Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gaming industry projected to face significant pressure in 2009; recovery unlikely until 2010

PRESS RELEASE
Fitch:
U.S. Gaming Industry Recovery Unlikely Until 2010

NEW YORK, Dec 16, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Following one of its most challenging years in recent history, the U.S. gaming industry will remain under significant pressure in 2009, with a recovery unlikely until 2010, according to Fitch Ratings...

...The gaming industry experienced a greater impact from the difficult financial conditions for consumers in 2008 than many investors expected. Generally, gaming spend per visit has been affected more than visitation levels, which can be bolstered by promotions. Considering the combined effect of recent declines in gas prices, and reductions in airline capacity and international demand, Fitch believes regional/local markets will fare better than destination markets, such as the Las Vegas Strip...


2009 Credit Outlook

Fitch believes that a prolonged U.S. recession that extends beyond 2009 and into 2010, coupled with an extremely tight credit environment, will put significant additional pressure on the balance sheets of already stressed corporate gaming operators. There was a significant tick up in high yield (HY) gaming defaults in 2008, with five issuers (French Lick, Tropicana, Greektown, Herbst, and Majestic Star) defaulting on $2.3 billion of HY market principal through November 2008. Three other issuers (Trump, Station, and Harrah's) are on the cusp of defaulting on debt obligations.

The weak fundamental trends combined with generally high leverage and tight liquidity provides the basis for Fitch's negative outlook on corporate gaming operators in terms of both operating fundamentals and credit ratings. While Native American gaming operators are feeling similar pressure on operating trends, the issuers in Fitch's rated portfolio generally maintain more conservative financial profiles relative to rating levels, so those issuers will have somewhat more ability to maintain ratings in 2009. Due to more stable free cash flow profiles, stronger internally generated liquidity positions, a less capital intensive business model, and more conservative balance sheet management, gaming suppliers have the most attractive overall credit profiles and greatest ability to weather the downturn... (Complete Analysis)

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