SOURCE: Rothman Research

Rothman Research

May 18, 2010 08:21 ET

Casino Stocks Throwing the Dice

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA--(Marketwire - May 18, 2010) - -- The line between gambling and trading is quite illusive, and investors very often play casino stocks for that very reason. The casino industry is perhaps one of the most volatile and risky trading ventures out there, and the recent economic mayhem took this volatility a step higher. However, with signs of recuperation throughout the economy, the latest earning seasons brought some indications that casino stocks are starting to come out of a bad gamble. Most casinos are now focused on the second half of 2010 with expectations that earnings would be in the green as the economic environment perks up. Some of the encouraging factors behind this growing optimism in the industry stem from the latest revenue results for Las Vegas Strip which might be a clue that the gaming is beginning to pick up in the U.S., and the budding success of Asian gaming market.

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Many of the industry's prominent players have already started tasting the triumph from the Asian gambling market with Macau been the prime location. Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) which freshly reported a loss of $28.9 million as compared to a loss of $80.9 million in the same quarter for 2009, said that it narrowed its quarterly loss mainly due to high profits taken from its three Macau-based casinos. The Macau operations delivered a profit of $220.5 million, which is four times the profit recorded in the same period last year. Las Vegas Sands is looking forward to improved results for the second-half of 2010 as economic recovery in the U.S. is delivering more consumers spending and gradually promoting job creation. Nonetheless, confidence for a better performance for the remaining months of 2010 is largely been staked on the company's Asian gambling segment with Macau and Singapore being the keystones. Las Vegas Sands is also actively contemplating Japan as the next possible step for its expansion plans in Asia. At this moment in time, Japan has a tight control on gambling, but the Japanese government has lately been moving towards the idea of opening casinos to help promote the local tourism industry. Should the Japanese government approve casino openings, Las Vegas Sands would be operational within the country in the next 3 to 4 years and this could be a major turnaround for the resorts and casinos operator.

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Some casinos like Boyd Gaming Corporation (NYSE: BYD), however, are still battling the tides as their revenue streams remain purely domestic. Boyd Gaming, for instance, has greatly been pressured by the Las Vegas market tendency, but the company believes that the coming months would be a strong indication to the company's growth potential. Boyd Gaming received an upgrade from Sell to Buy from Argus last Friday.

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