S'pore casino helps boost Las Vegas Sands earnings

  • Business
  • Thursday, 28 Oct 2010

LAS VEGAS: Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. said Wednesday it earned US$168 million during the third quarter on a record $1.91 billion in revenue, with help from strong business in China and a new casino in Singapore.

The company run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson said it earned 21 cents per share for the third quarter, compared with a loss of 19 cents per share, $123 million, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, net income was $265.2 million, 34 cents per share, compared with $20.1 million a year earlier.

The results beat the average expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who typically exclude one-time items. They predicted revenue of $1.79 billion and earnings of 23 cents per share.

Adelson, in celebrating the quarter's success, noted that a Chinese newspaper said Sands stock is worthy of children's trust funds.

"We have clearly — as the Macau publication stated — separated ourselves from the pack," Adelson said.

Sands took in $1.08 billion in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau and $485.9 million at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore during that property's first full quarter in operation. Its revenue in Las Vegas was $290.7 million.

Adelson called the Singapore's $241 million in earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization the best first quarter ever for any of Sands' resorts.

The Singapore casino has brought gambling to a new market of southeast Asians, Adelson said, attracting many customers with a lot of money who are influential in their respective countries.

The high-end market has made up 60 percent of Sands' gambling revenue in Asia, and Adelson said he plans to go for more of it.

"What we're going to focus on first is more private gaming rooms," Adelson told investors in a conference call. "(In) one private gaming room — one bet can equal all the bets that are on the table in the mass gaming floor for that minute."

Success in Singapore and Macau — where revenue jumped 27.7 percent compared with the same period last year — further pulled Sands' focus toward Asia.

"Simply put, our business overall has never been healthier," Adelson said.

Sands is based in Sin City, but only 15.2 percent of its revenue during the quarter came from business in Las Vegas.

Still, revenue in Las Vegas jumped 17.8 percent to $116.6 million as retail revenue nearly doubled and room occupancy rose. Revenue per available room — a key measure for hoteliers — jumped 13.1 percent to $173 at the Palazzo and 2.6 percent to $156 at the Venetian.

Sands spent less in Las Vegas on promotional allowances, and Adelson told investors that the company would likely raise the bar again this week for gamblers hoping for freebies from Sands casinos.

"I personally am averse to this kind of promotion," Adelson said. "I think it diminishes our brand and I don't think it does much for us."

Despite the improvement in Las Vegas, Adelson and other executives said they have mixed feelings about economic recovery in a market that has been down more than two years.

Sands' overall casino revenue rose to $1.57 billion compared with $908 million during the third quarter last year. Room revenue rose to $208 million from $155.7 million a year earlier, while convention and retail business rose to $147.2 million compared with $95.6 million.

Sands said it had $3.35 billion in cash as of Sept. 30, with $959.7 million restricted for construction in Macau and Singapore.

Sands said its total debt as of Sept. 30 was $10.14 billion, with $835.9 million due this year and next. - AP

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