After the close yesterday, WYNN reported its 3Q13 earnings results. Revenue came in at $1.39 billion, up 7% year on year. Macau was up by 9.6% and Las Vegas by 1.1%. The company posted EPS of $1.84, much higher than the Wall Street consensus of $1.65, and considerably ahead of the $1.48 WYNN tallied in the comparable period of 2012.
In my view, the basic WYNN story remains unchanged for now:
–The company is capacity constrained in the booming Macau market and will remain so until its new casino in the Chinese SAR, the Wynn Palace, opens in early 2016. In the meantime, it is refurbishing and fine-tuning its existing capacity to boost profits and maintain competitiveness with new casinos currently being opened in Macau. But it probably won’t keep pace with overall growth in that market.
–Las Vegas is flattish, which is good performance in a city suffering from the combined effects of slow economic recovery in the US, massive overcapacity created at the market peak and the continuing expansion of regional casinos in hard-strapped states looking for new sources of revenue.
The current situation is probably best summarized by the stock’s market capitalization, almost 95% of which represents the value of WYNN’s Asian subsidiary, Wynn Macau. Some anticipation of the Wynn Palace’s opening must already be included in the latter’s price, since Las Vegas still accounts for a quarter of WYNN’s total EBITDA.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the company’s earnings conference call was Steve Wynn’s apparent distress at the shabby way in which he feels his company is being treated by Massachusetts as it applies for a casino operating license there. The bone of contention seems to be the state regulator’s suspicion of anyone doing business in Macau.
My quick reading of the situation suggests the vetting process is a little weird. On the one hand, Massachusetts wants to outdo New Jersey as the strictest venue for casino operation in the US. On the other, it is still considering MGM, which is barred from doing business in NJ. And it seems to be intimating that applicants will get more favorable consideration if they give financial support to local tourist boards. It will be interesting, though not crucial for WYNN, to see how the process turns out. My sense is it will be a much bigger black eye for Mass than for WYNN if its application ends up being rejected.
I’ve been holding both WYNN and HK: 1128 (Wynn Macau) for a long time. I’ve recently sold my position in the latter, both on the idea that I can buy it back next year, when the new Palace is nearer to opening and because my overall casino holdings (I also own LVS and HK:0027 (Galaxy Entertainment)) had become too large).
WYNN and 1128 are the best casino operators in their markets, in my opinion. Las Vegas may be boosted by a better climate for the convention/meeting business in Las Vegas next year. But I don’t see market-beating earnings acceleration for 1128 for at least seven quarters. Yes, the stock has been a blockbuster performer in Hong Kong recently, up by over a third during the past three months. But that’s a short-term negative, in my opinion, not a positive.