MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) stock is down slightly since its second-quarter report, even though MGM beat analyst earnings per share estimates by a full 75% with higher-than-expected results in Las Vegas. Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) also posted a strong Q2, though it missed analyst expectations and has thus been hit even harder in the recent dip, down around 15% since its July 16 earnings release. If investors are still confident about this industry and MGM Resorts' role in it, here are three reasons MGM resorts stock could rise soon.
1. The Vegas comeback story
One major highlight of MGM Resorts' Q2 earnings report in August was the company's stronger-than-expected growth in Las Vegas. While most gaming companies have been almost exclusively focused on growing in Asia in the past few years, particularly in Macau. Some are now calling this uptick in MGM's Las Vegas earnings part of the "Las Vegas Comeback".
MGM Resorts has 10 Strip properties in Las Vegas, including its famous MGM Grand, Bellagio, The Mirage, and more. Revenue from MGM Resorts' U.S. wholly owned resorts was up 6% over Q2 last year, with EBITDA at domestic properties up 10% over the same time. Credit Suisse gaming analyst Joel Simkins reportedly said in a research note that "MGM remains the most compelling way for investors to play a Vegas recovery paired with growth in Macau."
2. Better room rates, occupancy, and all around non-gaming growth
MGM's growth in Las Vegas is largely due to revenue from its non-gaming operations, primarily the Las Vegas hotel business that comprises about 30% of MGM's total EBITDA. MGM's U.S. hotels posted average daily rates of about $108 in 2011, but that figure has grown to over $130 this year. That's still below pre-2008 recession levels, but some analysts expect average daily rates to reach record levels of $160 by 2017, and $185 by 2020.
Also, the company has been expanding its occupancy rate in the past few years to over 90%. However, that's still quite a distance from its 96% peak in 2007, and heavy competition in Vegas could put increased downward pressure on room rates and occupancy load.
3. MGM's potential for gain in Asia
While the Vegas Comeback is exciting, consider that total gaming revenues from Las Vegas are still less than 15% of those in Macau. Also, while Macau's growth has certainly slowed this summer, the year-end estimated revenue growth in Macau is still higher than that of Las Vegas and Macau could prove to be the biggest gaming revenue growth driver this year and beyond.
MGM Resorts is also betting on Macau, with its newest resort slated to open on Cotai in 2016. The $2.6 billion resort will complement MGM's existing Macau property on the other side of the island, with more hotel rooms, luxury hotel suites, and other attractions such as an entertainment and retail complex.
However, other companies in Macau will be tough competition for MGM, especially on the Cotai Strip. Las Vegas Sands is already the company with the most hotel rooms and gaming revenue on the Cotai Strip. Now, Sands new resort, The Parisian, could be Las Vegas Sands' most profitable resort yet. 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 resort will certainly be impressive when it opens in 2015.
Foolish final bet: Is MGM stock a good play now?
MGM does look like a valuable play right now. With good prospects to win on the Vegas Comeback, increasing average daily rates and non-gaming revenue at its U.S. locations, and a new resort coming to Macau with increased opportunity for more profits in Asia, MGM Resort's stock price could rise. This is especially true considering that MGM's stock price is still below what it was when the company reported positive Q2 earnings last month.
However, other companies in the industry have been beaten down lately as well, particularly Las Vegas Sands, which is down over 15% in the past two months. Yet having reported its strongest revenue and earnings YoY growth in Q2, showing the most exciting new resort in Macau, and having the best prospects for winning a bid in Japan, Las Vegas Sands still looks to be an even better value play now.
Bradley Seth McNew owns shares of Apple and Las Vegas Sands. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.