Image source: Wynn Resorts. 

Not a lot went right for Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) in the fourth quarter, and investors may not have a lot to cheer about until mid-2016. Macau's high-end VIP players shied away from the region, affecting revenue and earnings, and unless Macau improves quickly, the rest of the year will probably be more of the same.

There are a few bright spots within the numbers, but they're few and far between.

Wynn Resorts may struggle to grow until Wynn Palace opens on Cotai in mid-2016. Image source: Wynn Resorts.

A tale of two cities
Wynn Resorts has two major resorts, one in Las Vegas and the other in Macau, and they showed very different performance in the fourth quarter.

I'll start in Macau, where net revenue fell 32% to $761.2 million and EBITDA fell 35.5% to $241.2 million. Those are terrible numbers; there's no getting around that. But we have to look at this in two different ways for Wynn Resorts.  

At Wynn Macau, VIP play plunged in the quarter, as we should expect in a region where VIP play was down 29% in the fourth quarter. But Wynn was hurt more than most, seeing VIP volume drop 39.9% from a year ago, leveling a major impact on revenue and profits. Given the crackdown on corruption in Mainland China, which has destabilized spending by the wealthy, I don't see a big recovery in this market in 2015.

The mass market was a little different, but it still isn't growing and historically hasn't been Wynn's bread and butter. Mass-market volume was down only 8.3%, compared with a 17.6% decline in Macau's overall mass market volume, but worse luck than Q4 2013 meant that mass-market win fell 15% to $249.0 million.

Wynn is slowly making a transition to the mass market, moving 29 tables from VIPs to the mass market, but it's not the company's main focus, so when VIP play slows, Wynn is going to take a much harder hit than Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) or Melco Crown (NASDAQ:MLCO). We saw that in Q4, and we'll see that in 2015 as a whole.

The good and bad in Las Vegas
In Las Vegas, the story was very mixed for Wynn Resorts. Revenue fell 5.8% to $376.8 million, and EBITDA dropped 10.4% to $111.2 million, but both were driven by casino activity, not by customers abandoning the property.

Casino revenue fell 15.5% in the fourth quarter, in part because Wynn wasn't as lucky as it was a year ago, but also because table game drop was down 11.8% to $639.0 million. Again, high rollers from Asia have pulled back their play, and that's hurting Wynn in Las Vegas.

But the rest of the resort is going gangbusters. Room revenues were up 6.3% to $95.5 million, food and beverage revenues were up 5.4% to $103.3 million, and entertainment and retail revenue were up 0.5% to $57.4 million. So activity is strong at Wynn Las Vegas -- people just aren't gambling as much as they did last year.

The wait is on for Wynn Palace and Wynn Everett
Unless Macau makes a surprise recovery in 2015, the next bright spot for Wynn Resorts will be Wynn Palace's opening in mid-2016 and Wynn's project in Everett, Mass. Wynn Palace is a $4 billion resort that could double the company's profit in Macau, a huge impact on the company. Wynn Everett will be about a $1.75 billion resort near downtown Boston that will diversify Wynn's footprint.

Until these two resorts open, there's not a lot of hope for significant growth unless Macau's gaming market makes a surprise turnaround. I think these projects make the stock attractive long-term, but two years is a long time to wait for a meaningful impact, and in the meantime, Wynn's results will struggle as they did in Q4.