Genting Singapore 'not out of the woods yet'

Resorts World Sentosa has been stepping up efforts to attract more mass market gamblers from Malaysia.
Resorts World Sentosa has been stepping up efforts to attract more mass market gamblers from Malaysia.ST FILE PHOTO

The long lean spell shows no sign of ending at Genting Singapore over coming quarters as the firm grapples with slowing economies here and in China, and currency pressures on its key Malaysian and Indonesian gamblers.

These headwinds have prompted gaming analysts to lower their estimates for the remainder of this year and 2016 - a blow for a firm that has already endured several quarters of lacklustre returns.

Mr Grant Govertsen, managing partner of Union Gaming Research Macau, noted yesterday that Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) has been stepping up efforts to attract more mass market gamblers from Malaysia through the recent opening of its new hotel in Jurong. "However, given the sharp decline in the value of the ringgit, we believe this will have a negative near-term impact on Malaysian visitation and gross gaming (and non-gaming revenue) at RWS," he said. "Over the first two months of the third quarter, the ringgit and rupiah have depreciated by more than 10 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively relative to the Singapore dollar."

CHALLENGING TIMES

Morgan Stanley recently cut its Singapore GDP growth estimates, highlighting the risk of a weakening manufacturing sector and a lower global growth. We now expect the Singapore gaming market to be worth US$4.7 billion in 2015, a decline of 21 per cent year on year due to a VIP revenue decline of 43 per cent in 2015.

MORGAN STANLEY ASIA MANAGING DIRECTOR PRAVEEN CHOUDHARY

However, it is a different story for VIP gamblers from mainland China, who are benefiting from the yuan's 10 per cent appreciation against the Singdollar. But the general weakness in Chinese VIP play in Singapore means there is less to get excited about, he said.

Morgan Stanley, which maintains an overweight call on Genting Singapore, also cut its mass and VIP estimates for this half of the year and next year due to currency headwinds and slower Singapore and China growth.

In addition, Genting Singapore may face "incremental competition from Shanghai Disneyland, which is expected to open in spring 2016", Morgan Stanley Asia managing director Praveen Choudhary said yesterday. "Morgan Stanley recently cut its Singapore GDP growth estimates, highlighting the risk of a weakening manufacturing sector and a lower global growth," he added. "We now expect the Singapore gaming market to be worth US$4.7 billion (S$6.7 billion) in 2015, a decline of 21 per cent year on year due to a VIP revenue decline of 43 per cent in 2015."

But there are still silver linings. "Genting has a strong balance sheet (net cash of $1.2 billion) and a stable mass business. Chinese visitation to Singapore has also improved meaningfully in the past few months," Mr Choudhary said.

Said Mr Govertsen: "The yuan's appreciation against the US dollar, Hong Kong dollar and Macau pataca may make it more expensive for mainland Chinese gamblers to go to Macau, but cheaper to go to Singapore."

The recent China stock market rout may also make equities "much less interesting gambling vehicles", he said. "Gamblers may come back to Singapore and Macau."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Genting S'pore 'not out of the woods yet''. Print Edition | Subscribe