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Macau casinos' shares fall on lower Lunar New Year revenue

HSBC says gaming income misses target despite 20pc rise in mainland tourists during new year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 5:21am

Macau casino shares dropped steeply on Tuesday in response to a report from HSBC Global Research that gaming revenues failed to reach its projections for the first 17 days of this month.

Shares in SJM led the retreat, falling 5.3 per cent to close at HK$19.32, followed by Galaxy Entertainment, which ended the day down 4.9 per cent at HK$33.15.

The period monitored in the HSBC report was the Lunar New Year, which fell this month. The holiday season on the mainland was between February 8 and 15, followed immediately by a weekend - all of which might have been expected to result in increased mainland visitors and higher gaming revenues.

But Macau's gaming revenue for the period reached 15.2 billion patacas - below HSBC's estimates - noted Sean Monaghan, a Singapore-based analyst, in a research note.

Separately, Aaron Fischer, the head of consumer and gaming research at CLSA, said while mainland tourist arrivals in Macau grew by about 20 per cent year on year during the Lunar New Year, which was surprisingly strong compared with a 5 per cent growth last year, this had not filtered down into revenue growth for the gaming sector.

"After the first 17 days being up 12 per cent [in revenue], we believe the month will end up flat," Fischer said in a research report dated February 19.

After the first 17 days being up 12 per cent [in revenue], we believe the month will end up flat

CLSA formerly estimated the February revenues in the world's largest gaming hub would grow 11 per cent.

It downgraded Wynn Macau's stock to outperform from buy, and lowered its target price for the counter to HK$23.10 from HK$27.10.

Yesterday, Wynn Macau dropped 2.89 per cent to close at HK$20.15, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index finished 1.02 per cent lower.

Sands China fell 4.35 per cent to HK$36.25, MGM China shed 3.85 per cent, and Melco Crown Entertainment lost 2.09 per cent in the day's trading.

Grant Govertsen, the lead analyst at Macau-based Union Gaming Research, said the true measure of the Lunar New Year could not be gauged until the week ending February 24 was over, because some high-value customers might have deferred their trips to Macau to avoid the crowded peak season.

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