Analysts at Nomura were re-evaluating their position on Macau exposed gaming stocks Monday with the firm's internal checks suggesting that January gross gaming revenue (GGR) will rise 9% year over year, up from its original estimate of 6% growth.
The firm said its checks show that the region had a strong New Year's holiday performance, without citing the source of its information. While a post-holiday slowdown is still expected to occur, Nomura sees GGR rising more than it had originally expected, nearly in line with the 10% GGR growth Macau showed in fourth quarter 2016.
Last week, Nomura published a note warning investors to be cautious about a Macau casino stock rally due to valuation and the uncertainty of the region's long-term prospects. Casino companies doing business in Macau include Wynn Resorts (WYNN - Get Report) , Las Vegas Sands (LVS - Get Report) and Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) and MGM Resorts International (MGM - Get Report) .
Following Nomura's cautionary note last week, Macau stocks saw an average decline of 10%, which has made those stocks' valuations more attractive, analyst Richard Huang wrote.
"Mass market growth led by new openings should continue to drive industry EBITDA increases," Huang wrote.
But the rally is not without its possible hiccups and Huang reiterated that a China property market slowdown, measures to curb capital outflows, and tightened regulations affecting high-end gaming demand are still potential issues.
The Macau gaming region reported its fifth consecutive month of year over year growth in December after reporting 26 consecutive months of declines. Macau GGR rose 8% to $2.48 billion, however, for the year GGR fell 2.2% to $27.9 billion.
Fellow Nomura analyst Harry C. Curtis is bullish on MGM based on the strength of the opening of its MGM National Harbor casino in Oxon Hill, MD.
The casino, which opened on December 8, brought in $41.9 million in gaming revenue in 23 days. The strong opening "only serve to reinforce our positive view," Curtis wrote.
Based on the partial first month numbers, Nomura estimates that National Harbor could deliver $183 million in extra 2017 EBITDA for MGM. That total is ahead of the firm's own $179 million estimate and Wall Street's consensus $171 million estimates.
Curtis currently has a "buy" rating and $35 price target on MGM shares. MGM Resorts shares were down 0.7% to $29.32 in afternoon trading Monday.