* Adjusted EPS 7 cents vs estimate 2 cents
* Net revenue rose 23.7 percent to $1.33 billion
* Shares little changed
(Adds analyst comment, company comment, share price, byline)
By Deena Beasley
LOS ANGELES, May 6 (Reuters) - Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.N), the casino operator run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, posted a narrower first-quarter loss on Wednesday, as operating results in both Macau and Las Vegas improved.
Gambling revenue in Macau has soared in recent months -- most recently rising 70 percent year-over-year in April -- while Las Vegas has been slower to recover from the global financial slump.
“This was a pretty solid result all around,” said Sanford Bernstein analyst Janet Brashear. “They are showing better margins and you can’t do that unless the tide has turned.”
Sands, which opened a $5.7 billion casino resort in Singapore last month, posted a net loss of $28.9 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with a loss of $80.9 million, or 12 cents a share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, Sands earned 7 cents a share, which beat the average analyst estimate of 2 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Operating income at the company’s Venetian Macao resort rose 70 percent to $113.9 million during the quarter, while operating income at the Sands Macao rose 60 percent to $58.5 million.
In Las Vegas, where table game revenue was up, operating income rose 62 percent to $41.3 million.
Overall net revenue for the quarter rose 23.7 percent to $1.33 billion, slightly ahead of the $1.3 billion expected by analysts.
Early results in Singapore “are extremely promising” with high-end players coming in from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, Adelson said on a conference call with analysts.
In addition to Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, Sands owns the Palazzo and Venetian resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, three casinos in Macau and a casino in Pennsylvania.
Sands recently restarted construction on two projects in Macau, known as sites 5 and 6, which are set to open in 2011.
Investors have questioned whether plans by the Macau government to cap the number of table games in the gambling enclave would affect those projects, but company officials said they have assurances in writing they will be able to add 400 new tables to start with.
Sands expects approval to add another 270 tables by March of 2013, but if that does not happen, the company will move tables from existing resorts and add electronic games, according to Chief Operating Officer Michael Leven.
Sands shares, which fell 7 percent to close at $21.65 on the New York Stock Exchange, were trading at $21.70 after hours. (Reporting by Deena Beasley; editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Andre Grenon)