Caesars Entertainment's Management Presents at JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Global High Yield & Leveraged Finance Conference (Transcript)

| About: Caesars Entertainment (CZR)

Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR)

February 26, 2013 3:20 pm ET


Donald A. Colvin - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Eric Hession - Vice President of Finance and Treasurer

Unknown Analyst

Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us. We, of course, have Caesars Entertainment here. And those presenting will be Donald Colvin, the new CFO who joined in November, as well as Eric Hession. They'll do a, hopefully, brief presentation and then we'll open it up to Q&A.

Donald A. Colvin

Thanks a lot. And we've taken your hint. I think we've cut our presentation down to about 60 slides. So without lingering, let me read the forward-looking statement. Go to the next one. And then go to the next one. So we did a summary chart here, the key to our success, and I think you can see it's made on 3 pillars: our brands, our distribution channel and our customers. And we've always been renowned for a Total Rewards loyalty program and that's something that sets us apart from our competition.

And in this presentation, I'll give an outline of what we think is going to move the needle for the company, what we're proud of and where we see the opportunities going forward.

So as you look at where we stand, we are a leader in the gaming and entertainment industry. We are #1 and #2 in almost every U.S. market. World Series of Poker is a world-leading poker brand. And as we move to online gaming, it's something that will help us tremendously. And the Slotomania is a social game with more than 85 million downloads, so again placing us in a great pole position to benefit from online real-money gaming.

We have a very robust entertaining and hospitality offering, 43,000 hotel rooms, 440 restaurants, bars and clubs and 290 retail shops. And just on the restaurants, some of them have been winning awards recently, and we just opened up, in the last few days, the Nobu restaurant in Caesars Palace.

Unprecedented scale. Yes, we have a lot of debt, but we also have a lot of EBITDA, approximately $1.9 billion of adjusted EBITDA in 2012, 53 properties across 13 states and 7 countries, 68,000 employees, 3 million square feet of casino gaming space, 2 million square feet of convention space, a broad and loyal customer base, 100-plus million annual visitors and 45 million Total Reward customers. And I can also say we are building the highest observation wheel in the world, bigger than the London Eye, in the center of Vegas. And next to that, over $200,000 of retail space next to our High Roller wheel. So these are the things that get us exciting.

You can see here, very geographically diverse distribution channel. Obviously, a very strong position in Vegas, but also strong in other regions, too, as you can see. And with a presence in Europe and Africa, South America. And we're also trying, as I call it, to catch the elusive big tuna in Asia. And we announced, with great satisfaction, our partnership with Lippo for an application in South Korea, which I'm told eventually could be that big tuna. So not only North America and Europe, but, hopefully, one day also in Asia.

So looking at our financial results, you can see here, as we showed on a previous chart, we finished last year with just under $2 billion in EBITDA, revenue just under $9 billion. If you look at what the market threw us last year, I think it's been a satisfactory performance. We didn't have any help from the top line but we were able to aggressively implement cost-reduction programs that despite all the troubles and travails, the hurricanes and what else, we still were able to hold up our EBITDA, and we will continue to benefit from these strong cost reduction actions, as we go through this year.

And if you look in the fourth quarter, it was rather disappointing on the backs of a hurricane which hit our Atlantic City property, but we believe that's behind us. As I look into this year, I see it having a slightly different profile than last year. I think last year, 2012, started strongly and finished rather sadly. I think this year, we're going to see a slower start and a stronger finish. And why a stronger finish? Because we should see the benefit of all of the investments we're making, particularly in Vegas, and some of the new properties we're opening, plus the added harvest from our cost reductions and the full annualization of a lot of the properties or sites that opened at the of last year, the restaurants and the bars, et cetera, and the Nobu Tower, too. So all that should position us well, with the Linq shopping area, to exit the year with a much stronger momentum than we entered the year. And so I think that's how we have been characterizing this year, one full of hope and promise. While we're not counting on a strong top line growth, we were counting on the investments that we've made, the investments we will make and the cost reductions that we will execute to drive improved performance.

So what are the drivers of value creation? So reinvigorating and expanding the core, a strong development pipeline in place and some upside opportunities. So if you look at this, and I've already talked about the Linq, room renovation in The Quad and also in Bally's, and new initiatives in -- to strengthen our customer loyalty and our marketing programs to get closer to our customers. Big data initiatives, where we can use more efficiently and effectively the data we receive from our customers, interfacing into smartphones, et cetera. These should certainly drive a lot more attractive behavior from the customers and allow us to capture a stronger share of their wallet.

New opportunities, Horseshoe Cincinnati, in a few days time. Eric? I think it's at 4th of March. Thistledown, shortly afterwards, and we're still pursuing aggressively Baltimore and also Boston. So some good developments in the pipeline, and, as I've mentioned as well, the Asian opportunity, too.

And then online gaming in Nevada, we expect to roll that out during the second half of 2013. And New Jersey, we expect that will be a 2014 event. Now as far as New Jersey is concerned, many questions about how fast can we go, and I think a lot of that is going to depend upon the regulatory environment in New Jersey. There's a licensing question to be resolved, and the back office support of online gaming has still to be determined. So clearly, these are uncertainties that we are trying to get better clarity on, so that's why we mentioned something like an 18-month to 2-year projection of when this will be available. And then also we're still talking here also pursuing the opportunity in Toronto.

So here we have reinvigorating and expanding the core. I think you can see here. I'll try to show some nice photographs, so it looks good. Octavius Tower, Gordon Ramsay Steak, Bacchanal Buffet, the Villas for VVIPs, another Gordon Ramsay, Nobu Tower, Bally's room upgrades -- that's important for Bally's because it's a big convention space and we want to take full opportunity of Vegas as a convention destination -- the Quad renovation, personally see that, it's a great opportunity.

Right now, the ADR in The Quad is very good [ph]. And the spend on F&B is very good [ph], so this will be anchoring our Linq investment, and so we see big opportunities there. And then the Linq, you can see that. I'll show you some other photographs that will better illustrate why this is such an exciting project. And then there's the Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon conversion. We shut down that old Bill's Casino with a central strip location. We're going to renovate the rooms into a luxury boutique hotel, which we will announce in the near future. And then on top of that a 60,000 square-foot night club which you can all enjoy in the central strip location in the shadow of the Linq, with both an indoor and an outdoor section.

So we talk about the Vegas strip, and in order to better highlight it, we thought we'd give you this kind of map. And if you ask me, I mean, I'm not -- I never have been a Vegas expert, but I see at the dead center of the strip, was next to Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard, and you can see from this chart that we are very well-positioned both on the east side and on the west side. A little bit of competition there from 1 or 2 competitors, but apart from the Bellagio, not much. And you can see here where the Linq and the High Roller wheel is strategically located in front of Caesars Palace, and you see the properties adjacent to that are all owned by Caesars Entertainment, so we believe we will get more than a fair share from this location, and it also has the opportunity to uplift all our activity in the adjoining area, while integrating very well into the Caesars property.

So you can see from this map, these are all within walking distances. None of our properties in the central strip are in the far north or the far south. And as we create an exciting new pedestrian area here, we will be rebuilding the central Vegas location. Again, you can see it here, slightly enlarged, and you see the size of the Linq project with the High Roller wheel, The Quad on one side, Flamingo on the other, Caesars Palace and then anchoring the bottom, Bill's Casino and then next to that, Bally's Palace and Planet Hollywood.

So here's what it looks like. So you can see for yourself it really is an impressive project. The Quad casino let me -- it's called the Vortex construction -- I don't know -- what does that mean? Vortex construction. It sounds very impressive. Some kind of physics experiment. But one thing is sure about this construction, it has disrupted our business and we mentioned this on the call. So we've been paying the price for this investment. It has disrupted our revenue and our cash generation. So we'll be very happy when that is behind us by the middle of the year. And you can see, underneath, a new Quad walkway. And then on the right-hand side here, you can get a good example of what the -- it's going to look like from the street, looking at the Linq corridor. So you can see these 200,000-plus square feet of commercial space being built.

I can also tell you that the actual wheel will be double the size of what you see there. So just imagine that. If you've been to London, you see the size of the London Eye, this is bigger. And the London Eye always looked big to me, so you can imagine what it's going to look like at the end of the street. So it's really a spectacular investment that is tremendous -- tremendously exciting for us.

So here's some other examples. You see it from the other side. You see an example of one of the cabins here which will hold 30-plus people, and then you see the big wheel, the massive wheel which is going on top of that structure.

So this is an artist's rendition of what it will look like. So once again, our hope of taking you through that one step at a time. But you see this will be truly spectacular, and that is why we're so excited about what this can do for all our properties in this area.

The Linq itself -- the wheel itself, sorry, will open up sometime in the beginning of the second quarter of next year. But we do anticipate that the commercial space will be open by the end of the year and that the wheel itself will be constructed by the end of the year. So those of you -- I'm sure, most of you who are coming there to enjoy the New Year celebrations will be able to bathe in the shadow of the Linq in New Year, that's our intention.

And again, you see the same rendition here, so it's something truly spectacular. This is an example of what it will look like in one of the pods, which you will be able to enjoy in just over a year's time. Eric is taking reservations now, and we'll be very reasonable on the price of a ticket, especially if you're an investor in our equity.

Not too many equity, but -- and everyone has got their own card to play, some guys on CMBS, others are more interested in OpCo. If you want to see this then you better buy the equity. So, Total Rewards, clearly the first and the largest loyalty program in the entertainment industry. So we're relaunching this Total Rewards last year, we're enhancing and updating it with big data. We believe this gives us an unprecedented advantage and we'll be able to attract and retain more customers, especially with all the investments we're making in our properties, like I just mentioned.

The development pipeline, we touched upon this as well, Horseshoe Cincinnati in March, Baltimore, shortly, Cleveland, Thistledown, coming -- when is it? Thistledown this spring, what date exactly is it?

Eric Hession

It's going to be in May.

Donald A. Colvin

May of this year, so both Cincinnati and Thistledown before the middle of the year. And Suffolk Downs, our project for the Massachusetts area, in a good path to development.

Looking at the asset pipeline, you can see here, we've laid it all out on a timeline, lots of things completed, Cleveland, Octavius Towers, Villas for VVIPs, we saw the benefit of that in our spend over the Christmas, New Year period. Nobu Tower just opened, Cincinnati, Thistledown, new social games launched, previewed for the first half, Nevada online poker, Linq, Bill's Gamblin' Hall, Horseshoe Baltimore, New Jersey online gaming next year and Suffolk Downs, hopefully by 2016. So you can see a very comprehensive, rich value-creation pipeline.

Social mobile games, again, we've touched upon that. Over 85 million downloads of Slotomania, Bingo Blitz acquired recently and on a good path. You see the size of the social games market, the potential for that and the casino market as a subsection of that. I mean, a lot of people are asking, "What's the potential of online real money gambling?" I think it's in its infancy, we just have to characterize what's the global market, how much of that will go to online gambling. It's very difficult for us to determine, but it could be, certainly, a tremendous opportunity for us.

Upside opportunities, we see it here. Big potential from online gaming, and we have been successful in a state-by-state efforts, Nevada, New Jersey and recently, I think we're even expecting some news this week on some final things from New Jersey. Clearly, a big opportunity here.

Asia, I've mentioned Korea. We have submitted our application with the Lippo Group, and we expect to hear over the next few months its progress. I think it's a 90-day period or 60-plus -- 30 days, what?

Eric Hession

60 working days.

Donald A. Colvin

60 working days, yes. So hopefully again, this is in not-too-distant future. And several other Asian countries are actively considering legalization and we continue to monitor the legislative developments in these countries to see how we can benefit from them. And, obviously, if we can roll out real money online gaming in a big state like New Jersey, that also positions us well for new initiatives in the Asian market. Financial Capital Market review. So I think -- I have been going through a lot of these things, I wouldn't mind passing it over a bit to Eric. If you want to take a few of these charts?

Eric Hession


Unknown Analyst

This is the easy stuff.

Eric Hession

Thanks, Donald. I think, as many of you are familiar with, just a few weeks ago, we launched $1.5 billion bond offering and the proceeds were used -- or will be used as soon as it exits escrow, subject to regulatory approval, to retire term loan primarily the B1, B2 and B3 which is due in 2015, but also a portion of the term loan B5 and B6 which is due in 2017.

We also, in December, issued a $750 million worth of notes. Those were in escrow at the close of the year and they have since exited escrow and the proceeds of that has been removed from the restricted cash, which is where you'll see it held on our earnings release and then when our 10-K comes out.

As I believe, again, everyone in the room has known, we're quite active in terms of our capital markets participation, and we've been very proactive in terms of pushing out our maturity window, taking advantage of market conditions as they present themselves to refinance the debt to create a sufficient window for the maturation of the projects that Donald mentioned earlier, as well as to make sure that we have sufficient liquidity so that we're able to both pursue those projects and deploy our capital where it's needed, but also to make sure that we maintain the flexibility to handle uncertainties in the overall economy.

We wanted to provide you with an update of the maturity schedule. You can see that, as of December 31, we had roughly $6.8 billion of debt coming due in 2015. The majority of that was the CMBS structure and pro forma for the transaction that I just mentioned, that's been reduced by approximately $1 billion of 2015 debt, and it's pushed into 2018 and 2020.

Donald A. Colvin

Looking into -- go ahead.

Eric Hession

We -- I'll talk a little bit about the venture growth partners and then turn it over to Donald.

Donald A. Colvin


Eric Hession

We choreographed this earlier as you can tell. So we've made 2 disclosures now about Caesars' growth. Venture partners, the first was in the December bond offering where we mentioned that we are pursuing a transaction that our sponsors had indicated that they were interested in participating in. And then in the subsequent $1.5 billion offering as well as on the earnings call from yesterday, we expanded on that information. Basically, we are pursuing a possible transaction that's subject to a number of different criteria, and there's no guarantee that we'll be able to complete the transaction, but our objective is to form an entity that would enable us to improve our liquidity and credit profile, which would then allow us to, essentially, have a lower cost of capital to pursue a number of projects that fit an equity-financed vehicle, better than our existing debt heavily focused structure. It would enhance our distribution network through the pursuit of these ventures, and it would, as I mentioned, provide the additional support for the new projects.

We listed out the assets that we were considering transacting with this venture, in terms of either contributing them or selling them. If they're part of the CEOC capital structure, they'd be sold. So that would consist of the Planet Hollywood, the Baltimore investment and then a portion of the Baltimore and Planet Hollywood management fees. If it's an asset that's outside of the CEOC credit, such as CIE or the HBC [ph] notes, those would either be contributed in exchange for equity in the new venture or they would be sold for cash.

As we mentioned, we anticipate that our sponsors would participate in the offering. They've indicated that they are -- would like to do so and we plan to offer that opportunity to the other equity holders on same terms as the sponsors. As I mentioned, this is still under development in terms of both making sure that the documentation is complete, the legal aspects are done. And more importantly -- and perhaps most of the valuation in the price has not been agreed upon, which is why, unfortunately, I can't provide you with more detail today. As we mentioned on the call, we have formed an independent committee of the board, 3 members have hired their own legal counsel and their own bank, who's going to provide a fairness opinion on the transaction, and that value will then be negotiated with the sponsors. And again, there's no guarantee that a price will be able to be achieved. And so we will hopefully be able to update everybody on that transaction shortly.

So I'll turn it over to Donald

Donald A. Colvin

Okay. Well, thank you, Eric. I mean I think it's appropriate that you've done a great job in -- as a team, in amending and extending and improving our liquidity, so it would be rather inappropriate for me to steal your thunder when it came to what a good job you've done on the balance sheet for Caesars. So I'm sure many people in the audience would echo that.

So just to conclude here, you see how we are excited about the opportunities. We believe we can continue to take advantage of the capital markets to improve our balance sheet, and we will be generating a stronger operational performance as we go forward.

So here is an example of the kind of leverage we've got. We have a hypothetical EBITDA impact, therefore some increases in our ADRs. And so you can see this here, $119 million hypothetical impact from a $20 increase in ADRs. This is a useful tool, if you want to look at what the benefit can be from resort fees. Obviously, you have to take a discount into account because before resort fees, people were paying for Internet and gym access, and so some are also being comp the rooms. But you can see that increase in ADRs, especially benefiting from a central strip location, have a meaningful positive impact on our EBITDA. And this is just the ADR in the room. There's also the complementary F&B revenue and then also the gaming revenue. And I'll remind you as well, as we were investing in this renovation, we saw a negative to our business, as we -- we had this huge construction project that has encumbered our business over the last 6 months or more, and that will be behind us in another 3 or 4 months. So we won't have that handicap to carry with us.

So where we are here, we believe that Caesars is positioned for significant growth and value creation, a unique value proposition, differentiated approach, scale, geographic reach, brands and a leading edge industry loyalty program. We are realizing our company's development efforts. Several projects are coming online and they will drive revenue growth. We are well-positioned to drive significant EBITDA upside. We are reinvigorating and expanding the core of the business with increased focus on hospitality. So you see a lot of these investments are not in the traditional gaming area, but in the hospitality area. We are executing a development program for domestic distribution, major efforts in social mobile gaming, capitalizing on the upside pipeline, development projects in Korea and online gaming in the U.S. Still focused on managing costs, and still focused, Eric, on improving the capital structure. And a sustained economic recovery will provide us additional tailwinds. We're not counting on it, but it would be very helpful it if it would come to help us as well. So you see why we're looking forward with excitement and enthusiasm through the next few years with Caesars Entertainment.

Thank you. Do we still have some time left?

Unknown Analyst


Question-and-Answer Session

Unknown Analyst

Yes. Questions please. Over here.

Unknown Analyst

This is an easy one. Are you contemplating or thinking about a secondary equity offering at the parent level? And do you have any restrictions or covenant issues on existing shareholders just to do another equity round and bring another check -- bring equity in to help you grow your balance sheet?

Eric Hession

Yes. I'll take that and then Donald can jump in. As you know, from when we issued the initial shares, we also filed a $500 million shelf registration to do a follow-on offering. We haven't found the right balance, in our opinion, of the price in terms of the equity versus the debt that's outstanding to do a debt for equity exchange at this point. But it's certainly something that we consider, and we are prepared to do that. We would, of course, have to be able to execute the trade from an SEC perspective, which would mean filing the K and doing various reporting, but in terms of having the shelf registration out there and active, it is.

Unknown Analyst

So it's one of the variety of capital raises you're looking at and you probably have a whole team of advisers evaluating all of those?

Eric Hession

Yes. We look at a multitude of different scenarios, and certainly one that's available to us would be to issue equity. We haven't been shy in saying that at some point, we do need to change the capital structure to be more equity-focused and certainly one of the options available is to do a follow-on offering at some point.

Donald A. Colvin

And I think, to make equity attractive, we need to show improving operating performance, and that's how we're planning this year, and that's why we've made a lot of these investments that we outlined. So on the back of that, we will become a much more attractive equity story. And you're spot on. I mean, equity is a key part of improving our capital structure, and the key element for management is to deliver improved operating performance, and that's what we're planning to do.

Unknown Analyst

As you think about building out the online gaming functions as those come to fruition, have you studied or how do you consider cannibalization of your physical locations?

Donald A. Colvin

I mean I think online gaming is in its embryonic phase. People who go to a property really go for a different experience than those that enjoy it in their own rooms. So I mean we haven't seen much evidence that suggest that there's a big cannibalization potential. There may be a cannibalization to other areas like water [ph] racing things that we don't participate in. But I mean this is an embryonic phase. We haven't -- we don't see a big risk to a bricks and mortars establishments, and especially if you look at where we're putting a lot of investments, it's not just gaming, there's many other things we're investing in, the whole experience. So yes, there may be some eventually, but the market potential is so huge that we can take it, if we'll enjoy such a big market.

Unknown Analyst

Other questions? Or -- I'll definitely kick one off. Just -- I get asked this question a lot. I'd love to hear how you guys will respond. With regards to the propco refinancing, I know there's nothing imminent. But I guess in terms of it going current in February '14, does that pose any risk for raising capital at OpCo? And how do you think about both, in combination?

Donald A. Colvin

I think we've -- it's -- obviously, everyone here is smart and intelligent and knows that if you show your hand and what you plan to do next, it will become a lot more expensive. And so we are here to outline what our strategy is and why we think we can grow into our capital structure. We are confident that there will be lots of opportunities. As far as showing our hand on specific dates that we plan to do things, before and after, we would rather keep the optionality and not reveal that. And we don't believe that the flexibility that we are retaining has any major disadvantages on how we run the business. Would you like to add anything to that?

Eric Hession

Yes. The only thing I'd add is -- and we've talked about this before, and I think you've asked the question previously that the -- we looked at this and we've included it in our disclosure as we believe and act in accordance with it, it's a 2015 maturity piece of paper. We fully expect to exercise both of the options; the one we have, we have the other one coming in 2014. And it's a great piece of debt for us. It's currently a LIBOR plus 350 unhedged. It's got a cap and it spins off a significant amount of cash flow that can be nearly entirely distributed to the parent. The cost to refinance that is, clearly, no matter how strong the market, is going to be higher than the existing structure would facilitate. And so there's a cost associated with it and really that's how we balance it. But in terms of a sense of urgency to address it, we just -- we don't look at it as something that's a burning issue that we need to fix.

Unknown Analyst

Other questions or I'll keep going? I guess with regards to, I think what we saw in fourth quarter earnings, OpCo looked a little -- like it did better, at least in Las Vegas, than propco and I was wondering when you're going to start focusing on the propco properties in terms of CapEx spend?

Donald A. Colvin

Well, we are continuing to invest in the propco properties. And pro forma, I think we have estimated is something like $100 million will be put into the propco properties this year. So I mean, I think that's a significant investment, and as you mentioned, they threw off some good cash, but you've got to look at the trend over a longer period. And obviously, we benefited in the fourth quarter from some VVIP visits, which helped a lot to the OpCo, particularly associated with the Caesars Palace and the investments we put there. So as we start to see the return on these other investments, we should start to see things balancing out. So I wouldn't focus just on one quarter, I'd look at the trend and the drivers and the things we're doing to improve our overall business performance for both propco and OpCo.

Unknown Analyst

I'll keep going unless anyone raises their hand. With regards to the rewards program, I know you guys talked a little about this on your call yesterday, trying to invigorate that program and targeted spend. What did you mean by that? And what are your current active customers?

Donald A. Colvin

You'll probably want to take that.

Eric Hession

Yes. Sure. We have roughly 8 million current active customers, of which 7 million are gaming and 1 million are non-gaming, which is -- as you know, we've put in place maybe 3 or 4 years ago tracking the non-gaming as well. In terms of what we've been doing to the program, we relaunched Total Rewards last year at about this time. And since then, we've taken a number of other activities to further enhance the value proposition to the customers. A lot of those are things that you'd notice. If you're a customer, particularly, you can redeem your credits online for certain products. You can use them in various opportunities. We have additional relationships such as with some of the cruise lines and so forth. But going further, we recently re-segmented the tier benefit program in terms of the amount of reward credits required for the various tiers and we're using that to better able -- to differentiate between the different customer segments and be able to reward them accordingly. We've also redone our website. I'd encourage you to go to, in particular the Las Vegas page, I think it's great, and check out the new website. We've put a considerable amount of effort into it. You can now book hotel, restaurants, do your entire vacation with -- through that single portal, which is a big advancement. And then we're also going through the program and trying to create as much value as we can for each of the customers, allowing it to be targeted specifically for them. So we're rolling out a new offer system, as an example, that will further create the ability to segment the customer database, make it so that we can fine-tune it and be able to send customized offers more quickly to the customers. And in fact, moving it more towards the mobile and wireless so that while they're on the property, they'll immediately get an offer based on their play, based on their luck, based on what type of behavior we've seen them exhibit in the past.

Unknown Analyst

Great. I think we're out of time. Appreciate everyone coming. Enjoy your evening.

Donald A. Colvin

Thank you.

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