Las Vegas Sands Profit Meets Estimates

Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) Wednesday said second-quarter earnings met Wall Street expectations as strong growth at its casino in Macau offset weaker results in Las Vegas.

Excluding one-time items, Sands reported a second-quarter profit of 27 cents a share, meeting the average analyst estimate, as compiled by Reuters Estimates. Year-ago adjusted earnings were 12 cents a share.

Net income fell to $84.6 million, or 24 cents a share, from $461.9 million, or $1.42 cents a share, a year earlier, which included a gain of $418 million from the sale of the Grand Canal Shops mall in Las Vegas.

The company's shares were down 2 percent at $39.60 on the New York Stock Exchange (search).

Quarterly revenue rose 50 percent to $398.8 million.

The results were "a mixed bag," said Eric Hausler, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group. "The (Las Vegas) Venetian was pretty weak, but Macau exceeded expectations," he said.

The Las Vegas-based company operates the Sands Macao (search) casino, which opened in the former Portuguese colony off China's coast in May 2004.

It is also developing the Macao Venetian Casino Resort (search) and said it now plans to build all 3,000 rooms of that project in its initial phase, up from the previous 1,500 rooms and raising the project's cost by $165 million to about $2 billion.

"Macro-economic trends in China continue to be consistently and enormously positive. Exports are up, gross domestic product is up," said William Weidner, the company's president and chief operating officer.

At Sands Macao, casino revenue rose 17.5 percent to $201.1 million in the second quarter as rolling chip volume more than doubled to about $2 billion and other table game volume rose to $923 million from $855 million.

Casino revenue at the company's Venetian resort in Las Vegas fell to $73.7 million from $76.2 million a year earlier as gamblers won more at table games and spent less on slot machines.

"The Venetian has some problems — there is no production show at night and it needs help in food and beverage," Hausler said, noting the changes are in process at the resort.

The analyst also said the late April opening of Wynn Resort's Wynn Las Vegas (search) also appears to have hurt business at the Venetian.

Weidner, however, said the Wynn opening has helped to boost traffic at the Venetian and has not affected room demand. Sands attributed weaker earnings at the property to the year-ago anomaly of a single gambler spending $33 million on $500 slots.

Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Falcone noted in a report that the Venetian's quarterly average daily room rate of $231 was 19 percent below Wynn's $284.

Weidner said bookings at the Venetian are up 11 percent for August through the end of the year, at higher rates.

He also said two of three new entertainment offerings at the resort — a show by the Blue Man Group (search) and a restaurant/nightclub called Tao — are expected to open in September. A theater to house a production of Phantom of the Opera (search) is scheduled to open in mid-2006.

The company is also building a $1.6 billion casino resort, the 3,000-room Palazzo, next to the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Sands said plans to develop more properties on Macau's Cotai Strip are progressing well. It is building a 400-room luxury hotel under the Four Seasons brand and is planning two more 3,000-room hotels, to be built in multiple phases, across the Cotai Strip from the Venetian Macao. It plans to own the properties and operate them under third-party hotel brands.