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Sands Shares On a Roll

Updated from 10:29 a.m. EST

Talk about jackpots.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) shares jumped 65% on their first day of trading in very heavy volume.

Shares were up $18.80 to $47.80 from the initial public offering price of $29 a share. Some 21.4 million shares changed hands. The IPO price was well above the $24-to-$26 price target set last week, which was in turn higher than an earlier range of $20 to $22 a share. The offering of 23.81 million shares raised $690.5 million.

Investors are betting Las Vegas Sands shares will benefit from a continuation of the good fortunes that have driven other casino stocks higher. Strong Las Vegas business has helped lift the Dow Jones Casinos Index more than 25% year to date. By comparison, the S&P 500 is up about 7%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained only about 1%.

Las Vegas Sands' properties include the Venetian Casino Resort on the Las Vegas Strip, which features gondola rides and a replica of Venice's St. Mark's Square, and the Sands Expo and Convention Center, a 1.15 million-square-foot convention and trade show complex.

With its big Las Vegas properties, the company competes with MGM Mirage (MGG), which is working to close its acquisition of Mandalay Resort Group (MBG), and Harrah's Entertainment (HET), which is in the process of acquiring Caesars Entertainment (CZR).

But the company's Sands Macao Casino and its plans to build a Macao version of The Venetian also position it to benefit from torrid economic growth in Asia. A former Portuguese colony, Macao is the only area in China that permits casino gambling.

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