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疫情使老虎机成了赌场“霸王”

疫情使老虎机成了赌场“霸王”

Adam Seessel 2020年10月20日
对于赌场来说,老虎机恰好是它们最赚钱的项目。

在博彩业中利润率最高的老虎机,是GLP公司成功的关键。图片来源:GLOWIMAGES—GETTY IMAGES

“投资的关键不在于评估一个行业会对社会产生多大的影响,也不是评估这个行业有多少增值空间,而是要明确这家公司的竞争优势,特别是这些优势能够持续多久。”

—— 沃伦•巴菲特,《财富》,1999年

比博彩公司更可靠的商业模式少之又少。人们喜欢赌博,因为在每一场赌局中,赌场对其客户都有统计学优势,所以参与的人越多,赌场赚得越多。再加上人们在富丽堂皇但没有窗户的赌场里,在餐饮和娱乐等项目上的消费,你就可以理解为什么赌场是一门好生意。

当然这是在正常时期。

新冠疫情改变了全世界,尤其是依赖客流量的行业,比如主题公园、游艇、音乐厅和赌场等。虽然大部分行业依旧非常低迷,但赌场尤其是区域性赌场出人意料地出现了明显反弹。人们驱车从家来到赌场,在下午或晚上在这里豪赌一番。尽管如此,有一只博彩股票Gaming and Leisure Properties(股票代码:GLPI)并没有完全恢复。事实上,这让它成为了非常好的投资对象。

GLP的创立者是企业家彼得•卡利诺。他在近50年前接管了宾夕法尼亚州赫尔希镇附近的一处赛马场Penn National,并将其打造成全美最大的区域赌场公司。卡利诺的父亲从费城的一个花商起家,曾经多次创业。他将卡利诺派到宾夕法尼亚中部管理部分家族业务,包括那家赛马场。1989年,其家族获得了该地区新发放的赛场外押注业务特许权,于是卡利诺被父亲选中经营该业务。

宾夕法尼亚中部没有太多娱乐项目,因此人们纷纷涌向卡利诺家族的赛场外押注站。很快,这里变成了家族最主要的收入来源,卡利诺也通过这段经历发现了自己的特长。他回忆起当时的想法说:“在赛场外押注站买马,比经营赛马场的利润更高。我们得到了一些启示。”

1994年,卡利诺将Penn National上市,与此同时,许多州的议会为了获得更多的税收,开始将赌场合法化。卡利诺希望抓住这次机会,并开始在全美收购赌场。2000年,他收购了另外一家赛马场。这家赛马场位于西弗吉尼亚州的查尔斯镇。他希望能够通过本地的赌博合法化公投。对早期措施的公投以失败告终,反对者与支持者的比例为2比1,但卡利诺在查尔斯镇待了一年时间,用他的个人魅力和不懈努力改变了结果。第二次公投的票差依旧是2比1,但这一次支持者占了上风。

卡利诺用炫丽的灯光装饰新赌场,并将其命名为“好莱坞”。这座赌场富丽堂皇的装修风格和魅力吸引了西弗吉尼亚人,在当地取得了巨大成功。该赌场带来了足够多的现金,使卡利诺可以在圣路易斯、堪萨斯城、巴吞鲁日和哥伦布等地修建或收购顶级赌场,这些赌场与西弗吉尼亚的好莱坞赌场一样装修华丽。

区域赌场就像采石场或有线电视提供商一样,本身就是很好的生意。当地的经济只可以支持少数赌场,而且各州通常会限制执照的数量,因此减少了竞争对手。卡利诺在美国中部发挥自己的才能,让Penn National变成了一家非常成功的公司。Penn National从2013年首次公开募股之后,每年给股东的回报率高达22.5%,是标普500指数同期平均回报率的三倍。

一次拆分和一个意外

2013年,Penn National一分为二:一家公司拥有赌场执照并经营赌场业务,另一家拥有房地产并作为经营公司的房东。这种一家“轻资产”公司和一家“重资产”公司的结构,在酒店业的效果很好。但让许多人大跌眼镜的是,卡利诺决定接管地产公司,也就是后来的Gaming and Leisure Properties,而不是赌场经营公司。但通过简单分析一些基本情况,就能够理解卡利诺的决定。

与酒店行业不同,赌场经营者必须支付所有资本支出,包括维护或扩建等成本。而房东不需要支付任何费用。更妙的是,卡利诺设计的这次拆分,使赌场在向银行支付利息之前,首先要向房东支付租金。房东什么也不必做,只要坐收房租即可,因此成为多家区域赌场的房东是非常划算的生意。

虽然在疫情爆发之初,公司的46家物业被迫关闭,但现在已经全部重开,并且业绩喜人:虽然收入较去年减少了10%,但营业利润却增长了20%。为什么会这样?赌场活动传播病毒的风险较高,比如21点和扑克牌等桌面项目以及自助餐厅等,这些活动在赌场的利润最低,但它们也因为新冠疫情被迫关闭,这是新冠疫情众多意外后果之一。而老虎机可以隔开摆放,几乎不需要人与人的互动,因此是安全的。而对于赌场来说,老虎机恰好也是它们最赚钱的项目。

新冠疫情导致Gaming and Leisure Properties公司的股价下跌,这并不令人意外,但让人感到好奇的是,考虑到上述因素,其股价依旧比年初下跌了10%。我从今年春天开始为客户购买GLPI的股票,即使到今天我依旧认为无论是长期还是短期投资,这家公司仍然是极具吸引力的投资目标。

GLP引人注目的业绩非常适合长期持有,尤其是希望获得收益保障的投资者。作为一家房地产投资信托(REIT),该公司需要将其大部分利润作为股息发放给股东。从短期来看,该公司的股票行情可能会有一些小障碍,但这些障碍很快就会消失,因此公司股票可能相对较快地上涨30%。

新冠疫情爆发之后,GLP将股息减少了约15%;并选择以股票支付大部分股息。GLP之所以这样做,并不是因为其财务状况不稳定;事实上,在美国三大赌场房地产投资信托中,GLP的区域多样化程度最高。当时,GLP不确定其租户能否安全度过疫情,而且卡利诺希望保证公司能够履行其义务。然而,削减股息让REIT投资者感到紧张,因此GLP从年初至今的表现一直落后于其同行。

公司股票遭到的另外一重打击来自所谓的iGaming或在线博彩带来的风险。就像上一代人为了开辟新的税收来源将赌场合法化一样,目前各州正在将在线博彩和在线体育投注合法化。有人认为,在线博彩可能会抢走实体赌场的顾客,就像电子商务对传统零售业客流量的虹吸效应一样。然而,无论是实际证据还是常识都证明这种观点是错误的。例如,新泽西州从2013年就已经将在线博彩合法化,但过去五年的四年中,大西洋城赌场的收入都实现了增长。这是因为人们对于博彩业更想要的是亲身体验,这种渴望比购物更加强烈。这也是卡利诺用璀璨的灯光装饰赌场的原因。

卡利诺说:“人是社会性动物。他们会不会在自家沙发上为比赛下注?当然会。但他们会不会重新回到赌场?肯定会。”

GLP表示将在2021年初恢复全部用现金发放股息。目前GLP支付的股息为2.4美元,其收益率接近6.5%。与10年期美国国债的收益率相比,该收益率低于其历史水平。如果GLP恢复现金发放股息,我认为其股票的收益率将接近5%,这意味着股票会上涨约30%,从当前的每股38美元上涨到约50美元。GLP明年应该还会提高股息,这会带来更大的股价上涨潜力。

与此同时,卡利诺依旧像往常一样,在宾夕法尼亚中部经营公司,关注新房地产交易,让股价自由变化。他说:“我每个月才会去看一次股价。我一直以来坚持的理念是,拿出好的业绩,投资者会自己找到答案。”(财富中文网)

本文作者亚当•西塞尔是一位注册投资顾问,现任引力资本管理有限责任公司(Gravity Capital Management LLC)的投资组合经理。引力资本管理的投资组合中可能持有、已经持有或未来可能持有本文中提到的个别证券。本文仅代表作者本人的观点,并不完整。本文中包含的信息为截至本文发表时的信息,文中的数据和事实可能发生变化。

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

“投资的关键不在于评估一个行业会对社会产生多大的影响,也不是评估这个行业有多少增值空间,而是要明确这家公司的竞争优势,特别是这些优势能够持续多久。”

—— 沃伦•巴菲特,《财富》,1999年

比博彩公司更可靠的商业模式少之又少。人们喜欢赌博,因为在每一场赌局中,赌场对其客户都有统计学优势,所以参与的人越多,赌场赚得越多。再加上人们在富丽堂皇但没有窗户的赌场里,在餐饮和娱乐等项目上的消费,你就可以理解为什么赌场是一门好生意。

当然这是在正常时期。

新冠疫情改变了全世界,尤其是依赖客流量的行业,比如主题公园、游艇、音乐厅和赌场等。虽然大部分行业依旧非常低迷,但赌场尤其是区域性赌场出人意料地出现了明显反弹。人们驱车从家来到赌场,在下午或晚上在这里豪赌一番。尽管如此,有一只博彩股票Gaming and Leisure Properties(股票代码:GLPI)并没有完全恢复。事实上,这让它成为了非常好的投资对象。

GLP的创立者是企业家彼得•卡利诺。他在近50年前接管了宾夕法尼亚州赫尔希镇附近的一处赛马场Penn National,并将其打造成全美最大的区域赌场公司。卡利诺的父亲从费城的一个花商起家,曾经多次创业。他将卡利诺派到宾夕法尼亚中部管理部分家族业务,包括那家赛马场。1989年,其家族获得了该地区新发放的赛场外押注业务特许权,于是卡利诺被父亲选中经营该业务。

宾夕法尼亚中部没有太多娱乐项目,因此人们纷纷涌向卡利诺家族的赛场外押注站。很快,这里变成了家族最主要的收入来源,卡利诺也通过这段经历发现了自己的特长。他回忆起当时的想法说:“在赛场外押注站买马,比经营赛马场的利润更高。我们得到了一些启示。”

1994年,卡利诺将Penn National上市,与此同时,许多州的议会为了获得更多的税收,开始将赌场合法化。卡利诺希望抓住这次机会,并开始在全美收购赌场。2000年,他收购了另外一家赛马场。这家赛马场位于西弗吉尼亚州的查尔斯镇。他希望能够通过本地的赌博合法化公投。对早期措施的公投以失败告终,反对者与支持者的比例为2比1,但卡利诺在查尔斯镇待了一年时间,用他的个人魅力和不懈努力改变了结果。第二次公投的票差依旧是2比1,但这一次支持者占了上风。

卡利诺用炫丽的灯光装饰新赌场,并将其命名为“好莱坞”。这座赌场富丽堂皇的装修风格和魅力吸引了西弗吉尼亚人,在当地取得了巨大成功。该赌场带来了足够多的现金,使卡利诺可以在圣路易斯、堪萨斯城、巴吞鲁日和哥伦布等地修建或收购顶级赌场,这些赌场与西弗吉尼亚的好莱坞赌场一样装修华丽。

区域赌场就像采石场或有线电视提供商一样,本身就是很好的生意。当地的经济只可以支持少数赌场,而且各州通常会限制执照的数量,因此减少了竞争对手。卡利诺在美国中部发挥自己的才能,让Penn National变成了一家非常成功的公司。Penn National从2013年首次公开募股之后,每年给股东的回报率高达22.5%,是标普500指数同期平均回报率的三倍。

一次拆分和一个意外

2013年,Penn National一分为二:一家公司拥有赌场执照并经营赌场业务,另一家拥有房地产并作为经营公司的房东。这种一家“轻资产”公司和一家“重资产”公司的结构,在酒店业的效果很好。但让许多人大跌眼镜的是,卡利诺决定接管地产公司,也就是后来的Gaming and Leisure Properties,而不是赌场经营公司。但通过简单分析一些基本情况,就能够理解卡利诺的决定。

与酒店行业不同,赌场经营者必须支付所有资本支出,包括维护或扩建等成本。而房东不需要支付任何费用。更妙的是,卡利诺设计的这次拆分,使赌场在向银行支付利息之前,首先要向房东支付租金。房东什么也不必做,只要坐收房租即可,因此成为多家区域赌场的房东是非常划算的生意。

虽然在疫情爆发之初,公司的46家物业被迫关闭,但现在已经全部重开,并且业绩喜人:虽然收入较去年减少了10%,但营业利润却增长了20%。为什么会这样?赌场活动传播病毒的风险较高,比如21点和扑克牌等桌面项目以及自助餐厅等,这些活动在赌场的利润最低,但它们也因为新冠疫情被迫关闭,这是新冠疫情众多意外后果之一。而老虎机可以隔开摆放,几乎不需要人与人的互动,因此是安全的。而对于赌场来说,老虎机恰好也是它们最赚钱的项目。

新冠疫情导致Gaming and Leisure Properties公司的股价下跌,这并不令人意外,但让人感到好奇的是,考虑到上述因素,其股价依旧比年初下跌了10%。我从今年春天开始为客户购买GLPI的股票,即使到今天我依旧认为无论是长期还是短期投资,这家公司仍然是极具吸引力的投资目标。

GLP引人注目的业绩非常适合长期持有,尤其是希望获得收益保障的投资者。作为一家房地产投资信托(REIT),该公司需要将其大部分利润作为股息发放给股东。从短期来看,该公司的股票行情可能会有一些小障碍,但这些障碍很快就会消失,因此公司股票可能相对较快地上涨30%。

新冠疫情爆发之后,GLP将股息减少了约15%;并选择以股票支付大部分股息。GLP之所以这样做,并不是因为其财务状况不稳定;事实上,在美国三大赌场房地产投资信托中,GLP的区域多样化程度最高。当时,GLP不确定其租户能否安全度过疫情,而且卡利诺希望保证公司能够履行其义务。然而,削减股息让REIT投资者感到紧张,因此GLP从年初至今的表现一直落后于其同行。

公司股票遭到的另外一重打击来自所谓的iGaming或在线博彩带来的风险。就像上一代人为了开辟新的税收来源将赌场合法化一样,目前各州正在将在线博彩和在线体育投注合法化。有人认为,在线博彩可能会抢走实体赌场的顾客,就像电子商务对传统零售业客流量的虹吸效应一样。然而,无论是实际证据还是常识都证明这种观点是错误的。例如,新泽西州从2013年就已经将在线博彩合法化,但过去五年的四年中,大西洋城赌场的收入都实现了增长。这是因为人们对于博彩业更想要的是亲身体验,这种渴望比购物更加强烈。这也是卡利诺用璀璨的灯光装饰赌场的原因。

卡利诺说:“人是社会性动物。他们会不会在自家沙发上为比赛下注?当然会。但他们会不会重新回到赌场?肯定会。”

GLP表示将在2021年初恢复全部用现金发放股息。目前GLP支付的股息为2.4美元,其收益率接近6.5%。与10年期美国国债的收益率相比,该收益率低于其历史水平。如果GLP恢复现金发放股息,我认为其股票的收益率将接近5%,这意味着股票会上涨约30%,从当前的每股38美元上涨到约50美元。GLP明年应该还会提高股息,这会带来更大的股价上涨潜力。

与此同时,卡利诺依旧像往常一样,在宾夕法尼亚中部经营公司,关注新房地产交易,让股价自由变化。他说:“我每个月才会去看一次股价。我一直以来坚持的理念是,拿出好的业绩,投资者会自己找到答案。”(财富中文网)

本文作者亚当•西塞尔是一位注册投资顾问,现任引力资本管理有限责任公司(Gravity Capital Management LLC)的投资组合经理。引力资本管理的投资组合中可能持有、已经持有或未来可能持有本文中提到的个别证券。本文仅代表作者本人的观点,并不完整。本文中包含的信息为截至本文发表时的信息,文中的数据和事实可能发生变化。

翻译:刘进龙

审校:汪皓

“The key to investing is not assessing how much an industry is going to affect society, or how much it will grow, but rather determining the competitive advantage of any given company and, above all, the durability of that advantage.”

—Warren Buffett, Fortune, 1999

Few business models are more reliable than a casino’s. People love to gamble, and because the house has a statistical advantage over its customers in every game it runs, the more people play, the more the casino makes. Factor in all the cash people spend on dining and entertainment inside those bright, windowless boxes and you’ll understand why casinos are inherently good businesses.

In normal times, that is.

COVID-19 turned the world upside down, especially for businesses that depend on big crowds: theme parks, cruise ships, concert halls, and, of course, casinos. While most of these businesses remain severely depressed, casinos—especially the regional ones, where people drive from their homes for an afternoon or evening of gambling—are making a remarkable and unexpected comeback. Despite this, one casino stock—Gaming and Leisure Properties (ticker: GLPI)—has not fully recovered. That makes it a very good bet, indeed.

GLP is the creation of entrepreneur Peter Carlino, who nearly 50 years ago took over Penn National, a horse track near Hershey, Pa., and turned it into the nation’s largest regional casino business. Carlino’s father, who began modestly as a florist in Philadelphia, was a serial entrepreneur who sent his son to central Pennsylvania to oversee some of the family businesses, including the racetrack. In 1989, the family won the region’s new offtrack betting concession, and Carlino’s father tapped Peter to run it.

With little else to entertain them, central Pennsylvanians flocked to the Carlinos’ OTB parlors. It quickly became the family’s top moneymaker, and Peter Carlino sensed he’d found his calling. “Taking bets on horses at the OTB window is much more profitable than the track itself,” he remembers thinking. “We’re on to something.”

Carlino took Penn National public in 1994, around the same time that many state legislatures, eager for more tax revenue, began to legalize casinos. Carlino wanted in on the action and began to buy ones around the country. In 2000, he bought another horse track, this one in Charles Town, W.Va., in hopes that he could pass a local referendum to legalize gambling. An earlier measure had lost by a 2-to-1 margin, but Carlino spent in a year in Charles Town, applying his considerable charm and energy to reversing the outcome. When the second vote was held, the margin was 2-to-1 for instead of 2-to-1 against.

Carlino decorated the new casino with flashing lights and named it the Hollywood. Drawn by the sparkle and pizzazz, West Virginians made the Hollywood a huge success. This generated enough cash to allow Carlino to build or acquire the top casinos in St. Louis, Kansas City, Baton Rouge, and Columbus, all of them infused with the same aspirational glitz as the one in West Virginia.

Like a rock quarry or a cable television provider, regional casinos are inherently good businesses. Local economies can support only a few of them, and states often limit the number of licenses granted, restraining the number of competitors. Combined with Carlino’s knack for bringing flair to middle America, Penn National became an enormously successful company. From its IPO to 2013, Penn National compounded shareholders’ returns at 22.5% a year, three times the average rate of the S&P 500 over that period.

A split, and a surprise

In 2013, Penn National split in two: One company owned the casino licenses and ran the operations, while the other owned the real estate and served as the operating company’s landlord. This same structure—one “asset-light” company and one “asset-heavy”—had worked well in the hotel industry. But it surprised many when Carlino decided to run the landlord—the company that became Gaming and Leisure Properties—instead of the operator. A glimpse at the underlying fundamentals, however, explains why.

Unlike in the hotel industry, the casino operator must pay for all capital expenditures, either maintenance or expansions. The landlord pays nothing. Even better, Carlino structured the separation so that rent expense to the landlord had to be paid even before interest was paid to the banks. With little to do but sit back and collect the rent, this makes being a landlord to a portfolio of regional casinos a very good business indeed.

While the company’s 46 properties had to shut down early in the pandemic, they have now all reopened, with impressive results: Revenues are down 10% compared with last year, but operating profits are up 20%. How can this be? In one of COVID’s many unintended consequences, casino activities that pose a high risk of spreading the virus—table games like blackjack and poker, and all-you-can-eat buffets—are also a casino’s least profitable but have had to be shut down. Slot machines, on the other hand, can be spread far apart, require little human interaction, and are thus safe to play. Happily for casinos, slots also happen to be among their highest-margin games.

It wasn’t a surprise when COVID slammed the shares of Gaming and Leisure Properties, but given the above it’s curious that the stock remains down more than 10% year to date. I started buying GLPI for clients this spring, and I think it remains an attractive investment today in both the long- and short-term.

GLP’s attractive economics make it a good long-term hold, especially for those seeking income. As a real estate investment trust, or REIT, the company is required to pay most of its profits out as dividends. Short-term, there are several minor clouds overshadowing the stock that may soon lift, giving investors the potential for a relatively quick 30% upside.

When COVID first struck, GLP cut its dividend roughly 15%; it also elected to pay most of it in stock. This was not because GLP’s finances were shaky; indeed, GLP is the most regionally diversified among the three American casino REITs. Back then, it wasn’t clear how GLP’s tenants would survive the pandemic, and Carlino wanted to make sure that the company could meet its obligations. Nevertheless, cutting a dividend spooks REIT investors, so GLP has trailed its peers year to date.

The other knock on the stock is the risk of so-called iGaming, or online casino play. Just as states legalized casinos a generation ago in search of new tax revenues, states are now in the process of legalizing both iGaming and online betting on sports. Some think that iGaming may drain customers from brick-and-mortar casinos just as e-commerce has siphoned off traditional retail foot traffic. Both the evidence and common sense, however, suggest otherwise. Online gaming has been legal in New Jersey, for example, since 2013, but Atlantic City casino revenues have risen in four of the past five years. That’s because even more than shopping, gambling is something people want to experience in person. There’s a reason Carlino built his company around those flashing lights.

“People are social animals,” Carlino says. “Will they place a bet on a game on their couch? Sure. But will they also keep coming back to the casino? Of course.”

GLP has said it will restore its dividend to all cash in early 2021. At its current $2.40 payout, GLP trades at a nearly 6.5% yield. This is a discount to where it historically trades relative to 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds. When the dividend resumes in cash, I believe the stock will trade at a yield of less than 5%, which means that the stock should appreciate roughly 30%, from its current $38 to around $50 a share. The company should also increase the dividend next year, providing further upside potential.

Meanwhile, Carlino remains in central Pennsylvania, doing what he has always done: running the business, keeping his eye out for new real estate deals, and letting the stock price take care of itself. “I look at the stock price maybe once a month,” he says. “My philosophy has always been, put up the numbers; investors will figure it out.”

Adam Seessel is the portfolio manager at Gravity Capital Management LLC, a registered investment adviser. Certain of the securities mentioned in the article may be currently held, have been held, or may be held in the future in a portfolio managed by Gravity. The article represents the views and belief of the author and does not purport to be complete. The information in this article is as of the publication date, and the data and facts presented in the article may change.

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