Macau, you see, wrested that title away from Las Vegas back in 2006 - with hotels and casinos that are mind-blowing in size and scope - even by extravagant Las Vegas standards.
In 2012, Macau's gross gaming revenue eclipsed that of the Las Vegas Strip by five and a half times. And there seems to be no end in sight for these rising revenue figures. In August, revenue for Macau rose 17.6% year over year, which equates to more than $3.8 billion in revenue.
Macau's success is a direct result of the rising prosperity of the Chinese people. After all, more than 60% of the visitors to Macau are Chinese, and that percentage is still growing.
But what about all the hand-wringing over the slowdown of China's economy? While it's true the Chinese stock market is down substantially since its peak in 2009, the nation is still growing at 7.5% per year, more than three times the pace of the U.S. economy.
And as Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald recently wrote, "For all the hype surrounding its seemingly inglorious fall from grace after leading the world out of the global financial crisis, the country is still in the early innings of what will go down as the greatest wealth creation mankind has ever seen."
China is slowly switching to a consumer-based growth economy - much like Japan, Korea, and Taiwan have done. Which means that Macau's growth story, fueled by an emergent Chinese middle class willing to use their huge amount of discretionary spending to travel, vacation, and gamble, has a long, long way to go.
That makes Las Vegas Sands stock something you're definitely going to want to place some chips on.
Here's a closer look at why LVS has been on such a hot streak...
Why Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) Is a Good Bet
In 2012, Las Vegas Sands took in $5.8 billion in revenue from its four Macau properties. This accounted for nearly 52% of the company's total revenue.
But that's changing quickly.
During the second quarter of 2013, LVS had 14.6 million visitors enter its Macau casinos and hotels. This translates into a 40% increase when compared to last year's quarter.
Sands China, which runs the Asian properties for Las Vegas Sands, increased its revenues by almost 40% in the second quarter and currently represents 64% of Las Vegas Sands total revenue.
And Sands is not resting on its laurels. It is moving forward with an additional property on Macau's Cotai Strip. The Parisian Macau, projected to open in late 2015, is aimed toward that burgeoning Chinese middle class with its family-oriented facilities.
There also may be some opportunity in Japan. The country is known for its vast number of quasi-gambling pachinko parlors, but table games and true casinos have been prohibited.
LVS has been in constant communication with the Japanese government in the hope that legislation to permit casinos will be pushed forward. With Japan's flaccid economy and its ongoing search for revenues, the government may decide to reconsider its prohibition of casino gambling sooner rather than later.
In the European region, Sands has a $7.9 billion, 10-year plan to develop six casinos, multitudes of hotels, shopping centers, and golf courses in Madrid, Spain.
Last on the list are the U.S. casino operations - and for good reason. The lackluster U.S. economy has yet to make the turn, and Nevada is suffering. In July 2013 gambling industry revenue was $926 million for the state, down 8% from July 2012.
For the Las Vegas Strip (where Sands has its casinos), gambling revenue was down 14.2% to $522 million. With numbers like these, is it any wonder why Sands is focusing on its properties outside the United States?
Where LVS Stock Is Headed
LVS stock has been on a tear over the last month and is up nearly 15% - breaching new multi-year highs.
Could the stock pull back a bit? Of course. In fact, it seems as if it is in need of a sell-off.
With earnings due out this week, a sound approach would be to purchase a portion now before the announcement with the balance of the purchase after the news comes out. Of course, having a protective stop in place is a must.
Two items I'd like to add to the bullish case I am building...
First, much like every other cash-flush company, LVS is in the midst of a $2 billion stock repurchase program, plus it manages to pay a dividend yield of 2.5%. Not too shabby of a return of capital for shareholders in what in many ways is still a growth company.
Second, here's another juicy tidbit about the China-Macau storyline. China's infrastructure is still being built out. The new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is expected to be completed in three years.
That means visitors to Macau will no longer be arriving exclusively via the Macau airport, but also through the Hong Kong airport - which will be just 25 minutes from the Sands properties.
As Sands Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Anderson said, once the bridge is completed, "It's going to be 'Katie bar the door.'"
I'm placing my wager on the success of Las Vegas Sands and offer it as a BUY.
P.S.: My last column was on Whole Foods, which sits in the sweet spot of the $60 billion - and growing - organic foods business. But just as other companies are starting to pile in to this lucrative market, Whole Foods has launched an unlikely strategy that promises to create a fresh source of growth...
[Editor's Note: If you have a stock you would like to see us analyze in a future issue, leave us a note in the comments below and we'll add it to our list.]
About the Author: David Mamos brings nearly 15 years of analytical experience to the table with a background ranging from big-picture fundamental analysis to highly technical trading decisions. He began his career working as a financial advisor with Royal Alliance in 2001 and helped clients with portfolio management as well as buy-sell decisions before transitioning to the development, implementation, and execution of trading strategies for aggressive investors.