For dividend investors, Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) looks like a great bet right now. With its recently raised dividend, the stock now pays $6.00 per share per year, which yields 3.4% at current prices. The stock also comes with a history of consistent special dividends, such as the $1.00-per-share special dividend announced during the most recent quarter.
But does this industry-high dividend yield make Wynn Resorts a best bet now, more so than competitors like Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) and MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM)? The Motley Fool favors looking at both sides of any investment. Here are the bullish and bearish arguments for Wynn Resorts as a dividend investment.
The bull case
Wynn management has been steadily raising its dividend since 2010, nearly consistently once each year. The $0.25-per-share per quarter dividend increase announced in the Q3 earnings release is consistent with the stock's dividend increases since 2010.
It's not only a rising dividend that is helping to make Wynn stock a great dividend investment, but also that it consistently pays special dividends. In the recently reported Q3 earnings, Wynn management announced a separate $1.00 special dividend paid to investors that were on record by Nov. 11.
With consistently rising regular dividends and a history of consistent yearly special dividends, the bull case for Wynn as dividend investment, at an annual dividend yield of 3.4%, looks strong. But before committing to this stock on its dividend alone, let's look at the bearish argument for why Wynn stock itself might not be a winning bet.
The bear case
The bear's case is that Wynn as a company has not been doing so well the last two quarters, with total revenue down 1.5% year over year in the most recent quarter. The company has had a high earnings payout ratio, up to 85% including special dividends. Yet consider that these increases in dividend leading to such a high payout ratio came during a period of growth for the company. If the company cannot continue to raise its revenue and earnings as it has in the past few years, there would be less to payout for dividends.
Similarly, Wynn's dividend yield, the ratio of dividend paid compared to the stock price, has gone up considerably in the last year. While this is partially because of rising dividend payout per share, it's also attributed to a declining stock price. For those who think Wynn's stock can stay steady, or even better, improve back to early 2014 highs, the investment still looks strong. But the bear's case here is that the stock price may still have more room to drop, and getting a larger dividend yield on your investment isn't a good thing if it comes at the expense of your underlying position declining in value.
The reason Wynn's revenue and share price have dropped in the last few quarters, down around 30% from its highs of $247 in March of this year, is substantially lowered VIP revenue in its largest revenue-generating region, Macau, China. This drop in VIP revenue is due to various factors, including more government restrictions on the activity of third-party operators that bring many high-net players to Macau. During the most recent quarter reported, Wynn's total revenue was down 1.5% year over year following a 5.6% revenue drop from its Macau properties.
Wynn is not the only company to face these Macau challenges. Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts are both struggling to turn positive year-over-year revenue growth in Macau as well. Yet while both Macau and Las Vegas seem to have bright futures ahead, Wynn doesn't look like the best bet in either area.
The one thing that shows the most hope for Macau still being the fastest-growing gaming market in the years to come is the growth of the mass market segment there (as opposed to the high-net-worth VIP segment that has been declining). Yet it's Las Vegas Sands that is poised to be the winner on this Macau mass market trend. While each company has a new integrated resort slated to open on Macau's Cotai strip in the next 12-18 months, Las Vegas Sands will offer substantially more hotel rooms, mass gaming tables, and a higher overall number of Cotai properties, which will help the company continue earning much more total Macau revenue than Wynn for years to come.
In Las Vegas, which only accounts for a small portion of Wynn's overall operations, contributing less than a third of the company's total revenue, Wynn did make impressive gains in the recent two quarters. In Q3, Wynn Las Vegas revenue was up 9% year over year. However, MGM Resorts is still the better play on Las Vegas' renewed growth since it has over 10 properties in the city, gets around 50% of its revenue there, and still showed more impressive Vegas results than Wynn.
Bear vs. bull: Is Wynn a buy?
With a steadily rising dividend and history of consistent generous special dividends, Wynn looks like a great dividend stock if you only want to consider its yield value. For investors who think the company can either stay at a level price in the long run, or even regain the price it's lost this year, this continues to look like a strong bet.
But take the bear's case seriously. Based on the competition from Las Vegas Sands in Macau and MGM Resorts in Las Vegas, it's possible Wynn Resorts stock might still have further to fall, which would not make this a very good dividend play right now if the underlying value of the investment continues to drop.
Bradley Seth McNew owns shares of Las Vegas Sands. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.