The turnaround story at MGM Resorts
In the first quarter, the net loss grew to $203.3 million from $89.9 million a year ago as the company incurred some one-time charges and costs grew faster than expected.
MGM China was the rock star, which shouldn't surprise anyone. Revenue was up 18% to $702 million and EBITDA grew 21%, excluding branding fees, to $165 million. That's about in line with Las Vegas Sands' property EBITDA growth in Macau, so the resort seems to be performing on par with peers.
But as solid as MGM China is, CityCenter is just the opposite. The most ill-timed development in gaming generated just $32 million in EBITDA and resulted in a $18.6 million loss from operations for MGM. This comes after writing down most of the CityCenter assets over the last few years.
Debt looms heavy
My biggest problem with the two big players in Las Vegas, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment
Missing out on Cotai
The hottest spot in gaming right now is Cotai, where Las Vegas Sands currently rules and Melco Crown
To buy or not to buy?
There are a lot of numbers to consider above, but the investment case comes down to just one question: Is MGM Resorts growing fast enough to overcome its debt burden?
I just can't see a great argument that it is, considering how slowly the economy is recovering. Results are showing an improvement, there's no doubt about that, but it's just not moving very quickly and even analysts are expecting losses to continue through 2013. There are better buys in gaming and certainly less risky bets at this point in the game.
MGM may not be a great buy right now, but our analysts have identified a stock they like so much they've called it the top stock of 2012. It's highlighted in a report you can find here, and the best thing is that the report is free.
Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.
The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.