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THE M3: SANDS VIP STRATEGY & PAY RAISE

The Macau Metro Monitor, July 30th, 2010

 

LAS VEGAS SANDS RETHINKS MACAU VIP STRATEGY AFTER DISMISSING JACOBS WSJ

Sands China acting CEO Leven says in the coming months, Sands will "study the economics" of using junkets versus direct marketing to VIP players.  This echoed Adelson's comments in the conference call on pulling back on the direct VIP business.  According to CLSA, there are currently 75 active junkets in Macau, the top five of which control about 80% of Macau's VIP market.

 

According to a person familiar with the situation, Wynn Macau also pursues its own high-end customers, but not in large volumes.


SANDS CHINA GIVES WORKERS A PAY RISE macaubusiness.com

According to Irwin Abe Siegel, a board member of Sands China, the salaries of all members who have completed at least one full year of service as of July 1, 2010 and are still in employment as of August 31, 2010 will rise by 3.5%, effective as of July 1.


According to sources contacted by Macau Business, around two thirds of Sands China’s 18,000 workers will benefit from this wage increase.


WYNN 2Q2010 CONF CALL NOTES

Here are our notes from the WYNN conference call.  We will have analysis in an upcoming post.

 

 

CONF CALL NOTES

  • Business is slightly better in Las Vegas given the shift in business mix
  • The beach club which just opened is doing great, as is the rest of their night club business which can do north of $150MM of revenues for them at 40+% margins
  • Encore Macau's opening was accretive to their quarter
  • Have 10% of the position in Macau and 17% of the revenue there. Their fair share ratio is 1.62x.
  • Cotai project design is complete, will start foundation drawings in a few weeks, so they are a little ahead of schedule with their development process.
  • Impact of the financial reform bill that President just signed - has the potential to have a catastrophic impact on business

Q&A

  • Vegas: They are starting to improve their rates as they become less dependent on the leisure business and trading it for the convention and group business which is trending at 17-18% of their rooms
    • They are taking 15-16% of the inventory out of commission as well though - so that really helps them increase the rate since they have less rooms to fill
    • Remove 400 rooms per quarter through January and then they will start their suite remodels
  • Asian business in Vegas has decreased but sustained better market share through their cross marketing efforts
  • Wynn Las Vegas will be all spruced up by Spring 2011
  • Hoping that they will have a lot more to show the investor community about their Cotai project either next quarter or 1Q2011
  • Any improvement in spend per occupied room rate in Las Vegas?
    • No - they aren't seeing any improvement
    • Only the nightclub business is doing great
  • When they finished design development in Cotai they noticed that they still had 12 acres left over, so they may do 2 phases. They are right across the street from MGM's site
  • Cash base business is up year over year and continue to see improving trends in July in Vegas
  • Wynn Cotai will be positioned consistent with their existing property- and do what they do best. It will have 1,500-1,600 rooms which will be bigger and more beautiful than anything they have ever built. They will have 500 tables and 1300 slot machines.
    • The extra 12 acres they haven't made any decision on what to do with it.  Their design only use 40 acres not 52.
  • In the convention segment, they are seeing some strengthening going into next year
  • Seeing some lift in food and beverage as a result of the club business, which is why they are adding 2 outlets - L'Cab (Nov 2010) and Lakeside Grill
  • Any impact from recent strength in the Euro?
    • Nothing. They got a small lift when the Euro was around $1.50
  • Ramp up of Encore Macau through out the quarter?
    • Accounted for all the expenses going into the opening.  They had everyone on payroll in 1Q2010
  • Wynn Macau generates 25% of the EBITDA in the market and 40% of the net income
  • Cost of the Wynn Las Vegas room remodel: $99MM + baccarat remodel cost
  • Doesn't think that anyone will open before them on Cotai aside from Sites 5 & 6 and Galaxy
  • Hold % of slots going up in Vegas?
    • They are changing the composition of their floor.  They've been removing some of the 99% payout poker games.
  • The reason the table drop per table is soft in Vegas is because there are so many tables. Customer acquisition costs are up because when their customers can't maintain their buildings and get desperate for customers they become very promotional. Promotional environment in Vegas is continuing into the 3Q.

RUTH: GLANCE AT THE 2Q MENU

Here is a look at RUTH’s guidance going into earnings tomorrow.

 

Earnings and Same-store Sales

  • RUTH needs to post company-owned same-store sales of +4.4% to maintain two year trends
  • Per reuters estimates, company-owned same-store sales are expected to come in at +4.7% and franchise same-store sales are expected to be +4.7% 
  • The street’s estimates imply an acceleration in same-store two-year trends
  • Over the past three and six months earnings revisions have trended higher, but little changes in the past month

Guidance

  • Opening one franchise Ruth’s Chris Steak House in May
  • Opening one Mitchell’s Fish Market late in the second quarter
  • Food and beverage costs are projected to be between 29% and 30% of restaurant sales
  • Marketing spend is expected to be between 3% and 3.5% of total revenues
  • G&A expenses are expected to be in the 25% to 30% range
  • CapEx spending is projected at 7 to $8 million
  • Free Cash Flow is expected to be in the 18 to $20 million range
  • 50% of prime beef is locked for 2010, slightly below average 2009 cost
  • 10% of tenderloins are locked for 2010
  • In the market trying to lock down price given the elevated beef prices…too early to speculate for 2011
  • Locked in on shrimp for 2010

General

  • In March and April, sales growth was in the mid-single digit range
  • “Movement away from the Ruth’s Classis with 39.95, 49.95 price fix promotion has not led to a fall-off in mix which continues to be in the 30% range” – it will be interesting to see how mix has continued to hold up
  • Half of beef is tender, half is prime, and beef represents 35% to 40% of their total cost of goods sold

 

RUTH: GLANCE AT THE 2Q MENU - ruth

 

Howard Penney

Managing Director

 


Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.64%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.61%

SKX: Overearning

Note to SKX management: C’mon guys…don’t get lost patting yourself on a job well done with Shape-ups (and it was, in fact, a job well done). But switch gears and deploy capital in a way that will prevent another blow up. The Street’s over $4.00 in ’11. I can get closer to $2.50.

 

Yes, it was a love fest on the SKX conference call. Shape-ups, product mo, blow-out quarter, etc… I get it, and so does the consensus. But there are some bigger questions to be asking here – and the answers don’t give me one iota of confidence in the sustainability of this business model or growth trajectory. Consider the following…

 

1) Shape-ups now account for ~25% of total sales according to our estimates, and accounted for 75%+ of growth vs. last year. Excluding Shape-ups, sales were likely up +10-15%. I will never take anything away from a company that is printing revenue based on hitting – and even creating – a trend. But we also cannot straight line this performance in perpetuity.

2) Industry-wide, ‘toning’ went from ~2.5mm pairs, at an average price point of ~$95 in 2009 to a current annual run rate closer to $1.2-$1.5Bn, 15-18mm pair at $80-$85, respectively.  SKX’ share is roughy 60% and has trended down recently as Reebok sales ramped up. Let’s face it folks, with fashion, nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. Now Payless is selling them for $29.99 with a BOGO (buy one get one half off) and it is 1% of sales today moving towards 6% by year end. That alone would represent ~8% of the industry’s unit share in this category.

3) Why does all this matter? SKX cannot afford either a slowdown in unit demand or ASP compression in this category. Period.

4) Why? Because SKX deploys capital throughout its organization when it can, not when it should. Even today the company is deferring new DC and related equipment spend into next year.  Since launching Shape-Ups in early 2009, better than 55% of incremental revenue has landed on the bottom line as outlined in the chart below. After COGS and incremental store build costs alone, this should result in flow through less than 50%. Then add on capacity expansion (DC and equipment, but more importantly, people to crank on R&D and Sales/Marketing to play offense against potential pressure in toning). No one knows the exact flow through needed, but my math suggests that it's closer to 30%. 

5) The bottom line with margins is that this company should realize about a 600bp boost in margins this year. If we’re going to give the model any shot at sustainability, then they should be investing more, and printing margin improvement that is half what we see today.

6) In addition, despite higher product costs due to labor, commodities, transportation, yuan, etc… SKX is guiding to higher Gross Margins – which is anomalous and raises a red flag with me as to the sustainability.

7) Longer term, lets not forget that SKX is massively net short Yuan. With 90% of its product sourced in China and less than 5% of its revenue generated in China, this is a pretty steep delta against a freight train of a long-term Macro backdrop for the Yuan.  Nike, on the flip side (and even Adidas) only makes 26% of product in China. So it has $10bn in COGS, and $2.6bn in rmb exposure. But it has a growing and profitable China revenue engine, that stands at about $1.8bn today. I could make a strong case that Nike is net long the Yuan within a 2-year time period. That puts it near the top of any other consumer-related multinational that has such favorable exposure.  Skechers? Not quite.

8) The punchline? We’re going to see the sales delta slow within 2-quarters, which is the same time that prices in the toning category will be more competitive. Then higher product costs will matter, as will deferred infrastructure investment. Add that all together and it’s not unrealistic to get to 2011 being a down year. The point is that estimates are likely to come in over $4 in 2011 after this quarter. But $2.50 is perfectly within reach – and more likely. When SKX misses, it will get a 10x pe at best. That’s a $25 stock, or 33% down from here.

9) Timing: Will this deck of cards come crashing down next week? I dunno. I doubt it, actually. But I don’t think we have to wait a year, either. Looking at the quarters ahead, and synching with product flow, and competitive climate, I place a 60% chance it happens before Dec 31, and 80% before the end of 1Q11.  I’ll work closely with Keith and let him make the call as to what to do in the interim from a TRADE and TREND perspective. But if I owned this name today, I’d be punting it.

 

 

SKX: Overearning - SKX Incr EBIT Flowthr 3 7 10

 

 


Industrials (XLI) Sentiment

While we have been a little early, we are currently SHORT Industrials (XLI) in the Hedgeye virtual portfolio.  Our short thesis is grounded on the belief that a weakening labor market, softening consumer confidence, softening housing activity and retail sales, and an intensifying trade deficit are early signs of a renewed economic downturn.

 

We want to be short the stocks that are most levered to global industrial growth slowing.  As a reminder, we remain below consensus for US GDP growth in the coming quarters and years.

 

The following charts show investor sentiment of the components of the Industrials index (XLI).  Specifically, we are looking at “sell-side bullishness” versus “short interest days to cover.”

 

(1)    High Sentiment & Low Short Interest = Consensus Longs/Potential Shorts (upper left)

(2)    Low Sentiment & High Short Interest = Consensus Shorts/Potential Longs (lower right)

 

The Industrial sectors with the most bullish sentiment are Industrial Conglomerates, Machinery, Aerospace & Defense, Road and Rail and Air Freight.

 

Howard Penney

 

Industrials (XLI) Sentiment - h1

 

Industrials (XLI) Sentiment - h2

 

Industrials (XLI) Sentiment - h3

 

Industrials (XLI) Sentiment - h4


What is Hedgeye Thinking On Oil?

Conclusion: While we are bearish on the fundamentals for oil, the downward pressure on the U.S. dollar is supporting the price of oil -- so it remains in no man’s land from an investment perspective.

 

We’ve been noticeably quiet lately on oil, which is atypical for us on any topic.

 

All joking aside, we’ve been quiet on oil because we don’t have a conviction view at the moment, though fundamentally we are negative for three primary reasons: supply, lack of U.S. dollar correlation, and slowing U.S. growth.

  • Supply – As we’ve outlined in the chart below, U.S. stocks of crude oil are well above their five year range.  In fact, there are currently 360.8 million barrels of crude in storage in the United States, which is 23.4 days of supply.  This is an increase of 4% over 2009 supply numbers from the same period.  In addition, supply has been increasing steadily since the start of July.  Despite this, the price of oil is actually up almost 18% on a year-over-year basis for the same period.  (As a side note, oil production domestically is up almost 8% year-over-year to 5.4 million barrels, which is not a fact commonly bandied about.) 
  • U.S. dollar correlation - In 2009, the key macro factor driving the reflation trade was U.S. dollar down, and everything priced in U.S. dollars up.  Simply, the decline in value of the U.S. dollar versus other currencies increased the inherent value of those global commodities that were priced in U.S. dollars.  Oil was a primary beneficiary as its price increased by almost 80%.  The correlation, or at least the strength of it, is no longer intact.  In fact, since late June we have seen a dramatic decline in the U.S. dollar versus other major currencies, north of 7%, but have not seen a similar move in oil.  In 2009, oil moved inversely to the dollar with a factor of more than 4:1.  As noted, recently that correlation has gone away, so despite being bearish on the dollar, we are not seeing a corresponding correlation that makes us bullish on oil. 
  • Sequentially slowing U.S. growth – Early next week, during our August theme call, we will get into this in greater detail, but we believe that growth next year in the U.S. will be half that of consensus expectations.  This will be driven by the likely need for austerity measures and continued Housing Headwinds. The United States consumes ~24% of the world’s oil, so any change in the direction of U.S. economic growth will have an impact on global demand, and thus pricing.  This is further emphasized by the fact that the U.S. imports ~61% of its oil so is an even larger percentage of the export market with a commensurate impact on market prices.

Yesterday, the EIA reported supply information that was touched on above, that highlighted the anemic demand environment.  Specifically, consensus estimates were for an increase in supply of 2.3 million barrels, while the actual number came in at an increase of 7.3 million barrels week-over-week.

 

The wild card to the bearish scenario outlined above will be Chinese demand.  We have been quite vocal in our Chinese Ox in a Box thesis on China this year as we have seen the government take steps to slow down economic growth to head off inflation.  As of June, China was consuming 8.99 million barrels per day, which is up 10% from a year ago levels.  Any acceleration in Chinese economic growth, would offset some or all of the decline in U.S. demand due to sequentially slowing economic growth.

 

Longer term, the potential thirst for oil from China is substantial.  According to recent analysis from Platt’s:

 

“In any event, without delving deeper, we might expect China's steady state demand for oil could prove not less than that of more advanced Asian nations. Based on the experience of Korea and Japan, China's current population would be expected to consume approximately 55 million barrels per day at steady state (when per capita consumption plateaus), or nearly 2/3 of current global oil production, were the supply available.”

 

In the short term we remain bearish on oil supply and demand, but in the longer term China’s thirst will trump all else.

 

Daryl G. Jones
Managing Director

 

What is Hedgeye Thinking On Oil? - 2

 

What is Hedgeye Thinking On Oil? - 1


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