M&A Buzz Sends Rival Gaming Stocks Higher

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) and Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) are proving the skeptics wrong -- at least for a day

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Jul 7, 2015 at 3:31 PM

Amid industry-related M&A news, gaming stocks Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) and Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) are charging higher. At last check, LVS has popped 4.2% to $56.80, while WYNN has added an even more impressive 7.4% to trade at $111.40. From a sentiment perspective, though, these sharp upside moves weren't necessarily expected.

It's true: Call buyers have been active on LVS in recent weeks. The stock's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 1.69 ranks in the 82nd annual percentile. However, given the equity's long-term struggles (down 25.4% year-over-year) and high levels of short interest, it's possible long calls have been initiated by short sellers to protect against a sharp upside move. In fact, short interest spiked 23.4% during the latest reporting period to roughly 29 million shares -- which would take one week to buy back, at typical volumes.

Among covering analysts, just under half rate Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) a tepid "hold." Plus, the stock's consensus 12-month price target of $56.50 is approximately flush with current trading levels.

Things are even more bearish when it comes to WYNN. Two-thirds of the analysts tracking the shares consider them a "hold." Also, short interest jumped 18% during the most recent reporting period, and now accounts for about one-tenth of the equity's total float.

This isn't surprising, given Wynn Resorts, Limited's (NASDAQ:WYNN) embarrassing track record on the charts. Even after accounting for today's bullish action, the shares have surrendered more than one-quarter of their value in 2015.

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