Wynn Resorts Surges After Founder Buys 1 Million Shares

  • Purchase increases Steve Wynn's stake in company to about 11%
  • An agreement with his ex-wife Elaine limits future stock sales

Wynn Resorts Ltd., the owner of casinos in Macau and Las Vegas, rose 13 percent to lead the S&P 500 after founder Steve Wynn purchased 1 million shares of the company.

Wynn, based in Las Vegas, soared to $69.91 at the close in New York, making it the top performer Wednesday in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The company’s chief executive officer purchased the shares on the open market between Dec. 4 and Dec. 8, according to a statement Tuesday, suggesting he paid a maximum of $66.5 million based on the intraday high over that period.

“Anytime a CEO buys a meaningful stake it sends a favorable message,” Deutsche Bank AG analyst Carlo Santarelli said in a research note Tuesday. The purchase is the first sizable, open market buy by Wynn in some time, the analyst wrote.

The purchase boosted Wynn’s personal holdings in the stock to 11.07 million shares, or almost 11 percent of the total, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Wynn’s ability to sell shares is limited under the terms of an agreement with his ex-wife Elaine Wynn, his spokesman Michael Weaver said in an e-mail. The stock is down 53 percent this year.

Wynn’s personal commitment is a possible sign that the worst may be over in Macau, the world’s largest casino market, where gambling revenue has plunged 36 percent this year. Fitch Ratings on Dec. 7 predicted a drop of about 5 percent for all of 2016. Wynn Resorts generated 59 percent of its revenue there last quarter and has a new property scheduled to open there in June.

The new $4.1 billion resort is one of several the region’s casino owners plan to open next year. The Chinese territory has suffered a steep decline in betting amid a crackdown on corruption in the country.

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