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Casino stocks rally after report Macau gaming market posted 'noticeable pickup'

Key Points
  • A Nomura report said there's been "a noticeable pickup in demand" in Macau's VIP and mass-market gaming revenue in the last 10 days of October.
  • As a result of the trends, Nomura raised its Macau gross gaming revenue estimate to show an increase of 19 to 21 percent for October.
  • A Consensus Metrix survey showed the Street was forecasting Macau's October GGR would increase by 15.9 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Philippe Lopez | AFP | Getty Images

Several casino stocks received a lift Tuesday after a report from Nomura suggested the Macau gaming market showed a "noticeable pickup in demand" in the last part of October.

In early afternoon trading, Wynn Resorts stock was up just over 5.5 percent, Las Vegas Sands was up 2.8 percent, and MGM was ahead just over 2 percent.

"Our latest consultant checks point to a noticeable pickup in demand following the 19th Party Congress in China, with VIP and mass revenue up about 30 percent and 9 percent year-over-year, respectively," Nomura analyst Harry Curtis said in a research note Tuesday.

Macau, the world's largest gambling mecca, appears to have been spared any harsh new regulations during the recent Communist Party Congress in Beijing. A previous downturn in Macau was blamed on the Beijing government's corruption crackdown on the junket business, the specialists that bring in the high-value Chinese gamblers to the Macau casinos.

Given "strength in the last 10 days of October," Nomura said it lifted the firm's Macau gross gaming revenue estimate to a range of 19 percent to 21 percent growth for October on a year-over-year basis. A Consensus Metrix survey showed the Street was forecasting Macau's October GGR would increase by 15.9 percent on a year-over-year basis.

Macau posted 16.1 percent year-over-year growth in casino GGR during September.

According to Nomura, Macau's October GGR has typically risen between 12 and 13 percent sequentially from September, which it said would indicate 13 to 14 percent growth on a year-over-year basis.

"However, post-Golden Week demand this year has trended much … better than expected," Nomura said. China's National Day began on Oct. 1, but the week-long celebration that followed is known as "Golden Week" and is a popular time for Chinese to travel to Macau and other destinations.

Meantime, the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Tuesday reported that Nevada casinos won nearly $980 million in September, a 3 percent increase from the same month a year ago.

The Las Vegas Strip posted even stronger gains just before the deadly shooting on Oct. 1. The Nevada state agency said the Las Vegas Strip casinos collected $567.9 million in September, up 4.7 percent from September 2016. Still, the September tally was below the double-digit percentage growth achieved in August — a month lifted by the Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor super-welterweight fight.

Las Vegas Strip casinos accounted for 58 percent of the state's gambling revenue in September.