A Malaysian government initiative this year to boost inbound tourism – including visa-free inbound travel for Chinese tourists under certain conditions – might benefit Genting Malaysia Bhd, operator of the country’s only licensed casino complex, Resorts World Genting (pictured).
So said brokerage Nomura in a Thursday report looking at the prospects for this calendar year of listed companies featured on the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index, also known as the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index.
The report was released as a novel and potentially-deadly coronavirus that can lead to pneumonia, spread from mainland China into a number of other places, including the gambling hub of Macau.
“With Visit Malaysia 2020 playing out this year, we see efforts by the government to push up tourist numbers through various initiatives,” nonetheless noted the report authors, led by Nomura analysts Tushar Mohata and Alpa Aggarwal.
They mentioned Malaysia had gazetted orders granting tourists from either China or India, visa-free entry to the country for up to 15 days. The arrangement is for the length of the current calendar year, stated the brokerage. Chinese tourists are identified by a number of casino jurisdictions across the Asia-Pacific region as a key target market due to the perception that such travellers have a fondness for casino wagering.
“With China and India accounting for 11.9 percent and 3.5 percent of total arrivals (based on September 2019 reported numbers), we think this campaign could help push up overall tourist arrivals”, wrote the Nomura team.
“Tourist attraction operators such as Genting Malaysia… stand to benefit, in our view,” especially as Genting Malaysia is “targeting to open” its outdoor theme park at Resorts World Genting – a casino complex at Genting Highlands near Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur – “in the third quarter this year”, said the research paper.
Nomura nonetheless observed that Genting Malaysia – which is listed on Bursa Malaysia and also has casino interests in the United States, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom and Egypt – was “the only stock in the index” that looked “set for an earnings decline in 2020”.
This was likely to be because of “equity-accounted losses from its share of earnings from the Resorts World Catskills casino in upstate New York,” in the U.S., “with consensus building in a 7-percent earnings decline,” noted the brokerage.
In November Genting Malaysia said it had concluded the acquisition of a 38.3-percent stake in loss-making Empire Resorts Inc, the operator of Resorts World Catskills. The US$128.6-million deal was connected to an exercise by interests linked to Lim Kok Thay – a businessman who is the controlling shareholder of the Genting group parent – to take Empire Resorts private.
Nomura noted in its Thursday report: “If Genting Malaysia manages to reduce overhead costs at Catskills fast enough,” or if it were able to open the outdoor theme park at Resorts World Genting “in the early part of the year,” Genting Malaysia’s earnings might have “some upside risks, albeit this is not in our – or the consensus – base case for the time being”.
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