MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) was the only major U.S. gaming company to announce rising total year-over-year revenue in the third quarter, ahead of Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN). In its conference call with analysts, MGM's management talked more about what is going on with the company, including what's happening in Las Vegas and China. Here are five key quotes from MGM Resorts' third-quarter conference call.
1. The Las Vegas recovery and why it matters
Las Vegas' gross gaming revenue is approaching its highest point since 2007. Since MGM collects more than half of its total revenue from Vegas, compared to under 25% for Sands and Wynn, the regrowth here is especially important for MGM.
In the third quarter, MGM posted top-line revenue growth of 3% from Las Vegas operations, which helped the company to post 1% total revenue growth year over year amid competitors' year-over-year revenue declines. As MGM CEO James Murren said during the company's conference call:
October consumer confidence was at a seven-year high. That's very important for us here in Las Vegas. People, in general, are feeling better with not only job security, the low interest rate environment, declining gas prices, and we're seeing that reflected in visitation and convention business. ... It's hard to believe now after being in 2009 and '10, but year to date, our visitation is up 4% for Las Vegas and this pace will mean that we're approaching 41 million visitors by year-end. That, of course, would be a new record for Las Vegas.
2. Nongaming revenue is a big part of that recovery
Nongaming revenue, as opposed to revenue that comes from the actual casino floor, is a key reason MGM is performing well in Las Vegas. One example of this is the company's hotel revenue.
"On the hotel side, our REVPAR [revenue per available room] growth of 6% exceeded our guidance of 5%. And this was our eighth consecutive quarter of REVPAR growth," said MGM CFO Daniel D'Arrigo during the conference call.
The company expects 5% growth in REVPAR again in the fourth quarter, and to keep this momentum going in 2015. This is important to MGM as it has more hotel rooms in Las Vegas than any other company. In fact, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, with nearly 6,200 rooms, is reportedly the largest hotel in the world.
3. MGM continues to see its Las Vegas investments pay off
With MGM's growth this year in Las Vegas, the company is happy to continue investing there and to remain the biggest gaming company in the city. In the earnings call, Murren noted that MGM's work on many of its properties on the Las Vegas Strip is starting to pay off.
In Las Vegas, we continue to make important investments where we see opportunity. The remodeling of The Hotel to the Delano is truly a transformation at Mandalay Bay. That was completed at the end of September. That launch has been very successful and has garnered outstanding publicity and interest.
4. MGM is still investing in China
Macau is still by far more profitable than Las Vegas, regardless of slowing gaming revenue growth in the Chinese special administrative region this year. MGM in the third quarter actually posted better EBITDA growth in Macau than in Vegas, notching EBITDA of $214 million for MGM China.
"We had very robust mass market growth at MGM China and an increase in its EBITDA of 12%," Murren said. "We continue to believe in the long-term future of Macau."
MGM's new $2.9 billion resort in Macau, set to open at the end of 2016, illustrates the company's willingness to continue betting on the Chinese gambling mecca. MGM's resort on the Cotai Strip will be the final resort to open in this phase of Cotai development, a few months after Las Vegas Sands' The Parisian and Wynn Resorts' Wynn Palace, which are scheduled to open between late 2015 and early 2016.
5. MGM is betting on one particular segment of the Chinese gaming market
Macau has been hit hard in the last two quarters because revenue from the VIP segment has been fallen drastically in 2014. However, most companies there are now making their biggest bet on the mass-market segment of Chinese gamers, which is expanding rapidly in Macau. Speaking on MGM China's third quarter, MGM China Holdings CEO Grant Bowie said during the conference call:
Very pleasingly, EBITDA margin increased by 330 basis points year-over-year to 26.9%. Our increased profit was driven primarily by our main floor table games. MGM China's main floor table games win [mass market win] increased by 34% year-over-year. This is a significant over performance versus the market growth of 16%. Our continued strength in this segment is driven by the appeal of the MGM brand, our property and our quality services.
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