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MGM China Insider Sean Ma Buys $16.5 Million Worth of Stock

Sean Ma’s Snow Lake Capital Ltd., a Hong Kong-based asset manager, recently upped its stake in MGM China Holdings (OTC:MCHVF).

MGM Cotai in Macau. Investor Sean Ma added to his stake in MGM China. (Image: Macau News)

In transactions on Sept. 17 and Oct. 30, the investment firm bought $16.5 million worth of shares in the MGM Macau operator, boosting its position in the company to 6.04 percent from 4.94 percent. It is one of the largest purchases of the stock by an institutional investor over the past year.

It’s certainly positive to see the recent insider purchase. We also take confidence from the longer-term picture of insider transactions,” notes Simply Wall St.

Over the past year, there have been no large-scale sales of MGM China equity by high-level investors. Founded in 2009, Ma’s Snow Lake is described as an “Asian alternative investment firm,” with $2.5 billion in assets under management. The money manager focuses on companies in the consumer, financial services, healthcare, and technology sectors.

Good Timing

In investing, it’s often better to be lucky than good. But nailing both is even better. To that point, Snow Lake’s increased bet on the MGM Cotai operator was well-timed.

The US-listed shares of MGM China, which trade over-the-counter, are higher by more than 15 percent in midday trading Monday after Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) delivered strong Phase 3 trial results for their joint coronavirus vaccine. Earlier today, the pharmaceuticals companies said BNT162b2 had a 90 percent efficacy rate in the testing.

With 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine slated to be delivered next year, according to the companies, travel and leisure equities are soaring today. That’s as investors speculate the industry could return to normal more rapidly than expected, aiding the pent-up demand thesis so often cited regarding gaming names, such as MGM China.

Additionally, casino operators with Macau exposure are being bid higher today. That’s because it seems former Vice President Joe Biden will be the 46th US president, potentially easing tensions with China and removing some Macau concession renewal risk for American companies.

More Fortuitous Timing

Snow Lake’s September purchase of MGM China shares occurred before the company delivered third-quarter results on Oct. 29. As was the case with rival operators in the world’s largest casino center, those numbers were dismal. But there were some green shoots.

Revenue jumped 41 percent on a sequential basis, and executives pointed to improving traffic trends during the month of October.

“Market-wide daily visitation has been very steadily improving into October Golden Week,” according to the operator. “Since second week of the month, we are seeing improving volume across all segments sequentially week on week.”

Underscoring Ma’s prescience in upping Snow Flake’s MGM China exposure in September were comments from Bill Hornbuckle, chief executive officer of MGM Resorts. He said the China unit reached break-even earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) last month, and nudged toward profitability in the back half of October.

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