LEISURE LETTER (10/17/2014)

Tickers: BYI, SGMS, MGM, BEE, CCL, RCL

EVENTS

  • Oct 21:
    • Sand China Board meeting in Macao
    • IHG Q2 earnings
  • Oct 23:
    • PENN Q3 earnings 11 am
    • LHO Q3 earnings 11 am "LaSalle Hotel Properties"
  • Oct 24: PEB Q3 earnings 9 am

COMPANY NEWS

BYI & SGMS (LVRJ) the merger could lead to a 21% reduction in the combined companies’ non-manufacturing and production workforce.The number of jobs eliminated would provide a cost savings of $83 million — 57% of the anticipated $144 million in reductions expected in the first year of the merger. Scientific Games employs just under 5,000 workers. Last year, the company more than doubled in size when it acquired slot machine maker WMS Industries for $1.5 billion. Bally has nearly 4,000 employees. The company added several new divisions last year when it bought table game provider and gaming equipment manufacturer SHFL entertainment for $1.3 billion.

Takeaway: Synergies is a nice word for job cuts

 

590:HK (Macau Business) Luk Fook Holdings (International) Ltd posted a 20% drop in same-store sales in Macau and Hong Kong in the three months between July and the end of September over that of a year ago. According to the group’s sales performance report filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, in both Macau and Hong Kon the sales of gold jewellery witnessed the biggest decrease of 27%, followed by gold by weight that dropped 24% and gem-set jewellery, the sales of which decreased by 7%. Same-store sales in mainland China also dropped considerably by 30% in the three months in question over that of a year earlier. During the National Week holiday in Macau and Hong Kong, same-store sales increased by 3% with gold by weight being the most sought after item registering an increase of 23%. However, gem-set jewellery registered an 11% drop in sales compared to that of Golden Week a year ago.

Takeaway: Symptomatic of a consumer slowdown, but is the cause of the spending slowdown due to the Mainland government corruption crackdown or something more macro?

 

MGM – announced it entered into an agreement to sell the Gold Strike in Jean to JETT Gaming, a slot machine route company owned by the Herbst family. The news comes just over a month after MGM revealed plans to sell the Railroad Pass in Henderson

Takeaway: Given the lack of pricing disclosure, probably very low single digit EBITDA multiples.  Otherwise, MGM would likely tell investors about the valuation on sale. 

 

MGM & 2282:HK(GGRAsia) Chief Executive of MGM China Holdings Ltd, Grant Bowie, on Wednesday played down the idea that casino floor staff from the company had taken part in industrial action on October 3 and 4. Mr Bowie refuted the idea that the company’s current dialogue with staff was a reaction to Forefront of Macao Gaming’s recent campaign.  Separately, Mr Bowie confirmed that MGM Macau has had three smoking lounges operational since October 9. However, on October 10, the city’s Health Bureau issued a list of 17 gaming venues that were authorized to operate smoking rooms, but didn’t mention MGM Macau.

Takeaway: An attempt to play nice with workers and the labor unrest.

 

BEE – entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to the Employment Agreement, dated as of November 19, 2012 (the “Employment Agreement”), with the Company’s president and chief executive officer, Raymond L. Gellein, Jr. Pursuant to the Amendment, among other things, (i) the term of the Employment Agreement was extended until December 31, 2015, (ii) Mr. Gellein will receive an annual base salary of not less than $940,000 and (iii) Mr. Gellein will be eligible to receive an annual cash performance-based bonus between 60% and 240% of annual base salary, with a target bonus of 120% of annual base

Takeaway: The employment contract renewal was widely expected due to the disclosure following the investor meeting.

 

CCLs & EBOLA(Huffington Post) a Dallas health care worker who handled a lab specimen from an Ebola-infected man from Liberia who died of the disease is on a Caribbean cruise ship where she has self-quarantined and is being monitored for any signs of infection. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki (SAH'-kee) says in a statement Friday that the woman has shown no signs of the disease and has been asymptomatic for 19 days. The government is working to return the woman and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise. The White House says the State Department is working with an unidentified country to secure their transportation home.

Takeaway:  Just more bad luck and publicity for CCL. We understand the cruise ship is the Carnival Magic which is enroute from Belize to Cozumel where the Magic is scheduled to port today. The ship left from Galveston, TX.

 

RCL(nltimes.nl) reports that Royal Caribbean has to pay at least €600,000 in fines for violating labor rules and regulations while the Oasis of the Seas was in the Netherlands. The newspaper says that ship employees lacked proper residence papers and worked excessive hours. Some of the crew members worked "up to 16 hours per day" the inspectors found. The inspections reportedly revealed that at least 48 crew members did not have proper Dutch work permits. The majority of these crewmembers were from the Philippines and South America.

 

Viking River has discounts for spring Europe and 2015 Asia (Seatrade Insider)

 Through Oct. 31, Viking is offering an early booking discount for all Europe departures in March and April and all 2015 Southeast Asia departures, with up to two-for-one cruise fare and up to two-for-one international air pricing. 

Takeaway:  A rare promo for Europe and Asia

 

MSC gives a free Divina Caribbean cruise for an inclusive Med package (Seatrade Insider)

MSC Cruises USA is offering inclusive air/land/sea vacation package deals for MSC Divina while the line's ship dedicated to North Americans is in the Mediterranean, May 16 through Sept. 19, 2015.  As a special promotion, travelers who book the air/land/sea package before Oct. 31 will receive a free seven-night cruise on MSC Divina in the Caribbean for select sailings between now and the end of the year. A non-refundable $500 deposit by Oct. 31 on the Mediterranean package is required to get the Caribbean cruise, which may be transferred to family or friends.

Takeaway:  An aggressive promotion by MSC

INDUSTRY NEWS

Japan Casino Enabling Legislation

(Xinhua) Following revisions being made to a draft bill by cross-party lawmakers for the removal of a ban on gambling in casinos in Japan, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso threw his support behind the move Friday stating the revision could help boost tourism and the overall economy. But while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's main ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are aiming to have the new bill on gambling ratified during the current Diet session, opposition to the bill has been voiced by the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan ( DPJ) and, more vocally, by the LDP's own junior New Komeito coalition ally. Both parties maintain that the opening of casinos here could have an adverse effect on society and create social problems such as gambling addiction and debt troubles, which could lead to the propagation of nefarious credit and loan companies, as well as loan sharks.

 

(Reuters) Japan's pro-casino lawmakers have agreed to consider setting limits on Japanese nationals' entry to casinos, bowing to pressure from opponents who threatened to block a legalization bill unless it addressed issues such as gambling addiction.

 

(GGRAsia) Any attempt to make Japan casino resorts for foreigners-only would be “constitutionally suspect” a cross-party panel of Japanese lawmakers reportedly heard on Thursday. Takeshi Iwaya chief secretary of what’s known as the IR Caucus – meaning Integrated Resorts Caucus – raised the constitutional issue and other questions during a meeting of the cross-party pro-casino grouping in Tokyo, said Akiyoshi Tsuruoka, general manager and chief editor for Gaming Capital Management Inc, who attended the meeting.

Takeaway: Slow process to step 1 - the integrated Resort legislation, given the debate of "step 1" legislation, we can only imagine the debate over step 2, the enabling legislation should the IR legislation finally become law.

 

Jeju Island Gaming Review – (Yonhap) Jeju Island governor Won Hee-ryong told local lawmakers he would push for a revision of gaming taxes and to establish a Singapore-style casino watchdog. Mr Won, speaking during a parliamentary audit on Thursday, said the goal is to improve transparency of the gambling industry and boost the local economy. He said the provincial government has been preparing to launch a casino regulator modeled after Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA), as a growing number of developers test opportunities for gambling resorts in Jeju Island. Mr Won, who took office in July, has for several times showed his concern about the opening of more casinos in Jeju Island. He has repeatedly vowed to tighten regulations and took issues with construction licenses issued by his predecessor. The governor of Jeju has also resisted the construction of a casino resort by Genting Singapore Plc. Genting is partnering with Chinese real estate developer Landing International Development Ltd to build the US$2.2 billion casino resort in Jeju.

Takeaway: Thus far, Mr. Won has not indicated his long-term objectives nor goals for gaming on Jeju Island.

 

Maryland Slots– The Maryland Board of Public Works has approved a contract renewal for the state to spend up to $200 million to lease and maintain slot machines over five years. The board voted 2-1 Wednesday, with Gov. Martin O'Malley and Treasurer Nancy Kopp voting in favor of the renewal. Comptroller Peter Franchot voted against it. Maryland law initially required the state to own slot machines at the state's five casinos. However, the law was changed in 2012. Next March, three of the state's casinos will acquire their own slot machines. The state will continue to lease and maintain slot machines for the casino at Ocean Downs near Ocean City and the casino at Rocky Gap in western Maryland.

Takeaway:  Good news for casino operators given strength of Maryland GGR.

  

US Hotel Construction Pipeline – According to the Smith Travel Research Pipeline Report, there are 3,291 hotels totaling 395,078 rooms Under Contract in the United States, a 14.3% increase in the number of rooms Under Contract compared with September 2013 and a 34.5% increase in rooms under construction. The Under Contract data includes projects in the In Construction, Final Planning and Planning stages but does not include projects in the Unconfirmed stage.   Among the Top 26 Markets, New York, New York, reported the most rooms under construction in September with 13,605 rooms, a 5.3% increase over September 2013. Four other markets reported more than 2,500 rooms under construction in September: Houston, Texas (4,504 rooms, up 143.6%); Washington, D.C. (3,036 rooms, up 5.9%); Chicago, Illinois (2,786 rooms, up 86.7%); and Miami-Hialeah, Florida (2,652 rooms, up 84.9%).

Takeaway: Construction increasing but new development still confined to limited service segment.

 

New York City Lodging & Airbnb– NY AG Eric Schneiderman issued a report that claims "widespread illegality across New York City listings on the Airbnb website, with data indicating that as much as 72% of Airbnb reservations over the last several years violated New York law". The report, based on four years of Airbnb-supplied data, stated commercial operators, not residents, are supplying more than a third of the units, predominantly in Manhattan, and generate more than a third of the revenue. The report also stated 6% of the hosts made 37% of the revenue — or $US168 million. The number of units they administered ranged from three to 272. One individual with those 272 units charged an average of US$358.19 a night, yielding US$6.8 million, the report said. The report also suggested Airbnb made US$40 million from these illegal rentals and New York City was likely owed US$33 million in unpaid hotel taxes from illegal short-term rentals. The report, "Airbnb in the City," is based on 497,322 private stays in 35,354 unique places that were rented for less than 30 days and did not involve a shared room. The report also indicated about 2,000 units are rented for six months or more. A dozen buildings had 60% or more of their units used as rentals for at least half the year

Takeaway:  More controversy surrounding AirBnB

MACRO

Singapore Home Sales – (channelnewsasia.com) According to URA, buyers returned to the private housing market in September, with sales of homes surging 48.3% from the previous month. Excluding executive condominiums, developers sold 648 new units last month, up from the 437 units sold in August and 511 units sold in July.

 

Hedgeye Macro Team remains negative Europe, their bottom-up, qualitative analysis (Growth/Inflation/Policy framework) indicates that the Eurozone is setting up to enter the ugly Quad4 in Q4 (equating to growth decelerates and inflation decelerates) = Europe Slowing.

Takeaway:  We're seeing bottom up slowing in European cruise pricing in our monthly survey.  Europe has been a tailwind for CCL and RCL but a negative pivot here looks increasingly likely. Following CCL's earnings release, we recently turned negative on those stocks based on the negative European thesis.  To a lesser extent, HOT and HLT are also exposed to European weakness.

 

Hedgeye Macro Team remains negative on consumer spending and believes in muted inflation, a Quad4 set-up.  Following  a great call on rising housing prices, the Hedgeye Macro/Financials team is 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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