Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS): Q1 Earnings Preview

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) is scheduled to release its first-quarter earnings after the market close on Thursday, May 6 2010. Analysts, on average, expect the company to report earnings of 2 per share on revenue of $1.3 billion. In the year ago period, the company reported earnings of 1 cents per share on revenue of $1.08 billion.

Las Vegas Sands Corp., together with its subsidiaries, develops multi-use integrated resorts worldwide. It owns and operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino, and The Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada; and the Sands Macao, The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, and the Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Strip in Macau, the People’s Republic of China. The company is also developing Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort in Singapore; and Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, an integrated resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

In the preceding fourth quarter, the Las Vegas, Nevada-based company recorded a narrower loss of $113.91 million, or 17 cents per share, from $136.53 million, or 27 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. Adjusted net income totaled $20.91 million, or 3 cents per share, compared to adjusted net loss of $17.80 million, or 4 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue rose 17.5% to $1.28 billion from $1.09 billion in the year-ago quarter. Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of 3 cents per share on revenue of $1.23 billion.

The company opened the first phase of its Singapore casino on April 27, earlier than expected; bringing into play a project CEO Sheldon Adelson says will generate $1 billion in annual profits. The $5.5 billion Marina Bay Sands casino will start operating along with 963 hotel rooms, part of the shopping mall and convention center, and several dining outlets. The Marina Bay Sands occupies a waterfront site at the edge of Singapore's central business district, and was the more fiercely contested license when Singapore gave the green light to casinos in 2005 in a bid to attract more tourists.

Singapore opening date comes at a time when most Las Vegas casino operators are struggling amid falling room rates. Moreover, there are concerns that MGM's CityCenter, which opened late last year, will add to an overall room glut in Las Vegas. Las Vegas Sands said the Singapore casino's official opening is scheduled for June 23 when the firm expects to open more retail and dining outlets along with the nightlife offerings.

Inspired by Macau’s emergence as the Las Vegas of the Far East, Singapore is working hard turn to portray itself as an Asian playground for the rich. The country, which legalized casino gambling in 2005, sees casinos as an important part of a broader effort to promote itself as a getaway for tourists. The city-state is aiming to increase the number of annual visitors from 9.7 million last year to 17 million by 2015.

LVS has huge ambitions for the development, which is one of the world’s most impressive gaming facilities in a rapidly-growing market. It is likely to benefit from an explosive growth in visitor arrivals in the Asian city-state. According to Singapore Tourism Board, visitor arrivals to Singapore may rise by as much as 30 percent this year, helped by an economic recovery in Asia. In February, visitor arrivals in Singapore rose 24 percent from a year earlier to reach 857,000, the highest ever for the month. This makes it the third month in a row Singapore has seen record visitor arrivals, an indication that the tourism industry is in better shape than ever. Hotel occupancy rose 4.9 percentage points from a year ago to 79.7 percent. The number of "visitor days" -- the overall visitor arrivals times an average length of stay for each visitor -- grew 16.3 percent in February from a year earlier to 3.3 million days.

Macau,another Asian casino hub, is yet another bright spot. Macau's gross gambling revenue hit a record in April, jumping 70% from a year earlier to more than MOP14.1 billion, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported.

Meanwhile, there are also signs of improvement in Las Vegas market, though it's still too early to determine whether it will lead to a full blown recovery. Las Vegas Strip gambling revenue jumped 33 percent to $568 million from $427.4 million in February from a year earlier as baccarat play by Chinese New Year’s revelers boosted winnings.

In terms of stock performance, LVS shares have gained nearly 170 percent over the past year.

Full Disclosure: None.

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