Wynn Resorts gets double dose of good publicity - Monday 23rd of March 2009

Wynn Resorts received a double serving of positive national publicity this weekend, landing on Barrons list of 10 good stocks to hold for the long haul and ranking highest among gaming companies on Fortunes list of the worlds most admired companies.

Despite concerns that its stock price has tumbled along with other gaming companies in the past year because of the recession, the weekly newspaper Barrons said Wynns cash on hand of $1.1 billion gives it some "real breathing room to handle its debt load of $4.3 billion.

"I continue to believe that people are going to want entertainment, assuming the darkness lifts. And that is our assumption -- that the world will go on," Wintergreen Fund portfolio fund manager David Winters told Barrons. He says Wynns properties, including Wynn Las Vegas, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Macau, are the best of their kind.

The company, led by resort veteran Steve Wynn, has received strong reviews for its newly opened $2.3 billion, 2,034-suite Encore on the Las Vegas Strip and is now spending $700 million to construct the 704-room Encore at Wynn Macau at Wynns casino property in the Chinese region of Macau.

Separately, Fortune published its list of the worlds 50 most admired companies and the only hotel company on the list was Marriott International. Marriott has numerous hotel and timeshare properties in the Las Vegas area under several brands: Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Ritz-Carlton, Residence Inn, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill and TownePlace.

In the hotels, casinos and resorts industry, Wyndham Worldwide was ranked No. 2. Its also a big player in Las Vegas with hotel brands such as Wingate, Howard Johnson, Super 8, Travelodge and its Grand Desert timeshare resort.

Wynn Resorts was ranked No. 3 on that list, with Starwood Hotels & Resorts at No. 4. Listed as "contenders for the list were No. 5 MGM Mirage, No. 6 Harrahs Entertainment, No. 7 Las Vegas Sands and No. 8 Penn National Gaming.

The list, based on interviews with business people, is a positive for Wynn as it was not listed last year. Wynn this year was ranked No. 2 among hotels, casinos and resorts for innovation and the quality of its products and services.

The list represented a setback for MGM Mirage, which was ranked No. 3 last year but has seen its finances deteriorate because of the recession, its debt load and continued need to finance its massive CityCenter project on the Strip.

Other big players in the Las Vegas economy on Fortunes overall most-admired Top 50 list are Southwest Airlines, the No. 1 carrier at McCarran International Airport, tied for No. 7; Wells Fargo, No. 14; and Bank of America at No. 26.

On the industry lists, UnitedHealth Group, a big insurer in Las Vegas, was ranked No. 3 in its industry. Among hospital operators, HCA, owner of the Sunrise hospitals in Las Vegas, was ranked No. 4 while Valley Health System owner Universal Health Services came in at No. 6.

The most-admired homebuilders, in order, are KB Home, Toll Brothers, Centex and Pulte Homes. Among real estate companies, Simon Property Group is ranked No. 2. It owns the Forum Shops at Caesars as well as the Las Vegas Outlet Center and the Las Vegas Premium Outlets.

Among grocery and drugstore operators, the most admired with local operations are No. 1 Tesco (Fresh & Easy), No. 3 Safeway (Vons), No. 4 CVS/Caremark, No. 5 Kroger (Smiths Food & Drug) and No. 6 Walgreen. Among general merchandisers, the most admired, in order, are Wal-Mart, Target, Nordstrom, JCPenney and Kohls.

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