Leisure Stocks: Broker Action

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Carnival ( CCL), Wynn Resorts ( WYNN), Las Vegas Sands ( LVS) and Shuffle Master ( SHFL) were the subjects of mixed broker action on Tuesday.

Analysts at Deutsche Bank upgraded Carnival to buy from hold, maintaining a $57.50 price target.

In late December analysts at Citigroup increased their price target on Carnival to $56. The company should see improving pricing power, Citigroup said, giving the cruise ship operator a buy rating.

That action followed Carnival's better-than-expected quarterly report in which it grew profits 28.5% year-over-year and forecast a 3% to 4% increase in constant dollar net revenue yields for the full year 2011.

Casino behemoths Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts were upgraded Tuesday as international growth opportunities are expected to remain fruitful for the gaming industry.

Wynn received a boost from KeyBanc Capital Markets to hold from underweight and raised its earnings estimates. Analyst Dennis Forst said the casino operator will likely continue to see strength in Macau through 2011.

On Monday, the Chinese gambling enclave reported a 66% surge in gaming revenue in December, and analysts predicted the region could see a record month in January or February.

Sterne Agee analyst David Bain reiterated his buy rating on Las Vegas Sands and lifted his estimates and price target.

Las Vegas Sands ended the trading day on Monday down nearly 1%, despite strong numbers out of Macau.

"We believe the underperformance was due to concerns on Singapore earnings, as well as somewhat softer-than-average market share performance in Macau," Bain noted. "We do not agree with the view that earnings from Singapore will be soft in the fourth quarter of 2010 and believe the December market numbers in Macau should more than outweigh what we consider to be relatively small, monthly market share data slightly below the company's average."

Bain said he is bullish on the stock due to its Macau pipeline and untapped Singapore potential. He upped his price target on the stock to $53 from $50.

Shuffle Master saw its stock downgraded by Brean Murray analysts to hold, from buy, despite its potential to reap the benefits of the recovering gaming industry.

Shuffle Master develops and manufactures many of the table games, electronic table systems and electronic gaming machines used in casinos.

StockPickr recently tapped Shuffle Master as a potential breakout stock, though conceded that Wynn and Las Vegas Sands fared better in 2010.

"I mention WYNN and LVS because I think Shuffle Master is about to play catch-up since the casino complex has become a market leading sector," wrote trader Roberto Pedone.

Shares of Shuffle Master slid 7.9% to $10.71 on Tuesday afternoon amid heavier-than-normal volume. Carnival gained 0.4% to $47, Wynn added 3% to $112.20 and Las Vegas Sands bid up 3.7% to $47.28.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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