In preparation for the HST Q2 earnings release tomorrow, we’ve put together the pertinent forward looking commentary from the company’s Q1 earnings release/call and subsequent conferences.



Trends & Forward Looking Commentary

  • “Our top line results improved on a relative basis in each period of the quarter and turned positive in March. As you may remember, due to the timing of our reporting period, our first quarter does not include the operating results for a significant portion of our portfolio for the month of March.” 
  • “For the third straight quarter, we experienced year-over-year growth in our Transient business with an overall increase in Transient room nights of more than 12%. More importantly, this increase in demand was led by our Special Corporate business where room nights increased more than 28%, and our Premium and Corporate segments where room nights increased for the first time in nine quarters at a rate of nearly 9%.”
  • “On the group side, frankly, we were pleasantly surprised by the pace of our short-term bookings during the quarter.” 
  • “RevPAR growth for period four exceeded 5%, continuing the recent trend of improving results. Group bookings continue to be strong as bookings in the first quarter for the second quarter have more than tripled when compared to last year and even slightly outpaced our 2007 level of activity. Transient bookings for the second quarter are also trending ahead of last year. Overall, improvement is still relying on the strength of the economy, but we are optimistic that businesses are beginning to loosen their travel budgets, spurring a recovery in lodging demand.”
  • “Overall, wages and benefits decreased 1.3% or 8.2% on a per occupied room basis, and unallocated cost declined by 2.7% for the quarter as hotels reduced management headcount and lowered other controllable costs. Utility costs also decreased 8.4% through a combination of lower usage, lower rates and the impact of energy saving capital improvements. For the quarter, real estate taxes were flat.”


  • “We are increasing our estimates for RevPAR for the year to an increase of 1% to 4% with a comparable adjusted margin decline of 125 basis points to 50 basis points. Based on these assumptions, full year adjusted EBITDA would be approximately $750 million to $800 million and FFO per diluted share would be $0.58 to $0.65.”
  • “We are increasing our expected capital expenditure estimate for the year to $300 million to $340 million, and we'll continue to evaluate other projects as we work through the year.”
  • 2Q 2010 Guidance:
    • “We expect the Philadelphia market to underperform the portfolio due to lower levels of both transient and group demand.”
    • “As expected, the Miami Fort Lauderdale market performed very well with a RevPAR increase of 10.3% …We expect the Miami Fort Lauderdale market to have a weaker second quarter but still have positive RevPAR.”
    • “We expect San Antonio to have a decent second quarter and a strong second half of the year.”
    • “We expect our Boston hotels to have a great second quarter with double-digit RevPAR growth due to strong citywide activity and improvement in transient demand.”
    • “We expect the Orange County market to continue to perform well in the second quarter.”
    • “We expect New York City to have an outstanding second quarter due to high levels of business transient demand.”
    • “We expect Chicago to perform much better in the second quarter and for the outperformance of the Swissotel to continue.”
    • Hawaii: “We expect the hotels to perform much better in the second quarter but we need to see further increases in airline capacity versus stay in recovery.”
    • “Our DC hotels had positive RevPAR in period three and we expect DC to have positive RevPAR in the second quarter.”
    • “We expect the San Diego market to continue to struggle in the second quarter but improve in the second half of the year.”
  • “Looking out through the rest of the year, we expect occupancy to increase further, which will likely lead to growth in wage and benefit cost at inflation after taking into consideration the benefit from productivity gains. We expect unallocated cost to increase at inflation except for utilities where rates will increase and occupancy improvements will drive higher utilization, and sales and marketing where higher revenues will increase cost. We will also incur cost for the implementation of new sales and marketing initiatives. We expect property insurance to increase at inflation and property taxes to rise in excess of inflation. As a result, we expect comparable hotel adjusted operating profit margins for the year to decrease 50 basis points at the high-end of the RevPAR range and decrease 125 basis points at the low end of the range." 
  • “For all of 2010, cancellation and attrition fees will be significantly lower than 2009. Adjusting 2009 to a typical year of cancellations would result in an improvement of the above margin guidance of 70 basis points.”
    • 2009 attrition: “It's $40 million incremental, over a typical year.” 
  • “On the margin front, I think our estimate is that we are looking at a 50 basis point decline tied to a 4% overall full year RevPAR growth rate."


  • “Earlier this month, we purchased the junior tranches of a mortgage loan secured by a 1,900-room portfolio of hotels in Europe. The par value of the tranches we purchased are approximately EUR 64 million and we purchased the notes at a meaningful discount. While we cannot get into more specifics regarding this investment, the return we expect to generate on the notes meets or exceeds our return target for a levered investment.”

Weimar Republic

“I must begin by saying something about the old Germany. That Germany, too, suffered from superficial judgment, because appearances and reality were not always kept apart in people's minds.

-Gustav Stresemann


Last night in thinking about a theme for the Early Look I read an article by John Williams and the concerns he has about the current economic policies.  The article was an extreme view, as he believes that the U.S. economic and systemic solvency crisis of the last two years are just precursors to bigger problems: this crisis and others in the past are being brewed by the federal government and the FED’s malfeasance.  


One of our key themes for 3Q10 is “American Austerity”, a key tenant of which is that the “Fiat Fools” in Washington are dedicated to preventing deflation and the subsequent debauching of the U.S. dollar. The article by John Williams takes this to an extreme and uses the period in German history called the Weimar Republic as a case in point. 


According to Wikipedia, the Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government.  It was named after Weimar, the city where the constitutional assembly took place.  In its 14 years, the Weimar Republic was faced with numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremists on the left and the right and their paramilitaries, and hostility from the victors of World War I.


Post-World War I, Germany was a country that was financially and economically depleted as a penalty for losing the war.  By late 1922, the German government could no longer afford to make reparations payments, in keeping up with the Treaty of Versailles.  As such, paper money was printed, the market collapsed and foreign investors withdrew their capital.


The Weimar circumstances and its heavy reliance on foreign investment reminded me of our relationship with the Chinese and how dependant we are on them and their confidence in the US Dollar.  Unfortunately, this may not always be the case.   See our post from 7/16 “Watch What They Do, Not What They Say . . . The Chinese Are Selling Treasuries.”  There is a reason why Timmy has taken a kind and gentle approach with the Chinese and their Yuan policy.


For the time being, the “Fiat Fools” in Washington can rest knowing the government contrived reporting of inflation is benign.  Last week the BLS reported that consumer inflation appears to be under control - but for how long? 


It’s only a matter of time before inflationary pressures will begin to surface from the debauching of the US Dollar.  A weakening U.S. dollar will continue to put upside pressure on dollar-denominated commodity prices, which in turn push inflation higher in the system.  The key here is that it’s not inflation generated by strong economic demand, but by policies driven by “Fiat Fools.” 


The implications of the recent rebound in the Euro (and the subsequent decline in the Dollar) suggest that market concerns already may be shifting from European solvency issues to those of the United States, but not so fast. 


Since the Euro’s low on 6/7 it has rallied 8.5%, but it does not look like the Euro zone is out of the woods yet.  As Daryl Jones, Head of Hedgeye Macro Strategy, noted, “three month Euro LIBOR is up over 30% in the last three months.  The credit worthiness of European banks is being question by their very own peer group.  That’s not good for liquidity in the Euro zone.”


As MACRO trends continue to point us in the direction of another recession, the implications of worse-than-expected ballooning federal deficits will bring the issues of U.S. solvency and U.S. dollar soundness front and center.  The Hedgeye Macro team will address this topic on a conference call in the coming weeks.


For now, on center stage is the tug of war between the strength of corporate earnings and the weakness in the economic numbers, and the battle is leaning toward MACRO trends.  So far this earnings season, 32% of the companies that have reported have missed on revenue expectations (60% of the companies that reported yesterday missed on the revenue line).  This compares to 32% for all of 1Q10. 


Relative to earnings expectations, only 20% of the companies that have reported have missed.  Top-line trends, however, are more indicative of real consumer demand and the sustainability of earnings trends as companies cannot cut costs forever.  Relative to current guidance, the storytelling continues. 


If we assume that the best of the best typically report first, the balance of the earnings season will not be supportive of equity prices.


I don’t claim to be a German historian or that the USA is going to feel anything like the pain Germany felt between 1.  At Hedgeye Risk management we like to keep history is perspective and our eyes open every morning to the realities of the day ahead.   


Function in disaster; finish in style


Howard Penney


Weimar Republic - mark

Fire In the Hole! European Libor Exploding to the Upside

Conclusion: European LIBOR is signaling that the European banks stress tests to be released this Friday may have some negative surprises.


While we have transitioned our short eyes to the U.S. dollar and the U.S. markets, European liquidity issues remain an important topic in global risk managment.  Below we have highlighted a chart of three month Euro LIBOR, which is the rate at which European banks will lend to each other in Euros.  Most market participants view it as a measure of fear and counter party risk between European banks, and rightfully so.


As we can see in the chart below, despite all the rhetoric from government officials about banks passing stress tests and the such, the banks themselves are voting.  And with three month Euro LIBOR up over 30% in the last three months, and projecting upwards and to the right, the statement is fairly obvious.  The credit worthiness of European banks is being question by their very own peer group.  That’s not good for liquidity in the Eurozone.


A few weeks ago we highlighted the allocation by banks to the ECB deposit facility as it was reaching record levels.  Our point, then, was that rather than lending to other banks overnight, many European banks had opted to store Euros with the ECB.  That facility has fallen from its peak of $384 billion to $58 billion Euro.


Typically this decline would be perceived as positive in terms of liquidity within the system, but taken in conjunction with intra bank lending rates increasing it actually suggests just the opposite.  In combination, there is less money in the intra bank system and it is being lent at a higher rate.  So less money, and a higher cost.


I asked our Financials Sector Josh Steiner if there were any financials specific information that we should be thinking about when considering the above data points.  His response was: “It all goes back to the sovereign debt. Euribor rising is because banks are nervous, and if banks are nervous it’s because of counterparty risk which itself is a derivative of sovereign risk. All interconnected.”


In the mining industry fire in the hole is yelled out prior to an explosion in a confined space.  Even though Europe isn’t a confined space, Hedgeye is officially yelling, “Fire In The Hole”, ahead of the results of the stress tests of European banks to be released Friday.


Daryl G. Jones

Managing DIrector


Fire In the Hole! European Libor Exploding to the Upside - EUR LIBOR

Hungary for Assistance

Position: Long British Pound via FXB


Hungary is flashing a clear negative divergence across numerous metrics today on the heels of a bearish IMF statement over the weekend. Here is the set-up behind the numbers:


The IMF concluded in its review of Hungary’s $25 Billion emergency bailout that “a range of issues remain open” and that the country is not doing enough to slash spending or make long-term reforms to its economy. If you’ve followed Hungary this report comes as nothing new: the government has struggled over the last five years to manage its budget imbalances, forcing the IMF to take the lion’s share of a $25 Billion loan in Oct. 2008 (with the EU and World Bank contributing ~ $8.1 Billion and $1.3 Billion, respectively) to support Hungary’s outstanding debt.


While skeptics may conclude that Hungary has no intent to issue “real” fiscal reform, but rather will pander to whatever the IMF wants to see, we’ll wait until this Thursday, when the government meets to vote on its next economic plan, before concluding further. However, it’s worth noting that going into the vote Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party has municipal elections on October 3rd and loud protests against austerity measures in mind.


Market Sentiment


The Hungarian market reacted decidedly negatively to the IMF’s statements, with investors worried that the country could jeopardize its access to a €5.7 Billion IMF loan tranche earmarked for this year. 


Here’s what the market said:

  • Hungary’s equity market (BUX) fell -2.3% today (1st chart below). [You’ll note that our read-through on the European bank stress tests (which will be released this Friday) is that these banks (91 in total) are largely set up to NOT fail, yet should negative issues arise we’d expect the EU to write checks quickly to fund the gap.]
  • The Hungarian Forint versus the EUR took a dive into the news (2nd chart below).
  • The country’s sovereign CDS rose materially (3rd chart below).



One concern with a weakening Forint versus the EUR or Swiss Franc is that many loans extended in Hungary over the last five years were denominated in lower yielding Euros and Francs. Clearly a depreciating Forint increases risk of default as debtors are squeezed further with repayments. 


The IMF also took issue with the country’s two-year levy on banks, aimed at raising over $900 Million, citing that “a significant negative impact on the country’s investment climate and economic growth.”  Also, we note the worry for foreign banks in Hungary, in particular the Austrian lenders Raiffeisen and Erste, as relative loser under these parameters.


Hungary gets another chance to prove its fiscal discipline when the IMF meets again in September. Between now and then we could see an uptick in volatility in Hungary and related Western and Eastern European markets. Despite the Euro’s recent gain above $1.29, clearly Europe’s sovereign debt default fears are not in the rear-view window!


Matthew Hedrick



Hungary for Assistance - hung1


Hungary for Assistance - hung2


Hungary for Assistance - hung3


Macau market growth has been outstanding but MGM continues to underperform. What will this mean for the timing of the MGM Macau IPO? 



We think MGM may have to delay its planned IPO.  As of MGM's last conference call, management had expected to price the IPO in late Q3/early Q4.  While the timing may seem good given that growth in the Macau market has been off the charts and investor sentiment is pretty positive, MGM Macau has been a laggard.  See the market share chart below.  The trend in MGM's market share doesn't look good on its own given the property's size and lately, has been significantly below its share of table games.  Fair share is not where it should be. 


MGM IPO, WHEN? - mgm3


MGM needs to sell this deal on a future level of EBITDA significantly higher than the trailing four quarters tally of $205 million. One way to do that would be to increase market share.  We believe they have taken a step in that direction with the hiring of Mr. Kwong to run the VIP business.  As we pointed out last week in our note "MGM LOOKING TO BOOST VIP SHARE, " Mr. Kwong is a top line focused operator with significant junket connections.  He should bring over a big book of business.   He's not afraid of sacrificing the bottom line to help the top line but MGM may not be interested in near-term profits.  The problem is that Kwong doesn't start until September and will need a few months to prove his mettle. 


The second timing issue MGM faces concerns Grant Bowie.  His contract runs out this year and we're not sure Pansy Ho nor MGM may be keen to renew the contract.  Thus, the new GM would need time to implement his plan and show results.  These hurdles may push the timing at least into Q1 2011, maybe later.


Through July 18th, Macau table revenues were HK$8.58 billion, implying a +60% month.



Macau is booming again, thanks in part to the end of the World Cup.  Through July 18th, Macau table revenues were HK$8.58 billion.  That number implies approximately HK$14.5 billion in table revenues for the whole month of July.  If we add in expected slot revenue HK$0.7 billion, we are now projecting total July Macau gaming revenues of HK$15.2 billion, up 64% from July 2009.  While not exactly a tough comparison – July 2009 was up 3% YoY – this is the first of many positive monthly comparisons Macau will face.  August 2009 climbed 17% and September was +54%, so the comparisons do get increasingly more difficult.


Here are the table revenue market shares.  MPEL and Galaxy look like the big winners in July relative to where they were in June and all of Q2.  Encore continues to keep Wynn’s market share above 17%.  LVS looks like the sequential loser with its share falling to under 19%.  If LVS’s share holds through the rest of the month, it would represent an all-time post-Venetian low for the company.  MGM is having an awful July in terms of market share.  Mr. Kwong is needed now more than ever and September can’t come fast enough for MGM.



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