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MGM, Sands, Wynn Among Leaders as Biden Win, Vaccine News Jolt Casino Stocks

Shares of casino operators are soaring early Monday. The market was buoyed by two sets of positive headlines, as investors digest news that Democratic nominee Joe Biden is now the president-elect, and that a coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) showed widespread success in a Phase 3 clinical trial.

News that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was successful in late stage trials sparked a rally in casino stocks. (Image: Reuters)

Among the largest US gaming companies, Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM), and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) are the standouts on the aforementioned news flow. MGM is the largest operator on the Las Vegas Strip, a region that’s been punished by the pandemic and slow progress on a vaccine. Shares of the Bellagio operator are higher by more than 15 percent in early trading. With its deep dependence on Macau, Wynn stock is higher by almost 25 percent to start Monday’s session, positioning the name for its best intraday performance in years.

Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” said Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla in a statement.

For operators with heavy Las Vegas footprints, including MGM and Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR), the latter of which is higher by 11 percent today, benefit from the vaccine news is clear. BNT162b2, the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, could be just the tonic Sin City needs to rejuvenate convention business that’s non-existent at the moment. The hope is it also compels leisure travelers to hop on planes to visit the largest domestic casino center.

Exciting Vaccine Update

As US gaming properties started reopening in early June following a nearly three-month shutdown forced by the coronavirus pandemic, analysts widely opined that regional operators would bounce back more rapidly than Las Vegas-heavy competitors, citing a lack of a vaccine.

While gaming companies are reporting improving margins and revenue at regional properties, today’s vaccine news could positively flip the script for ailing Sin City. Pfizer and BioNTech say BNT162b2 showed an efficacy rate of 90 percent in the Phase 3 trial.

“The case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo indicates a vaccine efficacy rate above 90%, at 7 days after the second dose,” according to the companies. “This means that protection is achieved 28 days after the initiation of the vaccination, which consists of a 2-dose schedule.”

The two drug developers estimate they can deliver 50 million doses this year before accelerating to 1.3 billion globally in 2021.

Biden Bounce

For US gaming companies with significant Macau exposure, namely Las Vegas Sands and Wynn, and, to a less extent, MGM, electoral clarity is also proving meaningful today.

President Trump may have some Hail Mary’s he can throw in a bid to retain his spot in the White House. But those are widely viewed as the longest of long shots, and markets appear at peace with the notion of a Biden presidency.

That’s a boon for Macau operators, because it’s widely expected Biden will take a more congenial approach to relations with the world’s second-largest economy, perhaps removing some of the concession renewal risk faced by LVS, MGM and Wynn.

Licenses in the world’s largest gaming center expire in 2022. Sands, the operator of five Macau integrated resorts and the biggest domestic casino company by market capitalization, is joining rivals to the upside today, with a gain approaching 10 percent.

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