Casino Stocks: Don't Bet On the Biggies

For a long time, shares of casino gaming companies were best bets. Those days are over, but there's still money to be made in some selected stocks, according to Jake Fuller.

"If you look historically...gaming did hold up very well in the past couple of pullbacks," the Thomas Weisel Partners hospitality analyst told CNBC.

But things are different now. Gambling has proliferated, and riverboat casinos, Native American casinos, and horse tracks with slot machines have diluted the monopoly Atlantic City and Las Vegas once enjoyed.

"A bigger factor is, it's not just gambling any more," Fuller added. "Most of the big casino companies derive over half of their revenue from rooms, from restaurants, from retail, from entertainment, things that are more discretionary, more susceptible to the consumer pullback."


"The names we are recommending are, specifically, Ameristar and Pinnacle," he said. "They trade at lower valuations; revenue should be a little less cyclical."


Geography plays a role in the stocks Fuller thinks investors should avoid.

"The big-cap names, companies like Las Vegas Sands, MGM and Wynn, (have) a lot of exposure to markets like Las Vegas," he said. "Las Vegas, you're going to see a lot of downward pressure in the short term here."


Las Vegas Sands, Pinnacle Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts are investment banking clients of Fuller's firm. The firm makes a market in the securities of Wynn Resorts and Ameristar Casinos.