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Macao Makes Las Vegas Sands' Quarter

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) swung to a third-quarter profit and beat Wall Street estimates as business continued to roar at its Macao, China casino.

The Las Vegas-based casino outfit earned $91 million, or 26 cents a share. In the third quarter of 2004, it lost $85.9 million, or 26 cents a share, on a slew of special items.

Excluding items, Las Vegas Sands earned $99.9 million, or 28 cents a share, in the third quarter, up from adjusted earnings of $68 million, or 21 cents a share, a year ago. The latest quarter's number beat the average Wall Street estimate from Thomson First Call by a penny.

Revenue totaled $437.6 million, up 27% from 343.6 million a year before.

Investors are likely to focus on the company's results at its Sands Macao casino, which opened last May and aims to increase its market share in the former Portuguese colony. The casino's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and rent, or EBITDAR, were $90.1 million, up from $69.2 million a year ago and solidly ahead of the $81 million the company reported in the second quarter.

That performance was fueled by a whopping 60% increase in high-end gaming volume to $3.2 billion from $2 billion in the second quarter of this year. Mass-market gaming volume increased 8.3% from the second quarter to $1.02 billion.

At the Venetian Casino Resort in Las Vegas, table games volume increased 12.5% year over year to $301.7 million. The house benefited from the luck of the draw, with a 23.9% table games win percentage, which is above the company's normal range of 20% and 21% and well ahead of the 18% level a year ago.

Hotel revenue at the Venetian was roughly flat, however, at $71.8 million, vs. $71.5 million a year ago. Revenue per available room, a lodging industry metric also known as revpar, was also flat year over year, at $195.

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