Caesars Tops Analyst List of Virus Vaccine Gaming Equity Ideas

Posted on: August 26, 2020, 10:34h. 

Last updated on: August 26, 2020, 01:03h.

As is the case with so many gaming operators with deep ties to the Las Vegas Strip, the near-term fortunes of Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) and its investors are correlated to advancements on the coronavirus vaccine front.

Coronavirus Vaccine Needed For LV Strip Boost
Caesars Palace Las Vegas. A coronavirus vaccine would really help Caesars stock, says an analyst. (Image: Reuters)

In a new note to clients, Stifel analyst Steven Wieczynski, who covers other travel and leisure names in addition to gaming stocks, places the Caesars Palace operator on his list of six equities primed for big upside stemming from positive vaccine developments.

While impossible to fully predict, we get the sense the world could be moving closer to a ‘major’ vaccine announcement within the next six to eight weeks,” said the analyst.

Assuming that timeline proves accurate, that could be a major boost to Caesars, which is the second-largest Strip operator after MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM). Up more than 47 percent over the past month, Caesars stock is reflecting some optimism of recovery in Las Vegas and, perhaps, progress toward a COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier today, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) said Silver State casinos won $756.79 million in July. That was down from $1.02 billion a year earlier, but the figure represents an almost $200 million jump from June.

Vegas Stigma 

As the names that were most savagely repudiated at the hands of the first wave of coronavirus cases, cruise operators, gaming companies and hoteliers stand to benefit the most from a vaccine coming to market.

“Over the last couple of weeks the question we are getting asked daily is, ‘What stock/stocks in your universe would benefit the most from a vaccine announcement?,’” said Wieczynski. “The simple answer is we think any name under our coverage would benefit from a positive vaccine announcement.”

Gaming companies with Las Vegas exposure are particularly levered to vaccine development headlines because data points and surveys indicate plenty of travelers simply won’t return to Sin City until a COVID-19 therapy is readily available.

Wieczynski points out that the Strip’s recovery efforts are highly dependent on a vaccine, and should a treatment materialize, it would likely lead to an improvement in the critical convention and group travel segments. Amid slack corporate travel, Las Vegas weekday occupancy rates labor in the low 30 percent area.

The analyst also notes that a vaccine will spur Caesars’ efforts to wring cost savings out of the recent deal that created the largest US gaming company, and that vanquishing the virus could lead to the removal of capacity restrictions at the operator’s already strong regional casinos.

Quicker Rebound 

Wieczynksi’s list of coronavirus vaccine ideas includes six equities, with Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) being the other gaming name in the group in addition to Caesars.

The analyst says a vaccine will hasten Macau’s rebound and will allow Singapore to potentially get its groove back because the city-state is highly dependent on air travel to deliver tourists. LVS owns the Marina Bay Sands, one of Singapore’s two integrated resorts.

He’s forecasting upside of 40.9 percent and 28.5 percent, respectively, for shares of Caesars and LVS.