Jump in New Year Visitors Boosts Macau Casinos

Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., rose the most in a month, leading a jump in casino stocks as mainland visitors to Macau surged during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Melco added 5.7 percent to HK$54.25, the biggest gain since Jan. 3. Wynn Macau rose 2.2 percent and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. rose 3 percent.

Mainland tourists jumped 36 percent from a year earlier on the third day of the festive week that began Feb. 10, according to data from the government’s tourist office. Day 3 set a record for mainland visitors during a holiday period, Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen wrote in a research brief to clients.

“As we’ve walked casino floors over the past 24 hours, it has been clear to us that casinos are experiencing record levels of customers,” Govertsen said in the note dated Feb. 13.

The Lunar New Year is a peak time for spending and travel often picks up on the third day.

Casino Expansion

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Sands China Ltd gained 2.2 percent and SJM Holdings Ltd. added 1.2 percent.

Mainland visitors climbed 30 percent on Feb. 11, the second day of the holiday, and 36 percent on Feb. 10, according to the government data. Macau had a total of 404,303 visitors since the start of the Lunar New Year on Feb. 10 to Feb.12, the data from the Tourist Office shows.

Sands China has 9,210 hotel rooms in Macau, which account for about 40 percent of the city’s hotel room supply, while Galaxy has more than 2,700 hotel rooms.

Sands which operates the Venetian, Macau’s biggest casino resort, plans to invest at least $2.5 billion to build its fifth integrated resort, to be called the Parisian, in the former Portuguese colony.

The Parisian, which is scheduled to begin construction in the second quarter this year, will have a replica of the Eiffel Tower, 3,000 hotel rooms and other family-oriented facilities to attract middle-class gamblers from China, who provide wider margins.

Macau casino revenue climbed 14 percent to a record 304 billion patacas ($38 billion) last year.