China gambling propels Wynn's 4Q profit

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Wynn Resorts Ltd. said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit nearly doubled on gains in Macau, the only place in China where casino gambling is legal.

Net income for the October-December period came to $213.9 million, or $2.10 per share, up from $111.4 million, or $1.10 per share, during the same months in 2012.

Excluding special items, Wynn made $2.27 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $1.72 per share.

Revenue rose 18 percent to $1.52 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $1.43 billion.

Wynn shares rose $9, or 4.5 percent, to $210.51 in after-hours trading.

A 25-percent revenue jump in Macau, stemming from slot machines and table games, drove the increase. Wynn continued to benefit from increased patronage from non-VIP players, who left 35 percent more cash on the table.

Asked on a conference call how the company had managed to lure more casual gamblers, CEO Steve Wynn demurred, saying he didn't want to give his competitors any good ideas.

Rival Las Vegas Sands, which owns the Venetian and Palazzo on the Strip, announced on Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit grew 33 percent, which was less than Wall Street had expected.

In Las Vegas, where growth has been sluggish since the recession, Wynn's revenue rose 2 percent. Wynn argued that the Strip has benefited from the success U.S. casino companies have found in Macau, and added that he would not have been able to build his second Las Vegas casino, Encore, without the revenue coming from China.

"Were it not for our foreign investment and the wonderful opportunity to participate in Macau, our Las Vegas properties would look nothing like what they are now. Nor would employment at the Venetian, the Palazzo, Wynn and Encore be near what it is today," he said. "The United States has been the principal beneficiary of the globalization of the gaming industry."

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