Faber said that Tracinda "may be considering a partner to buy the remaining 44%" of MGM Mirage -- then "that partner could sell Tracinda the Bellagio and CityCenter." Another possibility: the Tracinda announcement may mean the hotel and casino company is in play overall, Faber said.
A sale or restructuring of MGM Mirage, which has a market capitalization of $17.8 billion, would follow a wave of mergers and private equity deals in the sector. Harrah's Entertainment, the world's largest casino operator, was recently acquired for $17.1 billion by two private equity firms.
Deutsche Bank said in a note Tracinda could sell some or all of its stake to purchase the properties, and MGM could unlock the underlying value of its portfolio and use the proceeds to pay down debt.
Bellagio, MGM's biggest cash cow, and its massive CityCenter property now under construction both target the U.S. gambling capital's growing number of well-heeled visitors with exclusive shops, high-end restaurants and entertainment.
Competition for high rollers has been growing in Las Vegas, with new resorts from Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands .
Tracinda said it has made no decision on any restructuring transactions for MGM Mirage, and reserved the right not to pursue any deals.
MGM Mirage's board said it would review Tracinda's statement after the company's annual meeting on Tuesday. MGM Mirage owns 19 properties in Nevada, Mississippi and Michigan. It has investments in three other U.S. properties, land holdings in Atlantic City, and stakes in projects under construction in the United States and Macau.
CityCenter is MGM's latest Vegas development, located between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo resorts at the busier end of the Strip. Slated to open in November 2009, it will include 2,700 private residences, a Mandarin Oriental luxury boutique hotel, a 4,000-room resort casino and a 470,000-square-foot retail and entertainment area.
Despite cost overruns, analysts said confidence about CityCenter's prospects increased when MGM Mirage raised its estimate of gross proceeds from the sale of residential units to $2.7 billion from $2.5 billion.
Big Bets On Casino Mergers
"I still feel very comfortable with my $85.50 (stock price) target as a minimum value for the company," said Jefferies & Co. analyst Larry Klatzkin, who said he has the highest price target of his peers on MGM and believes it is undervalued.
The sector as a whole has been busy. Station Casinos announced
plans in December for a $4.7 billion management-led buyout. And Trump Entertainment Resorts hired Merrill Lynch as a financial adviser to weigh strategic options, such as refinancing or selling some or all of its Atlantic City casinos, according to media reports.
Keith Brenan, senior vice president at real estate advisory firm the Weitzman Group, said investors have been unlocking value in the Strip over the last decade. "I think you'll see that evolution continue," Brenan said.
Kerkorian's Tracinda recently was among the bidders vying for DaimlerChrysler's money-losing Chrysler Group. Cerberus Capital Management won the hand of Chrysler last week, but a source familiar with the situation said Kerkorian has not dropped his bid for Chrysler.