LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson said he knew what question was coming: when would the steady and steep decline in the world's most lucrative gambling market hit bottom?
A corruption crackdown that has shaken up the up-until-recently skyrocketing gambling business in Macau, China has sped swift drops in revenue and activity there.
Las Vegas Sands, a giant in the casino, hotel and convention business — particularly overseas — reported a first-quarter profit of $511.9 million, a 34 percent drop compared to the same period a year ago, hurt by lower revenue.
Adelson wasn't about to peer into a crystal ball, saying the company is "sailing in uncharted territory."
Adelson added he remains confident in Macau's long-term viability and the company's plans to re-invest in its casino-hotel properties there, keep opening properties elsewhere in Asia as opportunities arise and pay dividends to investors.
"I hope we don't sink like that boat off the Mediterranean," he said, to laughs including his own, with another executive clarifying to analysts and listeners on the company's Wednesday conference call, "We're not sinking."
Adelson also dismissed talk of a possible cap on mainland China visitors to Macau's casinos and hotels, and said it was about as likely for him to grow back his hair overnight.
"There is no chance, in my mind, whatsoever," he said of the proposal's chances.
On a per-share basis, the company earned 64 cents per share, compared with 95 cents per share last year. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were 66 cents per share.
The results missed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 74 cents per share.
The casino operator posted revenue of $3.01 billion in the period, which also fell short of Street forecasts. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $3.31 billion.
Occupancy dropped at most of the company's properties, including The Venetian and The Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip. The exceptions were the Sands Macao in China and Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania.
The vast majority of the company's revenue is drawn from Asia with only about 12 percent attributed to its Las Vegas Strip business. That revenue dropped 1.6 percent to $376.4 million in the quarter.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. shares have declined 3 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock closed regular trading Wednesday at $56.39, a decrease of 30 percent in the last 12 months.
Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on MGM at http://www.zacks.com/ap/MGM
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