Consumer

Shelly Banjo is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering industrial companies and conglomerates. She previously was a reporter at Quartz and the Wall Street Journal.

It turns out that even for companies, there are a handful of things more important than profits. For Wynn Resorts Ltd., attracting gamblers to spend money at its Macau casinos and grabbing market share from competitors are among them.

Luck Will Have It
Shares of Wynn Macau are up 41 percent so far this year, compared with a 22 percent gain in the Hang Seng Index
Source: Bloomberg

That's why the 3.5 percent Wednesday drop in shares of Hong Kong-listed Wynn Macau Ltd., on the back of a one-penny earnings miss, seems a bit overdone.

Especially when considering the casino and hotel operator's $1.5 billion in second-quarter revenue handily beat analyst estimates and was up 44 percent from a year ago. Not only did customers spend more at Wynn's Macau casinos, room occupancy jumped by 6.6 percent from the prior year, the largest increase in that metric since September 2011, when Beijing's consumption crackdown let the air out of the world's largest gambling hub.

The profit and revenue mismatch raises an important question before a slew of earnings in the coming weeks from gaming operators including Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd. and Sands China Ltd.: Should short-term profit shortfalls matter at a time when casino operators need to spend big on advertising and promotions to gain from the resurgence of VIP players and to lure mainland Chinese gamblers to their newly built casinos?

In other words, if Macau's tables are finally turning, fighting for market share should be the game of choice.

Comeback Kid
High rollers are returning to Wynn Resorts' Macau casinos after a crackdown on consumption softened demand
Source: Bloomberg

Wynn must be doing something right if it's managed to book such a steep increase in Macau customers, especially considering the 35 percent jump in total wagers among VIP clients in the second quarter from a year ago. It's important to remember that high rollers are less profitable than mass-market guests, because casinos must pay commissions to the junket operators that ferry wealthy patrons to the casinos and help fund their betting.

Drop It Like It's Hot
Wynn Macau saw a 35 percent surge in total VIP wagers from the year before, gaining market share in the high-roller segment
Source: Bloomberg

But cementing market share from both VIP and mass-customer segments now is crucial for Wynn to make its recent investments in Macau worthwhile -- especially the newly opened Wynn Palace. Wynn said Tuesday that mass-market traffic was hurt by construction work butting up against the new casino, including a light-rail station and other casinos scheduled to open later this year.

Wynn will also have to give away some profits in the short term to win back VIP customers, reaping longer-term benefits if the high-roller rebound sticks. 

Investors might want to brace for lower margins ahead from this group. Overall revenue and guest count will determine which operators secure the winning hand.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Shelly Banjo in Hong Kong at sbanjo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Paul Sillitoe at psillitoe@bloomberg.net