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Wynn falls on report of softness at newest Macau property

A light, water and sound show is put on at Performance Lake in front of the Wynn Palace casino in Macau.
Isaac Lawrence | AFP | Getty Images

Shares of Wynn Resorts were down more than 4 percent Monday after researcher Nomura said mass-market gaming volumes at the company's recently opened Macau property are softer than expected and indicated overall Macau gaming revenue remains weak.

"Wynn has indicated that its business levels at Wynn Macau have not been affected by the (Aug. 22) opening of Wynn Palace," said Nomura analyst Harry Curtis in a note. "While positive for Wynn Macau, indications are that mass volumes at Palace are lighter than expected."

When asked for comment, a Wynn spokesman responded, "We will comment on the Wynn Palace actual numbers at the appropriate time."

Also, despite the Las Vegas Sands' Parisian opening on Sept. 13, Nomura says gross gaming revenues, or GGR, in Macau are running down 14 percent sequentially on a week-over-week basis. It said the Parisian opening appears to have boosted "tourist volumes more so than spending on mass GGR."

In trading Monday, Wynn stock fell 4.25 percent on Monday and Las Vegas Sands shares were off more than 1.5 percent. MGM Resorts, which also has Macau gaming exposure and plans to double its presence in the region next year with a new casino opening, was down nearly 2 percent.

"Given the successful opening of Parisian last week, the sequential decline suggests that GGR strength after Wynn Palace opened was primarily driven by VIP revenue," the analyst said. He indicated that the VIP side "can skew Macau's reported GGR, given the larger size of the average bet."

Wynn management previously indicated the $4.1 billion Palace property — its first located in the Cotai region — is aimed at the so-called premium mass gambling market, which has generally been less impacted by the Macau slowdown than the high-roller VIP market.

Parisian, a $2.7 billion, French-themed resort on Cotai, was Sands' sixth property in Macau.

Meantime, Morgan Stanley had a generally upbeat note out Monday looking at the gaming industry and stated there's the "potential for significant upside to MGM and Wynn," based the possibility of more institutional ownership. Both of the casino stocks are now "under-owned relative to historical levels," Morgan analyst Thomas Allen wrote.

"If large asset managers increased their portfolio allocations in Wynn and MGM back to peak levels, it would imply an incremental $6 billion to Wynn's $11 billion market cap, and $3 billion of capital inflows into MGM's $14 billion market cap," the Morgan analyst said.

Still, Morgan indicated that overall ownership of gaming stocks now sits at the highest levels since the second quarter of 2014, reflecting in part more investments by asset managers in gaming real estate investment trusts. Those investments include REITs such as Penn National Gaming's 2013 spinoff Gaming and Leisure Properties as well as MGM Resorts' 2016 spinoff known as MGM Growth Properties.

"Wynn's current level of ownership is around the midpoint of its historical range, being relatively unchanged from last quarter," said Morgan. "We believe there is room for incremental buyers, especially as interest in Macau appears to be revitalized given the potential turn in market fundamentals (August GGR growth of 1.1% was the first positive monthly growth since May 2014)."

As for MGM, Morgan said it was "surprised to find MGM to be much less 'crowded' than we had expected, with the stock being under-owned among large institutional investors."

In contrast, Morgan found Las Vegas Sands is "the most well allocated gaming stock by large asset managers, and while percentage of allocation is near the high-end of its historical range, it ticked down modestly q/q in 2Q."

Morgan based its analysis of institutional ownership on data that looks at the largest 100 asset managers' portfolio allocations, but excluding index fund holdings.