What: Shares of Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) surged by more than 20% today to lead Macau gaming stocks higher. Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) and Melco Crown (NASDAQ:MLCO), which also get most of their revenue from Macau, also climbed in the double digits, though not as much as Wynn.
So what: The head of the Chinese government's liaison office in Macau, Li Gang, said today that the central government is considering ways to "support Macau's economy in all aspects." What exactly that means is unclear, but it's the first positive comments about Macau we've heard from China in some time, so investors are running with it. Macau would like to expand tourism and is trying to become an entertainment destination, so help on that front from China would be welcome to the gaming industry.
Macau also announced today that gaming revenue fell 33% to $2.1 billion in September, less than half of what was won by casinos at the industry's peak. But it may not have been as bad as investors expected considering the fact that the VIP junket market had reports of theft last month and is crumbling before our eyes. But gamblers are still finding their way to Macau, which would be good for the region's long-term prospects.
Now what: Gaming stocks have been crushed over the past year and Wynn Resorts has taken the brunt of it, which is why it's a big winner today. I wouldn't call this a sign of recovery in Macau, but it may be a turning point for the region. In recent months the pace of gaming declines have slowed sequentially and if the market stabilizes at its current level the region will still be highly profitable.
I think there's a lot of upside for long-term investors here, but patience is necessary and I'd like to see more concrete signs of a recovery than speculative ones before thinking the industry is out of the woods.