Sands shares up on dividend payment news

Las Vegas Sands shares jump on news of special dividend payment this December

Associated Press

Shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp. jumped Tuesday after the casino operator said it would pay a special dividend to shareholders by the end of the year.

THE SPARK: Las Vegas Sands is returning more money to its shareholders. The company said Monday that it would pay $2.75 per share in December on top of a regular quarterly dividend of 25 cents, also payable in December.

The company earlier this month lifted its regular quarterly dividend to 35 cents, starting next year.

THE BIG PICTURE: The casino operator is the latest in a string company to move up its quarterly payout or issue a special end-of-year payment to protect investors from potentially having to pay higher taxes on dividend income starting in January. Tax rates are scheduled to rise from a maximum 15 percent on dividend income to as much as 43.4 percent for the highest earners, unless rules change under a budget compromise between Congress and President Barack Obama.

The company said it was making the move as it part of its commitment to returning capital to shareholders. Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, who owns about 52 percent of the company's shares, stands to receive $1.19 billion from the special dividend payment.

THE ANALYSIS: The special dividend provides further evidence that Las Vegas Sands is nearing a "transformative phase," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Steven Wieczynski, one in which growth slows from "exponential" rates of the past two years, and the company focuses more on returning money to its investors.

Revenue climbed 37 percent in 2011, and analysts expect growth of 17 percent this year.

SHARE ACTION: Shares jumped $2.64, or 6 percent, to $46.67 in early afternoon trading. Its stock has ranged between $34.72 and $62.09 in the past 52 weeks, while gaining 3 percent overall in 2012.

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