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In a General sense, he’s important to MGM Mirage

May 8, 2001 9:08 AM

YANKEE DOODLE DANDEE! An MGM MIRAGE (MGG) shareholder stood up at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting last week. With no prompting from anyone, the shareholder said the company has one of the greatest Americans of all time on its board of directors. At the same time, he said that board members aren’t utilizing General Alexander Haig (retired) effectively.

The shareholder said - among other things - that Haig should play a more prominent and public role, like in a television commercial.

His remarks did not go unnoticed by Board Chairman Terry Lanni. Jestfully, he asked if the shareholder was the general’s agent.

Shareholder: "No, just an American who’s proud to be one . . ."

Lanni than responded seriously to the effect that the company is "extremely engaged" with all its board members and that Gen. Haig is very important to the company. He praised Haig for opening doors for the company. In fact, Lanni said, the general is paid by MGM MIRAGE as a consultant. Without further ado, Lanni quickly added that the board is extremely talented with some of the most successful people in America as directors.

A FREE PLUG! Why not? Charles M. LaLoggia and Cherrie Mahon just published The Super Stock Investor. Renowned publisher McGraw Hill was in charge of the project. The new book describes the stock selection methods Charlie has developed during the past 27 years.

For my money, LaLoggia leads the pack in identifying takeover targets. The book features an index of 200 stocks that are partially owned by outside investors or "beneficial owners."

"So far, eight companies in the index have been taken back since it was published," said a Wall Street insider.

He added: "Do yourself a favor. Head to the bookstore or a website such as amazon.com or barnesnoble.com and climb aboard." 

PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM! Art Marshall and Sue Wagner have been reappointed to the Nevada Gaming Commission. Both commissioners have served the gaming body well during their reign. Reappointment was an easy task. 

ICAHN EYES EYE SURGERY FIRM! Carl Icahn has Wall Street investors up a tree trying to figure why he has suddenly taken an interest in Visx, a small company that makes equipment for eye laser surgery. The company’s stock has been on a roller coaster from a high of 1423/8 in May last year to 83/4 in December on the New York Stock Exchange.

Visx’s largest shareholder is Mark Regan, a portfolio manager at MFS Investment Management.

Icahn bought about 15% of the company for $15 million. And, up until mid-week, was trying to oust the company’s board in a proxy battle. However, when the board of directors agreed to accept a bid from Icahn of 32 per share, the proxy battle ended.

But, not the confusion!

Kenneth Goldman, an analyst at Lehman Bros., questions whether the stock is worth more than 23. He said Lehman’s target is 18.

Nonsense, said Mark Regan, a portfolio manager at MFS Investment Management, which is Visx’s largest shareholder (13.3%). He thinks the company is worth much more than 32 a share. He noted that it was spending more on research and development (about $19 million this year) than the rest of the industry combined.

On the other hand, the growth in laser eye surgery is slowing from the torrid pace of past years.

So, thinks I, what is Carl up to? 

BINGO, BANGO, BONGO! The Reserve is saying good riddance to its jungle theme.

I hear that Station Casinos (STN) top gun Don Marrandino has a Mexican motif on his mind. 

NO "BUG BOY" FOR FELDMAN! Dave Feldman left us last week at age 85. He spent 50 of his last years as a racetrack reporter, columnist and character of the first class. Some 20 years ago a first class sawbones from Cleveland warned Feldman that he needed open-heart surgery right away. Feldman felt he was a fave with the surgeon. He went along with the play. It was then that the doctor confessed he wouldn’t be doing the cutting. He had a vacation planned. Feldman should not worry. A younger doctor from Harvard would replace him.

That was it! Feldman told the doctor he was not letting bug boy operate on him.

Somehow or other Feldman agreed. The operation was a success. The bug boy got the job done and Feldman lived another 20 years.

YA GOTTA KNOW THE TERRITORY: "It sure looked like Bob Kehl was doing just that at the two-day meeting of the Nevada Gaming Control Board last week," reported a pipe.

"Kehl is a builder of riverboat casinos out of Dubuque, Iowa, and he showed up at the meeting with his son, his lawyer and a couple of business associates.

"Word is that he’s interested in acquiring the United Coin slots route from Bally Gaming (a division of Alliance Gaming Inc. ”˜ALLY’). If he goes through with the negotiations, he would need to apply for a Nevada gaming license since he doesn’t have one right now.

"That’s probably why he was checking out the territory with his cohorts," he said. 

WE’VE BARELY SCRATCHED THE SURFACE: That’s the way Lorne Weil, chairman and CEO of Scientific Games Inc. (SGM) (formerly Autotote Inc.), described the future of gaming in an interview Friday on CNBC.

Host Bill Griffeth asked Weil that with the recent expansion of gaming, with all the casinos being built around the country, whether the industry had reached its peak.

"Not at all," replied Weil. "With the development of cyberspace gaming, it’s just the beginning. You might say that there will be a ”˜virtual’ gaming explosion."