What to Watch For When Wynn Resorts Reports Earnings

Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN  ) reports earnings on Thursday, and it's another important report for the gaming company with properties in Macau and Las Vegas. Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS  ) recently reported to investors that growth in the Cotai region of Macau is heating up, and that may mean slower growth for Wynn on the aging Macau Peninsula.

Let's take a look at what's expected from Wynn and what we should look for.

Slow growth in Macau
The biggest driver of growth will be expanded play in Macau. Overall, Macau's gaming revenue grew 19.8% in the first quarter, which is the benchmark we should use to compare overall table play. Last quarter, Wynn was able to outgrow the market overall, and VIP or mass-market table growth anywhere near 19.8% would be a big shock to investors.  

The challenge Wynn faces is that Cotai is taking market share right now. Las Vegas Sands reported that The Venetian Macau's VIP volume was up 31.2% last quarter and mass-market play was up 80.7%, while Sands Cotai Central grew 13.8% in VIP and 73.9% in mass market.

Trends show that mass-market gaming is clearly moving toward Cotai, and that takes a high-margin customer away from the Macau Peninsula. Wynn will have to make up the difference by attracting VIP players, so watch growth trends in that market.

Potentially just as important as what Wynn reports is what the company is seeing for April and the rest of the year. Analysts have reported recently that April's numbers may be below expectations, and 2014 growth could slow from a current rate of 19.8%. Investors will be looking for any indication that slowing growth is a reality.

Updates on Cotai and Boston
Wynn's next phase of growth will come from Cotai, where it is building Wynn Palace, set to open in early 2016. Expect management to update its construction progress and timeline, which are far more important than a budget update. The new resort is scheduled to open before the Chinese New Year in 2016 and should add more than $4 billion in annual revenue to Wynn, so it's crucial that the timeline doesn't slip.

We should also hear more about a proposal in Boston, where Wynn recently signed agreements with communities around the potential Everett, Massachusetts, resort. A final decision on who wins the only Boston bid isn't expected until later this year, but management will update the progress on its bid.

Foolish bottom line
The most important thing to watch for short-term is Wynn Macau's ability to maintain market share. Even coming close to Macau's overall growth rate would be positive considering the location headwinds Wynn faces.

Long-term, Wynn needs to execute on growth plans in Macau and Boston. These two projects are what will drive long-term gains, and the Cotai resort will be a game changer for the company.

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