Street sings
Boyd’s song

August 21, 2001 8:04 AM
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            THEY’RE FINALLY SINGING OUR SONG! Weeks ago I suggested that investors take another look at Boyd Gaming (BYD). The company had been stagnating for months. But, in our view, things were changing for the better for Boyd. Not the least of which was the acquisition of a Louisiana racetrack that would be converted to a slot machine casino.

            Slot machines make things ring. At the same time, the company had The Borgata under construction, a massive new resort coming soon to Atlantic City in partnership with MGM MIRAGE (MGG).

            To us, it looked like earnings would be in for a great boost. The stock went from $4-and-change to the $6-level.

            But, watch out now. The Wall Street gurus have discovered Boyd in the last few days. CIBC World Markets has upgraded BYD to a buy. They see The Borgata generating $134 million in EBITDA.

            At the same time, MSN’s StockScouter raised its rating of Boyd to an eight out of a potential 10, viewing the company as out-performing the market in near term.

            It may now be time for Katie to bar the door as investors fire away.

            A NEW BATTLEFIELD? When the new $268 million Palms resort opens in December, it will be aiming its marketing guns at the Hard Rock. Both are off-Strip properties. The Hard Rock is east of the Strip, while Palms is west.

            George (Maloof) vs. Peter (Morton). That’s the matchup,” said a pipe. “From here it looks like a 6-5/pick ”˜em, which is saying a lot for George’s new store that has yet to open. The Hard Rock is an internationally recognized brand that has displayed staying power.

            “Peter is the Hard Rock’s owner and primary shareholder. He has a history of providing financial support to the company to shore up liquidity constraints,” the pipe continued.

            More: “The Hard Rock has it to itself when it comes to market share of certain clientele. That’s the same customer base Maloof will be going after at Palms. Both will also be after local players.

            “In that area I give Palms an edge. Just seeing what Maloof did at the Fiesta, which he sold to Station Casinos (STN) for $185 million, tells me he knows a lot about slot play and locals.

            “There will be plenty of rooters for Palms. The company plans to hire 2,500 people by mid-October. Believe it or not, Maloof says the property has taken in about 120,000 job applications with more than 30,000 interviews conducted.

            “Even if you don’t bet into this match-up, it’s going to be interesting to watch,” the pipe concluded.

            KA-CHING! KA-CHING! That’s the sweet sound of success ringing in Bill Sherlock’s ears at Foxwoods Resort.

            Slot machine revenue at the resort hit a record $73.8 million in July. It just so happens to be the busiest month in the casino’s successful history.

            Sherlock has added nearly 200 additional slot machines since July 2000 when revenue than his a new record. There are an average of 6,429 slot machines in play. And, they’re playing pretty for the people at Foxwoods.

            GONE FISHING? “Not exactly,” said a rosebud, “but don’t be surprised to learn that IGT’s (International Game Technology) senior vice president is about to pack it in full time and remain only as a consultant with the company.”

            More rosebud: “There’s an unconfirmed report that he has exercised nearly all of his 17 million shares . . . That might not send me fishing, but it would certainly send me to the seashores of Southern California, like Del Mar for instance.”

            GOOD FOR THE GOOSE, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GANDER? The landmark horseracing legislation in California is apt to benefit the racetrack’s backstretch employees.

            Bill AB471 signed by Gov. Gray Davis contains conditions for upgrading housing conditions at racetracks and allows stable workers to unionize.

            It also gives California horseplayers the ability to make a bet without going to the track or a satellite betting facility.

            They can do it by phone. There are arguments on both sides of the question. In search of a new angle, I have been asking opinions of summer residents of Del Mar, which includes many Las Vegans. The outcome has been mixed.

            “I’ve been coming to Del Mar during the racing season for 20 years,” explained one pipe. “It’s a way of life to me. It won’t affect me one bit.”

            It was a different story from some business people.

            “Betting by telephone from home won’t be acceptable to everyone, but it certainly will keep attendance down. That’s what we depend on ”” customers coming to the track and stopping by afterwards,” one restaurant owner told us.

            SHUFFLEMASTER INC. (SHFL) will hold its quarterly conference call at 1 p.m. Thursday. They will discuss the results of operations for the third quarter, which ended July 31.

            Can we expect frowns or smiles, I asked an in-the-knowster?

            “I won’t touch that with a 10-foot pole. All I can tell you is that I’d be surprised to see any of the company executives wearing frowns,” he responded.

            The conference call can be  accessed on the Internet. Go to www.shufflemaster.com.

            SHFL is a leading gaming supply company specializing in innovative products and services for the casino industry, including card shufflers and other table game equipment, table and slot games, and gaming machine software. It was ranked as the 33rd best small company in America by Forbes magazine last year.

            TAKING THE HEAT! The Las Vegas Sun reported this week that Gary Loveman, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas-based Harrah’s Entertainment (HET), blasted gaming authority rules after an agent for the Nevada Gaming Control Board ”” without explanation ”” went to Loveman’s office and took three years of personal correspondence. Loveman aired his anger at a luncheon meeting of the Latin Chamber of Commerce.

            Randy Sayre, chief investigator for the NGCB, said anyone who goes through the licensing investigation process has his files pulled and examined. It’s pretty standard stuff. At this point, he added, there are no red flags in the Loveman investigation.

            The Sun also quoted Bobby Siller, also a member of the Control Board. “Worldwide, we’re recognized as having one of the most outstanding gaming environments in the world, and that is caused in part by strict gaming regulatory oversight.”

            He added: “To turn around and give all that up for the uncertainty of what might lie ahead is irresponsible as far as I’m concerned.”

            Siller also voiced an opinion that if a person isn’t doing anything wrong, he shouldn’t be concerned about it.

             NAME CHANGE, THANK GOODNESS! “Leave it to the new kids on the block to change the name,” said a rosebud.

            Her reference was to the so-called H-Tract in the Marina District of Atlantic City. That’s where Boyd Gaming (BYD) and MGM MIRAGE (MGG) are holding hands to build the Borgata. It’s also the site where MGM MIRAGE plans to build at least two other casinos.

            The area’s new name? It’s now called Renaissance Pointe.

            The next time you talk about Renaissance Pointe, please include the Borgata, two new MGM MIRAGE resorts and the two existing casinos ”” Harrah’s and Trump Marina. The word is that MGM MIRAGE plans to break ground in late 2002 with the first of its two Âí­resorts.

            DETROIT PLAYERS increased the city’s gaming revenues by nearly 23% last month. Leading the way was Greektown Casino, which opened in November 2000. Things weren’t as good for the city’s two other casinos ”” MGM Detroit and Motor City. The play at MGM decreased 17.5% and Motor City went down 4%.

            “Overall,” explained gaming analyst Robin Farley (UBS Warburg), “the future of Detroit casinos is still unclear.”

            She added: “Originally it was planned that all three Detroit casino operators would build permanent sites on a 1,000 acre parcel of land on the riverfront. The plan was amended in March when Mayor (Dennis) Archer announced that only MGM MIRAGE (MGG) would build on the river because it would cost more than $500 million to buy land for all three casinos.”

            With Mayor Archer leaving office at the end of the year ”” and none of the six top mayoral candidates supporting permanent casinos on the river ”” the future is unknown.

            It’s not stopping things just across the river in Canada where Casino Windsor is planning an expansion that would add up to 200 hotel rooms to its 400-room mix. Moreover, there would be a bus terminal that could accommodate 12 buses at a time carrying players across the border. Casino Windsor plans are awaiting government approval. If given the green light, construction could begin as early as next Âí­summer.

             SWINGING WITH THE SAINTS! Comedienne Rita Rudner will host and play in her charity golf tournament Oct. 22 at Stallion Mountain Country Club.

            The benefactor? Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada. Registration is $150 per person with a four-person scramble. It includes golf fees, cart, lunch and tee prizes.

            “Now that Las Vegas is my home, I’d like to give something back to a climate that’s done so much for my hair,” the funny lady said. She is now appearing at New York-New York.

            And, it says here, if you want to support a worthy cause and march in with the saints, here’s an opportunity.

            DON’T BET ON IT! A voluntary survey polled the opinion of nearly 6,700 visitors to Station Casinos’ website. The question was, “If Internet gaming were made legal in Nevada, would you participate?”

            The results: 58% opposed, 42% supported. Total votes: 6,695.

            STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE! Vic Salerno, CEO American Wagering Inc. (BETM), isn’t afraid to step up to the plate and take a healthy swing. Late last month Salerno purchased 67,000 shares at prices ranging between 30 cents and 40 cents.