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Dalian Wanda only entered the department store business in 2007. In five short years, it's opened 40 stores in Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities. By 2015, it plans to have 110 Van's Department Stores open, each with an average square footage of 294,000. In comparison, the average Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) is 110,000 square feet and the flagship Saks (NYSE:SKS) Fifth Avenue store in New York is 646,000 square feet. It's not easy to open 11.7 million square feet of retail in 60 months. I could see it easily digesting Saks as a foray into the North American department store market.
The conglomerate currently operates 28 five-star hotels in China with expectations for 70 by 2015. It has relationships with all the major hotel brands including Hyatt (NYSE:H), Starwood (NYSE:HOT), Intercontinental (NYSE:IHG) and Hilton. Rather than acquire a brand, I could see its hotel division looking at a luxury REIT like Strategic Hotels & Resorts (NYSE:BEE), which owns famous hotels like San Diego's Hotel Del Coronado. Although the REIT only owns 17 hotels, they're all five-star. If nothing else, it could be the U.S. platform for additional acquisitions.
With Dalian Wanda's interest in film production, it's possible that it would look to buy Lion's Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF), which currently holds 12% of year-to-date theatrical market share (fourth largest studio) through the end of June. With movie franchises like the Hunger Games and the Twilight Saga, it has plenty of momentum in the film business.
On the TV side of the equation, it recently agreed to produce another 90 episodes of Anger Management - Charlie Sheen's new comedy on the FX Network. Syndication is where the real dough is made and both Lion's Gate and Sheen should do just fine once it hits syndication in September 2014. The difficult task for Dalian Wanda will be convincing Dr. Mark Rachesky, whose MHR Fund Management owns 36% of its stock, to sell. However, if Dalian Wanda wants to break into the movie-making business, this would be as good a play as any.
My final suggestion is to consider investing in Entertainment Properties Trust (NYSE:EPR), a Kansas City-based real estate investment trust that owns, among other things, movie theaters leased by several chains, including AMC. Its real estate focus would blend nicely with Dalian Wanda's tourism and commercial real estate investments. The only thing that might not be so appetizing for the Chinese company is its public charter schools it owns in Kansas City and other parts of the country.
The Bottom Line
Up until it purchased AMC Entertainment, very few people had heard of the privately held conglomerate - well, not anymore. You can expect Dalian Wanda Group to make more headlines in the months ahead with some of the moves possibly being the ones mentioned above.
At the time of writing, Will Ashworth did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.