November 05, 2007

Las Vegas Sands Falls

Shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp. dropped Friday as investors reacted to the casino operator's weak third-quarter results.

On Thursday, Las Vegas Sands reported a loss of $48.5 million, or 14 cents per share, compared with a profit of $97.3 million, or 27 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue climbed 19.5 percent to $661 million.

Adjusted net income fell to $41.8 million, or 12 cents per share, from $117.6 million, or 33 cents per share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 31 cents per share on revenue of $783 million.

Las Vegas Sands, which is run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, blamed the loss on high costs related to the opening of the Venetian Macao in August and an unlucky run in its casinos.

While investors were spooked by the results, analysts remain confident in the company's operations.

Steven Kent, an analyst with Goldman Sachs, said investors should capitalize on the buying opportunity.

"Few casino openings go smoothly and management has already put a plan in place to boost results. October looks to be off to a good start," he wrote in a client note.

However, Kent lowered some earnings estimates based on the third-quarter report. He cut his 2007 profit estimate to $1.05 from $1.45 per share and trimmed his 2008 forecast to $4 from $4.45 per share. Kent also reduced his 2008 earnings estimate to $6.25 from $6.75 per share.

Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Steven Wieczynski said investors need to remember that Macau is a work in progress.

"We think a lot of investors are going to lose sight of the fact that the Venetian Macao was only open for 34 days during the third quarter and is still not operating with all its amenities. In our opinion, these results are meaningless and tell us nothing so far," he said in a client note.

Wieczynski lowered his full-year earnings estimate to $1 from $1.38 per share and cut his 2008 forecast to $2.07 from $2.64 per share.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands fell $8.53, or 6.8 percent, to close at $116.77 Friday. Over the past year, the stock has traded between $71.15 and $148.76.