January 30, 2013 / 11:31 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-Sands 4th-qtr profit below view as Las Vegas weak

* Net profit rises 35.8 percent to $434.8 mln

* Adjusted EPS 54 cts, versus consensus 59 cts

* Company ups qtly dividend by 40 pct

* Cotai properties had record 11 mln visitors in quarter

LOS ANGELES, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp, owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, on Wednesday posted lower-than- expected fourth-quarter earnings as weak results in Las Vegas dampened a strong performance in Asia.

But revenues topped estimates and the company boosted its quarterly dividend by 40 percent to 35 cents a share, helping to drive shares of Sands up 3.8 percent in after-hours trade.

Morningstar analyst Chad Mollman said the shares also rose on strong results at the company’s Chinese and Singapore properties. Asia represents the biggest segment of Sands’ business.

Sands reported fourth-quarter net income rose to $434.8 million, while earnings per share rose 35.9 percent to 53 cents from 39 cents a year earlier. Revenues rose 20.9 percent to $3.08 billion.

On an adjusted basis, the company posted earnings of 54 cents a share. Analysts on average had looked for earnings of 59 cents and revenue of $3.01 billion, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates.

Profits at Las Vegas properties, which include the Venetian, declined. Adjusted property earnings before interest depreciation and amortization at Las Vegas operations fell 34.7 percent to $52.8 million.

Analysts said the company continues to be a market leader in Asia. Sands cited improved results at its properties in the Cotai Strip properties in Macau, the only place in China where gambling is legal.

“They topped revenue forecasts and they’re doing extremely well in China, where the company continues to outperform the overall market,” said Mollman of Morningstar.

Middle-class, or “mass market,” gamblers are refueling growth in Macau. Sands said it had a record 11 million visitors at its Cotai strip properties during the latest quarter.

Sands and rivals like Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International have ridden the wave of fast growth on the back of high-stake “VIP” bettors there for the past few years, helping to offset stagnation in Las Vegas.

But VIP bettors began scaling back in recent months amid a weakening economy.

Net income for the Sands China Ltd subsidiary rose 52.3 percent to $467.0 million.

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