Sands China net profit jumps 52%

Macau casino operator benefits from visitors to newest property

Sands China, the Macau casino operator owned by US billionaire Sheldon Adelson, saw a 52 per cent increase in fourth-quarter net profit as it benefited from an increase in visitors to its newest property in the territory.

The division of Las Vegas Sands said its quarterly net profit was $467m, compared with $307m a year ago. Its revenues rose 48 per cent to $1.97bn year-on-year and 20 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

Sands China opened a resort on the Cotai Strip in Macau last April, which attracted 3m visitors in the quarter. This week it opened a tower at its Sheraton property on Cotai and confirmed it had received permission from the Macau government for 200 additional gaming tables.

Its results are a signal that Asian casino revenues are rebounding as the Chinese economy improves. Macau casino revenues in December rose 20 per cent to 28.2bn patacas ($3.5bn).

Buoyed by Sands China’s results, shares in casino operator Genting Singapore rose 7.5 per cent on Thursday to their highest price in more than six months.

Aaron Fischer, an analyst with brokerage CLSA, said Sands China was his “top medium-term pick” because of its wide array of hotels and casinos in the territory and because it could boast better near-term earnings growth as its new property Sands Cotai Central expanded. Mr Fischer said the company’s ebitda of US$620m was 9 per cent above CLSA’s estimate.

The number of gaming tables in the tightly regulated market is expected to increase by 3 per cent annually over the next few years. CLSA estimates that the additional gaming tables at Sands China will deliver $200m in ebitda when they are fully deployed across the company’s casinos in Macau, which include the Venetian, Sands Cotai Central and Sands Macau.

Sands China has also benefited because it is targeting the mass market, which is seen as a more stable growth driver for the industry. It is planning to invest $2.8bn to build a fifth resort in Macau called the Parisian, with a replica of the Eiffel Tower and 3,000 hotel rooms aimed at the mid-market.

“We think Sands China will have the strongest earnings growth momentum among all six operators in Macau in the coming year and that will continue to provide valuation support for the company,” said Nomura in a note to clients.

Las Vegas Sands, Sands China’s parent, reported full-year results in the US on Wednesday. Revenues increased 18 per cent to $11.1bn, while adjusted net income was $1.77bn.

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