By Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES, May 1 (Reuters) - Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp, owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, on Wednesday posted better-than- expected first-quarter earnings, helped by good results in Macau and Singapore, and its shares rose.
Sands said first-quarter net revenue rose 19.5 percent to $3.3 billion, net income rose 14.6 percent to $572.0 million and earnings per share rose 13.1 percent to 69 cents a share.
On an adjusted basis, earnings rose to 71 cents from 70 cents a share. Analysts, on average, had expected Sands to post adjusted earnings of 66 cents, according to estimates compiled by ThomsonReuters I/B/E/s.
The company’s stock was up nearly 1 percent at $56.65 a share in after hours trading from its close of $56.25 on Wednesday.
“For me the big surprise was Singapore and its VIP business, which was very strong,” said John Kempf, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets.
The company said rolling chip volume, or betting volume by VIP players, at its Marina Bay Sands in Singapore rose 42.2 percent to $18.21 billion in the quarter, the highest quarterly volume in the property’s history.
According to analysts, Singapore is the second biggest value driver for the company after Macau.
But some analysts are cautious about the region because of a sluggish Singapore economy and moves by the government to impose stricter regulations for casino operators to minimize the social costs that often plague casino gaming cities.
Sands, operator of the Venetian in Las Vegas, said its Sands China Ltd Hong Kong listed unit and Macau casino operator, saw net income increase 63.3 percent to $452.9 million in the first quarter.
Revenue rose 39.3 percent to $2.02 billion in the quarter.
Las Vegas Sands Corp said last week that accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers will not stand for re-election as the company’s auditor, ending a 25-year relationship with Sands founder and chairman Adelson. Sands and the accounting firm said the decision to part ways was not motivated by any disagreements over financial statements or disclosures.
Sands said it had nothing to do with disclosures the company made in previous financial statements that it received federal subpoenas requesting information on its compliance with reporting requirements of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Adelson in early April testified in a retrial currently underway in Las Vegas of a lawsuit filed by Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen, who alleges the Las Vegas company never paid him an agreed “success fee” for helping secure a permit for a hotel and casino in Macau.