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Why Kirk Kerkorian Is Important to MGM Resorts

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News yesterday that Kirk Kerkorian has intentions to raise his stake in MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM  ) isn't something investors should sweep under the rug before remembering what he has meant to the company over the years. Kerkorian isn't as well known as Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts, or Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, but he has played a similar visionary roll in MGM's history.

Kerkorian began his dealings in Las Vegas in 1962 when he bought the land that Caesars Entertainment's (NASDAQ: CZR  ) flagship casino Caesars Palace sits on. When he sold the land to the company, he ended up building MGM Grand, and naming it after the MGM movie studio, which he also owned. Decades later, Kerkorian was behind the merger of MGM and Mirage, which was the company Steve Wynn built, bringing the Mirage, Bellagio, and Treasure Island into MGM.  

If Kerkorian wants to increase his 18.6% stake in the company, he must be bullish on both Las Vegas and the economy as a whole.

Bullish on economy
Kerkorian last tried to up his stake in MGM in 2006 when the economy and markets were going bonkers. After the financial collapse, he backed off MGM, but now that he's on board, I think it's a strong sign that one of Las Vegas' biggest investors is bullish on the economy as a whole and, therefore, Las Vegas.

Kerkorian also has seats on the board, meaning he has insider access to MGM's financials. Insider buying is often a very bullish sign for a stock, because insiders know things about a company's operation that goes beyond what outside investors can know.

What this means for gaming stocks
Before you go out and buy a basket of gaming stocks, it's important to understand the difference between MGM and other companies. Wynn and Las Vegas Sands are Asian-centric so, if Kerkorian is bullish on MGM, it doesn't really mean anything for them. Caesars is in a similar position to MGM with high exposure to Las Vegas, but instead of having exposure to Macau, like MGM does, it has exposure to regional gaming in the U.S. If you're bullish on Las Vegas, MGM is the way to go, not Caesars.

A deep dive into MGM Resorts

When MGM Resorts began constructing the CityCenter in Las Vegas, it was an audacious plan that seemed like a sure bet with its prime location in the center of The Strip. But Las Vegas hit a rough patch during the Great Recession and has yet to fully recover, so MGM has since turned its attention to a new market in Macau. This Chinese gaming enclave now holds the key to the company's future, and a new resort on Cotai may relieve the company from crushing debt. For expert analysis on whether this former high-flying stock can regain its form on the back of a growing presence in Asia, you're invited to check out The Motley Fool's new premium report on MGM Resorts. Simply click here now to claim your copy today.

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9/30/2016 4:00 PM
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