Even With Its Exciting Upcoming Casino, Melco Crown Remains Undervalued


Macau's already incredible skyline is about to get even better. Photo: ChinaTourAdvisors.com

Melco Crown (NASDAQ: MPEL  ) is one of the most profitable and rapidly growing casino companies in Macau. Along with competitors Wynn Resorts  (NASDAQ: WYNN  ) and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS  ) , Melco Crown has made massive gains from the increased visitation and revenue growth of the Macau gaming market. Yet the stock currently looks undervalued for its current strength and future growth prospects. With each of the major companies bringing new casinos to the Cotai strip in Macau in the next two years, here's why you should be excited over Melco Crown's coming Studio City.

The circled area above shows what will be the Melco Crown triangle on the Cotai Strip. Photo: MacauTripping.com

Melco Crown has already proven itself in Macau
Melco Crown currently operates two casinos in Macau: City of Dreams in Macau's main strip called Cotai, and Altira Macau in nearby Taipa. These casinos did very well for the company in the first quarter of this year, which drove the company's revenue up 19% over the first quarter of 2013.

EBITDA itself jumped 31% for the same period, which was driven mainly by an increased focus on mass-market revenue. Analysts at Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, and The Street agree that Melco Crown has very good prospects for continued growth and profit expansion in 2014 and beyond, possibly the best prospects in the industry.

Now, the coming resort will take that to the next level
Now, it's time to get excited about what is coming next, Melco Crown's Studio City casino. This integrated resort with a cinematic theme on the Cotai strip is set to be better than anything Melco Crown has produced yet, with 500 gaming tables, more than 1,500 slot machines, a five-star hotel, shopping mall, and more. Analysts at both Citigroup and Deutsche Bank have said that Studio City will be the "best situated" resort on the Cotai strip, as it will be directly adjacent to the Lotus Bridge that connects the strip to mainland China and a proposed stop for the new intercity light rail coming next year.

Melco Crown's CEO Lawrence Ho continues to lead the company's growth prospects. Photo: Bloomberg

Melco Crown CEO Lawrence Ho is excited as well. He said:

We are extremely excited about our newest integrated resort in Macau, which remains firmly on track to open in mid-2015. The property's cinematic theme and vast array of unique entertainment and attractions will enhance Macau's appeal as a leading tourist destination in Asia.

But competition is coming from other major players
Las Vegas Sands has been aggressively growing in Macau since it arrived, and is continuing to do so. Sands is now developing its third attraction in the area, The Parisian, which will open in 2015 as well. This resort will be the biggest of the new resorts coming to Cotai, at least in terms of the number of guests it can hold, with over 3,000 hotel rooms and suites, around 450 table games, 2,500 slots, a retail mall, and a replica of the Eiffel Tower at 50% scale. 


The Parisian promises to be an impressive resort with a 50% scaled Eiffle Tower. Photo: Las Vegas Sands

CEO Steve Wynn introduces the vision for the new resort on the Cotai strip back in 2012. Photo: Reuters

Wynn Resorts, not to be left out, also has a new casino resort coming to the Cotai strip in the next 18 months. The $4 billion Wynn Palace on Cotai has an expected opening date in 2016. Wynn's resort will include a 1,700-room hotel, a performance lake which will put the one in Las Vegas to shame, and much more.

While it has fewer rooms than Las Vegas Sands' new resort, the 1,700 extra rooms will help Wynn take advantage of one of its best operational highlights: nearly full hotel occupancy. One major operating highlight of Wynn's first-quarter earnings was that the company raised its hotel room occupancy rate to 98.1% from 93% in the year-ago period.

Foolish Investment takeaway: Great company, undervalued stock
Melco Crown has already been rewarded for its great operations in Macau, but is set to see an even bigger jump in profits when its Studio City casino opens next year. The current price in the low $30s, even at a price-to-earnings multiple of around 21, looks like a bargain when compared with Deutsche Bank's price target of $55.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts were at the same level only a couple of years ago before their shares each shot up following incredible growth and profits in Macau. Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts are now pricier than Melco Crown at P/E ratios of 24 and 26, respectively. Based on its already strong revenue growth and the exciting new casino Studio City on the way, now might be a good time for Foolish investors to play Melco Crown.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2014, at 1:21 PM, spokanimal wrote:

    The circled picture in your article is NOT a picture of coati.

    Also, Studio City has yet to be granted a gaming license, even though it has sought one for years.

    Spokanimal

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2014, at 2:22 PM, spokanimal wrote:

    The circled photo isn't a picture of Cotai.

    Also, Studio City does not (yet) have a gaming license.

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2014, at 2:23 PM, spokanimal wrote:

    Comment #1 didn't show up for an hour on this site. Now, there are 2, redundant comments.

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2014, at 3:48 PM, ObieJuan wrote:

    BSM,

    I am also looking for good things to happen to MPEL and it's future expansion plans for Asian gaming! (Manila, Japan ect.)

    Please advise the spokanimal that none of the license's have been granted future gaming tables or slots at this time. This maybe because MAC$CASH$COW is trying to deal with it's current massive growth.

    Being as MPEL is a China company I do not believe they will have a problem obtaining the licenses needed!

    ZOMBIE ON FOOL'S Obie Juan

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2014, at 4:04 PM, xxatrm wrote:

    Apparently MSC Does NOT have a Casino License and according to Macau no new Gaming Licences will be issued until 2017.

    L. HO has NOT mentioned a Casino License or a number of Gaming Tables in his last 2 conference statements, here's part of one of them as in the above article:

    "We are extremely excited about our newest integrated resort in Macau, which remains firmly on track to open in mid-2015. The property's cinematic theme and vast array of unique entertainment and attractions will enhance Macau's appeal as a leading tourist destination in Asia."

    Note No Specific mention of a Gaming License, he just mentions forms of entertainment.

    I'm quessing they may have to wait until 2017 to apply for a gaming license..

    On the other hand the Parisian being built by LVS has a Gaming License.

  • Report this Comment On June 19, 2014, at 4:08 PM, xxatrm wrote:

    Furthermore Ctit and other major analysts have mentioned a Gaming Licencewhen talking about MPEL and they may be wrong. If these analysts are wrong it goes to show you hoe ignorant they are to the Gambling Industry.

    If someone out there can show me somewhere or an article saying MPEL Definately has a Gaming License I would like to see it.

  • Report this Comment On June 20, 2014, at 8:00 AM, sethmcnew wrote:

    Hi Spokanimal - Thank you, good eye on the picture, and you are absolutely right. Completely my mistake for the picture, which is actually Avenida de Amizade strip, not Cotai.

    As for the gaming license, and possibly not getting it in time for the 2015 opening - the Studio City integrated resort could still function without the gaming as a place to house the growing number of visitors to Melco Crown/Macau on its opening in 2015. Is there much likelihood that the resort will be completely denied the license and never be allowed gaming? Very little, and thus for us long term investors, I think this is still a very good bet even if the gaming license were to take a little longer than expected.

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