July 28, 2010 / 11:59 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 3-Las Vegas Sands tops estimates as Asia outperforms

* Adjusted EPS 17 cents vs estimate 9 cents

* Revenue up nearly 51 pct

* To amend $5 billion US credit facility

* Shares up 2.3 percent (Adds analyst comment, updates share price)

By Deena Beasley

LOS ANGELES, July 28 (Reuters) - Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.N), the casino operator run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, aided by strong performances at its new Singapore resort and in Macau.

Sands, whose shares rose 2.3 percent in morning trading, earned 17 cents a share in the second quarter after adjusting for one-time items. Analysts on average expected 9 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net revenue rose nearly 51 percent to $1.59 billion.

“They had a monster quarter,” said Sanford Bernstein analyst Janet Brashear, adding that much of the outperformance was driven by better-than-expected profit margins.

Gambling revenue in Macau, the world’s largest gambling center and the only place in China where gambling is legal, has soared this year, most recently rising 65 percent year-over-year in June.

Sands said second-quarter net revenue at its three Macau properties rose 41 percent from a year earlier to $1.03 billion, while adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 74 percent to $307 million.

Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands generated $94 million in EBITDA in its first 65 days of operation. The $5.7 billion casino resort began operating in April.

In Las Vegas, where a glut of hotel rooms has led to rate discounting, EBITDA fell to $66 million in the second quarter from $78 million a year earlier.

“With property performance better than our expectations in Macau and Singapore, and with the Las Vegas Strip weaker than expected, we believe Asia will be the key driver of the story, and the report is bullish for the shares,” Jefferies and Co analyst David Katz said in a research note.

HIGH HOPES

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Adelson said during a conference call that he still expects the Singapore resort to bring in $1 billion in EBITDA next year, due in part to a broader-than-expected customer base.

“There are so many people that are coming from different countries in Asia ... We have a group of Koreans flying in every week,” he said. “I think that the outer reaches of our marketing radius is wider than what we thought before.”

The company has lined up financing for development of two sites in a section of Macau known as the Cotai Strip, but construction has not yet started due to government requirements for the hiring of local workers.

Company officials said they are confident the Macau government will not let the project continue to stall, but they reported no tangible progress on a construction start date.

Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Kay said highly-leveraged Sands plans to launch later this week an “amend and extend” transaction for its $5 billion U.S. credit facility.

“The transaction contemplates a paydown of our term loans and a reduction of a revolving credit facility commitment in exchange for the extension of maturities and other modifications to the credit agreement intended to increase the company’s financial flexibility,” he said.

After payment of preferred stock dividends, Sands had a second-quarter net loss of $4.7 million, or 1 cent a share, compared with a net loss of $222.2 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier.

In addition to Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, Sands owns the Palazzo and Venetian resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, three casinos in Macau and a casino in Pennsylvania.

Sands shares were up 43 cents, or 1.7 percent, at $25.73 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Deena Beasley; additional reporting by Karen Jacobs; editing by Dave Zimmerman and John Wallace)

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