Las Vegas Sands (LVS 0.42%) continues to redirect its attention toward Asia. After the recent sale of its Las Vegas properties, the casino operator now owns six integrated resorts in that area -- one in Singapore and five in the Macao region of China.
While business in Singapore remains strong, operations in Macao are still ramping up from the pandemic shutdown.
Here are three reasons to be bullish on this casino stock now.
1. Business in Singapore continues to thrive
In the first quarter of 2023, Las Vegas Sands drove $549 million in mass gambling revenue at its Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore -- a new all-time record for the property. Total Q1 revenue for Marina Bay Sands finished at $848 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) at Marina Bay hit $394 million for an impressive 226% gain over Q1 2022.
Of Las Vegas Sands' six resorts, Marina Bay single-handedly drove 40% of the company's revenue and nearly 50% of total EBITDA. In other words, Singapore operations carried the company last quarter. During the company's Q1 earnings call in late April, CEO Rob Goldstein highlighted that Marina Bay Sands' rolling volume matched that of 2019, boasting that "Singapore is doing very well."
What's more, Marina Bay achieved a solid Q1 performance in the midst of a major renovation. Anticipated to finish by the end of this year, Sands' $1 billion renovation project in Singapore caused interference within the casino and made fewer rooms available to guests. Once complete, however, the enhancements will increase Marina Bay Sands' suite count from 150 to 400.
2. A comeback story unfolds in Macao
For the first time since 2019, mass gambling revenue generated by Sands' five Macao resorts reached $1 billion last quarter. Adjusted property EBITDA finished at $398 million, a marked improvement over 2022's Q1 EBITDA loss of $11 million within its Macao portfolio.
In the wake of eased travel restrictions and increased visitation to Macao, Goldstein remarked that "business is back" in the region. According to Executive VP of Asia Operations Kwan Lock Chum, citywide visitations to Macao enjoyed a 22% jump in March compared to January and February levels.
Although first-quarter performance in Macao reflected the lingering effects of a pandemic shutdown, it's worth noting that visitation to Macao from China stands at just 39% of 2019 levels. As visitation continues to improve, so should earnings potential within the Macao segment.
3. More than just gambling getaways
While Goldstein feels there is a "powerful recovery" underway in Macao, he also thinks the process is early in its development. He was impressed with Sands' ability to generate almost $400 million in adjusted EBITDA "without visitation really coming back very much."
In the meantime, Sands works to gain market share in non-gambling segments such as live entertainment, convention hosting, and dining. Goldstein affirmed, "Our focus is on all segments of the Macao market, including international tourists." He believes Sands is in a "unique position" to capture more visitors and grow its business in China.
With regard to recent company investments in Sands' non-gambling Macao offerings, Goldstein declared: "The $3.8 billion commitment we made as part of the concession tender is just the baseline. We will invest more in this extraordinary market."
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Source: The Motley Fool
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