Las Vegas Sands: strong 4Q11…and beyond

results

LVS reported 4Q11 and full-year 2011 results after the close of New York trading on Thursday February 1st.  Quarterly revenue for the company was $2.3 billion, up 26.3% year on year.  Net income was $460.9 million, or $.57 a share.  That was up 38% year on year.  EPS exceeded the average analyst estimate by about $.03.

For 2011 as a whole, LVS posted $9.4 billion in revenue, up by 37% from the %6.9 billion taken in in 2010.  EPS more than doubled to $2.02 vs. $.98 in the prior year.

details

Sands China in Macau took in $1.33 billion in revenue during 4Q11.  Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was $430.1 million.  These figures were up 22% and 29% year on year, respectively.  3Q11 ebitda was $388.3 million, meaning 4Q results were up 10.7% qonq.

Marina Sands in Singapore had revenues of $806.9 million for the quarter and ebitda of $426.9 million, aided by an unusually high win percentage at table games.  These were yoy increases of 44% and 40%.  3Q11 ebida was $413.9 million, so the qonq gain was 3%.

Las Vegas operations had revenues of $339.5 million and ebitda of $80.9 million.  Revenue was up 9% yoy, ebitda was about flat.  3Q11 ebitda was $94.3 million.  Qonq, 4Q ebitda was down 16%.

my thoughts

earnings

Let’s assume US operations will be flat year on year in 2012, ex management fees from Singapore and Macau.  I think there will be some small gains, but the main issue is not the economy.  It’s the severe overcapcacity of hotel rooms and gambling space in Las Vegas.  Dividends from Sands China will probably add close to $1 billion–covering the parent’s dividend payout.

HK: 1928 will soon be opening the first phase of its newest Macau casino, Macau Cotai Central, shortly.  In a market that will likely expand by 25% this year, 1928 will likely easily grow by 30%–probably considerably more.

I don’t know any good way to estimate growth for the MS Singapore.  The casino hasn’t been open that long, for one thing.  For another, after posting continuous increases in ebitda since opening, income seems to have flattened out in 4Q11.  Is this seasonal?  …or something else?   No one knows.  If we assume no organic growth but that the casino continues to generate revenue at the 4Q11 rate throughout 2012, ebitda would grow by 15% yoy.

Repayment and restructuring of debt at lower interest rates will chip in, as well.

Put all this together and I think the analysts’ consensus of $2.50 in eps for this year is a reasonable guess.  We’ll be able to tell more when the official year-end financials are published.

asset value

At today’s level, the market value of LVS is about $38 billion.

Its ownership interest in publicly traded Sands China (1928:HK) is worth around $21 billion.

If we assume that wholly-owned Marina Sands should be valued at 80% of 1928’s ebitda multiple–because of less clear near-term growth prospects–then MS is worth $24 billion.

If so, Macau and Singapore are together worth $7 billion more than the market cap of LVS–implying that, in the mind of Wall Street, the $424 million in annual US ebitda subtracts a ton of value.  That’s silly.  LVS would need to rise above $60 a share in order for the stock price to reflect no value for the US operations.

dividend

Both LVS and 1928 have declared initial dividends and signaled their intention to sustain them at at least the current level.  LVS will be paying $1 a share annually, meaning a yield of slightly below 2%.  1928 will be paying HK$1.16, a 4% yield.

Three implications:

–dividends are supposed to be paid from profits.  Both LVS and 1928 are saying they expect to remain at least as profitable as they are now.

–both companies believe they’ll be generating enough free cash flow to sustain the payout

–the companies’ lenders (LVS has about $10 billion in debt) are satisfied that they’ll be repaid and have okayed the dividends.

conclusions

LVS  isn’t the best casino operator in the world.  That’s WYNN, in my opinion.  But at the moment I think it’s the best casino stock.

Management is highly competent.  And the company is nearing the end of a very ambitious (read: risky) multi-year, multi-billion dollar Asian expansion.  The financial crisis came at the worst possible time for LVS.  Nevertheless, the company has completed its plans.  It’s now entering a period of potentially immense free cash flow generation that will transform the financial structure of the firm over the next two or three years.  I don’t think Wall Street has worked this out yet, as shown by the undervaluation of LVS on a sum-of-the-parts basis.


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