Las Vegas Sands reports Q1 loss amid coronavirus woes

 Las Vegas Sands Corp expects gambling and visitation to pick up by late summer or early fall in Asia.
Las Vegas Sands Corp expects gambling and visitation to pick up by late summer or early fall in Asia.PHOTO: REUTERS

BENGALURU • Las Vegas Sands Corp on Wednesday posted a first-quarter loss as the coronavirus kept consumers at bay, but the casino operator struck an optimistic note as pent-up demand for gambling pointed to a speedy recovery in Asia.

Revenue from the company's main casino business plunged 55.8 per cent to US$1.18 billion (S$1.68 billion) in the first quarter.

But shares of the company - which owns the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore - were up nearly 7 per cent in after-hours trading as the company signalled a quick recovery in Macau, Singapore and China as coronavirus-induced curbs are eased.

The company expects gambling and visitation to pick up by late summer or early autumn in Asia.

"We hear anecdotally that people are really frustrated and want to go back to gambling in casinos," a company executive said on a post-earnings call. "The idea of a mask or social distancing or thermometer checks will not be difficult for local Singaporeans or Chinese. They will accept it, they will deal with it."

However, Las Vegas Sands said a United States recovery would be more "drastic and slower" but added that it was seeing demand for group business in August and into the fall.

Liquidity during the coronavirus crisis remained a bright spot for Las Vegas Sands, with the company pointing to a strong balance sheet that would allow it to tap growth opportunities in new markets.

The S&P 500 casinos and gaming index has lost 49 per cent this year, compared to the 13.4 per cent dip in the S&P 500.

Net loss attributable to Las Vegas Sands was US$1 million in the quarter ended March 31, compared to a profit of US$582 million a year ago. Net revenue plunged 51.1 per cent to US$1.78 billion.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2020, with the headline 'Las Vegas Sands reports Q1 loss amid virus woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe