2012 is nearing its end, and now's a good opportunity to look at what happened throughout the year to the stocks you follow. If you know the important things that a company achieved, as well as any challenges it failed to overcome, then you can make a better decision about whether it really deserves a spot in your portfolio.

Today, I'll look at Melco Crown Entertainment . Despite its relatively small size, Melco Crown has the distinction of being a pure play on the success of the Asian gaming capital of Macau. But as Asian economies have started to see their growth slow, Macau has started to see the effects. Below, you'll find more on what moved shares of Melco Crown this year.

Stats on Melco Crown

Year-to-Date Stock Return

49.6%

Market Cap

$8.12 billion

Revenue, Past 12 Months

$3.98 billion

Net Income, Past 12 Months

$416.8 million

1-Year Revenue Growth

10.8%

1-Year Net Income Growth

104.9%

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

****


Source: S&P Capital IQ.

What sent Melco Crown soaring this year?
Coming into 2012, everything seemed to be going well for Melco Crown. Strong growth and the prospect for further success on the Cotai Strip had investors optimistic about Macau in general.

Yet by summer, it was apparent that growth in Macau was taking a pause. Wynn Resorts' Wynn Macau saw a 7% decline in rolling-chip volume during the second quarter versus the previous year, and two Las Vegas Sands properties experienced declines of 16.5% and 20.5%, respectively. Fortunately for Melco, it was able to hold its losses to just 1% at its City of Dreams resort.

Still, one big way in which Melco stands out from its U.S.-based counterparts is in its relative lack of debt. With less than a year's worth of operating earnings in net debt, Melco has a lot more flexibility to make ambitious moves than debt-ridden MGM Resorts or Caesars Entertainment . It also trades at a better valuation than its peers, which explains why its stock has had more room to rise.

Of course, if Asia continues to falter, Melco Crown can't avoid feeling the hit forever. For now, though, the company has done an excellent job of weathering what could be a big storm for Asian gaming. 

Learn more
Melco Crown may have done well in 2012, but how's 2013 shaping up for the oft-forgotten gaming company? The Motley Fool answers this question and more in our most in-depth Melco Crown research available for smart investors like you. Thousands have already claimed their own premium ticker coverage, and you can gain instant access: Just click here now.

Click here to add Melco Crown to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

The article Melco Crown in 2012: A Big Winner originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. 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.

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