A casino paid $650 million in “liberty checks” to its investors. Most U.S. investors were clueless about the payment, because most investors were clueless about the casino.
A U.S.-based casino didn’t pay the “liberty checks.” A Hong Kong-based casino did.
Melco Resorts & Entertainment (NASDAQ: MLCO) was the casino. It paid U.S. investors $1.32 in “liberty checks” for every share (technically American depositary security) they owned. The “liberty checks” generated a 7.9% yield based on the $16.76 share price at the time payment was announced.
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Why would a Hong Kong-based casino operator pay its U.S.-based investors a “liberty check”?
“Constituency” is the short answer. A large percentage of Melco’s are institutional income investors based in the United States. The constituents include Wellington Management Group, BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), State Street, and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC).
Melco’s “liberty checks” were worth collecting. I liked the “liberty check” and the company backing it.
Melco develops, owns, and operates casino gaming and entertainment resort facilities in Southeast Asia. It had $1.7 billion in cash, which easily covered the “liberty check” payments to shareholders.
In addition to paying “liberty checks,” the Melco dividend policy was amended for the better.
In the past, Melco had committed to pay 30% of net income as regular dividends. This meant that the Melco dividend payments varied from year to year. (Most investors prefer a stable dividend payment.) The new policy started with a quarterly dividend of $0.09 per share. The new Melco dividend policy better accommodated Melco’s primary investor constituency — income investors.
The “liberty check” was a good use of Melco’s resources. The company had generated plenty of free cash flow – $650 million in fiscal-year 2016. Liquidity was further enhanced by over $1.2 billion in available credit lines. The company already held $1.7 billion in cash.
Most important, the “liberty check” signaled better days ahead.
To quote Melco CEO Lawrence Ho at the time, “We believe that we can return a meaningful amount of capital to investors now, and in the future, while still retaining significant flexibility to pursue value accretive opportunities.”
Better days were, indeed, ahead: Revenue increased 17% over the subsequent year. EPS doubled. The quarterly dividend was increased 56% to start 2018.
Improved performance has produced an improved share price. Melco’s share price has increased 76% over the past 18 months.
Melco’s “liberty checks” provided additional income to shareholders. They also provided the opportunity to enhance returns with a “liberty check” trade.
Thanks to tax reform, I expect the dynamic to work for more companies to similar effect in the second half of 2018. More earnings will funnel into cash accounts. More cash on hand, and more cash flow, will drive more “liberty check” payments.
We need to discriminate, though. Few “liberty checks” will be worth collecting. I say that because most will be paid to yield only 3% to 5% on investment.
You can do better. You can even do better than Melco Resorts & Entertainment – much better.
I can show you how to collect “liberty checks” that are 10X the average dividend check. I can also show you how to trade the shares of “liberty check” issuers for triple-digit annualized return.
I will co-host an online “liberty check” webinar this Friday (June 15) at 12 p.m. EDT (noon). And you’re invited.
Don’t delay. Space is limited and it fills quickly. Click here to reserve your spot for this free, live event.
You have nothing to lose except the opportunity to collect 10X more income while generating high returns on your investment dollars.