Business / Markets

Macao gaming stocks see change in fortune

(Agencies) Updated: 2016-02-17 08:16

Macao gaming stocks see change in fortune

A visitor gets information at the Global Gaming Expo Asia in Macao, the world's biggest gambling hub.[Photo/Agencies]

A gauge measuring the performance of casino companies with operations in Macao versus Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index has broken above its 200-day moving average for the first time in three and a half years.

When that last happened, gaming stocks embarked on a 162 percent rally.

Shares in Sands China Ltd, Wynn Macao Ltd, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, SJM Holdings Ltd and MGM China Holdings Ltd have rebounded an average 23 percent since Jan 21 as gaming revenue stabilized and earnings turned out better than expected.

Casino shares were battered in the past two years, falling as much as 75 percent, as China's slowing economy and anti-corruption policies weighed on earnings.

A decline in the yuan also eroded mainland visitors' purchasing power, adding to concern Chinese tourist spending will dry up.

"Overall gaming numbers are bottoming," said Rahul Chadha, co-chief investment officer at Mirae Asset Global Investments, which oversees about $75 billion.

"If the yuan and Chinese economy stabilize there's money making opportunity in Macao, which has gone through a lot of pain over the last 12 to 18 months."

When the ratio of Macao gaming stocks and the Hang Seng Index last broke above the 200-day moving average in August 2012, it climbed steadily to reach a peak in January 2014 as gaming shares more than doubled.

Macao casino stocks are down 1.4 percent this year on average, versus a 12 percent drop for the Hang Seng Index.

The casino-Hang Seng Index ratio traded above its 200-day moving average on Friday and extended gains Monday. Gaming shares climbed 0.1 percent on average as of midday-break in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

While gaming revenue fell 21 percent in January from a year earlier, it was better than analysts expected.

The data are "definitely positive," said Nomura Holdings Inc analyst Richard Huang in Hong Kong this month, noting it's too early to draw long-term conclusions.

Wynn Resorts Ltd's founder Steve Wynn said in a post-earnings conference call that January was the Macao business' "best month in a long time".

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