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Sands share of Macau revenue rises to 19pc

Gaming giant's chairman says all is in place for company's fortunes to keep soaring, with more rooms and giant new project in the pipeline

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 November, 2012, 3:22am

Sands China is expected to build a bigger stake in Macau's gaming market after gaining market share and posting better-than-expected profits in the third quarter.

The Hong Kong-listed firm's share of gross gaming revenue in Macau rose to 19.3 per cent in the third quarter from 14.3 per cent last year, which translates to 35 per cent growth in market share, said Sheldon Adelson, the chairman of Sands China and its New York-listed parent, Las Vegas Sands.

"Our industry-leading scale and infrastructure investments are creating impressive results in the largest and most profitable gaming market in the world. Our quarterly results in Macau reflect company records in virtually every category and we expect our momentum to continue in the quarters ahead."

Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang expects Sands' share of the Macau gaming market to expand from 19.3 per cent in the third quarter to 23 per cent by 2014. In a research note, she expressed a positive view on Macau's mass gaming market, to which Sands has high exposure.

Adelson said that since April, Sands had opened 3,660 new hotel rooms and two casinos in Macau.

"We will open 2,000 new hotel rooms in January 2013. That's growth," he said.

Sands has submitted plans for its Parisian Macao hotel casino on the Cotai Strip to the city's government and is awaiting approval. If all goes well, the resort will open in late 2015.

The price of Sands shares rose 6.3 per cent to HK$31.90 yesterday, when the company reported a 17.4 per cent increase in net profit to US$326.7 million in the third quarter, while its adjusted property earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) surged 24.3 per cent to US$485.6 million.

Turnover soared 36.7 per cent to US$1.64 billion.

Sands' revenue growth surpassed JP Morgan's prediction of a 10 per cent increase.

For the third quarter, JP Morgan had forecast all Macau casino operators would experience zero overall growth on average, which means Sands has gained market share in that quarter.

Sands' ebitda growth should be the strongest among its rivals, said JP Morgan's preview of its third-quarter results.

Sands had benefited from the ramp-up of its new Sands Cotai Central casino and strong mass volume at its Venetian casino over the summer, JP Morgan added.

The first phase of Sands Cotai Central opened on April 11 and the second phase opened on September 20, adding more mass gaming capacity plus 1,800 Sheraton-branded hotel rooms and additional retail amenities.

During the third quarter, Sands Cotai Central suffered an operating loss of US$1.9 million on turnover of US$295.9 million.

For its core casino, the Venetian, net revenue rose 12.1 per cent to US$772.8 million, while operating profit grew 26.5 per cent to US$261.3 million.

Tang warned one key downside risk for Sands was a lack of recovery in the VIP gaming business after the leadership transition on the mainland next week.

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