3 Casino Operators Betting on Growth: Melco Crown, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts

They say the house always wins -- and casino operators Melco Crown, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts look well positioned to continue winning over the long term.

Jul 13, 2014 at 10:00AM

Gaming can be an enormously lucrative business for well-run companies in the sector. Melco Crown (NASDAQ:MPEL), Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) are strategically positioned to benefit from booming gaming demand in Macau, the only region in China where gaming is legalized. Investors looking for profitable companies providing exciting growth opportunities may want to consider betting on these casinos.

Melco Crown
Melco Crown is a pure play on Asia, and this makes the company a particularly promising name when it comes to growth opportunities. Melco Crown makes most of its profits from its City of Dreams casino in Macau, while it also operates the smaller Altira Macau in the same region. In addition, Melco Crown owns Mocha Clubs, the largest non-casino-based operation of electronic-gaming machines in Macau.

Mpel Image

Source: Melco Crown.

Regarding growth prospects in Macau, Melco Crown is planning to inaugurate its new Studio City property in mid-2015, and the fifth and final hotel tower at City of Dreams is due to open in early 2017.

Importantly, Melco Crown is planning to inaugurate a new property in the Philippines this year. City of Dreams Manila will be located on an approximately 6.2-hectare site at the gateway to Entertainment City in Manila, and it will offer nearly 365 gaming tables, including VIP and mass-market gaming facilities, in addition to approximately 1,680 slot machines and 1,680 electronic table games.

Melco Crown is performing strongly from a financial point of view: The company delivered a 19% increase in sales during the first quarter of 2014 to $1.36 billion, while adjusted property EBITDA increased 31% to $387.5 million.

Las Vegas Sands
Las Vegas Sands also has operations in the U.S. and Singapore, but the company generates most of its profits from Macau. Las Vegas Sands is a market leader in Macau; management estimates that its market share in terms of hotel room inventory is bigger than the share of the next five biggest gaming operators combined.

Lvs Image

Source: Las Vegas Sands.

Las Vegas Sands plans to continue investing heavily on expansion in Macau over the coming years. The Parisian Macau is expected to be inaugurated in late 2015; this project will be Las Vegas Sands' fifth property on the Cotai Strip and sixth in Macau overall, adding 3,000 rooms to its capacity in the region.

The company intends to have more than 12,600 hotel rooms and apartments in Macau by 2017, giving it a leading market share of 44% of available rooms among gaming operators by that year. Besides, Las Vegas Sands is leveraging its experience and reputation in Asia to explore expansion opportunities in Japan and South Korea.

Lvs Char

Source: Las Vegas Sands.

Las Vegas Sands delivered an increase in revenue of 21.4% in the first quarter of 2014, reaching $4.01 billion. On a hold-normalized basis, adjusted property EBITDA increased 15.2% to $1.37 billion, while diluted earnings per share jumped 37.7%, to $0.95 per share versus $0.69 per share in the first quarter of 2013.

Wynn Resorts
Wynn Resorts operates in Macau and Las Vegas. The company's Macau resort is a destination casino with two luxury hotel towers -- Wynn Macau and Encore -- offering a total of 1,008 rooms and approximately 280,000 square feet of casino space, in addition to retail and entertainment facilities. In Las Vegas, the company operates two luxury hotel towers -- Wynn Las Vegas and Encore -- with a total of 4,748 rooms and approximately 186,000 square feet of casino space.

Wynn Image

Source: Wynn Resorts.

The Company is currently building Wynn Palace in Macau, a fully integrated resort containing a 1,700-room hotel, performance lake, meeting space, casino, spa, retail offerings, and food and beverage outlets on Cotai in Macau. Wynn Resorts expects to inaugurate Wynn Palace in the first half of 2016.

Both in Las Vegas and in Macau, Wynn Resorts is focused on the VIP market. This could mean slower growth in comparison to Melco Crown and Las Vegas Sands, which offer more exposure to the mass market. On the other hand, competitive differentiation in the high-end segment of the market sounds like a smart strategy when it comes to consolidating the company's competitive position in the years ahead.

Wynn Resorts' total revenues in the first quarter of 2014 were $1.51 billion, compared to $1.38 billion in the first quarter of 2013. This was driven by a 14.2% revenue increase in Macau, modestly offset by a 1.5% decline in net revenues in Las Vegas. Adjusted property EBITDA increased 9.7% versus the same quarter in 2013, to $494.6 million.

While Las Vegas has been dragging on performance lately, CEO Steve Wynn is quite optimistic regarding the prospects for a turnaround in 2014: "I must say that this year, for the first time, I'm willing to say that I see Las Vegas getting a footing that it hasn't had quite as clearly in the past."

Foolish takeaway
Gaming is well known for being a highly profitable business, and Melco Crown, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts benefit from enormous potential for growth because of their privileged exposure to Macau. They say the house always wins, and these casino operators look well positioned to continue winning over the long term.

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