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Howard Stutz
 

Stumble continues for shares of Las Vegas Sands

5 November 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Investors on Friday continued to pummel shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp. a day after the company announced a quarterly net loss.

Also, gaming analysts weighed in after Las Vegas Sands executives blamed preopening expenses at the $2.4 billion Venetian Macau and lucky gamblers in Macau and at The Venetian Las Vegas for a net loss of $48.5 million in the quarter than ended Sept. 30.

Many analysts thought Las Vegas Sands shares were a good buy after two days of brisk selling.

"All else being equal, we would use any weakness to add to positions at this point as we still believe in the long-term Las Vegas Sands story and aren't overly concerned with near-term quarterly results," Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski said in a note to investors Friday. "As a reminder, earlier this year shares of Las Vegas Sands corrected 25 percent due to Macau concerns and then proceeded to advance over 100 percent over the next four months."

Las Vegas Sands, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, was off $7.78 on Thursday before the company announced its quarterly results. The company's shares fell some 20 percent in after hours trading immediately after news of the net loss.

On Friday, shares in the company recovered at the opening, but closed the day down $8.53 or 6.81 percent to end the week at $116.77. More than 11.2 million shares were traded, almost four times the average daily volume.

For the week, shares were down 12 percent.

Most analysts rate Las Vegas Sands high based on potential future earnings. The company is opening the $1.8 billion Palazzo in December on the Strip next to The Venetian and is building nearly a dozen hotel-casinos on the Cotai Strip near The Venetian Macau. The first new resort, a 1,000-room Four Seasons, is expected to open in the spring. Las Vegas Sands also operates the Sands Macau in the Chinese enclave's peninsular region.

Goldman Sachs gaming analyst Steve Kent thought the opening of The Venetian Macau, which attracted almost 3.9 million visitors in its first 65 days of operation, will even out in the long run.

"Although investors will be disappointed with (the third-quarter) results, we think the stock price will prove to be enticing for investors who look past this opening shortfall," Kent said. "Few casino openings go smoothly and management has already put a plan in place to boost results. October looks to be off to a good start."

Meanwhile, Jefferies & Co. gaming analyst Larry Klatzkin wasn't turning his back on the company. Klatzkin said the company, which is spending about $12 billion on its projects in Macau and is investing another $3.6 billion in Singapore, has too many growth projects in the works to be ignored.

"While the quarter was disappointing ... we remain extremely positive on Las Vegas Sands going forward and would be buyers of the stock on any dips," Klatzkin said. "We believe in the Macau model and demand for the convention business and look forward to a full quarter at The Venetian Macau in addition to the laundry list of additional upsides."