Is Vegas Growth Peaking?

After exhausting my own reading materials on a recent Southwest Airlines flight to Baltimore, I thumbed through the air carrier’s in-flight magazine entitled Attache. What I found in its pages was very interesting. Nearly every single page of advertising (probably half the entire magazine) had something to do with Las Vegas. Either a plug for a Vegas casino, a specific show at one of the Vegas casinos, or most frequently, a new high-rise condominium project in Vegas.

The constant marketing of Vegas with each turn of the page showed me that growth in that city may very well be peaking. After all, can construction there really accelerate from here? With so much capacity being added to Las Vegas, I can’t help but wonder how all of it is going to be filled. The new Wynn hotel recently opened to much fanfare, and there was even an article about MGM’s new massive building project along with all of those ads. No fewer than a dozen new condo buildings are going up, with the likes of Ivana Trump gracing their colorful advertisements.

While demand may be high, I doubt so much more supply is going to be good for the city. With vacant desert land as far as the eye can see, I sure hope people keep coming to Vegas, both vacationers and new residents. If the economy were to slow down noticeably, travel would likely decrease, leaving billions in new projects at risk. Investing in Vegas now, whether it be via the companies that are building there, or directly in the local real estate market seems like a risky bet to me.

As attractive as the growth opportunities for the country’s largest gaming companies are, I am having a hard time justifying Vegas-related investments at this point in time. The rapid growth could very well continue for several more years, but the downside risk is evident enough to me that I prefer looking elsewhere for my consumer discretionary holdings. In fact, I have sold all gaming related stocks aside from a hedged pair trade of long WYNN, short LVS.

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