Wynn Resorts moves up quarterly earnings report date

Wynn Resorts Ltd. has moved up its release of financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31 to Thursday.

The unexpected announcement was made on the same day a Wells Fargo analyst raised his estimates for the Las Vegas-based casino operator.

The company's decision Tuesday to move up its earnings release by two weeks also sent Wynn shares to a new 52-week high of $122.89 shortly after the Nasdaq opened for trading.

"Our new fourth-quarter estimate is $344.6 million up from $300.8 million," said Carlo Santarelli, a senior analyst with Wells Fargo Securities.

"We note that our new estimate is meaningfully above consensus of $283.4 million," he added.

For 2010, he expected Wynn to report earnings per share of $2.20 up from $1.94. In a note to clients, Santarelli rated Wynn shares "outperform," while raising their valuation range to $128 to $150 a share by year-end.

"We continue to believe Wynn represents an attractive risk/reward given the continued strength in Macau, improving results at Wynn Las Vegas, a strong balance sheet and a future growth driver in Cotai," he said.

In 2009, Wynn Resorts generated $3.046 billion in net revenue and $675.9 million in earnings. The company owns two hotel-casino properties, one in Las Vegas and one in Macau, and intends to build a second Macau hotel on 52 acres on the Cotai Strip.

Shares of Wynn gained $2.17, or 1.84 percent, to close Tuesday at $120.18 on heavy volume of 4.46 million shares traded. Average volume is about 2 million shares.

Santarelli cautioned that the "biggest headwind for Wynn at present are expectations."

"While our estimates are meaningfully above consensus at present, we tend to think investor expectations are as well," he said.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.