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Howard Stutz

Asia properties boost LV Sands

26 April 2012

Roughly 83 percent of Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s $2.76 billion in first-quarter revenues came from the casino operator's holdings in Asia.

Don't expect that to change anytime soon.

During a conference call with analysts and investors Wednesday to discuss the company's financial results for the three months ended March 31, Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson said he doesn't believe the gaming operator's prospects in Macau and Singapore will flatten out.

"The word plateau, in terms of Asia, is not in our vocabulary," Adelson said.

Results from Las Vegas Sands' three resorts in Macau and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore helped the company more than double its first-quarter profits.

Las Vegas Sands said its net income in the quarter was $498.9 million, an increase of 118.7 percent compared with $228.2 million in the same quarter of 2011. The profits translated into earnings per share of 61 cents, compared with 28 cents per share a year ago, an increase of 117.9 percent.

While the company's net revenue of $2.76 billion was an increase of 30.8 percent, $1.45 billion came from Macau and $848.7 million was derived from Singapore.

Adelson said the casino at the Marina Bay Sands averaged $4.47 million a day in gaming revenues. Even he has been surprised by the level of high-end gamblers who have found their way to the two-year-old resort.

"There is an awful lot of VIP play in the world," Adelson said.

The Marina Bay Sands' revenues increased 45 percent during the quarter; the property's adjusted cash flow jumped 66 percent.

In Macau, the company's total net revenues from its three properties increased 25 percent. Net income increased 5.8 percent to $277.4 million, compared with $262.1 million a year ago.

In Las Vegas, The Venetian and Palazzo hotel-casinos grew net revenues by 26 percent in the quarter to $384.6 million, which included casino revenues of $158.7 million, a 91 percent increase.

Las Vegas Sands said in a statement that strong baccarat play drove table game wagering to $609 million at the two casinos, a 27.8 percent increase compared with a year ago.

As a company, Las Vegas Sands said its cash flow in the quarter, reported as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was $1.07 billion.

"No company in our industry has ever achieved a billion dollars of EBITDA for a quarter," Adelson said.

The quarterly earnings did not include results from the $4.4 billion Sands Cotai Central in Macau, which opened its first phase on April 11. The project includes a 600-room Conrad hotel and a 1,200-room Holiday Inn, along with casinos, retail, dining, convention space and other entertainment amenities. A 4,000-room Sheraton is expected to open in March.

Sands Cotai Central added to Las Vegas Sands' ongoing operations in Macau, which includes The Venetian and Sands resorts and a Four Seasons property.

In a note to investors before the company reported earnings, Sterne Agee gaming analyst David Bain said Las Vegas Sands was just beginning to "ramp up" operations at the Sands Cotai Central.

Bain said junket operators didn't want to disrupt monthly business at established locations and would have incentive based on increased compensation levels to push business to Sands Cotai Central starting at the beginning of the month. Also, the weeklong Chinese Labor Day celebration begins May 1.

"We believe increased traffic flow will benefit Cotai Central as patrons explore the new offering," Bain said.

Adelson also updated investors on the company's plans for a $22 billion development in Spain. He said the project would be built over a nine-year period and include four 3,000-room hotel-casinos. He plans to fly members of the company's board of directors to Spain to look at sites in Madrid and Barcelona.

"We hope to make a decision on which parcel within the next month or so," Adelson said, adding the project might be called "EuroVegas."

Las Vegas Sands Corp. shares rose $2.38, or 4.22 percent, Wednesday to close at $58.78 on the New York Stock Exchange.