There's a lot of uncertainty in the industry right now, especially for those with exposure to Macau, the world's largest gaming market. Gambling by high rollers has fallen off a cliff in the past six months due in part to a crackdown on corruption within Mainland China, and partly due to a general slowing of Asia's economic growth. As a result, gaming companies like Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), and Melco Crown (NASDAQ:MLCO), who get most or all of their revenue from Macau have seen their stocks drop.
But amid the uncertainty, there could be an opportunity for investors. There's no way to predict the future of Wynn Resorts' stock, but here are three reasons it could rise in the next year.
China's gaming market recovers
Macau's gaming market has now posted five straight months of declines year over year, and there's now danger that 2014 will be a worse year than 2013. But most indications are that the slowdown will be temporary.
The first thing to point out is that the VIP segment has been the source of the majority of the decline in gaming volume. Mass market players are still coming to Macau in droves, and for casinos they're about four times more profitable than their VIP counterparts. We've seen this impact in recent results from Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands, who didn't see a huge drop-off in profit despite a massive drop in VIP play.
Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson of Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands, respectively, also said the drivers of the slowdown should be temporary in nature. The Chinese government's crackdown on corruption has spooked business owners who would normally take a regular trip to China, delaying some of the gaming that may have normally occurred. Both executives said players will eventually return, but for now, VIP players are choosing to lie low.
Unless the Chinese economy goes into a major recession, I don't think the long-term trend in Macau's gaming market will stay negative for long. And the good news is that mass market players are contributing a larger percentage of gaming revenue, diversifying the customer base. When VIP players do emerge, Wynn Resorts' stock should recover as well.
Wynn Palace brings the next boost to Wynn Resorts
Whether Macau's gaming market grows of not, Wynn's next development should bring a big boost to the company. Wynn Palace is a $4 billion project in the Cotai region of Macau, where Las Vegas Sands, Melco Crown, and Galaxy are drawing tourists with entertainment, hotel rooms, and everything you'd expect from a Las Vegas style mega-resort. It's essentially the Las Vegas Strip of Macau.
Until now, Wynn Resorts has been shut out of Cotai, and this new resort should be even more profitable than its Macau Peninsula resort, which has generated $1.39 billion in EBITDA (a proxy for cash flow) over the past year.
Wynn Palace could provide a significant boost to Wynn Resorts' EBITDA, and if it does, we should see shares rise leading up to opening and after results start coming in. With only one resort in Macau, there's also little chance that Wynn cannibalizes its own resort with Wynn Palace, something Las Vegas Sands can't say for its new resort, The Parisian.
Everything I've talked about so far centers on one place: Macau. But Wynn Resorts also operates in Las Vegas and will soon begin construction on a new resort just outside of Boston.
The Wynn Everett is expected to cost $1.6 billion and will further diversify Wynn's exposure outside of Macau. This is the only casino license available near the downtown area of Boston, and it could generate $200-$300 million in EBITDA once completed.
Las Vegas also shouldn't be forgotten and has provided a steady base as Macau has faltered this year. Steve Wynn said Wynn Las Vegas should easily pass $500 million in EBITDA this year, and it's by far the most profitable resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
U.S. gaming is often forgotten about when it comes to companies that have exposure to Macau, but in Wynn Resorts' case, both Las Vegas and Boston provide significant upside to go along with its two Macau resorts.