UPDATE 2-Las Vegas Sands post lower-than-expected earnings

Thu Nov 1, 2012 7:48pm EDT

* Dividend raised 40 pct to 35 cts/share starting in 2013

* Q3 net slips to $349.8 mln; rev up 12.5 pct at $2.7 bln

By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Las Vegas Sands Corp, owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, on Thursday posted lower earnings amid challenges at its Singapore operations and higher costs for properties in Macau.

The casino company, operator of resorts like the Venetian in Las Vegas, also on Thursday increased its quarterly dividend by 40 percent to 35 cents per common share, beginning in the first quarter of 2013.

Las Vegas Sands cited lower "hold" or money won from gamblers at its Marina Bay Sands property in Singapore, where operating income fell to $166.5 million from $315.4 million in the quarter.

Overall, for the third quarter, Las Vegas Sands said net income fell 1.1 percent to $349.8 million on revenues that rose 12.5 percent to $2.7 billion. This compared to net income of $353.6 million a year ago. Earnings per share fell 4.5 percent to 42 cents from 44 cents a share.

On an adjusted basis, the company said net income fell to $382.2 million, or 46 cents a share, from $444.8 million or 55 cents per diluted share.

Analysts on average had expected adjusted earnings of 59 cents, or $507.61 million, on revenues of $2.9 billion.

For the past several years, explosive growth in Macau, the only place in China where gambling is legal, have boosted Sands' profits and helped offset stagnating trends in Las Vegas.

But growth there has been slower recently and casino operators like MGM Resorts have cited the effects of this slowdown on their operations in Asia.

Las Vegas Sands seemed to buck the trend in Macau, however.

"The VIP market out of China is reputedly slowing down in Macau, although we are not experiencing that. But again, we have a pretty big footprint in Macau," said Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson on a conference call with analysts.

Sands China Ltd, the unit that operates several casinos in Macau, reported revenues rose 36.7 percent to $1.64 billion. Net income rose 17.4 percent to $326.7 million.

Gambling revenues in October in Macau actually rose a better-than-expected 3.2 percent to $3.5 billion, with the help of a week-long holiday, but the outlook is still overshadowed by slower growth in China which could weigh on revenues.

The casino giant is currently embroiled in a legal battle and involving a former Macau casino executive that alleges Adelson personally approved prostitution at his companies' properties in the Chinese gambling enclave.