Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), MGM Resorts International (MGM), Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd (ADR) (MPEL): 3 Large Casinos to Watch in 2013

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If there’s a single trend over the past ten years in the casino business, it has been internationalization. Las Vegas, it would seem, is no longer the gambling capital of the world, it has been overtaken by Macau, China. The domestic economy is still important to most large casino operators, but economic conditions in China are even more important. Let’s take a look at a few of the larger casino operators and where they do business.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:SAND)The cream of the crop

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) is no longer an American focused casino operator. In 2012, the U.S. operations accounted for just 17% of revenue, while Singapore accounted for 24%. But this company’s future lies in China, where in Macao, Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS)’s four properties accounted for 58% of 2012 revenue. Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) recently reported a record breaking first quarter with revenue of $3.3 billion.  This was powered by double digit sales increases in China and Singapore, along with a seven percent increase in domestic revenue.

The company is continuing to invest in China, and with increasing wealth and travel to that part of the world, the future is bright. It also has plans for an enormous, multibillion dollar facility near Madrid, Spain.  As more properties pop up, we should see substantial profit growth over the next three to five years. With its strong balance sheet, tremendous international exposure, and solid dividend history, Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) is suitable for many investors.

The first quarterly profit in five years

MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) is more locally focused than Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS), as it has 15 casinos across the United States, and just one in Macao. Even MGM’s expansion plans are domestic, you should expect to see them in balmy locals like Massachusetts and Maryland. Over the long run, many think it would be better off spending expansion dollars overseas.

In the first quarter, the company posted its first quarterly profit in five years, with earnings of $6.5 million, or a penny per share. Revenues of $2.35 billion were up just 2.2% from the first quarter of 2012. Ultimately, a substantial increase in China was overshadowed by big decreases in Detroit and several Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) properties.

It appears that MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) has gotten old, tired, and burdened by debt. 76% of its working capital is debt and with a weak bond rating,  it may be a tough road ahead for this company who still believes in growth in American casinos. Not cashing in on China is a catastrophic error, and without it, MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) doesn’t have any chance of catching Las Vegas Sands in revenues or profits.

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