LEISURE LETTER (12/22/2014)

Tickers: CZR, LVS, MAR, HOT, RCL  

Today's Headline Story

Macau's Gaming Scrutiny To Intensify – On Saturday, Macau’s Chief Executive, Fernando Chui Sai On, said his government would in the spring “undertake a review” of the city’s casino industry. It followed remarks by China’s President Xi Jinping calling for Macau to show “greater courage and wisdom” to “strengthen and improve regulation and supervision over the gaming industry”.  And the country’s president during his visit indicated official concern is not only about cross border money transfer out of China, but also how the prosperity brought to Macau – as the middleman for such high volumes of cash – has created imbalances in local society.

Article HERE

Takeaway: Commentary consistent with a prolonged downturn for Macau GGR.

COMPANY NEWS

LVS & 1928.HK – announced Sands China Ltd., received the Macao government approvals needed to complete the construction of its US$2.7 billion Paris-themed integrated resort. The completion of The Parisian Macao will bring Las Vegas Sands' total investment in Macao to more than $10 billion. The Parisian Macao will feature more than 3,000 hotel rooms and suites, more than 490,000 square feet of retail space, diverse food and beverage offerings, new meeting and convention facilities and a 50% scale replica of the Eiffel Tower

Takeaway:  The press release didn't mention a opening date for Parisian but we believe the casino will not open until 2016.

 

CZR – Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, Inc. ("CEOC"), a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment Corporation ("Caesars Entertainment") (Nasdaq: CZR), and Caesars Entertainment have reached an agreement with CEOC's first lien noteholder steering committee regarding terms of a financial restructuring plan including a CEOC reorganization under Chapter 11. To implement the balance sheet deleveraging, CEOC expects to voluntarily commence a reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in mid-January 2015. Under the plan, Caesars Entertainment will contribute up to $1.45 billion in cash to CEOC in support of the restructuring: $700 million to offer to purchase up to 100% of the equity in OpCo from creditors, $269 million to offer to purchase up to 15% of the equity in PropCo, $406 million to fund liquidity and cash recoveries to creditors and a guarantee of up to an additional $75 million of cash, which can be drawn by CEOC under certain circumstances. In addition, Caesars Entertainment has agreed to guarantee OpCo's monetary obligations under the lease to help facilitate the creation of the valuable REIT structure.

 

CZR also announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to merge with Caesars Acquisition Company (CACQ) in an all-stock transaction. The successful completion of the merger will position the merged company to support the restructuring of CEOC without the need for any significant outside financing.  The details are HERE.

Takeaway: CZR's restructuring efforts continue. At least now they have some cash to support that process.  


CWN.AU – A challenger for the presidency of Sri Lanka has promised in his manifesto to cancel a casino license – reportedly given to Australia’s Crown Resorts Ltd – if he wins the January 8 vote. Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is seeking a third term as Sri Lanka’s head of state. On October 24, Mr Rajapaksa proposed that in the country’s 2015 budget there should be a US$100 entrance fee for customers using the country’s casinos and that the gaming levy should be 10 percent of turnover.  Currently there is a tax of 5% on local casinos’ gross earnings. In 2013 the government charged a levy of LKR100 million (US$764,234) on casino operators. The Sri Lankan media has previously reported that in 2013 Crown Resorts was awarded a local license to build a US$400 million mixed-use resort including a casino.

Article HERE

 

0577.HK– Louis XIII Holdings Ltd raised just under HK$1.64 billion (US$211.5 million) via a placement of shares and convertible bonds, the Company said said in a filing on Friday. The company is developing a boutique casino on the border of Cotai and Coloane in Macau. Capital costs of the project were last year estimated at US$800 million. On November 20, Louis XIII Holdings said it was looking to raise some new money – some of which would be used for “design upgrades related to the fit out of the interiors of the hotel development”. Casino Louis XIII will operate 66 gaming tables (50 premium mass and 16 VIP) according to previous regulatory filings.

Article HERE

 

0577.HK – The crackdown on cross border currency transfers couldn’t be worse for Macau’s Louis XIII hotel-casino development. Hong Kong investment banking and real estate bigwig Stephen Hung has laid out a plan for a facility on Cotai that will cater to China’s 1%, with the property’s ritziest room costing HK $1 million (US $130,000) per night, while its jewelry shops won’t sell a single bauble worth less than $1 million. In September, Hung made headlines by placing a $20 million order for a fleet of 30 Rolls Royce Phantoms to ferry his VIPs, the single largest order the luxury car manufacturer has ever received.

Article HERE

Takeaway: Louis XIII facing the headwinds of the enforcement and crackdown activities.  It could be difficult for a Louis XIII gambler to be seen driving around Macau in a red Rolls Royce in the current environment.

 

880.HK – SJM was invited by a venture of South Korea’s Paradise Co. and Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. (6460) to jointly manage the resort at the Incheon International Airport. It would be SJM’s first foray into the country. The foreigners-only integrated casino project, called Paradise City, is due to open in the first half of 2017 at the airport’s International Business Center and cost about 1.3 trillion won ($1.2 billion) to build, according to a Nov. 21 press statement from Sega Sammy.  

Article HERE

Takeaway: SJM wants a piece of the action in South Korea

 

MAR – announced the launch of CANVAS, a global incubator for food and drink concepts. Mariott is inviting entrepreneurs, chefs, bartenders and artisans to visit canvas-startup.com and pitch a food or drink concept for a select group of Marriott hotels, beginning with the JW Marriott Shenzhen (China) and Renaissance Phoenix Downtown. During the next six months, the number of locations will grow to approximately a dozen hotels across the globe.

Article HERE

Takeaway: MAR looking to jump start its F&B offerings.

 

HOT– completed the sale of the Philadelphia Airport Complex to The Lightstone Group and its affiliates. Located on Island Avenue one mile from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), the Philadelphia Airport Complex consists of three Starwood properties including the 252-room Sheraton Suites Philadelphia Airport, the 177-room Four Points by Sheraton Philadelphia Airport and the 136-room Aloft Philadelphia Airport. All three properties will be operated by Island Hospitality, undergo renovations and continue to fly the three brand flags.

 

Starwood purchased the Philadelphia Airport Complex in 1998 and converted the two existing hotels to its Sheraton and Four Points by Sheraton brands. The company then built and added Aloft Philadelphia to the complex in 2008.

Takeaway: While not a material transaction in terms of price or EBITDA, HOT continues its asset-light strategy.

 

RCL – Royal Caribbean announced the last few Freedom of the Seas itineraries were changed and while the ports the ship was planning on visiting remains unchanged, the amount of time in port is being reduced.  As with other altered cruises due to this propulsion problem, Royal Caribbean will give passengers onboard credit as an apology for the change.  A letter with the credit amount will be delivered to each stateroom. There is no word on what caused the propulsion problems. Royal Caribbean maintains the ship is perfectly safe.  Freedom of the Seas is scheduled for a dry dock session in January 2015.

Article HERE

Takeaway: RCL doing damage control on Freedom of the Seas

INDUSTRY NEWS

Southern China Crackdown on Porn and Gambling – Police  in Guangdong Province said Sunday they captured more than 30,000 suspects in a two-month crackdown on porn and gambling. As of Dec. 15, the province arrested 3,014 people and more than 5,000 others were put under criminal detention in the campaign, said the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department.

Article HERE

Takeaway: Porn, gambling and all illicit activities continue to be the focus of enforcement and crackdown efforts.

 

Japan may pass gambling bill by June – Dynam Japan Holdings Co. Ltd. (06889.HK), the largest operator of pachinko (pinball slot machine) halls, believes there is a '99%' chance the Japanese parliament to pass a bill legalizing casinos by June 2015.  Dynam chairman Yoji Sato He said part of the reasons why Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the parliament in November was to ensure enough support for the gambling bill.

Article HERE

Takeaway: It's good to be optimistic but Dynam is definitely in the minority here.

 

November Macau Inflation – The Statistics and Census Service said the annual rate of consumer price inflation was 6.12% during November due to higher rents for housing, pricier meals in restaurants and costlier health care were the main causes. The annual rate of housing and fuel price inflation was 11.75%, the annual rate of food and non-alcoholic drink price inflation was 6.3% and the annual rate of health cost inflation was 5.42%.

Article HERE

Takeaway: With housing inflation in the low-double digits, the labor unions may continue to pressure the gaming operators for higher wages despite the drop in GGR.

  

New Jersey Officials Discuss New Casinos – As lawmakers in Trenton hash out the details of a referendum that could allow casino gambling to expand beyond Atlantic City, local politicians, businessmen and others are touting the benefits of their locations. The Meadowlands and Jersey City have a clear head start, but locations in Essex, Monmouth and Sussex counties also have been raised as possibilities in various quarters. The referendum under discussion, which would go before the voters in November, is expected to focus on two key points: ending Atlantic City’s statewide monopoly on casinos, and explaining that a portion of revenues from North Jersey casinos would go to support the struggling seaside resort and its casino industry. 

Article HERE

Takeaway: New Jersey fighting to keep its citizens gaming at home, while also trying to capture the metro New York gaming spend.  Recall the State of New York could open metro New York to table gaming in seven years.

 

New York Native American Gaming Expansion – The Oneida Nation announced plans Sunday to open a Class II casino this spring with 436 slots and a 500-seat bingo hall off Route 5 in the unused portion of the Chittenango Tops plaza. It will be open 24 hours a day. The Oneidas received approval for the casino, which is on Oneida Nation land, through the New York State gaming compact in 1993, which was negotiated with the state and approved by the U.S. Secretary of Interior. The Chittenango casino announcement came just days after a state panel recommended licensing three non-Indian casinos in Upstate New York. Rochester developer Thomas Wilmot plans to build one of those - a $425 million casino and hotel - 42 miles west of Syracuse in Seneca County. The 67,000-square-foot Chittenango casino, to be called the Yellow Brick Road casino in honor of author L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz," will employ 250 people.

Article HERE

Takeaway: Following the State of New York up-state casino expansions, the Oneida Nation announces their effort to short trip Syracuse visitors to the Wilmot/Tyre casino. 

MACRO

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.  


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