Steve Wynn Is a Foolish CEO -- and That's a Good Thing

By Markets Fool.com

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Wynn Palace in Macau could be a boon for Wynn Resorts, but investors aren't looking that far ahead right now. Image source: Wynn Resorts.

Wall Street investors aren't very excited about Wynn Resorts at the moment. The company reported first-quarter earnings recently and they fell well short of Wall Street expectations, while a 66% cut in the dividend took investors off guard.

On the conference call with analysts, Steve Wynn was unapologetic about the dividend cut and made it clear he was going to run the company the way he saw fit. If you're just looking for Wynn Resorts to hit its numbers next quarter, that may not be a good thing, but if you're a Foolish investor (with a capital "F"), you should love the way Steve Wynn talked about his business.

Here's a look at just a few things Wynn said and why they make me want to double down on Wynn Resorts' stock.

Steve Wynn knows what his business is
If you've ever been to a resort Steve Wynn owns, you know that the experience is top-notch. The design has to be the best, service has to be the best, food is outstanding, even nightclubs are a cut above the competition. So when revenue falls, as it did in Macau last quarter, Steve Wynn isn't about to cut back on services that could help profits in the short term but would damage the brand in the long term.

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I was most impressed with Steve Wynn's comments on what he believes is most important to that long-term success:

Guest experience is determined by our employees, the people that actually touch our guests and create that experience. So our attention goes from our balance sheet and our financial condition to maintain flexibility, but also it goes immediately to keeping our workforce stabilized, happy, and proud to be here. That's the core of our business plan; that's the core of our understanding, and every major decision in this company is determined by those principles alone. Protect the employee attitudes and morale, because they impact and they really create the guest experience.

Wynn is clearly protecting the guest experience, and in the long term, that will pay off for Wynn Resorts. The short-term cost is lower margins and lower profitability, because these are fixed operating costs that can't be changed as revenue goes up or down. As a Foolish investor, I'll give up margins this quarter for a better long-term investment any day.

Dividends aren't sacred
As investors, we often get tied to what a company's dividend or yield. But dividends are really just a way to return profits to shareholders, so if profits go down, shouldn't dividends as well?

Steve Wynn took a hard stand against the concept that dividends are sacred:

We lowered the dividend, as we have raised it in the past, based upon financial results. We are lowering it today to $0.50 a quarter, and I might add that I and my Board of Directors would not hesitate to adjust the dividend down or up based upon performance, without a second thought and without any apology.

That sounds like the kind of business owner who isn't willing to compromise his balance sheet or long-term success just to keep the market happy with a consistent dividend payout.

There's a reason Wynn Las Vegas is the most profitable resort in Las Vegas, and guest experience is a big part of it. Image source: Wynn Resorts.

Again, short-term investors will point to this as a sign of weakness for Wynn Resorts, but if you take the long view it's just proof that Steve Wynn is operating the company for long-term success. He is, after all, the biggest shareholder, so he not only has a vested interest in success, but he also has a strong interest in getting a dividend. If he's willing to accept a lower quarterly payout to ensure a strong balance sheet for years to come, shouldn't we?

Sometimes it pays to think Foolishly
Steve Wynn has a long track record of getting it right when it comes to the gambling industry. He's built some of the most successful resorts in the world and knows how he needs to operate them to attract the high-end consumers willing to pay for the Wynn experience.

As a long-term investor, I appreciate that he's not willing to give an inch on that experience to maintain a quarter's profits or keep a high dividend payout that could compromise the balance sheet. He runs Wynn Resorts in a very Foolish way, with a focus on the long term. That's why I'm staying invested in Wynn Resorts and will look to buy more in coming weeks, now that the market is giving me a discount on shares.

The article Steve Wynn Is a Foolish CEO -- and That's a Good Thing originally appeared on Fool.com.

Travis Hoium owns shares of Wynn Resorts, Limited. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.