MGM Resorts a Good Bet, Analysts Say

MGM Resorts Int'l  (MGM) shares were falling 1.7% to $26.40 on heavy volume in afternoon trading Friday after declining more than 8% on Thursday following the release of its fourth quarter earnings results before the opening bell. 

About 14 million shares of MGM had been traded by the afternoon vs. the stock's nearly 8 million share daily average. 

MGM was able to beat analysts' top-line expectations, but fell well short of analysts' guidance on its bottom-line. The company reported fourth quarter earnings of 11 cents per share vs. Wall Street's 17 cent per share expectations. 

However, analysts at Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and Aegis Capital all believe this week's sell-off is a buying opportunity for savvy investors as the company remains well-positioned to make future gains. 

Carlos Santarelli of Deutsche Bank maintained his "Buy" rating on the company while lowering his price target to $32 from $36. The price target represents a potential 20% upside from the stock's opening price today of $26.50. 

"We are sticking with our Buy rating here as we believe this reset will allow for a fresh look at a still sound big picture story," Santarelli wrote. He identified certain areas that could be catalysts for MGM in the future.

Revenue per available room (RevPAR) is expected to grow between 4% and 5%; a recovering U.S. economy is always good news for the gaming industry; and the opening of MGM Cotai in 2017 will be beneficial to MGM's bottom line. 

Joseph Greff of JPMorgan maintained his "Overweight" rating, but also lowered his price target to $37 from $39, representing a potential upside of 40% from the stock's opening price. 

Greff noted that MGM's casino revenue increased 33% year over year thanks in part to the acquisition of the Borgata in Atlantic City and the opening of MGM National Harbor in December. RevPAR is one of the most important metrics in the hospitality business, and even as MGM's room occupancy rate remained flat at 89% in the quarter, as room revenue increased 10% year over year. 

David Bain of Aegis Capital maintained his "Buy" rating on the stock but lowered his price target to $33 from $35, representing a 25% upside. 

Bain was more bullish than his peers, but sees that the stock's multiple of 11.1 vs. future earnings is the lowest among the company's peers in the sector, meaning the stock price has room to rise. 

"Longer-term, nothing is broken and the strong Las Vegas backdrop and Macau recovery tailwinds remain. However, investors will likely have to wait longer (we believe 1Q17 report) to begin to see true upward stock momentum," Bain wrote. 

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