October 29, 2009 / 8:22 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 3-Las Vegas Sands loss widens, but shares rocket

* Net loss of 19 cents per share

* Net revenue rose 3.2 percent to $1.14 billion

* Shares rise 9 percent (Recasts, adds company comment, updates share price)

By Deena Beasley

LOS ANGELES, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.N) reported a wider third-quarter net loss on Thursday but said business may have bottomed in Las Vegas and shares rose more than 9 percent.

That sentiment contrasted with comments earlier this week from executives at rival Wynn Resorts Ltd (WYNN.O), who said Las Vegas group bookings remain weak.

Sands, which is expected to launch a public offering of its Macau operations next month, posted a net loss of $123 million, or 19 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $32.2 million, or 9 cents a share.

In addition to weak spending at its casinos and hotels in Las Vegas, the company cited higher costs related to income taxes for the wider loss.

But Sands officials were optimistic about trends for meetings and conventions in Las Vegas.

“Today we have more (Las Vegas) group room nights on the books for 2010 than we expect to realize in all of calendar 2009,” Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson said on a conference call with analysts and investors. He also said rates for leisure travel are also beginning to firm, particularly on the weekends.

Net revenue rose 3.2 percent to $1.14 billion, falling just short of the $1.17 billion expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sands’ revenue in Las Vegas slid 26 percent year-over-year, but revenue at the Venetian Macao fell just 5.5 percent in the quarter, while revenue at the Sands Macao rose 13 percent.

“It looks like they exceeded expectations in Macau, but they got destroyed in Las Vegas,” said Susquehanna Financial analyst Robert LaFleur.

Excluding one-time items, the company reported a profit of 3 cents per share.

In addition to the Palazzo and Venetian resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and two casinos in Macau, Sands opened a casino in Pennsylvania earlier this year. The Las Vegas-based company will next open a gambling resort in the city-state of Singapore in early 2010.

The company, which has come close to violating loan agreements and suspended work on several projects, said it is seeking funding to restart two stalled Macau projects.

Shares of Sands which rose 12 percent in regular trading to close at $14.76 on the New York Stock Exchange, were up $1.35 at $16.10 after hours.

Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Tim Dobbyn, Bernard Orr

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