Las Vegas Casinos Prepped for Strong 2016

Posted: February 14th, 2016 | Author:

The Las Vegas Strip ended 2015 on a high note with 8% revenue growth in December. Looking ahead, the outlook for 2016 is fairly positive despite the tailoff of high-roller baccarat player traffic from China. Positive factors for this year include the new 20K-seat Las Vegas Arena set to open in April and an improved U.S. macroeconomic backdrop – featuring sub-6% unemployment rate and sub-$2 gas prices at the pump. A common question on Vegas Strips is who owns what? Here’s the list.


Aria (MGM) – MGM Resorts (MGM)

Bellagio (MGM) – MGM Resorts (MGM)

Caesars Palace – Caesars Entertainment (CZR)

Circus Circus – MGM Resorts (MGM)

Cosmopolitan – The Blackstone Group

Resorts World (proposed) – Genting Group

Excalibur – MGM Resorts (MGM)

Luxor – MGM Resorts (MGM)

Mandalay Bay – MGM Resorts (MGM)

Mirage – MGM Resorts (MGM)

Monte Carlo – MGM Resorts (MGM)

New York-New York – MGM Resorts (MGM)

Slots-A-Fun – MGM Resorts (MGM)

Bally’s – Caesars Entertainment (CZR)

Casino Royale – Margarate Elardi

Cromwell – Caesars Entertainment (CZR)

Encore – Wynn Resorts (WYNN)

Flamingo – Caesars Entertainment (CZR)

Fontainebleau (on hold) – Carl Icahn

Harrah’s – Caesars Entertainment (CZR)

The Linq – Caesars Entertainment (CZR)

MGM Grand – MGM Resorts (MGM)

O’Sheas – Caesars Entertainment (CZR)

Palazzo – Las Vegas Sands (LVS)

Paris – Caesars Entertainment (CZR)

Planet Hollywood – Caesars Entertainment (CZR)

SLS Las Vegas – SBE Entertainment

Tropicana – Penn National Gaming (PENN)

Venetian – Las Vegas Sands (LVS)

Wynn – Wynn Resorts (WYNN)

Treasure Island – Phil Ruffin

Delano – MGM Resorts (MGM)

Vdara – MGM Resorts (MGM)

The Cromwell Las Vegas – Caesars Entertainment (CZR)


Yoga Pants 2.0

Posted: November 17th, 2015 | Author:

Yoga pants are knocking at the door of business offices, according to The Boston Globe. There’s been a growing acceptance to count yoga pants as “business casual” at some workplaces. The trend could continue as younger managers take over. The broader athleisure category generated sales of over $2B last year and is expected to grow at a double-digit clip this year. Companies seen growing their presence in athleisure include Lululemon (LULU), Gap (GPS), Nike (NKE), Target (TGT), Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS), Hanesbrands (HBI), L Brands (LB), Under Armour (UA), and Kate Spade (KATE). Other retailers such as Ann (ASNA), New York & Companies (NWY), and J.C. Penney (JCP) are creating new brands in an effort to recapture business clothing sales lost due to casual attire becoming more prominent. (more at Seeking Alpha)

The returns on Under Armour and Nike have smashed the S&P 500 over the last three years, while margin pressure and execution mishaps have hampered Lululemon. All three could benefit as more millennials increase their spending on athleisure.



Hacking the Cyber Security ETF

Posted: July 11th, 2015 | Author:

A steady stream of government and corporate hacking incidents has helped drive the PureFunds Cyber Security ETF (HACK) to a +17% YTD return vs. the +0.9% return of the S&P 500 this year. The ETF tracks the ISE Cyber Security Index which itself consists of the following 30 tech stocks listed by weight.




The 17% return of the Cyber Security ETF this year tops the 9.9% rise in the Index of Cyber Security which measures the threat assessment of academians, CTOs, CIOs, and others experts in the field. That gap, along with the high P-E ratios of the Cyber 30, are indications that momentum news-driven buying of the underlying cyber security stocks may be in play instead of deep analysis of earnings potential.



Seveneves and the survival hedge

Posted: June 21st, 2015 | Author:

Here’s the ultimate bear market as offered up in Neal Stephenson’s new book Seveneves: A lunar disaster puts the planet Earth on a 2-year shot clock to oblivion. Needless to say that’s the Nasdaq 0.0 scenario and offers up the question of which companies are out there trying to save us from doomsday with space technology and colonization R&D. Privately-held Space X (Elon Musk) and Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos) have the independence and billionaire-backing to lead in space exploration, while heavyweight companies such as Boeing (BA), Lockheed Martin (LMT), L-3 Communications (LLL), and Northrup Grumman (NOC) could be major players as long as there are profits on the long-term horizon. Orbital OTK (OA) might be the closet thing to a pure play on the public side. A major lesson from the Stephenson book is that living in space is no easy task – advances independent of commercial profits in aerospace technology, medicine,  physics, and biology are needed.  Investing in these companies isn’t a snappy ETF – it’s the survival hedge.




Venture capital explained by JavaScript

Posted: March 27th, 2015 | Author:


Here’s some clean JS code to explain VC funding.








Under Armour gets a taste of March Madness

Posted: March 23rd, 2015 | Author:

Under Armour (UA) is drawing praise for its increased presence in college basketball.


“It’s really important from an athletic credibility point of view to have the teams that win or do well in college sports,” notes NPD Group’s Matt Powell.



The company is having some decent exposure in this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament with Maryland, Notre Dame, and four other teams wearing its uniforms – but things get really interesting next year when Michigan, Texas, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Virginia all have their apparel contracts expire. Nike (NKE) found out with the race for Kevin Durant’s shoe contract that the presence of Under Armour in the bidding can drive up the contract value. Some analysts see the risk on the UA side as it goes up against the battle-tested Swoosh over shoe and uniform deals.


Last year, Under Armour grew its footwear sales by 44% to $431M.


Shares of Under Armour are +36% over the last year.


Previously: NCAA tournament: Under Armour a bigger player, Nike with 71% logo share (Mar. 17 2015)


Via Seeking Alpha



Crafty M&A in Beer, Coffee, and Soda

Posted: February 14th, 2015 | Author:

Craft soda is starting to become a trend to watch closely, according to industry insiders. Though still accounting for only ~1% of the total U.S. soda market, major retail chains have increasingly been willing to bet on local craft brands in store aisles. The craft craze is old news for the beer industry where coming-of-age millennials buy craft/local beers at a 50% higher rate than brand-loyal older generations. Fading stars such as Budweiser and Bud Light are testament to the impact of the millennial paradigm. The craft influence in coffee hasn’t been lost on Starbucks which has strategically deployed trucks on college campuses in an effort to win over students. Despite the progressive reputation of Starbucks, analysts think new upstarts such as Craft (subscription) and Cups (app) have a shot of gaining influence with the Indie-minded millennial crowd on “customization” and pricing.


What to watch: An increase in M&A activity in the beverage sector is expected as major companies strategically pick off more local craft brands to incubate.


Craft beer watch: [[BUD]], [[SBMRY]], [[TAP]], [[HEINY]], [[SAM]], [[BREW]], [[STZ]], [[BIBLF]], [[BRBMF]].

Craft coffee watch: [[GMCR]], [[SBUX]], [[JVA]], [[SJM]], [[KRFT]], [[DNKN]], [[QSR]], [[MCD]].

Craft soda watch: [[PEP]], [[KO]], [[MNST]], [[COT]], [[DPS]], [[JSDA]], [[REED]], [[SODA]],  [[FIZZ]].


Via Seeking Alpha and CNBC



Apple: The Sun Also Rises

Posted: February 13th, 2015 | Author:

When a tech company with a market capitalization of over $700B makes a mega-investment in energy it’s a big deal. Enter Apple and solar.


It’s the biggest-ever solar procurement deal for a company that isn’t a utility, and it nearly triples Apple’s stake in solar –  Bloomberg New Energy Finance on Apple’s $850M solar deal with First Solar


Apple’s large bet on solar is based in part on economics. The price of solar power has fallen more sharply than many other energy alternatives (see graph below). Some analysts see a break-even date on the deal in less than 10 years. The Cupertino company joins Google, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and Amazon in pushing solar initiatives.



Via Bloomberg and Seeking Alpha



Car Wars: Hydrogen vs. Electric Vehicles

Posted: January 22nd, 2015 | Author:

The automobile industry is about to get interesting with governments and automakers aligning behind different technologies. Google with the self-driving car. Ford and GM producing next-gen versions of popular models. And now this:


“It’s time to introduce a hydrogen era,”


That was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo as he announced a government initiative to build out a self-service hydrogen network of stations.

The development comes only two days after Tesla Motors (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk called hydrogen a “dumb” energy storage system.

Toyota (TM) is the pioneer in the FCV field and is building 1.5K Mirai vehicles for the Japanese government. Though taking a cautious approach to rolling out production, the world’s top-selling automaker isn’t ruling out selling hydrogen cars in all markets eventually.


Review: Car and Driver’s deep dive into the Toyota Mirai FCV.

Related: Toyota opens up 5680 patents on fuel-cell technology to other automakers.


What to watch: Abe has endorsed larger fuel-cell subsidies than those offered for electric vehicles in China, Europe, and the U.S. Will more governments take a side in the hydrogen vs electric battle setting up in the automobile industry?

Also in the EV/hybrid game: Ford, General Motors, Nissan, BMW, Daimler, Honda, Mazda, Suzuki, Subaru, Mitsubishi.


Via Seeking Alpha and Reuters



Retailers need a good algorithm

Posted: November 11th, 2014 | Author:

A snap this buy that concept is coming to retail.


Macy’s will announce a visual search app shortly, according to Women’s Wear Daily. The visual search concept has become a major topic in retail. Apps like the one about to be introduced by Macy’s will allow users to upload pictures of outfits they like and receive matches from a retailer’s existing inventory.

Via Seeking Alpha and Women’s Wear Daily


The ability to shop via image search inside an app is a trend that will arrive in time for the 2014 holiday season. The retailer that works out the best algorithm for photo searches just might find itself with a boost in sales.




Meet the new Netflix

Posted: October 11th, 2014 | Author:

There’s no slowdown in Netflix, despite growing competition from Amazon, Hulu, and Apple. If anything the streaming giant has become more aggressive than ever with its international growth and content deals continuing to disrupt the media landscape. Though consumers have seen some changes with the Netflix user interface which have been notable, it’s behind the scenes where the company has taken dead aim at cracking the bundled content model of the pay-TV industry.


What’s new

– Push for Ultra-HD TVs a factor Netflix

– Redbox Instant by Verizon bites the dust

– Netflix and IMAX look to disrupt the Hollywood model

– New international launches for Netflix

via Seeking Alpha


What to watch

– Valuation on Netflix continues to factor in enormous global subscriber growth and margin expansion. With the company’s content acquisition costs always a bit of a mystery, a bet on Netflix factors in the service penetrating even further into digital/mobile/household viewing habits to become a standard.

– NFLX +3.09% over the last 90 days, +22.8% YTD, +38.1% over the last year, P/E ratio 135.9, market cap $27.2B.



U2 is Smart as a Whip

Posted: September 12th, 2014 | Author:

The love-fest between Apple and U2 appears to have had some economic benefit for the boys from Dublin. After giving away its current album for free on iTunes, a quick check of the iTunes best-selling charts reveals 17 U2 titles in the top 100 albums. Even 1987 release The Joshua Tree is throwing its weight around at number 12 on the list.


Those streets without a name are paved with gold.


Via Re/Code and