Las Vegas Sands 4th-quarter earnings up almost 32 percent

Table games drop at Venetian, Palazzo sets record at $649.7 million

Kin Cheung / AP

Las Vegas Sands casino sits behind the Fishermans Wharf in Macau in this Feb. 7, 2006, photo.

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Las Vegas Sands, operator of the Venetian and Palazzo resorts on the Strip and properties in Macau and Singapore, reported its fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday.

Company: Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS)

Revenue: $3.66 billion (up 18.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012). While the company’s focus rightfully is on Macau, which drove most of its revenue, the Las Vegas table game drop hit a property record $649.7 million, up 41.4 percent over the fourth quarter of 2012, at the Venetian and Palazzo, thanks to record baccarat play.

Earnings: $886.1 million (up 31.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012). For the year, earnings rose 51.3 percent over the previous year to $2.31 billion, $2.79 a share.

Earnings per share: 72 cents (up 32.1 percent from fourth quarter of 2012).

What it means: With five properties in Macau under its management and a sixth under construction, Las Vegas Sands is riding the success of the growing Chinese market that should only get bigger with transportation infrastructure under way.

Macau is expanding the distance from which visitors are arriving, and the completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in 2016 will remove one of the barriers that keeps the city’s convention industry from growing more rapidly.

Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson said when conventioneers are able to drive to Macau in 20 minutes on the bridge from the Hong Kong airport instead of getting there by boat, the meetings industry should grow even more.

In addition, the Chinese government is building high-speed rail and in Macau, a light-rail system is under construction to make that destination even more appealing.

“It’s no wonder that analysts and journalists say we lead the market by far,” Adelson said in a conference call with analysts.

Although three properties, including Sands’ Parisian, are scheduled to open in 2015, Adelson isn’t concerned about market saturation, believing demand will grow.

Adelson said the company has reached the point that paying investors is one of its top priorities. He said $5.5 billion was returned to investors through dividends and stock repurchases. Dividends are increasing from $1.40 a share in 2013 to $2 this year and the company has “every intention of increasing the dividend in the years ahead.”

While the company has been unlucky at the gambling tables in Singapore, its Marina Bay Sands property has seen its average daily hotel room rate reach $425 a night and occupancy climb to 97 percent.

In Las Vegas, casino revenue was up 72.1 percent to $151.3 million, food and beverage climbed 20.6 percent to $64.5 million, room revenue was up 4.9 percent to $119.9 million and convention and retail was up 2.1 percent to $76.1 million over last year’s fourth quarter.