Translating Corporate Speak: Wynn [Unforeseen Upside Edition #2]

by Mr Juggles

In February, we pointed out Steve Wynn’s colorful and frank commentary on his company’s quarterly call. Today, we follow up with more from the CEO of Wynn (Nadaq: WYNN).

First, if you recall, Wynn issued $660mm of shares at $154 at the end of September after his stock had doubled in 6 months. Explaining his reasoning, he said at the time:
“No company gets to be worth twice as much in 60 days as it was before to any intelligent person, so when that happens, we take advantage of it.”

Smart. Now, one quarter later Wynn has repurchased 2.4 million shares. As he said on this quarter’s call:

“Look, we issued 4.4 million shares for 660 million and promptly distributed it, which was really nice for us shareholders. And a return of capital. We have now bought back at 50 or $60 a share [cheaper] those shares that we issued.”

Translation: You were idiots to buy my shares at $154. But I appreciate you selling them back to me at $95. Thank you.

Additionally, while most companies talk up their own business and exaggerate the prospects and profitability of the business, Wynn opts for honesty.

We report and talk about these EBITDA numbers with our chest puffed out as far as we can get it as an industry. I suppose it tells you how much money you can afford to pay in interest. But the public needs to understand that the profitability, the real profitability of these businesses are much, much less than these puffy EBITDA numbers. Interest expense is very large. And depreciation, I know office building guys and shopping center guys and apartment guys, they get to spend part of the depreciation. But, believe me, in my 40-year history and in the history of every other gaming company here, Kerkorian would agree with me. We spend depreciation. It is a real expense. And when you take the profitability of a hotel like the Venetian or Wynn or Bellagio or any of us it’s a much smaller number when you subtract depreciation and interest. And amortization. We have to pay back the people who lend us the money eventually. It’s a much smaller number. But I know the Wall Street folks, you all like to talk about EBITDA.

Translation: I don’t understand why you think my capital intensive company should be valued on metrics that exclude any measurement of capital intensity. I would use a different approach than you muppets, but then again, your approach is lining my pocket and I will restrict letting you know this explicitly such that no one will pick up on it except those who can parse my words with some kind of proprietary translation algorithm for corporate speak.

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