CEO Steve Wynn doesn't give a lot of interviews, so when he talks, investors should listen. After Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) reported fourth-quarter results, he gave some candid answers about the state of Wynn Resorts, upcoming projects, and even his own recent stock purchases. Below are the highlights from the call. (All transcript quotes are from Steve Wynn, via Seeking Alpha.)
Macau is improving
I think probably what is interesting is to say that January in Macau, if I can anticipate some of the questions, was our best month in a long time. Happy to say so.
Since Macau's gaming market entered its free fall in mid-2014, there have been questions about where the bottom is. Over the past six months or so, gaming revenue has stabilized and there's been hope that we've hit bottom. Wynn saying that January was great ahead of the opening of Wynn Palace is exactly what Wynn Resorts needs.
Wynn Palace is due in June
We are working with our contractor to get them to catch up so that we will have an opening in June. They believe they will make the June 25 date, which was the contract date of our relationship with our builder, and it is possible they could be late, but hopefully they won't be.
At one time, there was some hope Wynn Palace would open early in January, but construction delays prevented that from happening. As it stands today, construction contractors will meet the original construction deadline of June 25.
This is a key resort for Wynn Resorts' long-term plans because it's the company's first foray into the Cotai region of Macau. This could quickly become Wynn's best-performing resort and getting it up and running in 2016 will be a big step forward for investors.
The next expansion is also under way
We're going to start work in Boston, hard construction. We are doing remediation at the moment. We've come to happy terms with our neighbors in Boston. And that was a relief. And now we are going to proceed with constructing this wonderful destination resort in Boston metropolitan area in Everett, and benefit I hope people throughout the region, and have a very exciting hotel to boot.
Everett, Mass., very near downtown Boston, is Wynn Resorts' next expansion project and it's been a contentious battle to get the building approved. Boston's mayor fought the projects and so did competitors who didn't win the gaming bid. Now, court battles appear to be over and Wynn Everett will soon enter full construction.
The move to Boston is a gamble for Wynn and comes with a hefty $1.7 billion price tag. The city is a new gaming market and we don't quite know how residents will respond or if visitors will want to gamble at the resort. But Steve Wynn thinks it's another wise bet and it'll be completed sometime in late 2018.
Wynn Las Vegas is getting another facelift
Well, currently, we've got a project that is going to start in the spring right here in Las Vegas. We sold our Ferrari dealership to the Rolls-Royce dealer in town, Roger Penske and I. And reclaiming that valuable space we are moving poker over to Encore. And starting at the casino corner where the ticket counter is now for the showrooms, we are going to have retail and a new retail mall that goes through where Ferrari was and a two-story building with a beautiful glass roof, an atrium kind of structure, that has 75,000 feet of rentable space. And we expect that we will pick up somewhere between $20 million and $25 million in extra income and probably $0.30 worth of new payroll.
The Ferrari dealership was once a draw for customers to Wynn Las Vegas, but Wynn thinks he can make more money on the space with more retail space. This will open up about 300 feet of space on the Las Vegas Strip, which was largely unused by the dealership. Watch for the potential financial improvement in late 2016 because this could be a big financial benefit for very little risk from Wynn.
On stock purchases
My view is that I like Wynn Resorts especially because I think that management is great. But I like the stock, I like the stock a lot, and I bought it on what I thought was an extreme weakness in price. That's my own personal opinion. I don't give investment advice, nor do I have any -- there is no inside information in this company. We tell you everything including I just reported the first week and a half of February.
Wynn has been a big buyer of his own company's stock recently, adding more than 10% to his personal position in the company. That can often be seen as a bullish sign for a stock because insiders -- and in this case, the founder -- know more about what's going on in a business than anyone else.
I think this was an opportunistic buy ahead of the opening of Wynn Palace later this year. When that property opens it will add significant revenue and earnings to the company and should boost the stock price. At the very least, investors should be happy that Steve Wynn is very bullish on his company long-term.