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LVS 4Q09 CONF CALL: "TRANSCRIPT"


"I am pleased to report that we delivered record revenues and EBITDAR during the fourth quarter of 2009, led by our properties in Macau, which achieved a record $251.5 million in EBITDAR. That performance was driven by healthy gaming volumes in combination with the continued realization of cost savings from the efficiency initiatives we implemented throughout the year...  While our current quarter's results in Las Vegas reflect lower room and food and beverage revenues, principally because of less group business in Las Vegas, our gaming volumes have stabilized.... We believe 2010 will reflect a recovery in the group business in Las Vegas, as recent booking trends reflect increases compared to 2009."

- Sheldon G. Adelson, chairman and CEO

CONF CALL

  • Believe that the development of Sites 5 & 6 will be a "game changer"
  • Will announce the specific April opening date of Marina Bay Sands next week
  • The good news in Vegas is that Group business is improving
  • Eliminated over $500MM of costs from their cost base
  • $1.7BN of direct RC play at Venetian this past Q
  • At Four Seasons, direct VIP was $1.1BN or 29% of total RC
  • Sands Macau had $12MM of bad debt reserves related to one large player, which negatively impacted margins
  • Macau momentum continued into January 
  • Sands Bethlehem - will look to enhance EBITDA through marketing and the addition of 80 table games
  • Las Vegas - was negatively impacted by low table hold by roughly $20MM
  • January LV results are healthy and ADR results were higher y-o-y for Jan
  • Will realize more group rooms in 2010 than in 2009.  All signs except RevPAR indicate that 2011 will be better than 2010
  • In January realized a 17% y-o-y increase in group nights in LV
  • Gaming volumes in Vegas are trending above 2008 levels
  • Retired in excess of $1.1BN of debt in the quarter and have $800MM of R/C availability (primarily under the Singapore facility).  $1.5BN of their cash and R/C availability will be used to complete Singapore and $400MM will be spend in 2011.  $500MM towards Sites 5 & 6. 
  • Will close project finance facilities for Sites 5 & 6 in March
  • Weighted average interest rate was 4%
  • Covenants TTM $412MM/ $5.2BN cash balance $3BN. Leverage was 5.3x compared to Max of 6.5x covenant
  • For Venetian Macau facility leverage was 2.81x compared to max of 4.5x
  • Expect to execute on the sale of non-core assets in the near future to help them further delever their balance sheet

Q&A

  • Talk about the tightening in China and bad debt reserves in Macau
    • Have about $440MM of receivables with a 22% reserve against that - and a little higher in Macau (28%)
    • Clearly there is a lot of press and discussion about tightening - but the impact will be much greater on VIP than on Mass
    • If anything they have tightened their direct junket lending programs
  • What % of junket business is revenue share and where is the market?
    • of the 19 contracts out for renewal with junkets 15-16 opted for volume based (commission)
  • Net hold impact in the quarter?
    • little north of $50MM favorable to EBITDAR
  • Perceived degradation of margin at Sands?
    • $12MM receivable reserve (man was a junket rep) he is paying the debt but slowly and he's been a customer for 20 years
    • Incentive comp booked in the 4th Q which is typically accrued quarter to quarter, but they went ahead and reserved all of it in the 4Q
  • Are seeing a pick up in CoD's traffic due to their "get lucky" campaign which is very positive
  • Are they seeing heightened promotional activity in Vegas?  Market share issues with MGM
    • nothing exceptional - they continue to see pressure on the high end. The real problem is room rate
    • Gave MGM some share because they offered them an $80 room rate, but that group came back to them after one year
    • "We take more business from them then they do from us" (re: MGM's assertion of taking share)
  • QTD conditions in Macau?
    • No comment
    • "but lets put it this way we are smiling not frowning"
  • Commission war with SJM?
    • Not seeing anything yet, but its not specific to SJM
    • Can't buy business in Macau on a sustainable basis
  • Why did they take the entire bonus reserve in the 4Q this year?
    • there was no reserve last year - no bonuses
  • Think that the numbers out there on PA table impact by the sellside is in line with their expectations
  • Commission rates in Singapore
    • The Macau style commission rate - Genting says that they will pay 1.5% but the Singapore government says there will be no Macau style junket reps
    • They have received very few junket rep applications (for credit providers)
    • If there are junket reps they will be the ones that are capped at a few hundred thousands 
  • How about gambler cash back?
    • .7-.8% direct to the player
    • Will give them the option of the Las Vegas way or the chip way
  • Think their margins 30-40% better just from the tax differential and less junkets... they should have "extraordinary" EBITDA margins (in Singapore)
  • They put aside a big chunk of cash aside for credit extension
  • The Wynn ruling was a big deal (on collections - we wrote about it the other day)
  • They experience a 1-2% credit default rate
  • Rates at Venetian and Palazzo?
    • Trending down (they are in the $180 from $211 for group in 2009)
    • More rooms are being comped in Vegas as well
    • There is a lot of rate pressure
    • Hope they can maintain a better cash ADR - need to figure in the non-cash RevPAR rates that are quoted in the market 
    • FIT wholesale is more challenging than "large" group
    • RevPAR for 2010 will slightly be down but its too early to say - depends on how the summer looks like
      • Of course Sheldon thinks otherwise... "Im on the optimistic side" ...there's nothing like management disagreement on an earnings call
  • Ah Sheldon's claim of infinite Asian demand...."Supply creates demand" 
  • Once Sites 5 & 6 opens they will be able to host larger trade shows because they will have enough capacity for them - will finally have the threshold of critical mass
  • Four Seasons apartment sales?
    • North of $1BN of value tied up there but nothing to announce now