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Tickers:  CZR, WYNN, CCL, RCL

EVENTS

  • Nov 16-18: RCL's Quantum of the Seas investor event
  • Nov 17:  Carnival Corp announcement in afternoon (Source: Seatrade Insider)
  • Nov 18: BEL Investor Meeting Webcast
  • Nov 19: Sega Sammy Investor Meetings
  • Nov 23: Pacquiao-Algieri bout at Venetian Cotai Arena

COMPANY NEWS

CZR – Local residents/home owners oppose Caesars Entertainment request to expand the Strip’s Gaming Enterprise District to include a 38-acre parking lot behind The Linq.

http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/casinos-gaming/noise-traffic-events-rankle-residents-near-linq

1680.HK Macau Legend – The new hotel at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf is ready but not yet open to the public because it lacks an occupancy license. The hotel has no gaming facilities but is connected via skywalks to Babylon Casino. Macau Legend doesn’t have a Macau gaming license in its own right, but instead operates the Babylon Casino at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf and the Pharaoh’s Palace Casino at the nearby Landmark Macau hotel on Macau peninsula under a SJM Holdings Ltd license.

http://www.ggrasia.com/macau-legends-new-hotel-ready-but-lacks-govt-go-ahead/

Takeaway: Macau Legend the hotel is ready but no word on the opening of the casino.  Babylon Casino recently was awarded 35 additional gaming table which are expected to be premium mass focused.  The 35 tables are in addition to the 19 current tables and 120 slot machines that are registered as not currently in operation.

WYNN – Mr. Wynn supportive of the new development projects (Resorts World Las Vegas and Packer's project) on the Las Vegas Strip.

http://www.lasvegassun.com/blogs/kats-report/2014/nov/16/wynn-cheerleader-new-strip-projects/

Takeaway: While Mr. Wynn supports additional construction, we are concerned about increasing supply in a no growth Strip gaming environment.  

CCL – The 158 passengers and 14 crew members who became ill with vomiting and diarrhea from norovirus were aboard Carnival's Crown Princess, which sailed Oct. 18 from Hawaii across the south Pacific to Los Angeles. The ship had 3,009 passengers and 1,160 crew members. According to Carnival, the Crown Princess was thoroughly disinfected before disembarking Los Angeles for a seven day voyage to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cab San Lucas before returning to Los Angeles on Saturday, November 22.   

http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-16/norovirus-sickens-172-on-princess-cruises-ship-cdc-says.html

Takeaway:  Usually only an issue when a few of these events are strung together. This incident shouldn't impact bookings or the stocks.

RCL – From a booking perspective, Quantum of the Seas is 'shaping up very nicely in China,' according to Royal Caribbean's international chief, SVP Dominic Paul. The reaction from about 200 Chinese travel agents and media aboard inaugural cruises from Bayonne, N.J.'s Cape Liberty in recent days has been encouraging.

The Chinese trade started base-loading sales a few months ago, and there has been a strong communication program in China. But now that they've had the opportunity to see it, Paul said the ship has "completely exceeded their expectations.'

Quantum will expand the spectrum of the customer base in China, Zinan Liu, regional VP and MD China for Royal Caribbean and chairman, CLIA North Asia, told Seatrade Insider on board the ship. Previously, younger customers might have viewed cruising as too traditional. In fact, it's turning out that the demographic in China skews younger for Royal Caribbean than elsewhere.

Liu said cruises achieve very high satisfaction levels among Chinese cruisers, and Chinese see cruising as an aspirational, lifestyle, experiential thing—like fine wine. They travel as multigenerational families and with groups of friends. And they love the 'Western-ness' of cruising—especially the younger generation.

http://www.seatrade-insider.com/news/news-headlines/quantum-has-blown-away-chinese-agents-media-on-inaugural-cruises.html

Takeaway:  The Chinese agents don't have many options to sell so they have to be enthusiastic. That said, the ship is remarkable, particularly if the Wi-Fi integration works well. We will have more commentary on aboard Quantum in the next few days.

INDUSTRY NEWS

Pansy Ho on Mainland China Corruption Crackdown – Pansy Ho speaking at the Global Cafe business forum claimed there was no direct correlation between the slowdown in Macau and the Chinese government’s crackdown on corruption.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/news/gambling-slowdown-good-for-macau-pansy-ho/story-e6frg122002419

Takeaway: Huh? If that's the case then this downturn in Macau VIP is even more troublesome. Suffice it to say, we don't agree with Pansy.   

Chinese Consumer Demand for Gold Drops – According to the New-York based Council, the purchase of gold by the China markets had shrunk by 37% year-on-year to 182.7 metric tons in the third quarter to September, following a slump in demand. The World Gold Council said it expected Chinese demand to be 850-950 tons this year, down from its previous estimate of 900-1,000 tons. Early in the year, the London-based group had said Chinese appetite could even reach 1,100 tons.

http://macaubusinessdaily.com/Business/Demand-gold-falls-foul-Chinese-anti-graft-storm

Takeaway: Evidence and commentary of a decline in Chinese gold consumption/purchases (jewelry and coins/bars) was discussed on several HK jewelery store calls during Q2 earnings.

Zhuhai International Convention & Exhibition Center – hosted a media tour over the weekend and according to Doris Wan, the Center's public relations executive, the fact that the Zhuhai center is in close proximity to Macau and has strengthened Zhuhai’s competitiveness in terms of hosting meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) events, Doris Wan still believes that the two cities are not in competition, but in a complementary relationship, in which both parties will be able to supplement each other. “After all, Macau is limited in terms of the venues and human resources [for MICE],” she said.

http://macaudailytimes.com.mo/new-zhuhai-exhibition-centre-complements-macau.html

Takeaway: We called out the opening of the Zhuhai Center on November 11 in our Leisure Letter and noted how mainland Chinese attending MICE events in Zhuhai would not need a Macau visa.  We doubt this commentary will rest peacefully with the folks at Sand China Limited and the Venetian Macau.

Singapore Condo Sales Rise in October – According to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, home buyers bought 765 private condo units during October, an 18% increase over September's 648 units. The result came on the heels of a dismal quarter of sales for the three months to Sept 30, during which developers shifted just 1,596 condo units - the lowest quarterly figure since just 419 units were sold in the fourth quarter of 2008.

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/business/property/story/new-condo-sales-jump-18-oct-driven-buying-city-centre-ura-20141117

Takeaway: A strong uptrend in condo sales during October - could this be the start of an upturn in consumer confidence in Singapore?

Trump Taj Mahal Casino Atlantic City Closing –  Attorneys for Trump Entertainment Resorts said in papers filed in federal bankruptcy court that because the owners of the casino "had not obtained the tax relief and incentives" they had sought, the company's board of directors approved closing it around Dec. 12.   

http://www.businessinsider.com/r-atlantic-city-taj-mahal-casino-set-to-close-within-four-weeks-2014-11

Takeaway: We're skeptical the Taj will go dark but if it does, that's more good news for Borgata and Caesar's.  

Spain – Alfredo Serrano, CLIA's director general for Spain, described a ‘good pace’ in 2015 bookings. He noted that Spain retains its second rank as a European cruise destination, and as the fifth largest source market, despite the country's ongoing economic difficulties.

Adam Sharp, RCCL's Port Services and Guest Port Services for the UK, Northern Europe and Middle East, said that publicity surrounding September's short cruise season in Spain by Oasis of the Seas had produced an unprecedented spike in enquiries and bookings for the Allure of the Seas’ 2015 Mediterranean program.

MSC Cruises ceo Gianni Onorato pointed out in a separate press briefing that his company is increasing its offer in the Spanish market by 66% for 2015, to 6,115 cabins per week aboard four vessels, clearly reflecting confidence in this market. Two ships will sail from Barcelona and one each from Valencia and Palma. He cautioned, however, that Spain still lags behind Italy and France as source markets for fall and winter cruising. 

http://www.seatrade-insider.com/news/news-headlines/cruise-industry-execs-report-spanish-market-has-stabilised.html 

Takeaway: Optimism on Spain ahead of summer 2015 Wave but FQ4/FQ1 2015 sailings will be challenging.

Virgin Cruises – Bain Capital has agreed to become a major shareholder in Virgin Cruises, the latest in a string of transport ventures set up by Sir Richard. Virgin Group will invest more than US$100 million (£63m) in shares in Virgin Cruises, using funds recycled from the proceeds of the two recent flotations (Virgin Money and Virgin America). Bain will also not be the only external shareholder, with at least one Middle East sovereign wealth fund and a number of family offices and high net worth individuals also believed to be participating, according to private equity sources.

http://news.sky.com/story/1374512/branson-lures-bain-to-virgin-cruises-venture

Takeaway:  Potential new competition for the cruise industry longer term

MACRO

Japan Economic (Recession) Indicators:

Q3 preliminary GDP (0.4%) q/q vs consensus +0.5% and revised (1.9%) in Q2

Annualized (1.6%) y/y vs consensus +2.2% and revised (7.3%) in Q2
Capex (0.2%) q/q vs consensus +0.6% and (5.1%) in Q2
Public investment +2.2% q/q vs (0.5%) in Q2
Consumption +0.4% q/q vs consensus +0.9% and (5.0%) in Q2
Housing investment (6.7%) q/q vs consensus (6.2%)
Deflator +2.1% y/y vs +2.0% in Q2

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:  European pricing has been a tailwind for CCL and RCL but a negative pivot here looks increasingly likely in 2015. Following CCL's F3Q 2014 earnings release, we recently turned negative on those stocks based on the negative European thesis. 

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.