LEISURE LETTER (03/31/2104)

TICKERS: PENN, MGM, RHP

 

EVENTS TO WATCH:  UPCOMING EARNINGS / CONFERENCES / RELEASES 

Wednesday, April 2

  • March ADP Employment report

Friday, April 4

  • March NFP report

Tuesday-Thursday, April 8-10

  • Mid-America Gaming Congress (Columbus, OH)

Wednesday, April 9

  • SHO Investor Day

Thursday, April 10

  • HST Investor Day

 

COMPANY NEWS

PENN - announced it submitted to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts an electronic payment of $25 million for the Plainridge Park Casino gaming license.

TAKEAWAY:  Well on the way to opening the doors, any effort to rescind gaming across Massachusetts will now be met with massive and extended litigation. 

                                  

MGM –  MGM CEO Murren noted: Las Vegas receives 40 million visitors a year; 20% are first timers, 18% from overseas. As for Japan, Murren expects a casino by 2020.  In Japan, 60% of tourists come from Singapore, Korea and China.

TAKEAWAY:  Setting the stage for a massive bidding war over the expected Tokyo Integrated Resort...

 

RHP – the Company entered into an agreement to purchase the property at 300 Broadway Street, Nashville.  The building houses the Opry Originals gift store on the ground level while 16,000 sq. ft. of total office space encompass the 2nd and 3rd floors of the property.

TAKEAWAY:  Sounds like a corporate HQ relocation is in the works…

 

Great Wolf – the Massachusetts Economic Assistance Coordinating Council last week awarded $17.2 million to Great Wolf for its first New England location – the redevelopment of a Holiday Inn with a Coco Key water resort in Fitchburg, MA (30 miles north of Worchester, MA).  Great Wolf will redesign and expand the water park from 25,000 square feet to 55,000 square feet, convert the expo center into 81 new hotel rooms, and rebrand the hotel. The total number of hotel rooms will be increased from 245 to 406.   Great Wolf Resorts anticipates the project will generate more than 400,000 visitors annually.

TAKEAWAY: Could a RE-IPO be in the planning?  Recall, Apollo took WOLF private in June 2012 for $7.85/share. The company currently operates 12 destinations and Fitchburg, MA will be their 13th location and Garden Grove, CA is scheduled to open in 2015. 

 

Thomas Cook – recorded a growth 2% in bookings for next summer, according to data accumulated up to March 15.  Thomas Cook has sold 50% of its programming for the season while it has not changed the capacity nor prices.  CEO Harriet Green said, "An increase in bookings for the summer, is encouraging. The winter business was satisfactory, despite the market disruption caused by the significant continuous riots in Egypt."

 

For the UK, bookings are +3% YoY over last year, with a 1% reduced capacity and a price drop of 2%.  In Continental Europe, bookings are +1%, with matched capacity and increased prices by 1%.  In the Nordic countries, sales are 2% above, with 3% more capacity but a reduction of rates of 2%.  For the winter program, Thomas Cook sold 93%, but the results have been very affected by Egypt.  Accumulated bookings are 4% below last year, with a reduced capacity of 5% and 1% higher prices.

TAKEAWAY:  Tour bookings are up for the summer but the pricing commentary is weak

 

INDUSTRY NEWS              

Macau / Zhuhai border crossing – a new e-channel, immigration lane featuring 23 automated immigration clearance and processing checkpoints opened.  The e-channel lane will reduce immigration wait times from up to 30 minutes to no more than 5 minutes. 

TAKEAWAY:  Having visited the Macau/Zhuhai border crossing, it reminds us of the San Diego/Tijuana border and immigration crossing but without the cars and 100x times the number of people.  Anything efforts to reduce processing time, simply increases time at the table and is a positive for the Mass gaming segment. 

  

New York Proposal 1 Gaming Expansion – New York’s Gaming Commission's Facility Location Board will put out requests for applications Monday for four privately owned casinos in three regions of the state: the Albany area, Catskills and Southern Tier.  Based on media reports, there are at least three bidders in each region who have expressed public intentions.  Each application comes with a $1 million fee to be used by the board to investigate each proposal. If the board doesn't use all the money, the remainder would be returned to the applicant.   The application process will end on June 30. To apply, a bidder “must illustrate to the board's satisfaction that local support has been demonstrated.

TAKEAWAY:  Very soon we will know the depth of interest in developing new casinos across New York.


MACRO

Chinese travel agents stop selling tickets to Malaysia Times of India
China's online ticketing sites (eLong, LY.com, Qunar, Mango) have stopped booking on flights going to Malaysia. This is the first major commercial backlash against Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur announced that there was no hope for passengers of the missing MH370 flight on March 24.  "We will continue the ban indefinitely until the Malaysian government and Malaysia Airlines release every piece of information they have in order to find out the truth about the missing flight as soon as possible," wrote eLong.

TAKEAWAY:  A widening rift in Malaysia-China relations could hurt Malaysian economy and potentially impact Singapore gaming.

 

China Macro - 1Q14 China GDP is expected to slow to 7.4% YoY (Bloomberg), the lowest since 1Q09 when GDP was 7.3%.  Chinese property prices are reportedly cooling with economic slowdown and lower level of bank interest in making new real estate loans. 

TAKEAWAY:  Not good economic news for Macau but not exactly awful. The Chinese economy would need to really hit the skids to slowdown the Macau juggernaut. 

 

Hedgeye remains negative on consumer spending and believes in more inflation.  Following  a great call on rising housing prices, the Hedgeye Macro/Financials team is turning decidedly less positive.  

TAKEAWAY:  We’ve found housing prices to be the single most significant factor in driving gaming revenues over the past 20 years in virtually all gaming markets across the US.


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