ASCA: UPDATE FROM LAS VEGAS

Here are our notes from meetings in Las Vegas last week

 

 

Costs:

  • It looks like they have some more room to cut costs, unlike most regional operators
  • They have room to cut/close food outlets – too many amenities
  • It wouldn't take long to implement cuts
  • We think this could be the focus of the Q3 earnings call

 

 

General commentary:

  • Last year Labor Day weekend fell in August so it’s a tough comp. September will be better - look at August and September combined to see a real trend. Labor Day is a big weekend
  • Unemployment first, then gas are the major economic inputs
  • They think that the agriculture business is going to be down 38% and the effects of this will hit them
  • Jackpot is having a record year
  • No chatter of Nebraska legalizing gaming
  • Business isn't really improving - bumping along the bottom.  It’s just not employment rate but also that people are working less hours and, therefore, receiving less pay. 17.5% is the real unemployment rate
  • Win per admission has gone up but the admissions are down. They have lost the bottom end - so the number is inflated because it’s also not an apple-to-apple customer
  • ASCA is the only operator that has seen win per admission increase – because they are just not marketing to the bottom customer

 

 

Missouri:

  • They think that table games would have been 10% better in Missouri – buoyed by the loss limit removal - if not for the economy

 

 

Colorado:

  • Black Hawk- July was a substantial boost, August not as strong (holiday weekend)
  • The hotel will open September 29th

 

 

Capex:

  • Colorado was the last of the big capex
  • Construction costs haven't really decreased. Labor has decreased slightly
  • Council bluffs and East Chicago were the only other projects they ever spoke about - but based on HET results - there is no way they would do it (Chicago).  In Council Bluffs they would spend 100mm but they can't construct anything for that little
  • $50-$60mm in maintenance capex for 2009
  • 2010 will include a little deferred maintenance so capex is expected to be somewhat more substantial that year

 

 

Credit facility:

  • They still need to extend the agreement
  • Penn was lower than they thought. So they will pursue one shortly

 

 

East Chicago:

  • The 10th license in IL is 45 miles away from ASCA’s nearest property. They think it will be an immaterial event to them
  • IL unemployment increased there much more than in their other markets
  • They think that the Horseshoe impact has already been felt

 

 

Investment opportunities

  • Kansas - they already have $400mm invested in the Kansas City market so they are not interested
  • The tax rate is too high in other new jurisdictions
  • There are a few local assets in Vegas that are interesting but not cheap enough
  • Fontainebleau doesn't make sense and will cost 1.5bn to finish. It’s also in the worst location on the strip.  No walk traffic (across from Circus Circus)
  • ASCA would only buy something that's immediately accretive
  • They don't buy into the cross marketing benefit so much (look at Harrah’s)
  • They also wouldn't do anything until City Center opens
  • ASCA took a look at Ohio - taxes and license fee too high
  • They wouldn't be building new projects now (à la PNK). Banks don't like lending south of 5x-ish. They need the multiple to increase to create money. Their problem is the issue of losing the license
  • ASCA would pay 6x EBITDA for an asset if they could improve that EBITDA

 

 

Balance Sheet:

  • ASCA can add $6 of value in debt reduction alone over the next few years.
  • Would like to get to 3.5x leverage - no sooner than end of 2011.

 

 

River City (PNK) impact:

  • Very few customers come to ASCA from South County – ASCA is the most isolated
  • ASCA thinks that River City will do only $25mm in EBITDA - pay a few hundred million at most for that opportunity, not $250 million. 

7 Tweets Summing Up What You Need to Know About Today's GDP Report

"There's a tremendous opportunity to educate people in our profession on how GDP is stated and projected," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough wrote today. Here's everything you need to know about today's GDP report.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Crash Test Bear

In the past six months, U.S. stock indices are up between +12% and +18%.

read more

GOLD: A Deep Dive on What’s Next with a Top Commodities Strategist

“If you saved in gold over the past 20 to 25 years rather than any currency anywhere in the world, gold has outperformed all these currencies,” says Stefan Wieler, Vice President of Goldmoney in this edition of Real Conversations.

read more

Exact Sciences Up +24% This Week... What's Next? | $EXAS

We remain long Exact Sciences in the Hedgeye Healthcare Position Monitor.

read more

Inside the Atlanta Fed's Flawed GDP Tracker

"The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNowcast model, while useful at amalgamating investor consensus on one singular GDP estimate for any given quarter, is certainly not the end-all-be-all of forecasting U.S. GDP," writes Hedgeye Senior Macro analyst Darius Dale.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Acrophobia

"Most people who are making a ton of money right now are focused on growth companies seeing accelerations," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough wrote in today's Early Look. "That’s what happens in Quad 1."

read more

People's Bank of China Spins China’s Bad-Loan Data

PBoC Deputy Governor Yi says China's non-performing loan problem has “pretty much stabilized." "Yi is spinning. China’s bad-debt problem remains serious," write Benn Steil and Emma Smith, Council on Foreign Relations.

read more

UnderArmour: 'I Am Much More Bearish Than I Was 3 Hours Ago'

“The consumer has a short memory.” Yes, Plank actually said this," writes Hedgeye Retail analyst Brian McGough. "Last time I heard such arrogance was Ron Johnson."

read more

Buffalo Wild Wings: Complacency & Lack of Leadership (by Howard Penney)

"Buffalo Wild Wings has been plagued by complacency and a continued lack of adequate leadership," writes Hedgeye Restaurants analyst Howard Penney.

read more

Todd Jordan on Las Vegas Sands Earnings

"The quarter actually beat lowered expectations. Overall, the mass segment performed well although base mass lagging is a concern," writes Hedgeye Gaming, Lodging & Leisure analyst Todd Jordan on Las Vegas Sands.

read more

An Update on Defense Spending by Lt. Gen Emo Gardner

"Congress' FY17 omnibus appropriation will fully fund the Pentagon's original budget request plus $15B of its $30B supplemental request," writes Hedgeye Potomac Defense Policy analyst Lt. Gen Emerson "Emo" Gardner USMC Ret.

read more

Got Process? Zero Hedge Sells Fear, Not Truth

Fear sells. Always has. Look no further than Zero Hedge.

read more