Seeking Alpha


Send Message
View as an RSS Feed
View spokanimal's Comments BY TICKER:
Latest  |  Highest rated
  • Algorithmic Forecast Is Bullish On Las Vegas Sands [View article]
    Pretty well written, but not without errors.

    Most glaring was your quote: "Macao alone provides LVS with just over 80% of its overall sales" in your first paragraph. Singapore and the U.S. provide much more than 20% of LVS's revenue, my friend.

    Interesting that you would view MGM as LVS's "prime competitor"... apparently in the competition for Japanese gaming resorts. I would view Genting, Galaxy, Melco and Wynn as more viable competitors when it comes to winning Japanese gaming licenses, as each of those companies has a better record of meeting the likely requirements Japan will seek for style, liquidity, and compliance. MGM doesn't have the horrible balance sheet that Caesars has, but it isn't exactly peerless in the wake of their struggles to open Citycenter in Vegas during the Great Recession, either. While MGM has been EBITDA positive for awhile now, they've only got a couple of quarters under their belt with EPS that's colored in black ink.

    Jul 9 12:46 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Grab Las Vegas Sands On Irrational Negative Sentiment [View article]
    I wouldn't sweat the reduction in length of stay on transit visas much. A VERY small percentage of visitors stay in Macau longer than 5 days anyway.

    The impact will be much greater on Chinese VIP Junket agents, who typically prefer to stay 7 to 9 days while interleaving multiple VIP clients' visits over a set stretch of time.

    As the junkets have been more the purveyors of laundering and capital flight activities than anyone, this restriction will serve to constrict the time within which they can conduct transactions, and focus a higher percentage of their time in Macau on seeing to the whims of their clients.

    Jun 20 01:31 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Las Vegas Sands Should Continue To Rebound [View article]
    They HAD to purchase more than $75 million per month, or the company would have significantly ADDED shares to the outstanding float.

    What the company needs to do is to reign in it's extravagant issuance of shares and options. Adelson has a lot going for him, but he needs to stop playing Santa Claus to his inner circle and adhere more to corporate norms.

    Jun 20 01:25 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Seadrill, Transocean, And Ensco: 3 Offshore Drillers Ready For A Rebound [View article]
    Transocean is, by far, the company that is most dramatically "remaking" itself.
    I mention this because of your comment about increasing debt being related to future EBITDA...

    ... the same could be true about a company that is reorganizing at the magnitude that Transocean is.

    RIG sold of most of it's old jackups last year for just under $1 billion.
    This year, RIG is spinning off 8 of it's oldest floaters in the north sea.
    The 14 newbuild rigs, combined with the old rigs being disposed of, is DRAMATICALLY modernizing Transocean's fleet.

    Meanwhile, the company is significantly reducing expenses.

    I think the main catalyst for such a dramatic re-making of Transocean is Carl Icahn's involvement. The shake-ups in both the boardroom, AND the executive suite (including the CEO) reflect all of the new thinking going on at Transocean.

    Thus, transocean is my #1 "turn-around, contrarian" play. They will likely emerge from all this as the leanest, and meanest, player in the space.

    Jun 19 04:52 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Las Vegas Sands: Searching For The Bottom In Macau Stocks [View article]
    3, important, long-term drivers of value in Sand's stock are being lost in the current swoon that is resulting from credit and money-flow fears:

    First, there is the future of Hengqin Island, which is just across the Lotus Bridge from Cotai, where Sands dominates. Hengqin is undergoing a massive evolution from a relatively un-used island, to a major entertainment and leisure destination. It's impact on driving ever-increasing, mass market patrons into the region is substantially under-appreciated by Macau centric gaming investors.

    Secondly, is the new bridge linking Hong Kong to Macau. Hong Kong's major international airport will be just as convenient, in terms of commute times, with Macau as it will be for downtown Hong Kong Itself, once the bridge is completed. It will put Macau on equal footing with Hong Kong for major convention, leisure, and shopping business. Macau's current ferry system is relatively in-convenient for Hong Kong travelers currently, particularly for those staying in HongKong, but wishing to take a day-trip jaunt to Macau.

    Finally, there is the untold value in Sand's assets. The company's "depreciating" assets are, in fact, "appreciating" in value very rapidly... especially those which will benefit the most from all that is being constructed around Sand's current facilities in Central Cotai. To the extent that the value of Sand's retail, and other "non-core" assets have appreciated thus far, the "critical mass" that will be generated as Wynn, MPEL, SJM, MGM, Galaxy, and Sands ITSELF complete their major, Cotai construction projects will surely almost double their value once all of those construction projects are completed.

    All existing Cotai resorts are "adjacent" to a Sands resort on Cotai. Once all current construction projects are completed on Cotai, only 2 of those projects will NOT be adjacent to a Sands resort (sjm and Wynn). Only Parisian, Studio City, and City of Dream's newest phase will be "on-strip" developments, once the current wave of construction projects is completed in 2018.

    Jun 16 02:55 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Bank Of America: With $17 Billion At Risk, Is Brian Moynihan Going To Make It Or Blow It? [View article]
    Obama and his AG, Eric Holder, are generally, "anti-corporation", and specifically, "anti-bank".

    It goes to the heart of Mr. Obama's belief that corporations exploit people much as his country was exploited by colonial powers when he was a child. He is America's first, true, purely-socialist President.

    Thus, it follows that he and Mr. Holder will seek to inflict as Much Punishment as Possible on the banks, because they deeply feel that the bank's transgressions go WELL BEYOND just the mortgage crisis, even though the rest of us generally rational thinkers know that that is no more true than Hugo Chavez's reign of destruction over the companies active in Venezuela, during his socialist reign.

    It surprises no one who truly understands the role that corporations play in the global economy, just WHY Mr. Chavez was one of Mr. Obama's most ardent supporters during his presidential campaigns.
    Jun 15 12:26 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Seadrill And Transocean: Complete Fleet Analysis Comparison And Commentary [View article]
    RIG is better value than SDRL.
    Somebody like Carl Icahn wouldn't be interested in a company like Seadrill.
    For somebody like Icahn, RIG presents much more upside potential in the wake of it's current reorganization, newbuilds, and cost reductions.
    Jun 10 02:55 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Las Vegas Sands: Shares Going Higher, Ignore The Noise [View article]
    Each year provides a diversion-du-jour that separate's people's minds from the reality of Macau's growth. This year, it isn't visa curtailments or junket laundering crackdowns... it's Portable, Union Pay card swiping terminals.

    It's also going to be the upcoming World Cup, which hammered gaming volumes by some 20% 4 years ago.

    Throw in the fact that 2014 is the "trough" year for resort openings, and there's little for a forward-looking, value-seeking, bull not to LIKE about LVS today.

    Hengqin, the bridge, the trains, resort construction, japan... there's little that ISN'T being discussed on the #1, fully-monitored, LVS message board today.
    Jun 9 12:59 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Las Vegas Sands: Betting On Market Beating Returns [View article]
    Thank you for blessing us with your mastery of the casino industry. As you are the only, actual, casino pro in this discussion, we are truly blessed with your expert opinion.
    Jun 4 04:41 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Las Vegas Sands: Betting On Market Beating Returns [View article]
    Let's begin with your statement that Mr. Adelson "owns over 8% of the shares of LVS". The reality is that Sheldon and Miriam Adelson control over 54% of the shares of LVS via multiple forms of ownership, including trusts.

    Let's also not get carried away by LVS's large, $810 million "share re-purchase" in Q1. Outstanding stock (float) only decreased by about 4 million shares between Q4, 2013 and Q1, 2014 which, at the roughly $80 a share the company repurchased at, amounts to only $320 million worth of ACTUAL share reduction...

    ... meaning that the other $490 million paid to buy stock was only re-purchasing stock that the company was ISSUING... predominantly via it's rather extravagant stock and option grants.

    Given Adelson's level of commitment to LVS, and the company's success that has resulted from his skills, I'm reluctant to complain about the riches that this company's management bestows upon themselves, but it WOULD be nice if they put LESS emphasis on the value of the buybacks, and MORE emphasis on actual reduction in shares outstanding because that is what REALLY matters.

    Finally, as disappointing as May's tepid 9.3% increase in SAR wide GGR growth was, less noticed was that Sands resumed it's position as the market share leader in gaming volumes at 23.2% (vs SJM's 23.0%), and holds the lead overall for 2014 YTD for the first time in it's history of operations in Macau.

    Even more impressive, however, is Sand's MASSIVE lead over SJM in EBITDA, where Sands racked up $2.908 billion in 2013 VS SJM's $1.119 billion.

    Sands is on track to easily eclipse $3 billion in EBITDA in 2014, and will likely more than Triple SJM's EBITDA this year.

    For further discussion, please visit

    Jun 4 12:47 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • American Capital, Ltd: A Great Investment Opportunity As The Business Development Corporation Transforms Into An Asset Manager [View article]
    Nice summary, Alan, but there is one, overarching reality with ACAS:

    1) their performance sucks, and... 2) they have few investment prospects.

    In Q1, take out their share buybacks, and their increase in NAV barely moved the needle. Their NOI was also practically non-existent. The company is essentially stagnated.

    Secondly, buying a pile of secured bank loans is NOT a strategy. I'm better off buying their ACSF fund than I am betting on ACAS with a bunch of loans with less favorable leverage costs and no equity CMO kicker.

    The rub on their portfolio companies carries little weight with me. Blackstone Group proves every day that there is good execution in this space, and opportunities that remain, yet ACAS is demonstrating that they can't execute in that sector buy using it's cash to buy loans.

    I don't buy the idea that this company's big discount to NAV is due to under-appreciation of their portfolio companies, and that the route to higher PPS valuation is blazed with money management income. The rest of the industry would be telling us that if it were true. The simple fact of the matter is that this company is perceived as a company that doesn't execute well.

    That said, I do respect the fact that this company is putting a lot of effort into remaking itself. At least their vision to optimize themselves in capital management is a clear and decided effort. I also appreciate their fortitude in buying back stock in lieu of paying a dividend, and I think that most investors respect the rationale in doing so.

    A lot of people, including you, think that a chunk of the discount to NAV is due to the lack of a dividend. I don't take RIC investors as such fools... I think they know a good strategy when they see it.

    What they DON'T see with ACAS yet is "good execution"...

    ... but as a contrarian investor, I own a good sized chunk of ACAS, because it's cheap and their working hard on it, so at SOME point, it'll pay me.

    But your rosy, EOY 2014 forcast? I've seen that magnitude of optimism before, and it didn't come from the patient mind of a guy like Warren Buffett, that's for sure.

    May 30 12:11 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Can Transocean Drill For Its High Yield In These Murky Waters? [View article]
    I liked your article, but I disagree with the notion of RIG being a "value trap".

    One reason for that, is that a classic value trap is usually something that happens earlier in a company's down-cycle, whereas RIG has quite obviously found a base price level that it's been range-bound in for awhile now as the dayrate pricing adjustment cycle runs it's course.

    Secondly, RIG's tremendous progress in selling off it's oldest rigs, significantly cutting costs, and constructing it's 9 or 10 newbuilds, is clearly a "contrarian, turnaround" story... and one of America's most successful, contrarian, turnaround investors is a big player with Transocean... Carl Icahn.

    With dayrates down from last year's high levels, and oil prices firming comfortably north of $100 per barrel, this "soft cycle" will undoubtedly run it's course just as Transocean is putting the finishing touches on it's cost reduction, newbuild, and BOP retrofits.

    When will that happen? As Warren Buffett would say... "hell if I know, but I know it's inevitable so wake me up when it hits $60"...

    ... because as every good, historically famous, contrarian investor will tell you, it's All About 3 things: 1) Great Value; 2) Good Potential; and... 3) PATIENCE.

    May 21 01:32 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • MGM: Upside Just Starting To Materialize In Vegas, More To Come [View article]
    Nice try, AtonRa, but I'm guessing your new to this industry.

    We are coming up on 5 years into this economic recovery, and Vegas gaming revenues are still flat. They will likely grow if the economy grows, but not as fast as the economy... and last I checked even the ECONOMY didn't grow during the first quarter as investment capital continued to flee, and our leftist government continued to raise taxes.

    The reason, AtonRa, is because gaming proliferation is saturating America. The vast majority of Americans now live within 50 miles of a Casino, so if they want to gamble, they don't need to go to Vegas anymore. Just ask anybody in a "non, world-class", gaming town what that means (Reno, Atlantic City), and they'll tell you all about it as they point to the multitudes of closed-down, casinos.

    Vegas is now a mature resort town, but it is DEFINATELY world-class, so it will grow in lock-step with the US economy...

    ... but it's days of gaming growth out-stripping the U.S. economy are over, my friend, and 8 more years of socialism from Grandma Hillary could well mean that flat-lined gaming growth in Vegas is here to stay INDEFINATLY.

    May 14 12:36 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Obama's Bank Of America And Putin's Russian Empire [View article]
    The Obama Administration's lawsuits for multi-billion dollar damage awards are never ending.

    Because the banking industry sustained such negative publicity during the 2009 recession, Obama and Eric Holder feel that they can sue a company like BAC repeatedly and indiscriminately for back-door tax revenue. This political behavior isn't going to end until we elect a president that doesn't hate business and corporations, and love big government.

    Further, judgements against big business will only get harsher under a President Hillary Clinton, as 16 years of appointments of anti-business supreme court justices will surely make virtually EVERY ONE of these kinds of lawsuits win-able, regardless of their merits.

    It's hard to believe that "Obama's Bank of America" will end up holding much international financial clout against "Putin's Russian Empire" if 16 years of leftist rule in the U.S. ends up goring the financials of our one-prestigious, major banks.

    May 12 02:51 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Transocean Is Heading To $50 [View article]
    Transocean is the kind of "turnaround/re-organiz... company that one would expect to attract a major, "contrarian" investor.

    Wait a minute... it alreay HAS... Carl Icahn. What... no Warren Buffett? Wasn't John Paulson a player at some point?

    But I digress. The point is that Transocean has: 1) mostly put it's macondo-related, fleet upgrades behind it; 2) Is dramatically downsizing and streamlining it's expenses; 3) Investing in new, highest-specification rigs... 7 of them, I believe, and; 4) Divesting and spinning off it's older rigs.

    Regarding the divestitures, remember that the impending spin-off of those 8, midwater rigs involves 8 rigs that are about 30 years old each. When you consider those in addition to the big pile of old, jackups that the company sold early last year for just under a $billion, it's clear that the company is modernizing very very rapidly.

    While most of us aren't so sure about all of Icahn's demands (like the huge dividend that we voted down last year in favor of a still-large dividend), it's clear that he has helped to light a fire under the company's backside, and fortitude is happening on many fronts with RIG.

    At $42 a share, what's not to like if you're a patient, contrarian investor such as myself!

    May 12 02:10 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment