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Melco Needs Macau Momentum

Editor's note: "Bricks and Mortar" is a mock portfolio created by reporter Nicholas Yulico that is meant to help generate real estate and gaming-related stock ideas. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, Yulico doesn't own or short individual stocks.

Melco PBL's (MPEL - Get Report) attempts to dominate the VIP segment of the booming Macau casino market have taken a positive turn.

Yet, for all the supposed good news, the stock is stuck in neutral, trading at levels seen six months ago. Once again, the word is "manana." I can't help but wonder: How long will long-term investors stick around?

I've been bullish on Melco since March, when I rated the stock own and included it in the Bricks and Mortar mock portfolio. At the time, many investors had given up on the name -- as did our own Jim Cramer.

My thesis was that Melco shares were priced at an attractive entry point since the company's casino development pipeline would eventually pay off handily, rewarding investors. (As a reminder, Melco is the only pure play on the Macau casino market.)

Since my initial rating, the stock has been a huge disappointment. Shares closed Wednesday at $13.27, down about 15% since I recommended the stock at $15.50. Over the same time period, fellow Macau casino owners Las Vegas Sands (LVS - Get Report) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN - Get Report) are up about 30% each.

In May, Melco opened its first casino, Crown Macau, which is focused on VIP gambling. Results have been disappointing, and management has done a poor job of executing. All along, I've given the company the benefit of the doubt.
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