Gambling Stocks Rev Up

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By all rights, investors in Macau gaming players MGM Resorts (NYS: MGM) , Wynn Resorts (NAS: WYNN) , and Las Vegas Sands (NYS: LVS) should be grinning ear-to-ear today. Instead, they're right here along with everybody else in the markets, stuck on a two-day losing streak -- and that's terrific news.

Why do I say that? Well, consider that last week, the latest update came in on gambling revenues from the Chinese resort destination of Macau. Gambling revenues for the month of August were up 57%. Total gross revenues in the territory rose for the third month in a row, this time up 47%. According to investment banker RBS, the good times will keep on rolling all year long, as Macau gaming houses record 45% overall revenue growth this year.

You'd think that would be good news for the major casino operators, and for Macau specialist Melco Crown Entertainment (NAS: MPEL) as well. You'd be right -- and the fact that the stocks are getting cheaper despite the good news means these companies are better bargains than ever. But which is the best bargain?

Company

Net Income

Free Cash Flow

Growth Rate

Wynn Resorts

$377 million

$1.3 billion

66%

Las Vegas Sands

$1.2 billion

$697 million

30%

MGM

$2.9 billion

$238 million

39%

Melco Crown

$106 million

N/A

60%

Income and cash flow data courtesy of Capital IQ. Growth rates from Yahoo! Finance. N/A = not available.

Different Fools may see different things in these figures. Some will look at the billion-dollar profits at MGM and Las Vegas Sands, apply their apparently strong growth rates to those numbers, and conclude the stocks are "buys." Others will speculate what fabulous number might be hidden behind Melco Crown's reticence to release free cash flow figures in a timely fashion, and place a wager on that black box. (After all, over the past year, Melco has outperformed the market by the widest margin of the four companies in the chart.)

But if you ask me, the odds-on favorite has to be Wynn Resorts. At 49 times earnings, the PEG ratio on this stock looks cheap if Wynn can produce earnings growth anywhere near what it's expected to. Wynn also looks like a winner from the perspective of having the best record for turning GAAP "net income" into actual cash profits in the bank. Top it all off with a (projected) best-in-class growth great, and I think we've found a winner in Wynn.

Will a bet on Wynn pay off?Add it to your Fool watchlistand find out.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorRich Smithdoes not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handleTMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 438 out of more than 180,000 members. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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