Steve Wynn, never one to worry about the whims of Wall Street, made a bold move in July. Despite falling revenues and stock declines, or maybe because of them, Wynn announced a huge share buyback by Wynn Resorts. He even increased the buyback plan by $500 million dollars. The company buyback increase comes just a few weeks after Wynn Resorts director, John Moran, purchased $1.7 million dollars worth of shares.
The buyback plan increase was announced on the same day that Wynn had reported a steep 30% drop in gross earnings at its Las Vegas location in the second quarter. Its Macau operations, on the other hand, were up by 68% over last year. While many of the other companies on the Strip took a big hit in share prices, Wynn’s alter ego in Macau helped make up for it for Wynn Resorts stock and they ended the day up by more than $8 per share.
Along with the buyback program that now totals more than $1 billion dollars in stock repurchases, news came from Hong Kong that Wynn Resorts had hired financial advisors to assist in putting together a $3 billion dollar stock offer to trade in the Hong Kong market. Funds raised by the offer would help pay construction costs of Wynn’s second development in Asia, the Macau Encore, which is set to open in 2010.
Rachael Rothman, an analyst with Merrill Lynch, referred to the buyback scheme as a “bullish signal” and in a research note said, “the increased authorization indicates Wynn views its own shares as its best use of surplus capital near-term.” Stock buybacks have historically signaled that a company thinks its stock is undervalued and buybacks are an almost guaranteed way to boost value. It’s a strategy that is obviously paying off for Steve Wynn as Wynn Resorts stocks rose about 40% in the two weeks following the announcement.