Las Vegas Sands‘ recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is gaining steam, and Asia is a big reason why.
The world’s largest casino company on Wednesday announced it pulled in $1.12 billion in third-quarter adjusted property EBITDA, a crucial measure of profitability in the gambling industry. That’s nearing pre-pandemic levels, off just 6% from the same period in 2019.
Las Vegas Sands announced earnings of 55 cents per share on revenue of $2.8 billion. Earnings were in line with expectations, while revenue slightly topped estimates, based on a survey of analysts by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv.
In Singapore, Marina Bay Sands is posting numbers that have surpassed pre-pandemic levels in gaming, retail shopping and other spending, even though visitation is still lower. Profit margins have reached more than 48%.
A woman rides her bicycle with the Marina Bay Sands hotel and high-rise buildings in the background in Singapore on Sept. 4, 2023.
Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images
In Macao, where visitation is still off about 15% from pre-pandemic levels, Sands said its occupancy in the third quarter was 96% higher than it was before Covid lockdowns and customers are spending more per person.
Across the Macao market, mass gaming revenue reached 92% of 2019 third-quarter levels, or $5.1 billion, according to official government numbers. Las Vegas Sands CEO Rob Goldstein predicted on the company’s earnings call that the destination could hit $40 billion annually in the near term.
As cashflow increases, Las Vegas Sands is laying out new priorities for capital expenditures. It will continue its remodel of Marina Bay Sands, resulting in nearly four times the number of suites, which command greater prices. In Macao, the second phase of construction begins on The Londoner, the newest offering in the portfolio.
Las Vegas Sands also announced a $2 billion share repurchase plan through 2025.
Signage for the Sands Cotai Central casino resort, operated by Sands China Ltd., a unit of Las Vegas Sands, in Macau, China, on Jan. 17, 2019.
Paul Yeung | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Las Vegas Sands President Patrick Dumont indicated the company has shifted how it wants to return capital to shareholders, relying more on buybacks than on the dividends his late father-in-law Sheldon Adelson embraced so publicly every earnings call.
Goldstein pointed out that the shares are trading as though Covid lockdowns are still in place. So when the stock is cheap, there are buying opportunities, especially when Sands is sitting on $5.6 billion in cash.
When Bank of America analyst Shaun Kelley commented on the earnings call, “You’re probably the most under-leveraged gaming company I’ve ever covered,” Dumont said it has been a five-year process to transform the company to be investment grade.
“It gives us access to the largest, most liquid debt market in the world, because it’s a very efficient class of capital,” he said.
In a reference to the company’s efforts to secure a gaming license in New York,…