Red Rock Resorts Rallies as JPMorgan Praises Management, Las Vegas Locals Segment

Posted on: November 13, 2020, 09:38h. 

Last updated on: November 13, 2020, 09:57h.

Red Rock Resorts (NASDAQ:RRR) is one of the today’s best-performing gaming stocks, surging more than six percent. That’s after JPMorgan analyst Joseph Greff reiterated an “overweight” rating on the parent company of Station Casinos.

Red Rock
Boulder Station Casino in Las Vegas. An analyst is bullish on owner Red Rock Resorts. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Joining some of his sell-side colleagues in doing so, Greff applauded management for a renewed focus on boosting margins in the coronavirus environment. It’s a scenario prompting the operator to keep four of its Southern Nevada venues, including Palms Las Vegas, shuttered until next June.

We like how RRR is managing the business (improved marketing efficiency, shifting from closed properties to open ones in an earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) and margin accretive way) and focusing on converting a higher proportion of EBITDA into free cash flow, deploying this to reduce its balance sheet leverage,” said Greff in a note to clients.

When the company reported third-quarter results late last month, analysts queried management about the fate of the Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho, Palms, and Texas Station — the properties that remain closed. Executives are taking a measured approached to those properties, noting that patrons that usually frequented those venues are making their way to other Red Rock casinos.

At the end of September, the operator had almost $109 million in cash on hand and $3 billion in debt.

Positives in the Locals Market

A key constituency for Red Rock is the group known as Las Vegas locals, or LVLs. That segment includes a variety of customers, spanning staffers from Strip casinos to well-heeled retirees that moved to Nevada to enjoy a lower cost of living in their golden years.

At the onset of the pandemic, some analysts fretted about operators’ exposure to the LVL group, hypothesizing that mass furloughs and layoffs at Strip resorts would pinch companies like Red Rock dependent on the locals demographic. There’s something to that theory, because Nevada had an unemployment rate of 9.15 percent in September, one of the highest in the nation.

Greff, the JPMorgan analyst, sees Red Rock as less dependent on employees from Strip casinos and benefiting from other regional trends.

“We come away impressed with RRR’s resolve in maximizing free cash flow at its simple business model, a focus on one major gaming market, the LV Locals, whose economic underpinnings are driven by population growth and less dependency on the health of the LV Strip versus 12 to 15 years ago, when the correlation was relatively high,” he said.

Mostly Bullish

Greff tags Red Rock with a $24 price target, implying upside of about 20 percent from the Nov. 12 close. He arrives at that forecast based on the estimate of 9.5x 2022 enterprise value/EBITDA, which he says is attractive relative to the operator’s history.

The consensus Wall Street projection on the name is $25. Nine analysts covered the stock, six with the equivalents of “buy” or “strong buy” ratings. The other three have “neutral” grades on the shares.