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Las Vegas Sands profit jumps to $320.1M in 4Q

Oskar Garcia, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Casino-resort developer Las Vegas Sands Corp. said its fourth-quarter net income rose 17 percent to $320.1 million as the company set an internal record for revenue, thanks mainly to more people gambling at its resorts in Macau and Singapore, company officials said Wednesday.

The company's billionaire CEO, Sheldon Adelson, who has made headlines recently for his and his wife's combined donation of $10 million to a political action committee supporting GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, said the company is seriously considering building resorts in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.

"Our most recent conversations have advanced to the point where details such as site selection ... have been discussed," Adelson told investors during a conference call Wednesday.

Adelson said the company hopes to build one resort each in the two most populous cities in each country.

Sands' net income amounted to 39 cents per share. Its revenue for the quarter rose 26.3 percent to $2.54 billion.

The company reported adjusted earnings of 57 cents per share, in line with an average forecast from analysts, while its revenue beat the average forecast for revenue of $2.46 billion.

After hours, its shares fell 90 cents to $49.28, after finishing the day up $1.07, or 2.2 percent, at $50.18.

Analyst Robin Farley of UBS Investment Research said Sands' earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in Las Vegas missed Wall Street's targets. She said the company also got a lucky bump in Singapore, where it won more money from high rollers than it should have given the amount the gamblers wagered.

"Luck may have added about $22 million or more to the reported $427 million (in EBITDA)," Farley told investors in a note.

Adelson said he thinks analysts underappreciate Sands' growth potential and standing in the industry.

Sands declared an annual dividend of $1 per share to be paid in four parts, starting March 30.

The company said that in Macau, more middle-income gamblers played slots and table games. They wagered at lower limits than high rollers, but with lower costs — so their bets were more profitable.

Fourth-quarter revenue for the subsidiary Sands China increased 22 percent to $1.33 billion. In Singapore, revenue rose 44 percent to $806.9 million. And in Las Vegas, Sands' revenue climbed 9.3 percent to $339.5 million, while it rose 25.9 percent in Bethlehem, Pa., to $105 million.

Adelson said the company now has just under one-fifth of the Macau market, and he expects that share to rise as Sands revamps its relationships with junket representatives who bring in high rollers and after Sands Cotai, a new casino development, opens in eight weeks.

Adelson said Macau's eye-popping gambling tourism will keep growing as transportation infrastructure improves and more urban Chinese people have the disposable income and hotel rooms are built.

Sands also has asked the Chinese government for permission to build a new 4,000-room themed casino on land Sands owns in Macau's Cotai peninsula; it would have separate towers for mass-market gamblers and high rollers. Adelson said he thinks Sands is ahead of other companies wanting to expand in Cotai because it already owns the land it wants to build on.

He said he has also talked with the Singapore government about buying land adjacent to its Marina Bay Sands resort and building an additional 1,000 to 1,500 rooms there. More rooms could significantly increase revenue at the resort, where occupancy is above 90 percent.

"We're turning people away," he said.


Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .