Las Vegas Sands (LVS - Get Report) shares were up slightly in afternoon trading Tuesday to $55.63, ahead of the release of the company's fourth quarter earnings results after Wednesday's closing bell.
Analysts on average are expecting the company to report earnings of $0.65 per share on revenue of $3.12 billion, according to data compiled by FactSet. Those totals would be slightly ahead of the $0.62 per share on revenue of $2.86 billion the company reported in the year ago quarter.
In a note this week, Wells Fargo is bearish on the gaming sector, with analysts Cameron McKnight and Robert J. Shore maintaining a market-perform rating on Sands, and fellow Macau casino operators Melco Crown Entertainment (MPEL) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN - Get Report) .
"Las Vegas Sands should benefit from our positive long-term view of the Macau gaming market, however, we see equal risk/reward given near-term uncertainty," McKnight and Shore wrote.
The firm expects the company to report earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $625 million, below consensus estimates of $630 million.
"While the market has stabilized, we have not seen a clear return to trend growth," McKnight and Shore noted. "Monthly trends remain choppy, with two of the three most recent months down in seasonally adjusted terms."
The firm acknowledges that Sands is one of only two Macau operators who generate material, net non-gaming revenues, taking advantage of a 7% uptick in Macau hotel occupancy in December to 93.6%, despite a 15% increase in room supply.
However, 85% of Macau's 4Q growth was driven by volatile VIP patrons. VIP gaming accounted for 35% of Macau revenue in December, but those gamblers are more susceptible to macroeconomic headwinds in China's real estate bubble.
Wells Fargo expressed concerns that management did not repurchase stock in the last quarter, which would have acted as a signal of strength for investors.
In tomorrow's earnings report, the firm advised investors to look for the ramp of the recently opened Parisian, early thoughts on pursuing development of recently legalized gambling in Japan, and management's view of the Trump administration's China relations.