Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Audio – Everybody loves a winner in Vegas, baby!

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It seems that any sentence about Las Vegas, the people who work there or the stocks of the companies that run the big casinos ends better with the word “baby”. It’s almost like you can hear Frank saying it to Dino on their way into some smoky, after-hours cocktail party.

So, even though Bill Lerner, casino and gaming analyst at Deutsche Bank didn’t exactly end his comments on casino stock picks like Sinatra might have … well, it’s Vegas, baby!

Lerner, speaking at the Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit in New York, spoke extensively about the stocks in the gaming sector and identified the ones he thinks have the best chance at near- and longer-term success.

Lerner was one of the featured speakers at the summit, which continues through Wednesday in our New York headquarters. The Summit program is in its fifth year, and in 2009 will include top-level executives from  industries and sectors including everything from Infrastructure; to Mining; to Investing in India, China, Japan and Russia; to Food and Beverages.

Audio – Las Vegas mogul defends fun city

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By Tim Hepher 

Las Vegas casino legend Sheldon Adelson launched a quest for America’s most boring city on Tuesday in a comeback to President Barack Obama’s criticism of bankers who hold meetings in the famous gaming capital.
    
Obama last month warned companies that get bailout cash against spending it on activities potentially seen as perks — sparking a row with hotel and resort operators who say they are already struggling to fill rooms and may have to cut jobs.
    
“The good news is that Las Vegas has become a synonym for a good time for adults. Let me not say adults, I’ll say grown-ups, I don’t want to give the wrong impression,” Adelson, majority owner of casino operator Las Vegas Sands, said.
    
“The bad news is that because it is a place for a good time, President Obama says that he doesn’t want taxpayer’s money to go there,” Adelson told the Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit. 
    
“But I’m going to conduct a survey and I’m going to provide a prize for people who will submit the name of the worst city in the country to go to, where people can enjoy it the least. Because that’s the alternative. The alternative is you go to a place where you enjoy, or you go to to a place you don’t enjoy.”
    
The self-made billionaire, who tore down the original Sands to build the Venetian Resort complete with canals, and brought business conventions to Las Vegas, declined to nominate places for his ‘dive prize’ but took a swipe at Obama’s home town.
    
“Look, Chicago has got nine casinos. Now, God forbid if they hold a convention there someone should go to one of those casinos and enjoy themselves. God forbid. And then they’d say ‘Oh I can’t go there’,” he said.

A scandal over perks erupted in October after insurer AIG flew top brokers and executives to a Southern California resort at a cost of $440,000 shortly after it received an $85 billion government bailout.
     
“You can’t take a trip to Las Vegas or down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime,” Obama commented last month.

Audio – Bad is bad

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Trying to compare one recession or economic downswing to another is a little like trying to decide which hurricane was the worst.

I mean, if you were sitting in the middle of Hurricane Katrina, it’s not going to matter too much if Hurricane Hugo’s winds were 10 miles an hour faster. They both weren’t a lot of fun.

Audio – Air France-KLM CEO sees some unfriendly skies ahead

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The state of the airline industry and travel overall is not poised for a rapid takeoff in 2009 and looks like it will remain in rough shape until next year, said Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, chief executive of Air France-KLM, on Monday at the Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit.

The head of Europe’s largest airline, who became CEO in January, said he was unsure when things would turn around, but warned that both passenger and cargo metrics were down for the airline.

Audio – And then there were two?

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Priceline.com CEO Jeff Boyd told the Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit in New York that he thinks that at least two out of the four players in the online travel sector – Priceline, Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia – could be in a position for either an IPO or a sale once the economy turns up.

“I think that the most important fact there is that two of the major players are owned by private equity,” he said. ”Orbitz is controlled by Blackstone. And Travelocity and Sabre Group are controlled by TPG and Silver Lake Partners. And what that means is eventually they will be looking for a way to monetize those private equity investments, and there’s two ways of doing it.

Welcome to the Travel and Leisure Summit 2009

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The travel and leisure industry is facing its worst downturn since 2001, as the recession eats away at companies’ travel budgets and forces individuals to cancel trips. Airlines are planning a drastic dip in capacity as demand for flights evaporates, and hotels and casinos are doing their best to adapt to the new reality after an unprecedented three-year boom. Already two casino operators have filed for bankruptcy and more may follow.
 
Chief executives of some of the world’s foremost airlines, hotel and casino companies will address the economic challenges and how they plan to survive them at Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit, to be held in New York, on March 2-4, 2009.
 
The Summit will generate a series of exclusive interviews and articles from our team of expert reporters, as well as regular blog postings and online video.

AUDIO – The Spiral

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This has not been a cheerless week — after all, Chicago is a pretty fun place to be.

In reviewing many of the stories, though, from this week’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit, one gets the idea that all was gloom in the Windy City.

AUDIO – For Nordson — “Get ‘em right, or get ‘em out”

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Throughout the current recession, many of the companies’ executives at this week’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit have found an opportunity to review, pare back and possibly add on to their existing business mixes.

Such is the case for Edward Campbell, chief executive of Nordson Corp, which has a uniquely diversified set of businesses under its umbrella and is looking at what makes sense for them going forward.

AUDIO – Staying the course at CAT — But it’s a rough row to hoe

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Caterpillar Inc Group President Ed Rapp knows that 2009 has been a tough one for his company, but he still thinks they can hit their numbers on revenue and earnings per share.

Speaking at the Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit, Rapp (who, incidentally, has been with Caterpillar for almost 30 years and is still considered something of a “youngster” there!!) said that while there are still many hurdles for the company to avoid in the short term, he thought CAT’s previous guidance was within reach.

AUDIO-Pirate Avoidance 101

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The best way to avoid pirates on the open seas? Outrun them, said Seaspan CEO Gerry Wang, speaking to the Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit on Tuesday.

Somali pirates have wrought havoc in recent years, but Wang, who runs container shipper Seaspan, said his ships were too fast and too tall to attract their attention.

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