Wynn lawsuit shouldn't scare you away from gaming stocks

But at least one casino stock is scary on its own merits.

By InvestorPlace Jan 13, 2012 10:14AM
CorbisBy Lawrence Meyers

Wynn Resorts' (WYNN) own vice chairman, Kazuo Okada, who indirectly owns 20% of the company, filed suit against Wynn so he could get a look at its books. Allegedly, he's been stonewalled from doing so, and he's asking about a $129 million donation to the University of Macau and $30 million Okada gave to the company to develop a Macau casino.

Does the lawsuit have merit? Who knows? Should you care? Probably not.

It's entirely possible that something will get uncovered in the lawsuit. It doesn't take much imagination to think what, uh, incentives the Chinese may have wanted to let an American build a casino in Macau. But Stephen Wynn is a Vegas legend and a survivor, at that. I don't think he'll come out of this too badly.

If anything, it just helps makes his company's stock all the cheaper. The stock is back to levels not seen since the end of 2010, and is attractively priced. Macau continues to provide huge revenue for all the gaming stocks, and Wynn is no exception. Although earnings this year are projected to grow 13%, analysts have a 40% annualized growth rate for the next five years. I think that's a tad optimistic, but even if you chop that in half, a 20 P/E on 2012 earnings of $6 per share yields a $120 price tag. Add 20% growth to that each year and it makes Wynn a solid buy. Wynn also has a great balance sheet, with $1.7 billion in cash against $2.93 billion in debt. That debt number also has been decreasing consistently over the past several quarters.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) also is looking attractive. It does carry a hefty debt load of $9.2 billion, and came off a horrible 2009 loss of $540 million before chalking up a $407 million 2010 profit. It already has racked up a $950 million profit in the first three fiscal quarters alone, so the possibility of tripling 2010's numbers is strong. Earnings are pegged to grow 25% in 2012, and 38% annually thereafter. It trades at 22 times 2011 earnings and only 18 times 2012 earnings. With 49% insider holdings, management's interests are very much aligned with shareholders. The stock looks like a buy to me at these levels.

As for MGM Resorts International (MGM), a bet on this stock is like betting on a six-game football parlay. The company had the misfortune of undertaking the massively expensive CityCenter project right when the financial crisis hit. MGM took on enormous debt for this project. Right now, that debt stands as $13 billion, with a comparatively meager $1.8 billion of cash on hand. The company lost more than $1 billion in 2009 and 2010. It has stemmed its losses this year, but there still is red ink to be had. While MGM has pushed off its debt maturity dates so bankruptcy is not immediately likely, I don't see how it will turn things around. In fact, I don’t know why the stock is even at $11. Maybe some investors are hoping the roulette wheel will stop with the marble right on that one particular number they chose.

You can follow companies like Wynn Resorts on the Real America Index.

As of this writing, Lawrence Meyers did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks.

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