Manny Pacquiao Fight and Grand Prix Drive November Revenue Growth in Macau


November Gambling Revenue Growth in Macau Tops Estimates

On the heels of  a record setting October, gambling revenues in Macau rose 21.3% year-over-year during November to $3.78 billion, topping analyst expectations once again. During the month Macau hosted their annual two week long Grand Prix event and a Manny Pacquiao boxing match at Las Vegas Sands’ (LVS) Venetian Macao resort, attracting more VIPs than anticipated as the region continues to diversify their entertainment options and find new ways to attract wealthy gamblers. Melco Crown (MPEL) and Las Vegas Sands are best positioned to capitalize on this trend with their strong presence on the rapidly growing Cotai Strip, Macau’s version of Las Vegas Blvd. Given the revenue reports out of Macau the past two months, the major casino operators are well on their way to topping analyst estimates during the 4th quarter and continue outperforming the broad markets.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) Expansion Continues With The Parisian Macau

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) Seeking $1.5 billion loan to support Macau growth

Despite opening the massive Sands Cotai Central resort  in Macau just last year, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) is already looking ahead to their next mega-casino/resort, The Parisian Macau. Scheduled to open in 2015, The Parisian Macau will add over 3,000 hotel rooms and suites to the Cotai Strip and will feature an Eiffel Tower replica and shopping mall in addition to a massive casino floor. Las Vegas Sands has pegged The Parisian’s development costs at $2.7 billion, and it has been reported that they have been seeking a $1.5 billion loan to help fund the project. Also requiring capital is the St. Regis phase of the Sands Cotai Central Resort, expected to cost $450 million. Management of LVS has been prudent in managing their balance sheet, returning capital to shareholders while taking advantage of the availability of cheap capital and borrowing when needed to fund growth. The Parisian will add to Las Vegas Sands’ already industry leading presence in Macau, joining The Venetian Macao, Sands Macao, Sands Cotai Central, and The Plaza Macao.

In a note to clients Monday, Wells Fargo analyst Cameron McKnight estimated gambling revenue growth in Macau of  19%- 21% this month based on data collected the first week and a half. A strong November would set Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts (WYNN), Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL), and MGM Resorts (MGM) up for another very good quarter on the heels of an October that generated historic amounts of revenue, up 32% year-over-year. I am very bullish on Macau and expect the amazing growth rates out of the region to continue for the foreseeable future as infrastructure and transportation to Macau improves and the Chinese middle class continues to emerge. I currently view both LVS and MPEL as strong buys and the best positioned of the casino operators in Asia.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

City of Dreams Macau Growth Fuels Record Quarter for Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL)

Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) Beats Estimates Once Again as City of Dreams Macau Continues to Dominate the Premium Mass Market

Having seen great quarterly reports from Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) come out the past couple weeks, it should come as no surprise that Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) once again beat estimates and reported record numbers. During Q3 2013 Melco Crown’s revenues grew 24% year-over-year to $1.25 billion, generating earnings per share of $0.33, a 68% increase. Adjusted EBITDA of $315 million represented a 39% jump from last year’s numbers, as City of Dreams continued to experience rapid growth in the mass market table games segment. Some highlights from their properties…

  • City of Dreams Macau net revenue was $958 million, up from $747 million in Q3 2012.
  • City of Dreams Macau Adjusted EBITDA of $298 million, up 46% from $204 million last year.
  • City of Dreams Macau mass table games revenue grew 73% year-over-year, the primary driver of the improvement in Adjusted EBITDA.
  • Altira Macau revenue was $242 million, up from $216 million.
  • Altira Macau Adjusted EBITDA remained at $30 million, flat from Q3 2012.
  • Mocha Clubs revenues grew 9% to $40 million, Adjusted EBITDA increased 20% to $11 million.

MPEL Update on Progress at Studio City Macau and City of Dreams Manila

Melco Crown’s CEO Lawrence Ho also provided an update on the status of their two major projects, Studio City Macau and City of Dreams Manila…

Studio City remains on budget and on track to open in mid-2015 with clear progress being made on the main superstructure following the successful completion of the foundation and piling work. This cinematically-themed integrated resort located in Cotai represents a powerful and complementary addition to our current portfolio of operating assets in Macau, offering a unique array of entertainment and interactive attractions which will cater to a broad range of customers in Macau and help drive diversification of the Macau economy.

We recently announced City of Dreams Manila as the brand of our integrated casino resort in the Philippines which, together with an ultra-luxurious Crown Towers branded hotel, demonstrates our commitment and confidence in this exciting leisure and entertainment market. We believe our experience in developing and operating integrated resorts in Asia, our unique competitive position in the VIP segments and experience in delivering world-class entertainment, together with our strong local partner, means we are in a unique position to capitalize on the economic growth in the Philippines and the region, and support the Philippine Government’s leisure and tourism objectives.

City of Dreams Manila is Melco Crown Entertainment’s first foray outside of Macau, representing the next step in our mission of becoming the leading gaming and entertainment company in the region. We continue to investigate opportunities in other key Asian markets where they meet our strict approach to the deployment of capital, including Japan.

The mention of Japan is noteworthy as many believe a casino bill will be passed during the next legislative session, as a means of housing and providing more entertainment to tourists in anticipation of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a supporter of the casino bill, expected to generate $10 billion a year in economic benefits, and his high approval ratings significantly increase the likelihood of the it being passed. Many analysts see Japan becoming the second biggest gaming market in the world should the bill go through, surpassed by only Macau. Melco Crown stated in September that they would invest more than $5 billion in Japan casino resorts if granted permission to do so. The opening of Studio City Macau and City of Dreams Manila will drive huge growth for Melco Crown alone, but the possibility of  a Japan property should be viewed as a huge potential catalyst for shares. Melco Crown Entertainment has a bright future and we expect them to continue to outperform as Macau continues to thrive. Their strong quarterly results support our prior recommendation of MPEL, and they remain one of our top picks.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Macau Gambling Revenues Reach Record High In October

Gambling Revenues In Macau Grow 32% During October

After seeing very strong 3rd quarter  results from Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN), it appears the momentum in Macau is still picking up steam. During October, gambling revenues in the region totaled $4.6 billion, the highest monthly total in history. During the Chinese Golden Week holiday, historically one of the most profitable weeks of the year in Macau, visitors from mainland China increased by 10.7% year-over-year. This jump can be attributed to the continued rise of the “mass-market” segment, composed of China’s growing middle class. These visitors are coming in higher numbers and spending more money than ever, a huge positive for the industry as it reduces the casino operator’s reliance on the more volatile VIP market, made up of super wealthy “whale” gamblers. Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) stands to be a big beneficiary of this trend as their City of Dreams Macau property is the dominant player is the mass-market sector. Hotels were near full capacity for the Golden Week despite the cheapest five-star room on the Cotai Strip priced at $737 per night. With such a strong start to the 4th Quarter in Macau, LVS, MPEL, WYNN and MGM are well positioned to outperform expectations for Q4 2013.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

MGM Resorts (MGM) Fails To Turn A Profit Despite Improving Operations

MGM Resorts (MGM) Tops Revenue Estimates, Misses on Earnings

While growth in the Macau gaming market propelled Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) results past analyst expectations, MGM Resorts (MGM) failed to keep that trend intact when the reported Q3 numbers before today’s opening bell. Revenues grew 9% year-over-year to $2.46 billion, topping expectations of $2.4 billion. Earning came up short though as MGM lost $0.07 on the quarter, missing the street’s consensus by $0.04, despite seeing  Adjusted Property EBITDA for the quarter grow 24% to $546 million.

MGM’s Macau operations continued to perform well as expected, nearly doubling their operating income to $114 million. The MGM Macau alone generated more revenue for the company than The Bellagio, MGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay combined. Their Las Vegas operations did show signs of improvement however, with revenues and operating income up slightly year-over-year on improved occupancy and average daily rates.

MGM’s Debt Burden Limits Their Potential

The real handcuff for MGM Resorts comes in the form of massive amounts of debt on their balance sheet. Despite vastly improved operations the past few years, MGM’s debt burden amassed during the economic downturn has left the company with exorbitant interest expenses. For the 3rd quarter the company’s operating income of $247 million just barely exceeded the $210 million in interest expenses for the period. With a market cap of $9.2 billion and a total debt load of over $13 billion, this is not a problem that will go away anytime soon. Despite being extremely bullish on the Macau casino industry, MGM is the one domestically traded operator in the sector worth avoiding. With significantly more exposure to Las Vegas than their peers, limited growth prospects until 2016 when they open their Macau Cotai property, and a huge debt issue that will weigh on earnings for years and years to come, MGM looks destined to be the worst in class of the major casino operators for the foreseeable future. Melco Crown (MPEL), Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts all present a better investment opportunity than MGM does.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Wynn Resorts (WYNN) Follows Las Vegas Sands’ (LVS) Lead And Blows Out Q3 Estimates

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) Continue to Thrive in Macau

The Macau gaming industry continues to remain our favorite sector. The Q3 numbers released by both Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) in the past week reaffirm this thesis. Las Vegas Sands kicked off the Macau earnings on the 17th, reporting earnings of $0.78 per share on revenue of $3.57 billion, analysts had predicted $0.75 EPS and $3.46 billion in revenue. Following today’s close WYNN reported revenues of $1.39 billion and $1.84 EPS, easily surpassing the $1.37 billion in revenues and $1.66 earnings per share that the street was looking for.

Wynn’s Growth Solid But Will Remain Limited Until Wynn Palace Opens in 2016

While Wynn’s numbers continue to impress, it is worth noting that their growth prospects are limited until 2016 when they open the Wynn Palace on Macau’s Cotai strip. Until then expect growth rates near 10% as they continue to refine their Macau operations and gross gaming revenues for the region as a whole remain growing nearly 20% annually. The Wynn Palace project sports a $4 billion budget and is expected to be one of the most impressive properties in Macau when construction is completed, featuring one of the biggest casino floors in the region and a 1,700 room hotel.

U.S. operations continued to remain stagnant as the Las Vegas gaming market continues to struggle. Revenues were up 1% year over year for the quarter totaling $392.5 million. Adjusted property EBITDA was $106.5 million, down 3.5% from the past year.

Las Vegas Sands Firing On All Cylinders In Macau and Singapore

CEO Sheldon Adelson reported that their Macau property portfolio attracted over 16 million visitors in the past quarter, generating revenue of $2.34 billion and $784 million of adjusted property EBITDA. The Venetian Macao remained their top property in terms of sales and profitability, generating revenues of $935 billion and $317 million of operating income. Sands Cotai Central, the newest property in the Sands China portfolio, looks poised to overtake The Venetian as their most valuable casino in Macau. After opening their second phase, Sands Cotai Central experienced revenue growth of 149% year over year in the most recent quarter, swelling to $736 million in Q3. A third phase is expected to include a St. Regis hotel and branded residences, which will only drive further profitability. The Four Seasons Hotel Macao also continued to perform for LVS, with revenues up 47% and EBITDA up 107.5%. The only slacker in the Sands China portfolio was the dated Sands Macao, which still grew EBITDA 11% year over year despite revenues falling by 3% to $305 million.

Pictured above, Marina Bay Sands is the most impressive and expensive property in the LVS portfolio, and surprisingly to some resides in Singapore not Macau. Opened in 2011 and carrying a price tag of S$8 billion, Marina Bay Sands’ operating results continue to justify management’s decision to invest so heavily in the project. As one of only two licensed casino operators in Singapore, Las Vegas Sands stands to benefit greatly from the swelling in wages and net worth in the city-state. Revenues at Marina Bay Sands grew 24% during Q3, while adjusted property EBITDA jumped 43% to $373.6 million. Having lived in Singapore this year I can personally attest to the marvel that this casino/ resort is, and have witnessed first hand the huge appetite for gambling that exists in Singapore.

LVS and WYNN Results Bode Well for MGM and MPEL

We now look ahead to MGM Resorts (MGM) reporting on October 31st and Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) on November 5th to round out another strong earnings season in Macau. Already displaying great strength throughout the year, look for MGM and MPEL to also exceed consensus estimates this quarter on the heels of gross gaming revenues for Macau as a whole beating expectations the past few months. Initial numbers from Golden Week in Macau also came in ahead of expectations as reported two weeks ago and could lead to upward estimate revisions for Q4. Previously the subject of a feature report, Melco Crown Entertainment remains our top pick in the sector.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Golden Week Gaming Revenues Up In Macau

Macau Casinos Continue to Outperform During Golden Week: LVS, MGM, MPEL, WYNN

The Golden Week holiday in China is one of the biggest weeks of the year for Macau historically and this year proved no different based on preliminary data from Macau officials. Gaming revenues for the first 6 days of October were up 18- 22% year over year. Analysts were looking for a 16-21% hike in revenues. The average daily table win for the first six days of October in Macau was HKD $1.68 billion, a 30% increase from the same period last year. According to Nomura Securities analysts Harry Curtis, Louise Cheung, and Brian Dobson…

Mass headcount and play levels remain strong, which we think should continue. We estimate mass table revenues could be up 31-34% YoY for the month, which is just above recent trend of 30-32%.

Adding to a very strong September, numbers for Macau continue their trend of coming in stronger than expected. In no surprise to those with an understanding of the Macau market, tourist arrivals during the Golden Week were up 4.7% year over year, despite a ban on ‘zero-fare’ travel packages from mainland China. October is supposed to be a record month in Macau for Las Vegas Sands (LVS), MGM Resorts (MGM), Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN), and the first weeks result do nothing to indicate otherwise. I remain bullish on the entire sector and MPEL remains our favorite play in Macau out of the group. Numerous other analysts have reiterated or raised their ratings on the group, all echoing bullish sentiment. Citi also named MPEL as their top pick last week.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Strong September for Macau Casinos


Gaming Revenues Continue to Grow In Macau: LVS, MGM, MPEL, WYNN

Capping off another strong month for Macau Casinos, the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau reported that gross gaming revenue for the month of September rose 21.4% year over year, versus a 12.3% rise in September 2012. For the year, Macau gaming revenues are up a robust 16.7%, as most month’s revenue figures year to date have exceeded expectations. Both the VIP and mass market segments have been strong. This bodes well for Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL), Wynn Resorts (WYNN), Las Vegas Sands (LVS), and MGM Resorts (MGM). MPEL remains our favorite of the group, possessing the best growth prospects, cleanest balance sheet, and is currently the only Macau pure play listed on US markets. In the most recent quarter, 70% of WYNN revenues came from Macau operations, 64% for LVS, while MGM generated only 34% of net revenues in Macau. Expect to see gross gaming revenues continue to come in strong for the whole region for the remainder of this year and into next.  For more on MPEL check out our full report, The Best Bet in Macau is Melco Crown Entertainment.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

The Best Bet in Macau is Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL)


Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL): Pure Play on Booming Asian Casino and Gaming Market

The rise of Macau is a story that has been well documented over the years. Many have read of this booming microcosm nestled under mainland China, yet few domestic investors/ analysts have ever set foot in this gambling epicenter. After finishing up a stint with a hedge fund earlier this year, I spent the last 4 months in Asia, including 3 months in Macau. I leave very bullish on the region as a whole, having spent a significant amount of time at all of the major casinos and experiencing the massive volume of foot-traffic, the amount of disposable income in middle/upper class China, and the rapidly expanding infrastructure that will continue to drive increases in the number of visitors to the area for years to come. MGM Resorts (MGM), Las Vegas Sands (LVS), and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) all feature impressive properties in Macau and provide a means of gaining exposure, although they remain saddled by their US operations. However, Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) is a pure play on the region, while sporting the cleanest balance sheet and fastest growth rates of the group, making it our favorite of the 4 domestically traded casino operators with a presence in Macau.

Casino revenues in Macau for 2012 totaled $38 billion, a figure that is expected to reach $70 billion in 2017. Year to date, revenues are up 16.2% in 2013, with August up 17.6% year over year. Impressive as these numbers are, Melco Crown Entertainment’s growth rates dwarf these. In their most recent quarterly report they displayed rapid growth across the board…

  • Net revenue for the second quarter of 2013 was $1,295.0 million, representing an increase of approximately 38% from $938.5 million for the second quarter of 2012.
  • Adjusted EBITDA was $330.1 million for the second quarter of 2013, as compared to $203.8 million in the in Q2 2012.
  • Net revenue at City of Dreams was $967.0 million, up from $684.2 million.
  • Total non-gaming revenue at City of Dreams in Q2 2013 was $62.2 million, up from $56.0 million in Q2 2012. Occupancy per available room was 97% as compared to 90%.

City of Dreams Macau: Capturing the Mass Market and VIP Segments

In City of Dreams, Melco Crown owns and operates one of the most valuable properties in all of Macau. While other casino operators have been hesitant to build a Vegas-style resort in the area, unsure of how they would fare in a much different culture, MPEL ran with the idea and is reaping the benefits. Lodging options include a Grand Hyatt, Hard Rock Hotel, and Crown Towers. City of Dreams also features the House of Dancing Water, a $250m production best described as a Cirque du Soleil 2.0, their best of many shows. Also of note is Cubic, the only major nightclub in Macau, often hosting huge concerts and events. Construction on the final tower, which will be the largest and most extravagant of the 5 when finished, begins later this year and will contribute significantly to earnings/ revenue when complete. The 5th tower will be 1.5 million square feet in total gross floor area, compared to Altira which is only 1 million square feet. City of Dreams is by far the most integrated and complete resort experience offered in Macau. Already one of the largest casinos in Macau, it continues to gain market share, a fact that analysts seem to overlook based on their tepid projections for next year. The current consensus revenue estimate of $5.37 billion FY 2014, which would represent only 9% growth year/year over their FY 2013 expectations. Expected revenue growth of 20-25% is far more reasonable for Melco Crown Entertainment. Macau gaming revenues as a whole are expected to grow in excess of 15% annually. With the most prominent resort/ casino on the strip, the highest mass table yields in the market, and increasing market share, revenue growth should outpace the rest of Macau with no major casino openings slated for the near future.

Melco Crown also operates the Altira casino, which has seen revenue and EBITDA grow at rates almost identical to that of City of Dreams, but is about 1/4th of the size. As of June 30th, 2013, Melco is in a net cash position with about $300 million more cash on their balance sheet than debt. Given this strong financial footing, MPEL is poised to grow quickly, and grow quickly they intend to do.

Rapid Growth Potential: Studio City Macau and Entertainment City in Manila

Looking to expand their presence in Macau, Melco Crown purchased a 60% interest in Macau Studio City in June 2011. This $2.9 billion project is slated to open mid-2015 and will be a full integrated resort like City of Dreams, but featuring a cinematic theme. Located next to the Immigration Station, Studio City will be the first and most prominent casino on the strip to visitors arriving from mainland China. To give an idea of the size of this project, consider that City of Dreams boasts 450 gaming tables and 1400 slot machines. Upon opening in 2015, Macau Studio City is expected to feature 400 table games and over 1200 slots, as well as two 5-star hotels and a variety of entertainment and shopping options. It is reasonable to expect Studio City to do comparable numbers to City of Dreams in a few years, which will be a huge windfall for MPEL shareholders.

Opening before Studio City, Melco Crown is taking their first steps outside of Macau, teaming up with Filipino conglomerate SM Group to create a $1 billion resort/gaming/shopping complex in Manila. The Belle Grand Manila will feature 950 hotel rooms, 240 table games, and 1250 slot machines. Gambling revenues are expected to grow from $2.5 billion this year in the Philippines to over $10 billion by 2017. Belle Grand is the second of a planned 4 casino resorts that will make up Entertainment City in Manila. Management has recently reiterated that this project is on-schedule and will open its doors mid-2014. As one of only 4 casino operators granted a gambling license in the Manila Bay project, Melco Crown stands to capture a very large portion of this rapidly growing market that is expected to surpass Las Vegas in gaming revenues within 3 years.

MPEL Is a Buy at Current Levels, Top Pick in Macau

While WYNN, MGM, and LVS all appear poised to outperform; MPEL is currently the best in class of the domestically tradable Macanese casino operators. Already sporting the fastest growth rates of the group, Melco Crown should continue this trend with their pipeline of properties that will be opening in the next few years, which will more than double the amount of table games and slots they operate. With these projects already funded and MPEL’s strong balance sheet, management has stated that they will begin to look at a regular dividend policy beginning the end of this year. Look for them to continue to seek out opportunities to expand throughout Macau and Asia as a whole. They have been lobbying and supporting gaming initiatives in Japan for 8-9 years and for the past 4 years in Taiwan. Trading at a forward P/E of 20, while boasting growth rates near 40% and opening two massive casinos within the next 2 years, the street seems to be vastly underestimating the sustainability of their growth and operations. As a result I feel MPEL is extremely undervalued when compared to their peers, and shares could easily double by end of 2014. These are exciting times in Macau, and Melco Crown Entertainment’s positioning in the industry makes this one of our highest conviction buys in the market today.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Go to top