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Ignore the Macau numbers — gambling on casino stocks is a bad idea: Traders

Casino stocks have seen a nice comeback of late, but some traders are cautious of betting on the gaming rally.

Macau's September gross gaming numbers rose 7.4 percent from last year, a number that surpassed the 4 percent growth estimate and sent casino stocks soaring on Monday. But Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel Nicolaus, sees the excitement over Macau's numbers as short-lived.

"Although the global backdrop for the overall economy is decelerating, these stocks have moved higher based off of the fact that they believe that China has stabilized," he said Monday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "We don't believe that to be the case."

"Going into 2017, we believe there will be GDP growth in China of roughly 2 percent," added Morganlander. "That will not bode well for the Macau industry as a whole."

Macau's gambling industry boomed this year as some of the world's biggest gaming companies made some of their biggest long-term investments in the region. In August, Wynn Resorts opened the lavish Wynn Palace, which cost $4.1 billion to build, to complement its Wynn Macau mainstay, while Las Vegas Sands' Parisian Macao hotel and casino opened its doors in mid-September. The companies' focus on Macau helped turn the region's gaming revenues around after more than two straight years of decline.

But "Crossing Wall Street" blog editor Eddy Elfenbein thinks that casino stocks could see their rally stopped sooner than investors may think.

"Macau had 26 straight months of declining revenue," said Elfenbein. "They finally turned the corner, so that looks good for them, but these stocks, the run they've had since the summer, I think they're just too rich right here."

Thanks to their big projects in Macau and solid earnings, Wynn is up more than 43 percent year to date while Las Vegas Sands has also soared over 34 percent this year.

"We are encouraged by the second consecutive positive monthly [comparison]," Stifel gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski wrote in a Monday research note. "That said, we continue to expect trends to remain choppy in the near term, particularly on the mass side of the business, as the market works to fully absorb recent and forthcoming supply additions."


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Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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