It's not widely known but Cambodia is expected to become one of Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economies over the next several years. In fact, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates impressive GDP growth of 6.8% in 2019 and 6.7% in 2020. So what's driving this? A large part of what's supporting Cambodia's economy is the growth of intra-regional tourism, due in part to easier connectivity.
It is also one of the most exciting growth stories within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional club of 10 countries that houses a population of over 640 million. As an economic bloc, ASEAN's GDP of USD $3 trillion would represent the fifth-largest country on the planet, bigger than the UK.
Looking more broadly at individual stocks, this growth in Cambodia should benefit NagaCorp Ltd (SEHK: 3918), a Hong Kong-listed owner, manager, and operator of the largest integrated gaming and hotel complex in the country – NagaWorld. Here are four reasons why NagaCorp is set to continue growing its bottom line.
1. Cambodia's booming visitor growth led by China tourists
Supporting Cambodia's economic growth outlook is the rapid ascent of the country's tourism sector. Cambodia welcomed 6.2 million visitors in 2018, a 10.7% increase from 2017, which represented the third-largest increase in international tourists in ASEAN, behind Vietnam and Indonesia. Leading this growth are visitors from China, which account for more than a third of the total, overtaking Vietnamese visitors in 2017. Cambodia's tourism represents only a fraction of its ASEAN neighbours. This is headed up by Thailand (38 million visitors), Malaysia (23 million), and Singapore (16 million).
By 2020, Cambodia is expected to welcome seven million visitors, with at least two million coming from China. Improving geopolitical ties between the two countries could see five million Chinese tourists visiting Cambodia by 2025.
2. Monopoly position until 2035 and casino license until 2065
Besides the tropical climate and historical sites attracting tourists to Cambodia, Asia's growing gaming market will be another pull factor for the region. For NagaCorp, the company's flagship complex NagaWorld, is Phnom Penh's only integrated hotel-casino entertainment complex, and is in the enviable position of having a 70-year casino license that runs until 2065.
Additionally, until 2035, NagaWorld is the only casino allowed to operate with a 200-kilometre radius of Phnom Penh (except the Cambodia-Vietnam border area, Bokor, Kirirom Mountains and Sihanoukville). Effectively, NagaCorp runs a gaming monopoly.
3. Targeting profitable mass market segment
While Singapore and Macau offer premium gaming accommodations and facilities for its gaming players, NagaWorld has traditionally focused on the mass and premium mass market, a higher profit margin segment since there are no junkets – operators that facilitate gamers into the casinos. Furthermore, with the opening of Naga2, a neighbouring complex to NagaWorld that opened in 2017, the company has been able to increase its VIP services and gross gaming revenue. However, this has come without margin pressure at the bottom line or any cannibalization at its original site; Naga 1.
4. A five-year net profit CAGR of 23%
On the financials side, NagaCorp has achieved a record net profit of USD $390.6 million in 2018, a 53% increase from the previous year. This number has expanded each year since 2014, with an eye-catching five-year Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23%.
Betting on the future
Strong fundamentals and an appealing economic backdrop should continue to help NagaCorp's growth story in the years to come. Overall, the stock offers a particularly interesting way for investors looking to expand their exposure to Asia's fastest-growing economies while at the same time also tapping into the exciting Chinese tourism theme.
A version of this article was written by Tim Phillips and originally appeared on our Fool Asia site. For more coverage like this head over to Fool.hk.en