Caesar's Restructures Debt in Hopes For Japan, but Is It Too Late?

Industry-high debt may be why Caesars has no Asian holdings. Does this debt restructuring signal hope for a successful bid in Japan?

Mar 13, 2014 at 3:46PM

Liquidity is important in the casino industry because it offers the ability to make large investment decisions quickly. For example, when the Japanese government legalizes large-scale casinos and a new market suddenly opens up, liquidity can determine whether or not your company can get in on a high-growth region. Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) has the highest debt in the industry with no major growth properties to show for it, which is concerning. This is not just a concern for the company and its investors, it is a concern for the governments of potential new markets as well.

Gary Loveman
Caesar CEO Loveman seems optimistic that the company is doing ok, regardless of high debt.
Will he still feel that way if the company doesn't win a bid in Japan? Photo: Review Journal 

Ignoring debt costs Caesars an opportunity
In 2012, Caesars submitted a bid to enter the South Korean market after the government decided to finally allow casinos to build large-scale casinos in the country. Throughout the first half of 2013, most analysts expected the bid to be a sure win. Unfortunately for Caesars, in June 2013 the South Korean government declined the bid. Analysts close to the matter agreed that the likely reason was the company's huge debt load.

Goldman Research Of Macau Growth

With huge revenue growth in the region, CEO Loveman claimed that Caesars not being in Macau was a mistake.

A few months after the denied bid, the company announced that it would sell its Macau property (which was not operating gaming anyway) to pay down long-term debt. With a denied bid in South Korea and then the sale of its only property in Macau, the company now has no major Asian holdings. Chairman Gary Loveman has said that not entering Macau was the worst mistake the casino ever made.

Could Japan rectify the "worst mistake the company ever made?"
That next big Asian gaming market is likely to be Japan, which analysts expect will beat out Singapore to become the second-largest gambling hub in the world behind Macau. The only obstacle: casinos are still forbidden in the country. The government will vote on legislation in the coming months that will decide whether or not casinos will be allowed to begin building in Japan, but it is expected that they will vote to allow casinos. In fact, casinos companies are already talking with officials in Osaka as they prepare plans for their bids.

Adelson Via Bloomberg

Sands CEO Adelson proclaiming that the company would be willing to invest $10 billion in Japan. Photo: Review Journal

Caesars met with Osaka officials late last year to discuss plans for investment in Japan, if allowed. The company has even been in talks with local potential partners such as gaming machine makers Konami and Sega Sammy Holdings in anticipation of changes in the Japanese casino ban.

However, Caesars faces tough competition in Japan. Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), which collects 86% of revenue from its Asian operations, has already said that it would happily agree to invest as much as $10 billion to win a bid in Japan. Other casino companies are also preparing to fight for spots in the market.

MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM), Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), and Melco Crown (NASDAQ:MPEL) have all said that if allowed, they will happily invest the estimated sum needed to build a casino resort in the area. Wynn reaped $1,119.9 million from its Macau operations in the fourth quarter of 2013, 74% of the company's total revenue for the quarter. Likewise, MGM Resorts noted in its third-quarter 2013 earnings release that it received $808.4 million from its China operations, 34% of the quarter's total revenue. If Macau is an example of what Asian profits can do for a company, casinos will fiercely fight for bids in Japan.

Or is the debt restructuring too little too late for Caesars?
The company is now working with Lazard Ltd, an investment bank, on financial restructuring. Last week the company announced that it would distribute $2.2 billion to its entity Caesars Acquisition Company in a restructuring attempt. The parent company had $27 billion of debt when the Korean government decided that the company was not in a financial position to operate in the country. Currently, the company has a total debt load of around $21.5 billion, which shows definite improvement. Now the company needs to prove that it can continue to push this number lower.

That may be hard without higher earnings. The company posted net losses in 2012, and it has done so for the cumulative first three quarters of 2013. While the company has reported an estimated slight increase over the same period last year, it is not likely that the company will report a net gain for 2013 when it releases earnings for the year next week. Regardless, the company continues to be optimistic as it does not think it is in dangerous territory. Last November, Loveman said, "The conditions the company faces today are better and not worse than they have been before," and that "We're much better structured. There is nothing that would trigger a liquidity crisis." He promised that a bankruptcy reorganization "was not an option" for the company, noting that no significant debt maturities until 2018.

Wait on more bullish news from Japan
The Japanese gaming market seems poised for big profits, assuming that legislation that allows casinos into the market passes. However, Caesars will still have to prove to the Japanese government what the company couldn't prove to the South Korean government, specifically that the company is in a financial and competitive position to bring revenue to the country without carrying too much risk. Without higher earnings, the government may not be persuaded that reshuffling debt down to subsidiaries is enough for Caesars. Investors should wait to see if any new events that bring about higher earnings, such as a casino in Japan, come about that will help the company pay down debt before making a bid.

What would Buffett do?
Caesars share price has been beat up lately because of concerns over the company's debt levels and lack of Asian operations. Could getting into the Japanese market turn this downtrodden stock around? Warren Buffet always looked for the "cigarette butts" as his best investments. He has made billions through his investing and he wants you to be able to invest like him. Through the years, Buffett has offered up investing tips to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. Now you can tap into the best of Warren Buffett's wisdom in a new special report from The Motley Fool. Click here now for a free copy of this invaluable report.


Bradley Seth McNew has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.

 


Compare Brokers