What The November Election Means For Casino Stocks

One of the biggest market catalysts of 2020 will be the U.S. election Tuesday, Nov. 3, and the election results could be particularly important for casino stocks.

Crossing The Aisle: Bank of America analyst Shaun Kelley said Thursday that Republican control in Washington, D.C. has traditionally been supportive of the casino industry, but President Donald Trump’s combative relationship with China has flipped the table for the gaming industry this November.

“We now see a Republican sweep as a negative for Macau and a Democrat sweep with any return to diplomatic norms (even with hawkish policy) as positive,” the analyst said in a note. 

A normalized relationship with China would be far more bullish for international casino operators than a potential tax hike would be bearish, he said.

Most Las Vegas and regional U.S. casino operators aren’t major taxpayers in the first place, and COVID-19 has likely reduced future tax burdens significantly, Kelley said. 

Gaming REITs could theoretically be impacted by changes to IRS code Section 1031, which allows capital gains taxes to be deferred when one investment property is swapped for another, the analyst said. Yet few REITs have been selling assets, so they haven’t been taking advantage of the Section 1031 provision, he said. 

Vegas Room Rates: On Friday, Kelley said Las Vegas strip room rates continue to fall, with August rates now down 42%, September rates down 48% and October rates down 43% from a year ago.

For the full third quarter, Kelley said Wynn Resorts, Limited WYNN Las Vegas room rates have taken the biggest hit, down 51% overall. Las Vegas Sands Corp. LVS rates have taken the smallest hit, down just 33% from a year ago for the quarter.

Benzinga’s Take: Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has a 3% to 9% lead over Trump nationally, according to three new polls released Wednesday.

However, there is still plenty of time before the November elections, and investors should remember how many polls underestimated Trump’s support back in 2016.

For long-term investors looking to play the recovery in Las Vegas and Macau, BofA has the following ratings and price targets for major casino operators:

  • Las Vegas Sands, Buy rating and $61 target.
  • Wynn Resorts, Buy rating and $95 target.
  • Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd MLCO, Buy rating and $20.20 target.
  • Caesars Entertainment Corporation CZR, Neutral rating and $45 target.
  • MGM Resorts International MGM, Underperform rating and $15 target.

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Posted In: BofA SecuritiesChinaShaun KelleyAnalyst ColorPrice TargetPoliticsAnalyst RatingsGeneral