February a mixed bag for gaming stocks

1 March 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- February provided a mixed bag of results for the gaming industry.

Just four of the 10 publicly traded casino operators and slot machine manufacturers charted by Las Vegas-based financial adviser Applied Analysis saw increases in their average daily stock prices during the month.

But the sector as a whole pushed the Applied Analysis Gaming Index to its highest value since the middle of 2008.

Investors, said Applied Analysis principal Brian Gordon, have continued to show increased interest in the gaming industry as a whole.

"While the latest monthly movement was on par with broader equities markets, including the S&P 500 that rose 3 percent during the same time frame, on an annual basis the gaming sector far outpaced broader equities," Gordon told the firm's clients in a report Monday.

The Applied Analysis Gaming Index finished February at 454.16 points, almost 14 points higher than a month ago.

Fourth-quarter earnings reports helped some companies while continued interest in Macau boosted the average daily stock prices of Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd.

Gordon said a potential piece of good news when looking at the future for gaming industry expansion came from Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn. During the company's quarterly conference call, Wynn said he changed his mind about not investing in any more U.S. projects due to what he believed were uncertain and unfavorable fiscal conditions.

Wynn did not announce any specific future projects, however.

"Industry news released during the month indicated that recovery in the sector, specifically in the Las Vegas market, will take time," Gordon said.

The average daily stock price for Las Vegas Sands was relatively unchanged between January and February. Wynn Resorts saw its average daily stock price climb almost 6 percent during the month.

Regional gaming operator Ameristar Casinos, which is based in Las Vegas, had the largest monthly jump of any company tracked by Applied Analysis, increasing 6 percent in February. On Monday the company announced plans to acquire the bulk of the common stock owned by the estate of its late founder.

Regional casino operator Penn National Gaming, which is in the process of taking control of M Resort after acquiring the debt covering the hotel-casino, was the only other company in the Applied Analysis Gaming Index with a positive month. The company's average daily stock price rose almost 2.5 percent compared with January.

All three slot machine manufacturers charted by Applied Analysis saw their average daily stock prices fall more than 6 percent in February.

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