The rolling chip turnover of the three biggest junket brands in the Macau casino market fell by at least 25 percent year-on-year in August, suggested a Sunday note from JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd, citing market intelligence.
Another brokerage, Morgan Stanley Asia Ltd said in a memo the same day – following the issuing by the Macau government of August gross gaming revenue (GGR) data – that what its analyst Praveen Choudhary termed “the largest junket” in the Macau market “saw more than 30 percent decline in August VIP roll”.
Neither financial institution mentioned junket brands by name, but it is a matter of public record that the Macau junket sector has been facing regulatory and political headwinds in relation to its casino business.
Describing Macau’s near 9-percent GGR contraction in August as “a month to forget”, JP Morgan analysts DS Kim and Jeremy An wrote: “We believe the top-three junkets’ rolling declined 25 percent to 30 percent year-on-year, more or less similar to July’s.” Although the institution added, referring to the performance of the house versus the players, that the “luck factor seems a tad softer, versus July, at 2.9 percent to 3.0 percent.”
The analysts added that “VIP remains stubbornly disappointing,” but this was “not totally unexpected”.
JP Morgan said mass-market GGR was also softer in August than it had expected. It expanded by about 7 percent year-on-year, according to the institution’s estimates, but that was still below the 10 percent to 11 percent growth in mass seen in the first seven calendar months, said JP Morgan. The Macau government only issues the market split between VIP and mass GGR on a quarterly basis, some time after the end of each reporting quarter.
JP Morgan suggested that VIP GGR in August was down 26 percent to 28 percent; compared to 15 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of 2019.
Mr Kim and Mr An noted: “Both segments fell short of expectations, but the mass segment came as a bigger disappointment as our mid-month checks and Macau trips suggested no sign of mass slowdown.”
They added, referring to ongoing street protests in neighbouring Hong Kong: “We’d have to blame Hong Kong unrest (especially for low-end/grind mass) and a drag in top-end premium players (i.e., spillover from junket issues) for now, until we get clearer pictures before third-quarter reporting season.”
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd noted that Macau’s GGR contraction in August was more than twice as large as the 4 percent decline expected in market consensus numbers collated by Bloomberg.
Analysts Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu stated in a memo regarding expectations for September: “We are estimating GGR growth to be +6 percent to +9 percent year-on-year (-5 percent to -2 percent month-on-month).”
They added: “GGR for September 2018 was impacted by Typhoon Mangkhut, setting up for an easier year-on-year comparison.”
Carlo Santarelli, an analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc, said in a Sunday note that his institution was now forecasting Macau market GGR for the third quarter to contract by 3.4 percent year-on-year, versus a prior estimate of 1.1 percent decline.
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"The Macau recovery continues to be disrupted by false starts, while the lack of [Chinese] public holidays for rest of the year should cap the pace of the rebound”
Andrew Lee and David Katz
Analysts at brokerage Jefferies LLC