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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

Asian success boosts Las Vegas Sands results

28 October 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The success Las Vegas Sands Corp. is experiencing in Asia is now boosting the company's results in Las Vegas.

The casino operator reported Thursday that its third-quarter net income was $353.6 million, a 110.5 percent increase compared with $168 million in the same quarter a year ago. The profits translated into 44 cents per share, up from 21 cents in same quarter of 2010.

Net revenue for the third quarter company-wide was $2.41 billion, an increase of 26.2 percent compared with $1.91 billion in the third quarter of 2010.

"The company's efforts at all of its properties certainly paid off and should position Las Vegas Sands well when it looks to refinance its U.S. debt sometime in the next year," KDP Investment Advisors gaming analyst Barbara Cappaert wrote in a research note.

How well is the Las Vegas Sands doing?

Company Chairman Sheldon Adelson told analysts he was sending out "egg-wiping face towels" for those who doubted the potential of the company's Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, where cash flow increased by 71.3 percent and revenues jumped 63.1 percent, to $792.4 million.

"All facets of our business at Marina Bay Sands are humming," Adelson said.

In Macau, Las Vegas Sands saw revenues increase 11.1 percent to $1.20 billion at its three properties in the quarter.

"Our nongaming businesses in Macau continue to grow," Adelson said. "Rooms, food and beverage, and retail revenue at The Venetian Macao Resort-Hotel all saw significant percentage increases."

Meanwhile, on the Strip, The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino and The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino saw revenues grow 19.5 percent to $347.4 million.

Adelson said the growth in Macau and Singapore helped the company's Strip resorts, where cash flow increased 62 percent from a year ago. The company's Strip resorts seemingly suffered over the past two years during the recession, while Macau flourished.

Adelson said high-end play from Asia added to increases in convention business and hotel occupancy, which saw 93 percent of The Venetian and Palazzo's 7,000 rooms sold to cash customers.

"The power of our global presence is attracting new players here and enabled The Venetian and Palazzo to record $536 million in table games drop (wagering), the second largest quarter in terms of drop in the history of our Las Vegas properties," Adelson said.

Las Vegas Sands officials used Thursday's earnings announcement to discuss plans for Sands Cotai Central, in which the first phase of some 5,800 hotel rooms are expected to open in March.

Company President Michael Leven said a 1,200-room Holiday Inn Hotel and 600-room Conrad resort will be the first projects to open on the Cotai Strip, which also will include gaming facilities, retail, restaurants and meeting and convention space.

A 2,000-room Sheraton will open in 2013 followed by another 2,000 rooms later that year.

Adelson said Sands Cotai Central will be the only project on the area of reclaimed land opening over the next three years. The Cotai Strip has attracted interest from rivals Wynn Resorts Ltd., and MGM Resorts International.

"It was a swamp and bay. Everything was under water," said Adelson, who was the first developer to build on Cotai. "Nobody wanted it. Now, everybody talks about it."

Adelson said the company is more focused on developing other projects in Asia, such as Japan or Korea, rather than expanding in the United States. Las Vegas Sands is reportedly interested, however, in a potential project in Miami, where Florida lawmakers are discussing the possibility of allowing three hotel-casinos to be built in the southern part of the state.

Adelson said "there are some obstacles" in Florida.

During the conference call, Adelson was asked if Las Vegas Sands might consider paying dividends to its shareholders. He said the idea had been discussed by the company's board of directors, but may not come up until 2012.

"My wife would like dividends. So would my children," said Adelson, who controls roughly 53 percent of Las Vegas Sands. "Maybe I'll get a new plane."