Tickers: LVS, MGM, MPEL, PENN
- Dec 17: Upstate NY Casino Decision
- Dec 20: Trump Taj Mahal Closing
Today's Headline Story
IHG.LN – has agreed to acquire Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants for $430 million in cash. Kimpton is a fully asset-light business that manages 62 hotels covering 11,300 rooms across 28 cities in the United States with a further 16 hotels (3,000 rooms) in the pipeline. It operates 71 hotel-based destination restaurants and bars. Kimpton’s EBITDA is expected to be approximately $20 million for the year ended 31 December 2014, and IHG expects to be able to deliver future growth in Kimpton EBITDA to approximately $39 million by 2017 from the opening of hotels in the pipeline and the achievement of certain back office and technology savings. The Transaction will be financed through existing cash resources and new debt facilities, and is expected to close during the first quarter of 2015 upon satisfaction of certain customary conditions, including Hart-Scott-Rodino anti-trust clearance and Kimpton shareholder consent.
Takeaway: With the acquisition of Kimpton, IHG is attempting to in-fill the life-style, boutique brand between InterContinential and hotel INDIGO while simultaneously accelerating U.S. expansion.
582.HK – Landing International Development Ltd will pay HKD868.7 million (US$112 million) for Wealth Seed Group Ltd, which operates, via a Korean subsidiary, the foreigners-only Alpensia casino at Holiday Inn Resort in Pyeongchang. The deal should close by February 28, 2015 “or such later date as the company and the vendor may agree in writing”. Alpensia casino has a total of 16 gaming tables, including nine baccarat tables, and 42 slot machines. Landing International said it plans to expand the casino from the existing 16 to 70 gaming tables. Pyeongchang, in the country’s Kangwon province, will host the Olympic Winter Games in February 2018.
Takeaway: Landing International continues to build on its numerous investments in South Korea.
1076.HK – Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd said it has successfully completed a share subscription and placing operation, raising net proceeds of about HKD774 million (US$99.8 million). The funds will be used as general working capital, including to finance Imperial Pacific’s casino project on the Pacific island of Saipan. The total development cost of the casino project is estimated at US$7.1 billion, the company said in September. Imperial Pacific – an investor in the profit stream of Macau junket firm Hengsheng Group – issued 510,000,000 shares at HKD1.55 apiece, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday.
Takeaway: We take the under on Saipan.
LVS & 1928.HK – The Poker King Club moved to the Venetian Macao casino-resort from the StarWorld casino, according to Poker 777 website. The new club now occupies temporary premises in front of Morton’s in the Venetian Macao, pending completion of its permanent premises, which will cost US$1 million (about MOP8 million).
Takeaway: Sands China back filling empty casino floor space with a poker area/room.
MGM & 2282.HK – Macau casino operator MGM China Holdings Ltd will invest in a non-gaming project over the border on Hengqin Island. According to MGM China CEO Grant Bowie, the mainland authorities are considering whether to give permission for the land for the project to be used for the purpose the company has in mind.
Takeaway: We understand the Chinese President Xi will visit Hengqin Island during his upcoming visit to Macau late this week. This commentary and headline would appear to be self-serving by the CEO and MGM China given the lack of details and specificity.
MPEL – Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd has been dropped from the Nasdaq Q-50 Index. The change will become effective prior to market open on December 22.
PENN – Hollywood Casino Perryville asked Maryland gaming regulators to take away about 300 slot machines, the second time they have done so since the casino opened in 2010. They are calling the exercise “right sizing.” The casino currently has 1,158.
Takeaway: This is the right decision as there is just too much competition in Maryland right now.
Mainland China Banking Liquidity Is Very Poor – Chinese banks, desperate to attract customers who are finding alternatives for their savings, are turning to giveaways such as an iPhone 6 Plus or a Mercedes-Benz. The banks lost 950 billion yuan (USD154 billion) of deposits in the three months through September, the first quarterly drop since 1999. In the first 11 months, new deposits were 23% lower than in the same period last year, People’s Bank of China data show.
UnionPay Comes of Age – China UnionPay Bank is working on a new app for Android phones that will allow mobile payment processing on these devices. The China UnionPay app, known as Android Pay, is scheduled to be introduced in the third quarter of 2015, and some say it is an attempt to compete with Alipay.
Takeaway: Earlier this year, UnionPay came under scrutiny for its point of sale and handheld terminals in Macau. With this new app, Mainland Chinese gamblers will be free to use their UnionPay funds as desired.
New Macau Plans Protest During President Xi's Visit – Macau authorities have not yet replied to the New Macau Association’s request to hold a protest on Saturday, but the pro-democracy group’s vice-president, Bill Chou, is convinced it will not encounter any hurdles, since the law is clear when entitling them to organize such a demonstration.
Takeaway: With Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement culminating in the clearing of the remaining occupied parts of town last week, some have speculated whether Hong Kong activists will head to Macau on Saturday to make their voices heard by president Xi Jinping. The New Macau Association will be handing out leaflets and other materials to further explain the concept of universal suffrage. They will be distributing these materials near local schools as well.
Phone Betting in Cambodia – Grand Dragon Resorts, owned and operated by Dai Long Co Ltd, located in Chreythom, Kandal province, has partnered with live dealer gaming system provider Ezugi to offer proxy betting. The agreement will see Ezugi using its casino streaming technology to broadcast live table action direct from the casino floor, including baccarat tables and VIP tables.
Takeaway: Grand Dragon Resorts efforts follow the recent Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau mandate that U.S. gaming operators in Macau must know their customer. As such, proxy betting at casinos operated by U.S. based firms ceased. In October, Singapore's parliament passed the Remote Gaming Act which banned online gambling within Singapore.
Bermuda Gaming Expansion – The Bermudan House of Assembly has approved new laws opening the island up for the introduction of three casinos.
Takeaway: Yet another gaming option
U.S. Regional Gaming – Regional casinos must develop a unique personality to keep or attract customers, a marketing expert says. For years, “regional casinos have pretty much relied on convenience,” says Mark Sutter, chief strategy officer of The Halo Group, a New York marketing agency. “Convenience as a marketing strategy is dead. There are too many casinos competing for the same market.”
Regional casinos attract most of their customers from a limited area, as opposed to destination casinos such as the behemoths on the Las Vegas Strip that draw from across the country and around the world.
Takeaway: From Washington DC to Boston, approximately 50% of the population lives within 25 miles of a casino - a competitive trend that will only intensify when the Springfield, Everett, National Harbor and additional Philadelphia casinos open.
Moscow Hotel Occupancy Falling – The loss of foreign travelers is posing a problem for Moscow hotels, whose livelihood depends on a steady stream of foreign tourists and businesspeople. Hotel occupancy in Moscow fell to about 60% in the first three quarters of the year, its lowest level since 2011. This is a decline of 7.4% by market analysts at consultancy Cushman & Wakefield or 9% according to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). Historically, foreign guests, account for up to 80% of Moscow hotels' occupancy.
Takeaway: Russia is having all sorts of trouble - tourism included.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer Calls for Investigation of Airlines – The New York Senator has called on the Departments of Justice and Transportation to investigate airfares because some airlines still assess fuel surcharges, even though the price of oil has dropped a lot
China HSBC Flash December PMI fell to 49.5 in December from November's final reading of 50.0 and below the 50.0 forecast expectation by economists. The new orders sub-index fell to 49.6, the first contraction since April.
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.