International Speedway Management Discusses Q3 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

| About: International Speedway (ISCA)

International Speedway (NASDAQ:ISCA)

Q3 2012 Earnings Call

October 04, 2012 9:00 am ET


Charles N. Talbert - Senior Director of Investor and Corporate Communications

Lesa France Kennedy - Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

John R. Saunders - President

Daniel W. Houser - Chief Financial Officer, Chief Accounting Officer, Senior Vice President and Treasurer


Michael K. Walsh - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Stephen Altebrando - Sidoti & Company, LLC


Good morning, and welcome to the International Speedway Corporation Third Quarter 2012 Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded on Thursday, October 4, 2012. I would now like to turn the conference over to Charles Talbert. Mr. Talbert, please go ahead.

Charles N. Talbert

Thank you, operator. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the International Speedway's conference call. We are here to discuss the company's results for the third quarter ended August 31, 2012. With us on this morning's call are Lesa France Kennedy, CEO; John Saunders, President; and Dan Houser, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. After our formal remarks, a Q&A period will follow. The operator will instruct you on procedures at that time.

Before we start, I would like to address forward-looking statements that may be addressed on the call. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Actual future performance, outcomes and results may differ materially from those expressed in these forward-looking statements. Please refer to the documents filed by International Speedway Corporation with the SEC, specifically the most recent reports on Form 10-K and 10-Q, which identify important risk factors, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in these forward-looking statements.

So with these formalities out of the way, I'll turn the call over to Lesa Kennedy. Lesa?

Lesa France Kennedy

Good morning, and thank you, everyone, for participating on today's call. I have a few comments before we get into the meat of the presentation today and wanted to touch on our strong focus on our business plan, and with that, we've been consistently delivering strong cash flows, as well as solid financial results. While we can't control the direction of the macro environment, ISC is well-positioned to capitalize on growth once the economy begins creating meaningful levels of new jobs. We have discussed on recent calls our central focus on driving the best-in-class guest experiences. As a company, we must meet the expectations of today's consumer to grow market share and profitability.

Enhancing the live experience is relevant for all sports. I want to give you a few examples. The Cowboys Stadium is now working on its @Stadium fan amenities to compete with the living room experience. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent today on the National Tennis Center to remain competitive with other events around the world, and the Dodgers are embarking on upgrades to meet the standards of today's state of the art ball parks. These are just a few of the many ongoing facility renovations across the sports landscape. ISC is no different for many of the same reasons that were mentioned. Investing in the live experience will in the long run boost consumer-related revenues. As importantly, it will also grow sponsorship, hospitality and help long-term for the broadcast media right fees. So with that, I will now turn the call over to John Saunders.

John R. Saunders

Thank you, Lesa, and good morning, everyone. Consistent with the 2 prior quarters, year-over-year comparability was impacted by scheduling changes. Adjusting for the changes primarily related to the timing of the NASCAR weekend at Kansas Speedway and the NASCAR Nationwide Series event we no longer promote. Total revenues for the quarter were down slightly, approximately 3% from the comparable period, delivering core business results within our range of expectations. Other year-over-year schedule changes are outlined in our earnings news release.

While we are still experiencing mixed results primarily in attendance-related revenues, we remain encouraged with many aspects of our business. Our corporate sales team continues to generate strong levels of interest from corporate prospects. For the year, we expect to be within a few percentage points of our target. Despite the economic trends influencing corporate budgets, sales and contract durations, we have been able to accurately target our gross corporate marketing partnerships revenues over the past few years. From an entitlement perspective, we have secured all NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series entitlements, and all but one NASCAR Sprint Cup entitlement for the year.

We have been actively working on securing the remaining 2013 event entitlements and other available inventory. Based on current activity and interest, we expect to have less available inventory as we enter into the 2013 season than upon entering this year, which will focus our resources and help improve the terms on the remaining inventory for 2013.

On the consumer front, we are seeing some positive signs. Deferred revenue, after adjusting for event schedule changes, have stabilized year-over-year. Our weighted-average Sprint Cup ticket price per event is comparable to 2011, down less than 1%. Per capita spending has seen an upswing. Our retention rates have increased slightly. Our capacity utilization for Sprint Cup event is approximately 81%, which is roughly in line with where we were at this time last year. Still, fans' purchasing decisions are coming later in the sales cycle, closer to the race weekend, such that advanced ticket sales for our Sprint Cup events remain in the range of approximately 7% off from last year in both units and revenue. No doubt we have further inroads to make with our consumer, a critical focus area to grow our business back to historical levels.

In fact, the industry and all of its stakeholders are committed to growing the sport and are collaborating like never before in the history of the sport. We are aligned with NASCAR, as it initiates its 5-year industry action plan to connect with existing fans, as well as engage Gen Y, youth and multi-cultural consumers in motor sports. ISC is aimed at ensuring the future growth of NASCAR, including building product relevance, cultivating driver star power, growing social media activities and enhancing the event experience.

A major initiative in the area of product relevance is the introduction of the next-generation Sprint Cup car for 2013, which will better resemble the given manufacturer's production car, while reinforcing the fans' affinity for that brand. Also, NASCAR and Fox Deportes, the #1 U.S. Latino sports network, are teaming up to provide the sport's most expansive Spanish language broadcast offering, with a coverage of 15 Sprint Cup Series races, including for the first time, a Spanish language broadcast for the 2013 Daytona 500. Introducing the sport to different demographics can measurably grow the sport. We are supporting the action plan on a number of fronts, but in particular, we are focused on improving the live experience for our guests. It's a critical strategy for future growth. We are convinced that enhancing the fan experience will lead to increased ticket sales, incremental earnings, as well as pricing power in the longer-term.

As we mentioned on our last conference call, we are in the process of reviewing potentially highly impactful projects at Daytona International Speedway and our property, north of the Speedway. We are very excited about the opportunity to shape the vision of the World Center of Racing for the next 50 years. We are not yet in a position to publicly discuss all the details about the project at the Speedway. Multiple internal and external factors will influence the economics and project feasibility, while construction design and cost must still be determined. If approved by our board, the Daytona project would necessitate an increase in our annual CapEx spend. It should be noted that any substantial increase in spending will depend on several factors, such as a stable economic operating environment, maintaining strong liquidity position and preferably the sale of our Staten Island property. As Lesa mentioned, we must meet the needs of today's consumer or we risk falling behind in our ability to capture market share. Improved attendance will increase corporate sales and influences the long-term health of broadcast media right fees.

From a media rights fee perspective, we remain optimistic regarding the prospects for the industry's next media rights agreements. The market for sports media rights continue to see substantial increases in fees broadcasters are willing to pay. Last month, it was reported that Major League Baseball and ESPN have agreed to extend their television contract through 2021, with an approximate 50% increase in average rights fees. Despite headwinds in ratings, the Olympics definitely impacted NASCAR's ratings over the summer. We believe NASCAR remains in a strong negotiating position for the next broadcast media rights agreements.

The Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, which opened with great fanfare in February, has met current expectations primarily through managing costs despite softness in its revenue. The casino, after 8 months of operations, has captured approximately 16% of the total adjusted gross gaming revenue in the Kansas City market that has a total of 5 operating casinos, 4 of which are on the Missouri side of Kansas City. We will start to receive cash contributions from the casino in the fourth quarter. However, primarily due to higher-than-anticipated property taxes that are under appeal, we expect the casino to be below the previously provided estimate of $3 million in equity income in our fiscal 2012 results. We remain optimistic that the casino will reach certain milestones in its near term. Based on current trends, we expect the casino will reach stabilization in the 2014, 2015 calendar year, as it gains market share in Kansas City. We are working with Penn National Gaming, our 50-50 joint venture partner on preparing a budget for next year. The current estimate on the cash flow from the casino for 2013 to ISC is in the mid-teen million dollar range. I will now turn the call over to Dan to discuss the financial performance for the quarter.

Daniel W. Houser

Thanks, John, and good morning, everyone. As John mentioned, our third quarter results were significantly impacted by changes in event schedules year-over-year, as well continued adverse economic trends continued to -- contributed to the decrease in attendance-related revenues for certain events. Specifically, factors affecting comparability for the third quarter last year include spring NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series events held at Kansas in the second quarter of fiscal 2012 or held in the third quarter of fiscal 2011. Also, we no longer promote the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Stock Car Montreal that was held in the third quarter of fiscal 2011.

Chicagoland Speedway held a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event in the third quarter of fiscal 2012. The corresponding event was held in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011. And as we've mentioned on previous conference calls, we expect lower ancillary revenues, going forward, due to a combination of factors, but the most significant related to SiriusXM Radio, which has historically been the major contributor to the industry's ancillary rights revenue. Since the merger of Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio, there is now only one satellite provider, Sirius XM, bidding for the distribution rights for original programing. As a result, distribution rights agreements entered into by Sirius XM for original program subsequent to the merger have generally been lower.

Other factors impacting comparability for our third quarter 2012 results includes: carrying costs related to the Staten Island property, non-cash impairment of assets attributable to the removal of assets not fully depreciated in connection with certain capital improvements and our equity investment in Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, which opened in our first quarter of fiscal 2012. All of these are outlined in the earnings news release, and are included in our GAAP to non-GAAP reconciliation, where appropriate.

Taking a look at the income statement now. Admissions revenue for the third quarter decreased to $26.1 million, largely attributable to the previously mentioned timing of the spring events at Kansas and the NASCAR Nationwide event at Stock Car Montreal. To a lesser extent, attendance at certain other events held in the period contributed to the decrease, and slightly offsetting the decrease was the previously mentioned timing of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event held at Chicagoland.

For the quarter, the weighted average ticket price for our comparable Sprint Cup events decreased slightly, approximately 3/10 of 1%. The decrease in motor sports-related revenue to $78 million was primarily attributable to the net impact of the timing of events, as well as to a lesser extent, reduced ancillary rights and decreases in sponsorship, suite hospitality revenue at certain events during the period.

For the quarter, ISC's domestic television broadcast revenue was $50.1 million. The decrease in food, beverage and merchandise revenue to $8.9 million is again primarily due to the net impact of the timing of events and concession sales related to offsite events that were held in the third quarter of fiscal 2011 that are not held in fiscal 2012.

Prize Point and sanction -- NASCAR sanction fees decreased to $30.1 million primarily due to the timing of the spring events at Kansas. Motor sports-related expense decreased to $30 million. The decrease is largely attributable to the net impact of the timing of events. Motor sports-related expenses, as a percentage of combined admissions and motor sports-related revenue, increased to approximately 20.8% -- 28.9% as compared to 27.8% for the same period in the prior year, with the margin decrease primarily due to lower revenue from the timing of events again. The decrease in food, beverage and merchandise expense to $7.5 million, largely attributable to the timing of the spring events at Kansas and concession sales related to offsite events that were held in the third quarter of 2011 not held in 2012. Food, beverage and merchandise expenses, percentage of food, beverage and merchandise revenue increased to approximately 83.9% as compared to 78.6% for the same period in the prior year, with the decreased margin attributable to the net impact of event schedule changes.

General and administrative expense increased to $26.8 million for the quarter due to a variety of administrative costs. G&A expense, as a percentage of total revenues, increased to approximately 23.2% compared to 17.2% for the same period of the prior year, again, the decreased margin due to lower revenues during the quarter.

Depreciation and amortization expense increased to $19.4 million, but the increase is attributable to capital expenditures for our ongoing facility enhancements and related initiatives. The $1.4 million non-cash impairment of long-lived assets is primarily attributable to removal of assets in connection with the ongoing capital project. Interest income and interest expense were comparable to the same period in the prior year, and equity and net income from equity investments represents our 50% equity interest in the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway.

All this resulted in a net loss for the 3 months ended August 31, 2012 of $1 million or $0.02 per diluted share on approximately 46.4 million shares outstanding. However, when you exclude certain carrying costs associated with the Staten Island property and the non-cash asset impairments, we posted earnings of $0.01 per diluted share for the 2012 fiscal quarter. As described in the release, this is compared to non-GAAP net income for the 2011 third quarter of 24% per diluted share.

Now let's move onto the balance sheet and future liquidity. At August 31, our combined cash and cash equivalents totaled $87.4 million. Current deferred income was approximately $81.9 million, and shareholders' equity was $1.2 billion. At the end of the quarter, total debt was approximately $298.7 million, which includes $65 million in senior notes, $62.3 million in TIF bonds associated with the Kansas Speedway, $1 million in revenue bonds, $50.4 million for our term loan on our headquarters office building and $120 million in borrowings on our line of credit.

As it relates to our credit facility in September, we completed an offering of approximately $100 million principal amount senior unsecured notes in a private placement with a maturity of 2024. The notes bear interest at 3.95%. These funds were used to pay down $100 million on the outstanding balance on the credit facility. This move is continuation of our strategy to maintain a solid balance sheet. We benefited from a federal interest rate environment that allowed us to extend a sizable portion of our near-term debt maturities. It also puts us in a stronger position to proceed with the targeted capital spending projects John discussed.

During the third quarter, we did not purchase any shares of the Class A common stock. For the 9 months ended August 31, 2012, we purchased 405,538 shares of our Class A stock for approximately $10.3 million, bringing the total number of shares purchased from December 2006 through August 2012 to approximately 7.1 million shares. At the end of the third quarter, we had approximately $62 million in remaining capacity on our $330 million authorization.

From a capital allocation perspective, we've spent year-to-date approximately $20 million in return of capital through dividend and share buybacks, which results on a roughly 1.7% equivalent yield based on our current stock price. We absolutely view our company as being undervalued. However, we've always prided ourself on the core principle of maintaining a strong balance sheet with the metrics of an investment grade rated company. As a result, we have a solid liquidity position and our cost of borrowings remain relatively low, as indicated from last month's private placements. Therefore, for the near-term, we expect to continue a highly opportunistic approach to share repurchase. We have opportunities to invest in our business, both core and ancillary, and having the solid liquidity position is strategically beneficial. We want to balance the needs of our business with returning capital to shareholders. We review our return of capital policy on a quarterly basis with our Board of Directors. At some point in the future, we may look at increasing our dividend to a more meaningful yield, but we currently see benefit in having a scalable buyback program that takes into account flexibility to execute on strategic opportunities. Saying all that, I anticipate next year that we will increase our annual dividend by $0.02 and buy back approximately $20 million in stock.

As it relates to capital spending for the 9 months ended August 31, 2012, we spent $48.6 million on capital expenditures for projects at our existing facilities, and at third quarter end, we have another approximately $45.2 million in facility capital projects approved. As a result of these currently approved projects and the anticipated additional approvals in fiscal 2012, we expect our total 2012 capital expenditures at our existing facilities will be close to $90 million, depending on the timing of certain projects. We review the capital expenditure program periodically, and modify it as required to meet current business needs.

In terms of our 2012 financial outlook, we are maintaining the low-end of our guidance -- revenue guidance at $610 million. For our fiscal 2012 full year non-GAAP earnings per share, we believe it will be below the previously provided guidance of $1.50 per diluted share. The primary reasons for the shortfall in these non-GAAP earnings per share relates to our aggregate outlook on performance of fourth quarter motor sports events, combined with the lower-than-budgeted equity and net income from the casino, largely as a result of the property tax controversy John mentioned.

In closing, while the economy will continue to remain our biggest hurdle, we feel confident that our commitments to investing in fan-friendly, capital improvements, along with prudent strategic development, such as our Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, are positioning the company for long-term growth. Due to careful financial oversight, we are well-positioned to balance the ongoing capital needs of our business, as well as other strategic opportunities while returning capital to our shareholders. We benefit from a solid financial position that we've maintained over the years, which affords us the ability to execute our disciplined capital allocation strategy to maintain our leadership position in the industry.

We look forward to speaking with you on our next earnings conference call in January, at which point, we will discuss our outlook on 2013. With that, I'll turn it over to the operator, who will lead us through the Q&A portion of the call.

Question-and-Answer Session


[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from the line of Tim Conder with Wells Fargo.

Michael K. Walsh - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

It's Michael Walsh sitting in for Tim. Just wanted to address the motor sports-related line. If you look at it on a 9-month year-over-year basis, and I know it's not perfect and you make adjustments for ancillary revenue, we know what the TV contract is. What kind of sticks out is the corporate partnership revenue. How much is that down year-over-year? Do you have that in hand?

Daniel W. Houser

Well, I think the thing there, Michael, is that we had some big deals that expired at the end of 2011 that were long term, like in the 5-year range, that were negotiated back before the economic turndown, and they were significant partners like Bank of America and things like that, that highly impacted Daytona. So I think you see a disproportionate kind of impact there on that Coke Zero event year-over-year. We really -- as we've said before that we're within a couple of percentage points of our overall target on corporate partnerships for the year that the results for the quarter were within our range of expectations. But I think that's -- what you see there is, really, that impact of some of those big deals: Home Depot, Crown Royal, UPS, ConAgra. Both the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero were impacted pretty heavily, but we've seen increases that kind of went into a lot of the other events through the year that have helped to mitigate a lot of that.

Michael K. Walsh - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

And I know you guys are fairly diversified in terms of the quantity of these partnerships, but just kind of an early read on '13, I mean, what are you guys seeing right now on pricing and just...

Daniel W. Houser

Well, I mean, I think it continues to be a mixed bag and -- but our outlook, we'll have more to say about that in January, but we're feeling pretty good about 2013, a lot of interest. Some things are in the works on the -- particularly on the entitlement side, where we feel that we're going to go into next year with a lot of that stuff off the board. Again, not ready to announce a lot of that, but a lot in progress, and then when you -- that then, when you have that perishable inventory taken care of, your marketing teams have a lot more opportunity to focus those resources and on other incremental business. So we're feeling pretty good about '13 overall.

Michael K. Walsh - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

You had mentioned -- I'm switching over to the casino. You had mentioned the 16% growth of gaming revenue in the KC market. Is there anything you can say there? When you get to 2015, what does that number have to be to reasonably achieve $50 million in EBITDA by 2015?

Daniel W. Houser

Yes, I mean, I think this is the -- what's kind of happening there in that market right now, we're actually #1 as far as revenue from table games and poker, but we're not where we were hoping to be on the slot revenue, which is the high-margin stuff, and what's happening in that market right now is you've got a lot of -- and I take a lot of this from our partners, who know this business much better than we do, but there's a lot of unsustainable promotion and things like that that's going on to try to continue to hold on to market share. We've made a decision not to try to match that. We're continuing to compete on the quality of the experience, the ambience and the strength of being close to Kansas City. So that, in particular, you've got one casino there in that market that is up for sale, and they are doing extremely aggressive, basically, what's termed in that industry, buying revenue, and it's not really aimed at competing with us as much as it's aimed at building the revenue line because that's what that property will trade on. So we're experiencing that right now. We've made the decision to kind of stay with our game plan for the long run. We really believe that, that will get us where we want to eventually be, and feel that we'll be able to meet the targets that we expected, the penetration that we need to get over the long run. But some of this stuff is going to definitively continue into 2013.

Michael K. Walsh - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Okay. And just one quick one here, I'll get off. You alluded to it earlier, but if Staten Island just doesn't happen, I mean, do you still go forward with some of the Daytona plans? I realize it's your flagship property, but just kind of want to get your thoughts there.

John R. Saunders

Michael, this is John. First of all, on Staten Island, we are in an exclusive negotiating agreement, and given confidentiality terms of that agreement, we can't disclose who that potential buyer is. But with regards to moving forward on Daytona or any other high-impact CapEx programs, that's the decision that when we get to that point, when we take into account the economy, we take into account the core business, we take into account the cost of these projects, that's all in the mix, but our -- we would prefer very much to have transaction completed before launching something somewhere else in the business.

Daniel W. Houser

And I think, Michael, the thing along with that is our commitment to the investment-grade metrics on the balance sheet. That, in many ways, is going to drive the decision-making. We're not going to violate our principles there. Of course, some of the things that we've done this past year, starting a couple of years ago when we -- to take that 2014 maturity and move it out long-term certainly gives us a much more favorable debt maturity outlook and some flexibility in the near-term.


[Operator Instructions] Your next question comes from the line of Steve Altebrando with Sidoti & Company.

Stephen Altebrando - Sidoti & Company, LLC

I just wanted to talk a little bit about the MLB deal, particularly the one with the FOX TNT, where I think the aggregate amount doubled. If you could -- and I know these deals are far from cookie-cutter type deals, but if you could highlight maybe some of the similarities, some of the differences you guys have in terms of your bargaining position, maybe things like viewership trends and the amount of content being offered in these deals?

Daniel W. Houser

Well, I mean, it's -- one of the things with that deal is that a lot of that content, I guess, is moving off of the MLB network onto the larger networks and the net impact of that. I think from -- we've obviously had not the -- necessarily, the ratings that we would have hoped for, not terrible ratings, but some softness there. The comments from FOX at the end of their season was they didn't see that as anything that was other than just some of the competitive things in the sports viewing market through the year, and that they felt pretty good about the way the season went. And while ratings are soft there, ratings are mainly are relevant because of the way they drive advertising rates. And what we are seeing for NASCAR, and it's kind of consistent across the board, is ad rates and ad spending for live sports are up because, really, in a lot of ways, I know we keep harping on this, but this old DVR thing and the less likelihood that the live sports are going to be pre-recorded and fast-forwarded through. So, I mean, the MLB had some fluctuation in rates. They do have a tremendous amount of content. I think that's something as well with us is we've got a lot of content. We have a very long season. So I think that bodes well for us. I'm not well-versed enough, Steve, to say how the relative value of the baseball rights in the previous contract, et cetera, to where they are today, but we feel -- I mean, we feel cautiously optimistic about where the NASCAR rights deal will end up, and that's -- in talks at this point with NASCAR, we think it will be late in -- mid-late 2013 we'll have something. We just hope that these broadcasters got some money left by the time we're there. The spend is pretty big, but we feel -- we continue to feel good about it.

Stephen Altebrando - Sidoti & Company, LLC

Okay. That's helpful. And then just quickly on the Hollywood Casino off to a little bit of a sluggish start, but is there any thought in maybe reevaluating just the management arrangement of the property, given that the status of your JV partner also being a competitor, so a little bit of a awkward situation?

Daniel W. Houser

I mean, not really. These guys are the aces in this business, and they've got as much hanging on this property and its success as we do. They have pulled top-drawer management, experienced people from within their business to go out and run this operation. We discussed -- I'm on the joint venture board. We meet quarterly, and we have ongoing dialogue constantly with about where we're going, what trends are and things like that. And I think we've got a good understanding of what we're up against, and we feel like we've got a long-term plan that will get us where we want to. But we went into this with our eyes open, knowing that Penn had the Argosy property over there on the Missouri side, and what the implications of that will be, but I think we're very, very well aligned in our interest in the success of Hollywood Casino.

Stephen Altebrando - Sidoti & Company, LLC

Okay. Well, actually, one last quick one, the dividend increase, the potential dividend increase you mentioned, was that $0.02 on a quarterly basis or annualized?

Daniel W. Houser

Annual, on an annual basis. We generally just do -- we do a kind of a mid-year dividend, one dividend during the year.


At this time, you have no further questions. I'll now turn the call over to John Saunders for closing remarks.

John R. Saunders

Well, I just want to thank everybody for joining in our third quarter call, and as Dan mentioned, we look forward to talking to you in January about our fourth quarter year end and our outlook for 2013. Once again, thanks, everyone.


Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's conference call. You may now disconnect.

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