Who Will Win the 4th Quarter in Macau?

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We're coming up on year-end earnings reports from gaming companies. As usual, Asia will be the focus, Macau in particular. So what should we expect as we close the books on 2011?

To understand what to expect, let's take a look back at where we ended last quarter.

Changing of the guard
After years of dominating Macau, Las Vegas Sands (NYS: LVS) fell on some hard times there over the past year. The company's Venetian Macau, Four Seasons, and Sands Macau underperformed all of its rival casinos in revenue growth. As the third-quarter revenue growth graphic below shows, Melco Crown's (NAS: MPEL) Altira and City of Dreams performed particularly well, along with strong gains from MGM (NYS: MGM) Macau.

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The performance of Wynn Resorts (NAS: WYNN) and MGM Resorts on the Macau Peninsula was particularly impressive considering the draw of the Cotai Strip.

This doesn't mean that Las Vegas Sands is a bad company or operator; the company started 2011 from a stronger position than MGM and Melco Crown, in particular. But the company's growth hasn't kept up, something we need to keep an eye on.

Transforming Cotai
With the Cotai Strip being the one place in Macau where companies are adding capacity in the next few years, I'll be keeping my eye on how the area is absorbing Galaxy's new resort. The numbers above suggest that the resort may be taking some traffic from other Cotai properties, another thing to keep an eye on.

The junket business will also be important to watch. Since little capacity is going to be added until 2015, that would suggest junkets will be fighting for fewer slots at casinos. This could help earnings in the future.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributorTravis Hoiumdoes not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at@FlushDrawFool, check out hispersonal stock holdings, or follow his CAPS picks atTMFFlushDraw.Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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