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GC 4Q09 CONF CALL: "NOTES"

"With our redevelopment projects now complete, Great Canadian finds itself in a robust financial position. We attained this position by being conservative, and we will continue to adhere to this philosophy as we analyze options for our future. It is vital that we remain cautious about our markets' economic outlook. But we have made many improvements over the past twelve months, and I am confident that these will facilitate the creation of greater stakeholder value during the year ahead."

- Ross J. McLeod, Great Canadian's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE RELEASE

  • "This increase was primarily due to the comparable period, which was negatively impacted by heavy snowfall, economic uncertainty, and disruption from construction at the property. The increase was also due to both the August 17, 2009 opening of the Canada Line mass transit station at River Rock and the November 19, 2009 completion of various upgrades at the facility. Despite the weakened economy, these redevelopments combined to generate significant improvements in visitation, table drop, and slot coin-in at the facility during the fourth quarter"
  • "Revenues at the Company’s Vancouver Island Casinos increased by 1% in the fourth quarter of 2009,
    when compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. This was primarily due to the installation of additional
    gaming capacity at View Royal during the third quarter of 2009, the benefit of which was partially offset by
    the impact of the weakened economy."

CONF CALL

  • Concluded the year with a leverage ratio of 3.14x
  • River Rock outlook:
    • Canada Line has grown RR's visitation by roughly 20% and slot coin in by 10% since the opening of the Canada line.  February 2010 results: table drop, slot coin in and visitation saw double digit growth, which were all offset by low hold of 14.9%.  Combined with the closure of Hastings, revenues in BC decreased 7.6%
  • 2010 Outlook:
    • Many of GC's markets remain challenged. 
    • We cannot cost cut our way to prosperity
    • Every one of their BC properties has received a slot refresh
    • Georgian Downs will get another 150 machines in 2Q2010
  • While View Royal's expansion results have been disappointing they believe things would have been worse without it
  • Moved River Rock's poker room across the way and replaced it with a VIP room. They also increased slot capacity, at a cost of $2.75MM
  • Anticipate that development capex will be $15MM with an additional $10MM committed to maintenance in 2010
  • Developing and improving player tracking and reward programs
    • This is something new. In the past the BCLC didn't allow player tracking
  • GC will amplify its marketing programs throughout 2010, and this will result in a small increase in operating expenses, but they feel that they will be targeted and effective
  • Now that GC's major developments are complete, they will accumulate cash. They will use the cash to delever the balance sheet if no compelling investment opportunities arise
    • I wish they would have left the whole M&A comment out ... I doubt there is a lot of confidence in their ability to invest capital effectively

Q&A

  • Slot system upgrade by the provinces? What are they doing?
    • BCLC is considering a new slot system
      • I believe there is an RFP out for this business
    • They are lobbying to be more involved with player tracking
    • In Nova Scotia they are in the process of going through a slot refresh but not considering a new system
  • Vancouver Island margins were very high. Are they sustainable?
    • They were actually disappointed with the margins given the expansion there.
    • Play at those properties were impacted by market hits to retiree savings - and while they have recovered somewhat, the play levels are still depressed
  • New competition in New Brunswick will open in May/June. They have some Halifax customers that will be closer to Moncton than their property.
  • No competitive changes from Gateway Casinos
  • Marketing budgets in 2010 impact on EBITDA?
    • Duh... they obviously think it will have a positive impact otherwise they wouldn't be doing it
    • If the marketing programs don't produce results they will dial them back
  • Any impact on March spending / patterns post Olympics
  • Normal tax rate going forward is around 30%
  • "We're in the consumer discretionary business and the consumer is still watching their spending"
  • Ok these hold questions are just completely idiotic... these analysts are clearly "generalists"
  • Deferred projects are still deferred - no ultimate decisions made at this point regarding those projects
  • Marketing questions are equally idiotic... please stop
  • Boulevard's weak results are impacted by increased competition from the New Villa, tough economy and the demographics in those markets.  There has also been significant road construction in that area which have impacted visitation
  • Once the R/C is paid down they will not pay down the notes bc there is a pre-payment penalty.  They'll accumulate cash
  • Canada Line is really driving the slot business, not the table business really.  Got a refresh of 300 machines at River Rock. Now they are at 1,000 from 854 machines.