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Shares of MGM Resorts fall after downgrade

NEW YORK (AP) -- An analyst downgraded MGM Resorts Thursday, saying he doesn't see further big gains in its shares after a rally in the past two months.

THE SPARK: Nomura's Harry Curtis lowered his rating to "Neutral" from "Buy," noting that the stock has risen nearly 40 percent since mid-November.

THE BIG PICTURE: MGM Resorts International Inc., based in Las Vegas, has 15 casino-resorts in the U.S., including the Bellagio, MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Its Chinese arm also operates a casino-resort in Macau. On Wednesday, the company won official approval to build a second casino in Macau.

Macau, a semiautonomous region of China, is the world's largest gambling market. The region has become an increasingly important source of profit for U.S. casino companies as the U.S. casino industry has been slow to recover from the recession.

Revenue from Macau's three dozen casinos is about six times the amount earned on the Las Vegas Strip.

THE ANALYSIS: Curtis said the stock's recent rally means shares fairly reflect MGM's recent debt refinancing and increasing gaming volumes in Macau.

He lifted his price target by $1.50 to $13.50. While Curtis doesn't expect substantial gains any time soon, he is more optimistic over a longer period. He said the stock price could reach the high teens in 18 months.

THE SHARES: Down 31 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $12.58 in afternoon trading.