LEISURE LETTER (08/04/2014)

Tickers: IKGH, MGM, WYNN, CCL, RCL

EVENTS

  • Aug 5:
    • BEE 2Q 10am: , pw: 73605986
    • RHP 2Q 10am:
    • MGM 2Q 11am: , pw: 1985444
    • SGMS 2Q 430pm: , pw: SGMS
  • Aug 6:
    • HT 2Q 9 am:
  • Aug 7:
    • MPEL 2Q 8:30am: , pw: MPEL
  • Aug 8:
    • DRH 2Q 10am: , pw: 153358818
    • SHO 2Q 12n:

COMPANY NEWS

IKGH – VIP promoter Iao Kun Group reported Rolling Chip volume of US$1.6 billion, up 7% YoY.  July win rate was 2.32%. July 2013 hold rate was 3.0%.

Takeaway:  2nd straight month of VIP volume growth for IKGH.  Could VIP volumes in July not have declined as much as the Street expects?  We should receive the July Macau details tomorrow and we suspect that low hold played a role with VIP volumes performing better than VIP revenue.

27:HK – A group of workers in the casino and hotel operations of Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd will protest tomorrow outside of the Galaxy Macau. The workers are petitioning the Hong Kong-listed company to increase salaries, introduce changes to pay policies, and provide staff with more annual leave days and better career prospects.

Takeaway: The natives are restless and no operator appears immune to the labor demonstrations.

CWN:AU – Crown Resorts Ltd buying the vacant former Frontier Casino site on the Las Vegas Strip. Crown said it had established a joint-venture resort company to develop the site with former Wynn Las Vegas president Andrew Pascal, with financial backing from U.S. private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management. The group hopes to begin construction of a hotel-casino project in 2015 with a targeted opening in 2018. Packard was reportedly the runner up bid for the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas earlier this year. 

Takeaway: We doubt Crown paid El Ad Properties anything close to El Ad's $1.2 billion basis in the land.  Another private equity firm enters the gaming sector.

GENM:MK – While the company is currently under construction on the 538,000 sq. ft Resorts World Birmingham for £150 million, with a scheduled opening in spring 2015, it is also is rumored to be one of the shortlisted final bidders for the entire NEC (National Exhibition Center) Midlands venue. Resorts Word Birmingham will feature outlet shopping, an Asian-themed spa, a four star hotel, cinema and international casino

Takeaway: Genting building its global gaming empire.

MGM – Springfield representatives and casino officials confirmed Friday MGM Resorts closed escrow on the former Zanetti School and the historic Springfield State Armory building late on Thursday. The final purchase price was $3.2 million – or $1.6 million for each building. The purchases come as the project’s future remains uncertain. Voters in November will decide whether to repeal the state’s 2011 casino law. MGM also paid the city more than $160,000 to cover property taxes assessed from the time MGM was awarded the parcels and when it closed on them. The casino’s agreement with Springfield calls for more than $15 million in upfront and advance payments as well as more than $25 million in annual payments.

Takeaway: Setting the stage for the new development.

WYNN – Wynn has proposed using custom-made catamarans, each able to carry 49 passengers, to connect a $1.6 billion hotel and casino on the Mystic River in Everett to Long Wharf in downtown and the World Trade Center in the Seaport, an extensive new service to reduce car traffic to the proposed resort, according to documents filed for review under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. As many as three boats would be in service at one time, running from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., and leaving as frequently as 20 minutes apart. 

Takeaway: Wynn doing its best to reduce traffic and provide an alternate means of transportation to its proposed property.

IHG:LN(Financial Times) reports that Marcato has hired investment bank Houlihan Lokey to advise it on options regarding Mercato's stake in Intercontinental Hotels.

Takeaway: If at first you don't succeed ...hire a banker.  A tax inversion structure seems to be the latest proposal to US hotel companies.

CCL (Caribbean Journal)  – announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a $70 million destination cruise project in Tortuga (Ile de la Tortue), an island off the northern coast of Haiti.

Takeaway:  Following NCL's Belize example? 

CCL (Cruise Critic) – Tropical Storm Bertha has affected itineraries on Carnival Breeze, Carnival Liberty, and Carnival Valor

RCL – TUI Cruises, a joint venture between TUI AG and Royal Caribbean Cruises, today ordered two more cruise ships for its Cruises unit to reflect high demand for cruise holidays in Germany and Europe. The new ships will be delivered in 2016 and 2017 and will take the fleet of TUI Cruises to six ships.  TUI Cruises currently operates 3 cruise ships, with a fourth being built.

Takeaway:  Supply is heating up for Europe.  

Crystals (Cruise Critic) – dropped 2015 Crystal Cruises has removed Israel port calls from Crystal Serenity's September 20, 2015 itinerary as a result of recent violent unrest.  Crystal joins at least two other lines that have canceled calls on Israel due to mounting tension. 

Takeaway:  More cruise lines dropping Israel calls due to unrest.

INSIDER TRANSACTIONS

WYN – CFO Thomas G. Conforti sold 28,659 shares on Monday, July 28th at an average price of $78.25 and now owns 106,526 shares.

RCL – CEO Richard D. Fain sold 94,850 shares on Tuesday, July 29th at an average price of $62.38 and now owns 1,131,395 shares.

INDUSTRY NEWS

UnionPay Fines Merchants – China UnionPay has imposed fines of 100 million yuan (US$16.3 million) over the last four months on third-party payment firms for misusing merchant category codes, which is likely to have caused losses of hundreds of millions of yuan among credit card issuers this year. The merchant category code is the number that credit card issuers adopt to classify companies which have to pay fees upon use at point of sale (POS) and the fees vary based on the category or the industry they belong to. Third-party payment firms have been misusing business category codes–even using fake names for many companies to meet the category classification on the lower-fee-charged POS–in order to help the businesses accepting payments pay lower fees to credit card issuers.

Takeaway: The next iteration in the crackdown in the misuse of the UnionPay point of sale devices.

Chinese Tourists Avoiding Singapore (Bloomberg)  A strengthening Singapore $, rising labor costs and a 7% sales tax Chinese tourists don’t encounter in Hong Kong is hurting Singapore retail sales.  A reduction in Chinese visitors contributed to a sales slide of as much as 4% in Singapore’s annual shopping festival (Great Singapore Sale), according to the retailers’ association.

Takeaway:  The Great Singapore Sale of 2014 turned out not so great.  We remain concerned with the Singapore economy and its impact on the LVS and Genting Singapore casinos there.

Notable Property Transaction

Malaysian company KSG Enterprises Ltd acquired the SpringHill Suites New York for $82 million or approx. $474,000 per key.  The 19-story, 173-key hotel, located at 25 W. 37th St., was developed from the ground up by Hidrock and Robert Finvarb, opened last year, and immediately achieved 90% occupancy.

Takeaway: A very strong price per key for a midtown Manhattan limited service hotel.

MACRO

China Services July PMI:  fell to 54.2 from 55 in June, a six-month low

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.