Sands sees double-digit gains in 1Q revenue, net income

Las Vegas Sands Corp. rode the recent resurgence of Macau and the company’s best cash-flow performance in Las Vegas since 2008 to double-digit percentage increases in revenue and net income, company executives reported Wednesday.

Sands, which operates The Venetian and Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip, saw net revenue grow 14.3 percent to $3.11 billion in the first quarter, which ended March 31.

The Parisian, which opened on Macau’s Cotai Strip in September, continues to drive earnings in the Chinese enclave where Sands is the dominant player.

In Wednesday’s conference call with investors, Sands executives said the Parisian is tweaking operations after evaluating customer reaction. One of the surprises: The property, expected to be a mainstay with the mass market, is a hit with higher-end customers. As a result, the company may convert some of the property’s rooms to bigger suites to accommodate the unexpected demand.

“We’re delighted but surprised with the high-end visits,” Rob Goldstein, president and chief operating officer of Sands, told investors on the call. “I couldn’t be more bullish on our prospects in Macau.”

Goldstein noted that two new resorts will open in the Cotai area in future months, which should result in additional visitation to the area. MGM Resorts International will open across the street from Steve Wynn’s Wynn Palace later this year and Stanley Ho’s SJM Holdings will open Lisboa Palace in 2018.

In the decade since Sands opened Cotai’s first resort, the Venetian Macau, the percentage of gaming revenue attributable to Cotai properties has jumped to 60 percent. For Sands-affiliated properties, visitation climbed from 179,000 visits in the first quarter of 2016 to 236,000 a year later.

Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson said the Venetian Macau is Asia’s most visited integrated resort.

Another Sands resort, the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, is on the radar of Japanese lawmakers, who are looking at it as a potential model for casino resorts in that country. Adelson told investors Wednesday that his company is ahead of competitors in the race to win a concession in Japan in a crowded field that includes MGM, Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Caesars Entertainment. Japan licenses aren’t expected to be decided until next year.

In Las Vegas, Sands reported net revenue of $434 million, a 12.7 percent increase over the first quarter of 2016, at its Strip properties.

Table-game drop was off 10.5 percent to $433 million, but the company played luckier than last year with a 21.5 percent win percentage. Slot handle was up 3.1 percent to $604 million, but hold dipped to 7.7 percent from 8.5 percent a year ago.

In the hotels, occupancy jumped 2.2 percentage points to 94.3 percent, and the average daily room rate was up 6.8 percent to $268.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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