Most Americans think of Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) as having helped make the Las Vegas Strip what it is today, with its namesake properties having helped dial up the luxury element for the U.S. gaming capital. Yet like rival Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), Wynn Resorts has increasingly relied on its properties in Macau, Asia's gaming capital, for revenue and profits. Macau has been down and out for a couple of years now, but some believe that a turnaround is near, making it a good time to buy. Let's look at three of the key factors that could push shares of Wynn Resorts higher.
1. Any improvement in the Macau market could help Wynn Resorts.
Macau's plunge in business has hurt Wynn, Las Vegas Sands, and other companies in the region. Wynn has taken an especially hard hit in Macau, posting a 27% decline in segment revenue and a 34% plunge in EBITDA from the Macau market. However, those numbers aren't any worse than the overall performance of the entire Macau area as a whole, and that means that Wynn held onto its market share in the region.
Wynn arguably faced a bigger problem in Macau than Las Vegas Sands because Wynn has focused more on the key VIP market, which has taken an even larger hit than the mass market for gaming. Investigations from China have centered on potential money laundering among these high-roller clients, and that has forced Wynn to retrench and find new avenues for growth. Nevertheless, with CEO Steve Wynn saying that January was Macau's best month in a long time, some think that the downward pressure of the Asian gaming capital might finally ease up.
2. The opening of the Wynn Palace in Macau could end up being well-timed.
Any bounce in Macau would come at a perfect time for Wynn, which expects to open its Wynn Palace on the Cotai Strip in June. Investors expect Wynn Palace to become the company's most profitable resort as soon as it opens, but a large part of what has held back the stock has been uncertainty about whether the project would get off the ground. In particular, Steve Wynn has been extremely critical of the lack of clarity in the process, saying, "It's become a major issue in Macau as to the impact of government policy on and planning for employment, promotions, hiring, and compensation. None of us are really clear on what our environment is going to be like going forward."
Now, though, it appears that the project will be able to gain the traction that investors had hoped to see, and Wynn Palace should help Wynn Resorts eat into Las Vegas Sands' long-held advantage in Macau. Cotai has been a huge growth area in the Asian gaming capital, but Las Vegas Sands has benefited disproportionately from its presence there. Wynn's move will hopefully even the playing field a bit more, and even with heightened competition from other Macau players, Wynn has the opportunity to demonstrate its appeal to customers across the globe.
3. Solid performance in the U.S. is providing stability for Wynn Resorts.
Most investors have gotten so caught up in Macau that they've forgotten about Wynn's operations in the U.S., especially Las Vegas. In its most recent quarter, Wynn saw revenue from Vegas rise a modest 4%, but EBITDA climbed almost 15% as room revenue posted solid gains.
In addition to Vegas, Wynn is expanding elsewhere. Its planned Boston-area Wynn Everett resort has run into plenty of delays and obstacles, but the company still thinks it will open by the end of 2018. Given its proximity to the key New England market, Wynn Everett could give an appreciable boost to Wynn's domestic operations.
Wynn Resorts stock has performed horribly over the past couple of years, but signs of a rebound have some investors excited about its future. If it can get some favorable news on these three fronts, then Wynn Resorts could see its stock climb even further in 2016.