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Howard Stutz

Singapore resort fuels Las Vegas Sands

4 February 2011

SINGAPORE -- The Marina Bay Sands is not even a year old, but the $5.5 billion resort has quickly become a key piston in the engine driving Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The casino operator said Thursday it reversed a fourth-quarter net loss from a year ago, with a chunk of the increase attributable to the company's resort in Singapore, which opened in April.

Las Vegas Sands reported net income of $271 million in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, which translated to 34 cents a share. A year ago, the company lost $113.9 million, or 17 cents a share, in the fourth quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet Research estimated the company would earn 38 cents a share.

Net revenue grew 56.9 percent in the quarter to $2.02 billion, compared with $1.28 billion a year ago. Las Vegas Sands net revenue was $6.85 billion for the year, a 50 percent increase from $4.56 billion in 2009.

The Marina Bay Sands, one of two casinos in Singapore, had net revenues of $560.4 million in the last three months of 2010, which translated into cash flow of $305.8 million.

Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson said the results in Singapore were significant because portions of the resort were still under construction in the last part of the year.

"Marina Bay Sands is really still in its infancy. We are extremely pleased with the property's results and its position in the market," Adelson said. "The Singapore market is still emerging and as we near the completion of our property's original master plan, the market is all but certain to grow."

While Singapore continued to increase, half of the Las Vegas Sands' revenues came from its three resorts in Macau.

The Sands Macau, Venetian Macau and Four Seasons Macau collected revenues of $1.09 billion in the fourth quarter, an increase of 13.1 percent. Macau also accounted for $213.3 million of the company's net income in the quarter, almost 78 percent of the total.

Adelson reminded listeners on the company's fourth-quarter conference call that Macau, which was a $3.5 billion-a-year gaming market in 2003, had gaming revenues of $23.5 billion in 2010.

"Nobody, and I mean nobody, would have predicted that in a span of seven years it would be four times the size of Las Vegas," Adelson said. "Early estimates on the size of the market in Singapore have clearly been conservative as well."

Las Vegas Sands reported earnings after the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, where shares of the company increased 85 cents, or 1.72 percent, to close at $50.28. The company's stock price was down almost 6 percent in after-hours trading.

KDP Advisors gaming analyst Barbara Cappaert noted the aftermarket downward trend.

"(The stock) was likely priced to perfection given the excitement over the numbers coming out of Singapore since the third quarter," Cappaert said. "We expect momentum in Asia to dominate the company's outlook, but we would not count out a modest recovery in Las Vegas in 2011."

In Las Vegas, net revenues at The Venetian and Palazzo grew 16.5 percent to $310.6 million in the quarter. The company's casino in Bethlehem, Pa., had a revenue increase of 45 percent in the quarter to $83.4 million, thanks in large part to the addition of table games at the casino.