Is Wynn Resorts the Top Casino Play?

Source: Wynn Resorts

After the company reported revenue and earnings for the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year on May 1, shares of Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN  ) skyrocketed 7% to close at $221.68. Now, with the casino giant's shares trading 82% above their 52-week low, should investors consider buying into Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS  ) or Melco Crown Entertainment (NASDAQ: MPEL  ) instead, or is Wynn still an amazing long-term prospect?

Wynn handily outperformed the expectations!
For the quarter, Wynn reported revenue of $1.51 billion. This beat the $1.48 billion that analysts had anticipated and it was 9% higher than the $1.38 billion the company reported in the year-ago quarter. In its earnings release, the company chalked this increase in sales up to a 14% improvement in its Macau operations, where its revenue rose from $992.1 million to $1.13 billion.

Although Wynn's Macau operations performed well, there was some downside for the company. During the quarter, Wynn saw the revenue of its Las Vegas operations decline 1.5% from $386.6 million last year to $380.9 million this year. In general, forecasts call for casino revenue to fall in the U.S. so this shouldn't serve as a big surprise for investors, but a prolonged downturn could be somewhat problematic for the casino operator.

Source: Wynn Resorts

From a profitability perspective, Wynn did even better. For the quarter, management reported earnings per share of $2.22, which was significantly better than the $2.11 that Mr. Market wanted to see and 11% above the $2.00 that the company saw during the first quarter of 2013. According to the company's release, higher costs in its general, administrative, and casino expenses were offset by declines (in relation to sales) in its depreciation, amortization, and food and beverage expenses.

Can Wynn win against its competition?
Over the past five years, Wynn has done pretty well for itself. Between 2009 and 2013, the company grew its revenue an impressive 85% from $3 billion to $5.6 billion. According to the company's annual reports, this jump in sales stemmed from a modest rise in its Las Vegas operations but it was mostly attributable to a significant increase in its Macau business.

During this five-year period, Wynn's revenue from its Las Vegas operations rose 29% from $1.23 billion to $1.58 billion. While this is a nice growth rate, it's paltry when placed next to the company's Macau operations, which saw their revenue rise 122% from $1.82 billion to $4.04 billion. This rise in sales for the region resulted, in part, from the continued investments the company has made in growing its footprint there but it also stemmed from a rise in the casino industry in that region.

As impressive as Wynn's revenue growth has been, it's nowhere near the growth rate experienced by rivals like Las Vegas Sands and Melco Crown. Over the same five-year time-frame, Las Vegas Sands saw its revenue soar 202% from $4.56 billion to $13.77 billion. Just like Wynn, Las Vegas Sands has seen tremendous growth because of Macau. In fact, over the past year alone, the revenue the company derived from the region grew from 59.1% of sales (or $6.58 billion) to 65.3% (or $8.99 billion).

WYNN Revenue (Annual) Chart

WYNN Revenue (Annual) data by YCharts

Although Las Vegas Sands has been a stronger growth story than Wynn, the fastest-growing casino operator with a great deal of exposure to Macau has been Melco Crown. Over the past five years, the company's revenue has shot up 282% from $1.33 billion in 2009 to $5.09 billion in 2013. Unlike the revenues of Las Vegas Sands and Wynn, all of Melco Crown's revenue comes from the region and this allows management to grow the company's sales at a much quicker pace than either of its major rivals.

However, recognizing that opportunities exist outside of Macau, Melco Crown's management team has been setting up its City of Dreams Manila resort in the Philippines, with an expected opening date this year. While the company will no longer be a regional pure play after this, it's likely that the move will protect its shareholders by diversifying its revenue base and permitting it to compete in less-competitive markets.

Foolish takeaway
Based on the data provided, it's not hard to tell why Mr. Market responded so positively to Wynn's performance. In addition to beating analysts' estimates on both the top and bottom lines, the company's long-term performance has been very impressive. Moving forward, it's likely that Wynn will continue its growth spurt if Macau keeps growing. However, for investors who are looking for faster-growing enterprises, Las Vegas Sands and Melco Crown seem to be very attractive alternatives.

Top dividend stocks for the next decade
With a yield of just over 2%, investors in Wynn get to have a piece of a fast-growing business that also provides some downside protection. However, for all of its benefits, does Wynn have what it takes to keep growing while maintaining strong dividend growth over the next decade or are there better opportunities out there for the Foolish investor?

The smartest investors know that dividend stocks simply crush their non-dividend paying counterparts over the long term. That's beyond dispute. They also know that a well-constructed dividend portfolio creates wealth steadily, while still allowing you to sleep like a baby. Knowing how valuable such a portfolio might be, our top analysts put together a report on a group of high-yielding stocks that should be in any income investor's portfolio. To see our free report on these stocks, just click here now.

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Daniel Jones

Dan is a Select Freelance writer for The Motley Fool. He focuses primarily on the Consumer Goods sector but also likes to dive in on interesting topics involving energy, industrials, and macroeconomics!

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