Macau Casino Revenues Flat in February 2016

Over the past 20 months, Macau’s casino industry has experienced double-digit year-over-year declines in revenues. February 2016 may prove to be the turning point in the Chinese gambling resort’s fortunes, however, after its results were largely flat, with business down a mere 0.1% to $2.4 billion, compared to the same month in 2015.
Helping to stabilize Macau’s extended downturn in February was the Lunar New Year, which boosted the number of tourists visiting the world’s biggest gambling hub by 4.5% over the week-long holiday. The upward trend reflects positively on the industry’s future, with analysts David Bain from Sterne Agee stating:
“Arrival increases bode well for Macau’s longer-term bull thesis which includes an unparalleled geographic gaming location, small mainland penetration and upcoming multi-staged infrastructure improvements.”
Macau has increasingly started marketing the resort to middle-income visitors, with hotels slashing their prices to attract this demographic. In the past, high-rolling VIPs accounted for more than two-thirds of Macau’s casino revenues, but Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign, and a more family oriented marketing strategy, has now seen VIP business fall to roughly half of total revenues.
Macau’s gambling stocks have taken a battering over the past two years, and at one stage were down 75%, until January signaled their fortunes may finally be changing. Since January 21st, for instance, SJM Holdings and MGM China Holdings have seen their stocks rebound by 22%, and as Mirae Asset Global Investments analyst Rahul Chadha explains:
“Overall gaming numbers are bottoming. If the yuan and Chinese economy stabilize there’s money making opportunity in Macau. Macau went through a lot of pain over the last 12 to 18 months.”
Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen would seem to concur, and following the release of February’s financial results said that the increase in mass market visitors should help settle investor nerves, and encourage more bullish trading.

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