• "Pleased to report a very strong start to 2010"
  • 9th quarter in the row of meeting or exceeding analyst estimates
  • Believe that shipshare in NA was in the low 20's%
  • Cost of services are now included in cost of sales for systems business. Maintenance revenues increased 10% to $13.5MM
  • SG&A decreased 18% y-o-y as a result of lower payroll, incentive comp, and lower legal and auditing fees.  Expect SG&A to increase sequentially but to be lower y-o-y due to the successful resolution of legal and auditing issues
  • Since Sept 20th they repurchased 200k shares around $36
  • No Trial date set for the anti-trust case
  • Shipped 2,418 units to NA customers. All but 87 were replacement sales, given the anemic number of new openings.
    • Didn't recognize any City Center shipments
  • Some competitors are discounting
  • Majority of NA shipments were video, and video continues to perform well
  • Think that they can maintain margin in the high 40's for game sales and that 50% is achievable
  • Gaming operations:
    • Increased premium games placed and got higher win per days
    • Just launched Digital Towers which are performing more than 2x house average
    • Commencing in the December quarter, new spinning reel games coming out
    • Backlog is the strongest they've seen in a while
  • Have a new cabinet to replace a 40-50k footprint of aging mechanical spinning reel games
  • Excited about G2E game launches. 188 unique game titles worldwide.  They think that they will blow you away with their showing
    • 90% of what they show will be available by the Spring
    • New Alpha platform - Alpha2, very strong feedback should allow them to compete effectively at G2E
    • Reel Image (transmissive technology) launching
  • Have seen more customer interest in their products over the last few months
  • Domestically focused on all coming gaming markets
  • Re-entering Australia over the next few weeks
  • Systems margin was lower than normal range because of the higher percentage of iVIEW and other hardware and higher services for systems installations.  Expect systems margins to get back to normal
  • Systems revenue should be $220-230MM with maintenance to be $58-62MM (already guided to this last Q)
  • Referred to the systems install at Galaxy this September
  • In Mexico they have 70 systems sites up and running.  The migration to Class III will present a great opportunity for them
  • Pipeline of opportunities allows them to remain bullish on the outlook for their business
  • Running a successful trial of iVIEW DM at Pechanga on 400 units and will grow to 1,200 units
  • The backwards compatibility advantage of their systems is an advantage
    • Basically you can run their "server applications" on legacy machines... so if casinos are strapped they don't need to buy new games to get new apps
  • Based on the solid start to the year, BYI raised the low end of their guidance by 5 cents (better margins and visibility)
  • When the economy / environment improves they should be able to grow EPS meaningfully
  • They have the highest margins in the industry
  • Their R&D effort is very productive, released 2x as many games this year
  • Continue to capitalize on their international growth opportunity


  • Pricing/discounting?
    • They were referring to a small competitor
  • Booking Aria?
    • I don't know why Bill thinks that companies booked CC in the quarter.  We met with CC slot management in mid-Sept and there were only 800 games on the floor
  • iVIEW DM at Pechanga, how important is this?
    • We wrote a note on this deployment because the release implicitly implies that they will put iVIEW DM on IGT & WMS machines... this is very material.  IGT will tell you that if you open their boxes the warranty lapses. We'll see what really happens though
    • 450 games now, 600 games in the next week then 1,200 in early 2010
  • Will all the iVIEW DMs go on just BYI, IGT, Konami machines?
    • Unclear.... they've already tested it. Expect to get the green light from IGT/ WMS "soon"
  • Tax rate for the year?
    • 36%
  • Mix of hardware and software in systems?
    • Still think that systems margins will be in the low 70's for the year
    • Also reclassified how they account from services/installation expense from SG&A to cost of systems sales.  They had $1.2MM of this cost imbedded in 1Q09 
  • What drove the strong international unit sales
    • 15% of the sales were to Mexico (Class II) -first for sale units into Mexico
    • Asia had a good quarter
    • South Africa kicked off
  • Mexico
    • Don't expect participation to get whacked there
    • They used to sell the games at very low margin and then also make a small participation fee... let's say $10-15/day
  • When will they recognize all that systems implementations that occurred in September?
    • Most was booked in the September quarter, some will be spread over 12 months, others fall into next quarter in line with "go-lives"

Q4 Retail Themes & Key Ideas Call: Tomorrow at 11am


Conference Call Friday October 30th. 11 AM EDT

The Research Edge Retail team, led by Brian McGough, will host a 4Q Retail Themes and Key Ideas call and web presentation along with CEO and Macro strategist Keith McCullough to review key findings on Friday, October 30th 2009.

From Dollar General to NIKE, Inc, the retail sector sits in the crosshairs of the current shifting economy. We'll cover actionable investment ideas over multiple durations. On the Q&A, we'll not only address all questions related to our content, but will also be available to comment on any retail tickers from a TRADE/TREND/TAIL risk management perspective.

The call will be available to subscribers and trialers of Research Edge Retail, and will include:

  • Macro impacts on global consumption patterns
  • Demand and supply interplays regionally & globally
  • The margin cycle in global Retail
  • Shifting Private Equity dynamics, and their role in structural change
  • Retail winners and losers from the Bankers Bonanza
  • Retail names and our Bombed Out Buck

Subscribers please contact to request call and presentation access. 

If you are a qualified institutional investor not currently subscribing to the Retail product, please reply or email our Head of Sales Jen Kane at to request a trial.





DG (Dollar General): IPO Black Book Available

We are proud to announce the availability of our DG (Dollar General) Black Book to subscribers to our exclusive Retail network. The report is available for institutions who are premium subscribers of the Retail team, and on an a la carte basis for all institutional Research Edge subscribers.


About Research Edge's DG Black Book

Dollar General will be one of the companies joining what we call the Banker Bonanza with its IPO. As the private equity / LBO industry moves to get paid for their boom-time excesses, we'll be putting this suspect class of IPOs under the microscope for our subscribers. Research Edge is one of the only research teams not muzzled from covering IPOs by participation in the banking deals. Un-conflicted, Un-constrained, Un-compromised.

Our DG IPO Black Book, which is included in the subscription for Premium subscribers of Brian McGough's Retail segment, is also available a la carte to others.


  • DG went private with stellar timing, just as unit growth halted, and margins compressed
  • We examine how the change in mix and other investments have impacted margins during its 'private period'
  • Given such changes, is the planned acceleration in store growth realistic, and are margins sustainable in that context?
  • Ultimately, what is a realistic price for the equity in light of the current market environment, prospects relative to competitors, and change in financial structure?


For Premium and Exclusive Retail subscribers, please email for your copy of the DG IPO Black Book.

For institutional investors who do not yet subscribe to Research Edge Retail and would like to trial the research or purchase the DG IPO Black Book a la carte, please reply to this email with your request.




DG (Dollar General): IPO Black Book Available - DG BB Cover



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PSS: Levine, Oprah, and Project Runway

Here's Levine's response to a dialogue with a client about whether the PSS/Oprah deal had any airtime.

Author's Note: "Levine is one of the snazzier dressers in our office..."


Question: Any airtime for this deal?

McGough: Not sure...will check.


Levine: Come on guys, don’t you watch Project Runway?  See below-


Payless guest designer Christian Siriano will be a special guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show scheduled to air tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 29. At the end of the program, Christian and Oprah announce a special Payless offer for Oprah viewers.

The offer is 50% off the customer’s entire purchase and will be valid from the initial airing of the program through normal store hours on Friday, Oct. 30. Viewers are directed to visit to access the special offer either by downloading a coupon or sending a special text message.




Quick observation from Allison Kaptur on our Tech Team about the add on Oprah's site.  "Most interesting to me is that this is not a smartphone offer – this is accessible to anyone with a phone that can text, which is probably a better choice for Payless customers in aggregate."


PSS: Levine, Oprah, and Project Runway - 10 29 2009 1 10 35 PM


Another sloppy quarter from a regional gamer. We're not feeling great about the next few quarters either.





Property commentary

  • Market share at Lumiere grew to 19% in 3Q09  from 15% last year
  • Bossier city benefitted from higher hold to the tune of $200k in EBITDA 
  • Belterra admissions increased 2.2%, despite spend per visitor decreasing.  Hotel occupancy also increased
  • Boomtown New Orleans revenues look to have stabilized on October, finally
  • Reno market continued to experience decline, but it looks like gaming revenues are stabilizing
  • Argentina was impacted by H1N1, currency, and inflation
  • Corporate expense - down 14% YTD and 2.3% in the quarter

Balance sheet

  • Have about $145MM of net cash
  • Amended credit facility in July for a price of 50bps incremental spread, 50 bps upfront fees, and a 15% reduction in committment
  • Issued $450MM of new debt and used proceeds to repay their most restrictive bonds and bank outstanding
  • Bottom line they increased liquidy and financial flexibility to pursue their development pipeline
  • They still need an extension on the credit facility, hopefully by the end of the year


Contruction Update

  • River City cash budget $357MM of which $228MM was already spent
  • Sugarcane Bay cash budget is $391MM
  • Baton Rouge asked for more extensions which were granted.  Allowed them to get a max price contract by 1Q2010. Will start construction in May 2010


  • Heighted competition in some markets, elaborate
    • Penn opened a new riverboat near Belterra
    • Indiana Downs also opened a new permanent facility vs a temporary tent
    • In New Orleans had several weak months over the summer due to the economy and promotions offered on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. (Like Beau Rivage)
    • Lake Charles, they do $400/ day while Delta Downs does $300/ day.  Delta Downs was aggressive on the promotional side - Dan Lee got defensive regarding BYD's comments about lack of demand to expand at Lake Charles. 
    • Entire Reno market still hurting from Indian gaming in CA
  • Timing of CapEx spend on Baton Rouge and Sugarcane
    • Sugarcane to be $425MM next year
    • Baton Rouge near $60MM
    • Maintenance capex of $40
  • Plan to have the R/C rolled over before they start construction of Sugarcane
  • Not seeing much cost reduction in construction
  • When would Baton Rouge open?  Contract calls for opening with 18 months of contruction so the earliest they can open is late 2011. Think that that is a reasonable time
  • Very honest on cannabilization on Lumiere when River City opens. Think that they can do $120-130MM across the 2 properties at marturity
  • Slower growth in Southern Louisiana due to being at capacity (re: L'Auberge)
  • Trends in Oct at L'Auberge? Continued at the 3Q09 pace, but Dan is more optimistic about Nov & Dec
  • Will order the steel by year end for Sugarcane Bay - assume that the extension of the bank line will be done by then
  • Hope that both Sugarcane Bay and Baton Rouge do a 15% cash on cash return.. won't break out the property's results (meaning L'Auberge / Sugarcane since Sugarcane is really just an expansion)
    • Good luck on that
    • L'Auberge should open in 2011

PSS: Oprah Likes Payless Too

Check out Oprah's web site, and the snapshot below. I said it before and I'll say it again -- this team 'gets marketing.'  Their shift to a consumer-direct traffic-driving approach instead of a 'throw a bunch of stuff against  the wall and see what sticks' mentality is a winner.


Linking itself to Oprah is not a complete unknow to those following the story closely. But what I care most about is whether this is in numbers. And it is not. Cost to PSS was not meaningful. Revenue benefit will be.


Remember, the story here is that strategies like this are taking PSS' traffic higher while avg selling price heads up. WMT is downsizing footwear. Costs of goods continue to come down, and wholesale brands are starting to work.


I repeat -- numbers are too low.


PSS: Oprah Likes Payless Too - 10 29 2009 1 10 35 PM


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