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Jim Cramer believes that Macau is a long-term growth story. However, his favorite way to leverage the theme has changed.
"My new favorite Macau play is now MGM," Cramer said.
In part, Cramer sees this stock as a play on MGM's expanding footprint in Macau. "Currently MGM has one casino, the MGM Grand Macau, but they're opening a second on the red hot Cotai Strip in 2016," Cramer said.
However, Cramer also said there's another catalyst that may be a lot less obvious. "MGM's Macau properties are geared toward mass visitors, meaning regular people, not VIPs," Cramer said. In the near-term, he thinks that's a major positive.
In recent months, "the Chinese government has been cracking down on vice and conspicuous consumption, especially by important or wealthy people. And VIPs, meaning very rich people, have historically made up some 65 to 70 percent of the gaming market in Macau," Cramer explained. "So with China's government putting pressure on the wealthy to lead more ostensibly virtuous lives, MGM may be best positioned to sidestep resulting headwinds."
And finally, Cramer said there's another reason he likes MGM.
"It gets 50 percent of its business from Vegas, and right now that may be a positive, as the US is rebounding while I think China could remain volatile for some time."
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However, Cramer understands that you may feel MGM is more of a bet on the US economy than anything else. If that's the case, Cramer says his next favorite way to leverage Macau is with Las Vegas Sands, which he says, "is totally misnamed as it gets roughly half of its business from Macau and nearly 40 percent from Singapore."
Cramer noted that Las Vegas Sands may be the most defensive way to play Macau, because it has the least exposure to VIP gamblers; "75 percent of their Macau business is from the mass gaming market, and in June the mass gaming market in Macau was up 27 percent year over year, which is excellent. Also, I think this stock is a steal here, trading at less than 17 times next year's earnings estimates with a 20 percent growth rate."
Finally, the third way to play Macau is with Wynn Resorts, and in this case, Cramer said he can't bless the stock at current levels. "Wynn gets half of its Macau business from VIPs, exactly the segment of the market that's been getting killed. Plus, the company's under investigation by local authorities for a possibly shady land deal, and at 21 times next year's numbers, the stock is a lot more expensive than LVS."
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