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Never Mind the Bears: Vegas Is Paying Out

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I spent last week in Las Vegas for the Social Media Marketing Expo and the Trader's Expo as well as to "take the pulse" of Las Vegas again. One thing became abundantly clear: Vegas is not only back, it's attractive even compared to the peak in 2007.

America's Sin City may have surrendered the crown to Macau in terms of total revenue, but when it comes to attracting tourists from around the world, nothing else is quite the same as Las Vegas. More importantly, now is the time to invest.

Examining financials are more complicated now that Macau can make or break a quarter (or more) for many gaming companies. I've strolled the floors of the casinos in Macau, and quite simply, they are always busy. I have yet to walk the floor in Singapore, however, I've owned Las Vegas Sands (LVS - Get Report) on and off for years and intend to do so again.

In 2006, there were only two places I visited where I could survey the sky and see multiple cranes in every direction. The greatest number were found in China (especially along cities on the coast). Next, with albeit not as many, came Las Vegas. Vegas didn't have building cranes at the same concentration level as, say, Shanghai, but it was as close to a building rush as seen in any U.S. city.

Construction had all but disappeared in Vegas by 2009. This lack of building cranes is the first reason Las Vegas casinos are worth another look today. First, look at the relatively concentrated ownership. Las Vegas Sands, MGM, Caesar's (CZR), Boyd Gaming (BYD) and Penn National (PENN) make up the lion's share of publicly traded casinos, especially on the strip (and in Asia). It's not easy for many investors to pull the trigger after the price appreciation some of these stocks have experienced in the last year. Since the beginning of 2013, Las Vegas Sands' stock price is up 60%, MGM's 69%, and Caesar's is an eye-popping 190%.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
LVS $54.18 0.00%
MGM $18.55 0.00%
AAPL $126.77 0.13%
FB $87.42 0.59%
GOOG $521.84 0.00%

Markets

DOW 17,757.91 +138.40 0.79%
S&P 500 2,077.42 +14.31 0.69%
NASDAQ 5,013.1230 +26.2560 0.53%

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