.

 

Blum added, “Hedgeye's freemium subscription model will continue to demonstrate strong growth as the audience explores new consumption channels.”

 

KEITH’S TOP-10 TWEETS FROM BRAINSTORM TECH

  1. "When you catch a winner, a lot of incredible things can happen" -Philipe Laffont #GrowthInvesting #FortuneTech
  2. "I want to back the CEO who doesn't sell stock and thinks he can go all the way" -Bill Gurley #fortunetech
  3. Hard core transparency and accountability drives your potential to learn from mistakes and evolve #FortuneTech               
  4. Does big media get what a new "digital brand" is? It’s their new competition #FortuneTech
  5. In financial markets/economics, most #OldWall media panders to government policy for access #FortuneTech
  6. You'll see more unaccountable market pundits leave Twitter, #FortuneTech style #transparency gets them in the mind
  7. "Twitter engagement people have w/ their audience matters more than size of the audience" -Kosner @espn #FortuneTech
  8. "we don't care if you watch us on TV, as long as the red logo is in the corner" -Zucker on Digital #FortuneTech
  9. "I need to know what the buy-side thinks, b/c I need to sell them stuff" (Bill from Benchmark) true #FortuneTech
  10. "Marketing is now going to be all about the storytelling and the data" -Narayen, CEO $ADBE #FortuneTech @HedgeyeTV

(Speaking of "innovation" ... if you didn't catch Keith on HedgeyeTV's inaugural unveiling yesterday, click here to watch. Note to #OldWall & #OldMedia: Keep your head up, the Hedgeye Revolution has arrived.)


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