Archive for March, 2010

Translating Corporate Speak: Wynn [Unforeseen Upside Edition #4]

Steve Wynn continues to host the most interesting quarterly conference call in corporate America. Suffice it to say, he has an opinion that he’s willing to share. [The bold is all our emphasis.]

Steve on Wynn’s geographic mix:

Listen, we’re more of a Chinese company than American company today as we’re having this call. I love it. Thank God for being outside the United States today. There isn’t an executive in the world that isn’t thrilled about being outside the United States today. What are we supposed to do, draw great hope and satisfaction from the behavior of the senate and the house of representatives? If that isn’t enough to give you heartburn, I don’t know what it is.

Steve on the political process:

I don’t think anybody in America is arguing. There’s a furious-ness in the country about the irresponsibility. $100 million a month we’re supposed to borrow? $100 billion a month we’re supposed to borrow for the next five or six years? Why, it’s totally unsustainable. It’s lunacy. I remember the nexus to Tocqueville, I think it was around 1909, the great political philosopher from France wrote, “The American system of democracy will thrive until that moment when the politicians discover they can bribe the electorate with their own money”. And those (expletive) fools have done it.

Steve on the administration’s impact on Las Vegas and the hospitality industry:

If you’re talking about strictly convention bookings, you can say that 2010 is better than ’09. And you can say you see trend of increased bookings. It is totally irresponsible and naive to say based upon this life trend, we project this infinitely into the future and give you some rosy baloney story about what’s going to happen in 20’11. I am warning my investors that may be on the call, to the extent that you hear any of that from our competitors, beware. There are more questions afoot in this market, in America, that will impact 2011 that I have hair on my head, I’m happy to say, and I still have a full head of hair. No, you will not get any of that us. I don’t see it. I have more questions that answers, I have more pessimism that I had before, and it’s based upon the political environment in which we are living today. And it definitely is impacting Las Vegas.

The President of the United States hasn’t missed one single opportunity to squelch Las Vegas. In our particular case, it’s cost us millions of dollars from companies affected by the President’s remarks that have no connection whatsoever to federal bailouts. But we get phone calls, and I’m not going to mention the names of the companies, from chairman who say we don’t want to appear to be profligate because Barack Obama said this or that about Las Vegas. But it’s had an effect on us. The hospitality industry in the United States of America as a whole has suffered disproportionately during this recession. Maybe automobile workers got a break.

But all of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people that work in hotels, restaurants and bars in the United States of America have been totally and completely overlooked in this aborted rescue attempt that has squandered billions of dollars in the United States.

Steve on the state of taxation and the US dollar:

It is preposterous that businesses are under attack in the United States of America. Anybody that makes over $250,000 in the form of a personal income tax return is now, by Washington definition, a rich person, when everybody who has got a college degree knows that the personal income tax rate in the United States of America is the business tax of America. Every sub-chapter S, every individual proprietorship and every partnership in the United States of America files tax returns as individuals. And when they do, and they show that they made $2 million or $3 million or God forbid $4 million, they pay the income tax rate, they deduct their working expenses, their living expenses, and then they invest in a new store, a new shop, and most of the time, 25% of their “profits” are tied up in accounts receivable or inventory.

But all of a sudden, all of those people who make over $250,000 are rich folks to be fleeced. And if that’s job formation stimulation in America, I’m Mary Poppins. And if I sound angry about it and disgusted, I am disgusted and angry at the apparent ignorance of the administration and the congress to recognize the fact that the individual tax rate in the United States of America is, in fact, the business tax of America. And if you keep banging on that, you will you destroy the incentive for job formation in the United States of America. And that’s simple truth. Simple truth. And whether politicians like it or don’t like it means nothing to me.

And that’s why I’m pessimistic about Las Vegas, because those are our customers! Those people out there hustling their businesses and God forbid, showing they made a million dollars as partnership or as an individual, yes, they’re the enemy now, they’re the rich folks. Well, until we get over this, America is in for hard times. Because what’s going to happen is, the people that are going to suffer from what’s going on are the working class of America. My 15 to 20,000 employees, they’re the ones that are in trouble. The reason they’re in trouble is this demolition of the dollar is going to reduce the buying power of the working class of America assure as (expletive) as if we gave them a salary cut of 25%.

Steve honestly assessing a bad decision to build the Encore casino in Las Vegas:

Good question. No, it’s not what I thought it would be. I thought that it would add at least $200 million or $250 million of EBITDA to our bottom line, and nothing remotely like that has happened. Of course, it was conceived in a market that was entirely different today, as you’ve just pointed out. It is a beautiful thing that cost $2.3 billion…Or would we just be better off because we would have had $2.3 billion in cash more than we do now?
…So would I build Encore if I had to do it today? No, I’d keep my money. Fortunately we had enough money that we don’t sweat it…