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Macau gaming revenue up 24 percent in May

Updated June 1, 2017 - 4:15 pm

Macau gross gaming revenue surged 24 percent in May, crushing Wall Street expectations and driving shares of Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands higher.

The Chinese resort posted May gaming revenue of 22.7 billion MOP ($2.83 billion) compared with 18.4 billion MOP ($2.29 billion) in the year-earlier period.

Wall Street analysts had forecast May growth of about 18 percent. The May growth rate is the best since February, 2014, when Macau gaming revenue rose 40 percent.

May growth could have been higher were it not for one less Sunday and a visit by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress and the nation’s third-most powerful politician.

“We are very encouraged by the May results, which we had expected to be suppressed by the Zhang visit, as well as the slightly unfavorable calendar,” said Grant Govertsen, an analyst at Union Gaming in Macau. “That Macau exceeded consensus again and turned in a gross gaming revenue story just shy of February, suggests the recovery is in full-tilt.”

Govertsen expects June gaming revenue to advance at least 20 percent before slowing down in the coming months amid tougher year-on-year comparisons.

Two-year drought

Macau gross gaming revenue has been rallying since September after more than a two-year decline triggered by a government corruption crackdown in mid-2014 that sent high rollers fleeing the island.

Annual gross gaming revenue peaked in 2013 at 360 billion MOP ($44.9 billion) before falling to 223 billion MOP ($27.8 billion) last year.

Gross gaming revenue is up 16 percent through the first five months of 2017 and on pace for annual revenue of 255 billion MOP ($31.8 billion).

The rebound is partially being driven by “Chinese monetary stimulus and the re-inflation of the Chinese housing bubble,’’ Wells Fargo said in a note Thursday. New casinos may also be bringing people to the island, said David Katz, an analyst at Telsey Advisory Group.

“We believe it is a fair conclusion that the new properties in the market, including Las Vegas Sands’ Parisian and Wynn’s Palace are growing the market rather than cannibalizing the existing properties,” Katz said.

Shares rally

Wynn opened its second Macau casino in late August while Las Vegas Sands opened the Parisian in mid-September, the first month to see gaming revenue growth since 2014. MGM Resorts International will open its second resort on Macau in the fourth-quarter.

Shares of Wynn Resorts, which generates about 60 percent of its revenue from Macau, jumped $4.89, or 3.8 percent, to $133.59. Las Vegas Sands, which generates more than 50 percent of revenue from Macau, added $2.92, or 4.9 percent, to $62.05. MGM added 54 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $32.26.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Todd Prince at tprince@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0386. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

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