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Las Vegas Sands rises as analyst upgrades

NEW YORK (AP) — Las Vegas Sands' stock rose Wednesday as Chairman Sheldon Adelson said that he remains committed to the gambling center of Macau, and Imperial Capital raised its ratings on the casino.

THE SPARK: Adelson stepped past the chatter of ongoing investigations that has jolted investors, and said the next goal is rolling out the high-end Sheraton Macao Hotel as part of the Sands Cotai Central complex. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether Sands broke federal law by failing to report millions of dollars of potentially laundered money transferred to its casinos by two high-rolling Las Vegas gamblers,

THE ANALYSIS: Imperial Capital analyst Gregg Klein boosted the company to "Outperform" from "In-Line." The analyst reiterated a $62 price target. Klein believes the Las Vegas company will probably see improved results during the second half of 2012 partly because of the Sands Cotai Central, a casino and lodging complex that opened in Macau in April but is still set to open additional rooms and tables games throughout the rest of the year. Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal.

"The opening of Sands Cotai Central provides the company with critical mass on the Cotai Strip and we expect it to lead to increased volumes at the Venetian as well," he wrote in a client note.

Klein says Las Vegas Sands also has one of the stronger balance sheets in the sector and anticipates the company using its cash balance to complete Sands Cotai Central, pursue the development of new casino resort complexes and continue to pay dividends.

SHARE ACTION: Shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp. rose 92 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $43.23 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded between $34.72 and $62.09 over the past year. For the year to date, the shares are down 3 percent.

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