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LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Las Vegas Sands Corp. credited strong table game play at its expanded casino in Macau with fueling a jump in the company's third-quarter earnings.
The casino operator, which owns The Venetian and is building the $1.8 billion Palazzo, said Wednesday it earned $97.3 million in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, up 21.4 percent compared with 80.1 million for the same three-month period a year ago.
Las Vegas Sands earned 27 cents a share, up from 23 cents in the 2005 third quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had predicted the company would earn 29 cents per share.
Company executives said preopening expenses for the Sands Macau, development costs and other charges affected earnings per share.
Meanwhile, the Sands Macau drove the company's profits.
The casino, which expanded in September, boosted its gross gaming revenues from table games by more than 50 percent, which Las Vegas Sands President Bill Weidner said was three times faster than the overall Macau market.
Overall, the Sands Macau grew casino revenues almost 40 percent to $335.6 million in the quarter, compared with $240.1 million a year ago.
"Despite the addition of incremental capacity in the marketplace, we maintained our overall market share, continuing to capture over 21 percent of the table game market in Macau," Weidner said.
He said the company's $2.4 billion Venetian Macau on the Cotai Strip is scheduled to open next summer while different phases of construction activity have begun on all seven of the company-controlled Cotai sites.
Revenue for Las Vegas Sands was $553.2 million in the quarter, a 24 percent increase compared with $437.6 million a year ago.
In Las Vegas, The Venetian had a quarterly decline in gaming revenues, $89.3 million compared with $94.3 million a year ago. Hotel revenue at The Venetian, however, climbed 11.6 percent.
"We continue to realize the benefits of our targeted capital investments as we broaden our product offering at The Venetian," Weidner said. "The recently opened 450,000 square feet of carpeted meeting space continues to fuel increases in group business and related food and beverage revenues. In addition, our expanded entertainment offerings are continuing to mature, and are driving increased visitation, revenues and cash flow to the property."
Weidner said the Palazzo is on course to open next fall, giving the company more than 7,000 hotel rooms on the Strip.
"We believe this property will provide an excellent platform for profitable growth in Las Vegas for years to come," Weidner said.
Las Vegas Sands announced earnings after the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday. Company shares finished the day at $76.32, up 12 cents, or 0.16 percent.
This week, Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Bill Lerner initiated coverage on Las Vegas Sands, setting an initial price target of $85 a share. He called the company "an emerging story with more news to come," citing a nongaming development near the company's Cotai Strip plans and the potential of winning a license in Pennsylvania for a slot machine-only casino.
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