Not Little Caesars: Casino Stock Best in S&P 500 This Week
It was a good week for stocks as the S&P 500 gained 3.45%, but Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR)far outpaced the broader market in the last week of March, surging 15.12%.
That run was assisted by a 4.14% rally today, though it occurred on below-average volume. Still, the Harrah’s operator ranked as the best-performing member of the S&P 500 in the final week of the first quarter, capping the first three months of 2023 with a quarterly gain of 17.78%. Caesars, which is one of four casino operators residing in the benchmark domestic equity gauge, was the only member of that quartet among the index’s top-performing names this week.
It’s been about two years since Caesars joined the S&P 500. The stock is up more than 17% year-to-date and with its close today at $48.81, the stock offers potential upside 44.38% relative to the Wall Street consensus price target of $70.47.
Caesars Big Week Arrived on Little News
What makes Caesars’ big rally this week all the more interesting and, perhaps, encouraging, is the fact that it was accrued on the back of no company-specific news.
The Nevada-based casino operator made no material announcements this week. It didn’t say it’s selling a property to raise cash nor did it unveil debt-reducing plans — two marquee issues in the eyes of analysts. Nor did Caesars provide a preliminary view of its first-quarter results. It appears analyst commentary was one catalyst before the stock’s bullish ways this week.
Additionally, CZR and MGM noted on their 4Q calls that Strip occ has been trending above 90% in 2023, with group business now exceeding 2019 levels for the first time, which, in combination with a strong leisure events calendar sets operators up for record hotel revenue in the month,” wrote Macquarie analyst Chad Beynon in a report to clients.
MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) and Caesars are the top two Strip operators. In more good news for Caesars, Beynon noted first-quarter Las Vegas visitation was just 3% below pre-coronavirus levels, compared with the six-month average of -5%. MGM and Caesars combine for approximately 60% of Strip gross gaming revenue (GGR).
Another Feather in Caesars’ Cap
In what could be a sign of resilience in Caesars shares, the stock’s stellar weekly performance arrived in the face of some challenging macroeconomic news. In its March Consumer Confidence survey, the Conference Board noted betting and lotteries are the categories in which consumers are planning the biggest spending cuts over the next six months.
Another set of data from a research firm indicate leisure travelers are actively paring spending on amenities such as dining, night clubs and pools — all of which are relevant to Las Vegas casino operators, including Caesars.
Near-term catalysts for Caesars stock include the possibility of a better-than-expected first-quarter earnings report and the potential for a shorter timeline to profitability in the iGaming/online sporstsbook unit.
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