Vici Pulls 2020 Guidance, Working With Some Tenants due to COVID-19

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, Vici Properties (NYSE:VICI) said late Thursday it’s pulling its 2020 financial guidance, but noted it has the liquidity to complete a previously announced transaction with Eldorado Resorts (NASDAQ:ERI).

Vici Properties Pulls Guidance

Caesars Palace owner Vici has cash for an important deal, but it’s pulling 2020 guidance because of COVID-19. (Image: Reuters)

When Eldorado revealed last June that it’s buying Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR) – the company from which Vici was spun out in 2017 – it was revealed that the real estate investment trust (REIT) would pay $3.2 billion for the property assets of Harrah’s New Orleans, Harrah’s Laughlin, and Harrah’s Atlantic City.

With the help of bond and equity sales earlier this year, Vici set aside $2 billion in an escrow account to finance those property acquisitions. Speaking of real estate, the company said all of its tenants paid April rent in full, but it is working with some on financing matters because of the coronavirus.

All of our tenants fulfilled their rent obligations in full for the month of April. As of April 16, 2020, we are actively engaged in discussions with our five tenants regarding how best to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as it specifically impacts each tenant’s financial and operating situation,” according to a statement issued by New York-based Vici.

The REIT did not say who those tenants or where the gaming properties in question are located. Vici’s gaming tenants are Caesars, Century Casinos Inc., Hard Rock International, JACK Entertainment and Penn National Gaming. Vici, the owner of Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip, owns the real estate of 22 casinos in nine states, according to its web site.

Sigh Of Relief

With the domestic gaming industry operating in a zero-revenue environment since mid-March, the fact that all Vici tenants paid April rent is probably a relief to investors. The REIT did not mention how it’s working with clients in a challenging operating climate. But real estate companies of this nature can offer some flexibility to protect themselves, investors and tenants.

“While we have not yet agreed to any lease modifications or other concessions with any of our tenants, if the current environment persists, we may ultimately support tenants during the short term in ways that we believe will benefit the Company over the long term,” according to Vici.

Following the announcement, Vici stock was flat in Thursday’s after-hours session, and is lower by 38.36 percent year-to-date. That puts it in the middle of the three gaming REITs in terms of 2020 performance.

Strong Cash Position

As COVID-19 grips the gaming industry, analysts and investors are scrutinizing operators’ and REITs’ cash positions, an area where Vici is strong.

“As of April 16, 2020, we have approximately $310 million in unrestricted cash and cash equivalents and $1.0 billion of availability under our undrawn revolving credit facility,” said the company. “In addition, we have access to approximately $1.3 billion in proceeds from settlement of the 65,000,000 shares that are subject to the forward sale agreements entered into in June 2019.”

Vici doesn’t have any debt maturing until December 2024, but added it has no visibility as to when operator tenants will resume business as usual.

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