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LAS VEGAS-The Applied Analysis Gaming Index posted its third consecutive month of decline, dropping by 16.3 points, or 4.6%. The locally based research firm’s Index tracks the stock prices of nine casino companies with significant operations in Nevada. Since hitting 379.3 in May 2006, the high-water mark since it was launched in 1998 with a value of 100, the Index has been on the decline and now stands at 337.1.

The good news is that six out of nine gaming companies posted stock values ahead of where they started the month, a signal that declines may be flattening, and that the gaming index remains 10.2% ahead on a year-over-year basis. The Index’s year-over-year performance doubled that of the S&P 500, which experienced a more modest 5.1% increase.

The continued decline in the Index is being contributed to profit taking by investors. The companies’ stock performance late in the month, however, suggests some investors believe there is upward mobility in prices, according to Applied Analysis principals Brian Gordon and Jeremy Aguero.

“Recent softness in overall visitation growth estimates by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has caught our attention,” states the analysis that accompanies the data. Overall, however, “fundamentals within the industry remain stable, with the majority of key indicators pointing toward continued strength in the travel and tourism industry.”

Last month, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported that the Las Vegas area hosted about 3.16 million June visitors in 2006, down 2% from June 2005. Through the first half of the year, visitor volume was off about one half of 1% and hotel room nights occupied by visitors was down 8.9%.

Analysts’ expectations for the Macau market provided a boost to operators with material interests in the area, mainly Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts Ltd. The company’s share prices are up 14% and 25% from the end of July, respectively.

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