Macau Casino Stocks Tumble Over Concerns of China Economic Slowdown, US Trade War

Posted on: September 11, 2018, 06:57h. 

Last updated on: September 11, 2018, 06:57h.

Macau casino stocks took a hit on Tuesday as Deutsche Bank revised its growth forecast for the gambling hub over concerns that a slowing Chinese economy is impacting on its VIP yield.

Macau casino stocks
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets US President Donald Trump in November 2017, before the outbreak of a trade war between the two countries that has made investors in Macau casino stocks jittery. (Image: Andy Wong/AP)

MGM China was worst affected, falling as much as 8.8 percent — its biggest 24-hour drop in almost two years. Galaxy Entertainment and SJM Holdings both fell over 6 percent, as Deutsche Bank cut its ratings to a “sell” on both companies.

The enclave has enjoyed 25 months of growth since recovering from its 2014-2016 economic slump, but growth began to slow in June and the stock of its biggest casino operators has depreciated since.

Japanese brokerage said on a note on Monday that stock for the entire sector had shrunk by between 20 and 30 percent since early May.

Trade War Uncertainty

Tuesday’s fall followed a report from Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. on Monday that suggested Macau gaming revenue for the first nine days of September was below projections.

Deutsche Bank revised its 2019 estimates by more than half, from 11 to 4 percent growth from 11 percent previously, citing concerns about the VIP segment.

The current downcycle is similar to the late-2011 to mid-2012 slowdown when GGR growth sharply decelerated to 6 percent year-on-year from 20 percent year-on-year,” said Deutsche Bank.

Investors are interpreting a recent change of tone in Beijing to mean the Politburo is bracing itself for possible economic slowdown. China’s leaders have emphasized the need to boost domestic demand and reduce financing costs for businesses, as they wrestle with the uncertain consequences of a trade war with the US.

On Friday US President Donald Trump reiterated threats to impose higher tariffs on Chinese goods.

Some analysts are concerned that Beijing could target US companies in Macau as a retaliatory measure in the trade stand off with Washington.

Silver Linings

But not all analysts are so gloomy, Nomura’s Harry Curtis, Daniel Adam, and Brian Dobson wrote Monday that while the decline is “somewhat justified,” given fears of the trade conflict, it was also “overdone.”

Several operators we spoke with over the past few days said that their sequential VIP volumes have been increasing over the last six weeks,” they said. “VIP growth has decelerated, but to a more measured rate, which has a silver lining in that excessive growth attracts the attention of Beijing.”

Macau and its casinos are more resilient than they were in 2014, more diversified, and less reliant on the VIP segment. Recent figures released by the enclave’s Statistics and Census Service suggest Chinese visitor numbers are up and the enclave’s retail sector is booming. Spending on non-gaming increased 20 percent year-on-year in Q2.

The Macao Government Tourism Office has developed a blueprint for the tourism industry over the next 15 years that involves consistent investment in non-gaming amenities.