[LOS ANGELES] Las Vegas Sands Corp, the world's largest casino operator, posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts' estimates as profit in Singapore doubled. The company also raised its dividend by 30 per cent.
Earnings totaled 92 cents a share, excluding items, according to a statement Wednesday from the Las Vegas-based company. That compared with the 78-cent average of 17 analysts' estimates. Revenue fell 6.6 per cent to US$3.42 billion (S$4.6 billion) , missing analysts estimates, as betting in Macau slumped.
"This earnings report gives indication we're still doing well," chairman and chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson said on a conference call following the report.
"I haven't sold one share since 2006. I believe in the long-term improvement of this company."
The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore rescued an otherwise tough quarter for the company, delivering US$518.5 million in earnings, more than double a year earlier, with a gain fueled by a surge in gambling revenue.
President Rob Goldstein called the resort "the most profitable building in the world" on the call with investors.
The gain in Singapore included a US$90.1 million benefit linked to a property tax settlement, as well as growth in mass market gambling. The company raised the dividend to 65 cents a share, from 50 cents, payable during the current quarter.
Total betting revenue in Macau, the world's largest gambling market, fell 2.6 per cent to US$44 billion last year amid a government crackdown on corruption that has caused high rollers to shun the region's baccarat tables. That was the first annual decline since the government opened up the Macau casino industry to foreign investment in 2002.
The trend worsened as the year came to a close, with December casino revenue in Macau falling 30 per cent, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
The casino market there is in the midst of a building boom, with new resorts costing more than US$22 billion scheduled to open through 2017.
Mr Adelson said Sands' newest property in Macau, the US$2.7 billion Parisian, will won't open until 2016, later than planned. The company had previously said the resort would partially open this year. Construction was halted for a period last year, pending some government approvals.
"We do have permits to complete all of the property, and we're going to do our best to complete it as quickly as possible," Mr Adelson said.
Sands is the largest player in Macau, the only place in China where casino betting is legal, and the first to report fourth-quarter profits.
Mr Adelson, 81, will take over the role of CEO of Sands China, the company's Hong Kong-listed subsidiary, replacing Ed Tracy, who is returning to the US in March, the company said.
Sands revenue in Las Vegas fell 6 per cent to US$363 million.
While the dollar's climb is reducing profit at US companies from Procter & Gamble Co. to Pfizer Inc. and Microsoft Corp., more than 77 per cent of Standard & Poor's 500 Index members have still beaten analysts' estimates so far this earnings season, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Las Vegas Sands rose 3.2 per cent to US$57.80 in extended trading. The stock fell 1.6 per cent to US$56.02 at the close in New York and declined 26 per cent last year.