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Howard Stutz

Dow rise no help for gaming firms

26 April 2007

and Matthew Crowley

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Nevada's publicly traded gaming companies didn't experience much of an impact Wednesday when the Dow Jones industrial average cracked the 13,000-point barrier, analysts said. Results show that noncasino companies based in Las Vegas were also mostly static.

The stock prices of the major casino operators and gaming equipment manufacturers rise and fall based on other factors, said Brian Gordon, a partner in Applied Analysis, a Las Vegas-based financial consultant.

"There is already a broad interest in the sector," Gordon said. "Fundamentals other than the Dow will drive the valuations of the gaming sector."

Wynn Resorts Ltd., which operates Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Macau, had the biggest one-day price increase Wednesday of any gaming company, $2.66 to close at $105.47 on the Nasdaq National Market, up 2.59 percent.

Gordon said shares of Wynn, along with Las Vegas Sands Corp. and MGM Mirage, are affected more by news out of China than any reaction to the Dow. The companies operate casinos in Macau, are opening properties, or are expanding their developments in the growing Chinese gaming enclave.

"Investors have expectations that the key players in the Macau market will continue to create a foothold to try and capture even bigger slices of the expanding pie," Gordon said.

Las Vegas Sands closed Wednesday at $90.21, up 41 cents or 0.46 percent, while MGM Mirage was off 19 cents or 0.27 percent to close at $69.62. Both are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

After Wynn, the next largest increase Wednesday was by Las Vegas-based Ameristar Casinos, which closed at $31.47 on the Nasdaq National Market, up $1.05 or 3.45 percent.

Boyd Gaming Corp. closed at $47.96, up 22 cents or 0.46 percent while Pinnacle Entertainment finished the day at $29.59, up 20 cents or 0.68 percent. Both Las Vegas-based companies are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Among major slot machine makers, industry giant International Game Technology finished off 10 cents or 0.25 percent to close at $39.20 while WMS industries was up 56 cents or 1.38 percent to close at $41.18. The companies are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Equipment provider Bally Technologies closed at $23.95, off 22 cents or 0.91 percent in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Among noncasino stocks of Southern Nevada-based companies, Community Bancorp was Wednesday's biggest mover, rising 91 cents, or 2.98 percent, to $31.46. The company said Friday that its first-quarter profit grew 59 percent, boosted by growth in loans, deposits and fees. Gas distribution company Southwest Gas Corp. came next, rising 67 cents, or 1.72 percent, to $39.63 on Wednesday.

Other noncasino gainers included ready-mix concrete supplier Ready Mix, up 50 cents, or 4.13 percent, to $12.60; electric utility holding company Sierra Pacific Resources, up 20 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $18,40; banking company Western Alliance Bancorp, up 12 cents, or 0.38 percent, to $31.45; and chemical maker American Pacific Corp., up 6 cents, or 0.51 percent, to $11.71.

Local companies that lost ground included Allegiant Airlines parent Allegiant Travel Co., down 65 cents, or 1.92 percent, to $33.24; and health maintenance organization operator Sierra Health Services, down 19 cents, or 0.45 percent, to $41.58.

The Bloomberg Las Vegas index, a price-weighted list of companies with operations in the region, barely moved, rising 0.28 points to close at 501.39.