Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Sands China Ltd., the Hong Kong- listed unit of billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas-based company, reported a 44 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit as Chinese tourists drove higher sales at its Macau casinos.
Sands China’s fourth-quarter net income rose to $306.7 million from $213.3 million a year earlier, bringing its profit for the year to $1.13 billion. That was higher than the $1.07 billion mean estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
“The results are encouraging,” said Philip Tulk, head of Asian conglomerates and gaming research at Royal Bank of Scotland, “The upcoming property, Sands Cotai Central, is going to draw new customers.”
Las Vegas Sands, through Hong Kong-listed unit Sands China, is developing casino resorts in Macau to add to its existing properties, the Venetian, Four Seasons and Sands. The first phase of Sands Cotai Central is on track to open in about eight weeks, the company said today.
Sands China rose as much as 3.2 percent to HK$27.30 before trading at HK$27.15 at 11.35 a.m. in Hong Kong.
Chinese gamblers have fueled growth in Macau, where gambling sales have more than tripled in the past four years.
Fourth-quarter revenue for Sands China rose 22 percent to $1.33 billion from $1.09 billion a year earlier.
Las Vegas Sands Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson on an earnings call said he sees no slowdown in Macau, which surpassed the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s biggest casino revenue hub in 2006.
“We are essentially seeing nothing that would indicate that Macau and Singapore will not continue on their present paths upward,” he said on the company’s conference call.
Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal, saw total gambling revenue climb 42 percent last year, to 268 billion patacas ($33.6 billion), according to Macau’s Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau.
Tulk expects Macau’s revenue growth to slow to 15 percent to 20 percent in 2012 as high-stakes gamblers are likely to find it harder to raise credit. “The growth will come from the mass market” he said.
Sands China’s stock has surged 23.9 percent this year, outperforming the benchmark Hang Seng Index’s 11.8 percent gain. Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. led the gains of Macau casino operators as investors expect it will “deliver strong earnings as Sands China has solid fourth quarter results,” said Victor Yip, a Hong Kong based analyst at UOB Kay Hian Ltd.
Las Vegas Sands Corp., Sands China’s U.S.-based parent, yesterday reported a 17 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit on growth in Singapore and China.
Las Vegas Sands’ net income increased to $320.1 million, or 39 cents a share, from $273 million, or 34 cents, a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Profit excluding some items was 57 cents, matching the average of 23 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Las Vegas Sands rose 2.2 percent to $50.18 at the close in New York yesterday.
--Editors: Anjali Cordeiro, Stephanie Wong
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