Sands China Ltd. president Wilfred Wong believes the gaming environment in Macau will be stable for the remainder of 2019, even as some operators fret about weakness in the VIP segment.
In the third quarter, Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS), parent company of the China unit, reported adjusted property earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $1.28 billion, of which $755 million was attributable to the company’s five Macau properties. LVS’ revenue in the Chinese territory for the September quarter was $2.11 billion, slightly below the $2.13 billion Wall Street expected.
Rivals, such as Wynn Resorts Ltd. (NASDAQ:WYNN), have been hampered by erosion in the Macau VIP market this year, but Wong believes Sands China’s focus on the mass and premium mass segments offers some stability.
If you look at our third-quarter performance, we are very steady because our mass market is doing very well,” said the executive in an interview with GGRAsia.
LVS said Macau mass gaming revenues, including slots and tables, jumped nine percent on a year-over-year basis in the third quarter, while profit margins increased by 70 basis points to 35.7 percent. That’s good for one of the best ratios of any operator on the peninsula.
Earlier this week, Wynn Macau Ltd. COO Linda Chen made comments similar to those of Wong’s, noting that she expects steadiness in Macau through the end of this year.
Amid a slowdown in China’s economy, the trade war between that country and the US. and geopolitical demonstrations in Hong Kong, among other factors, has caused gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the Special Administrative (SAR) to dip this year. October GGR there was $3.28 billion, a 3.2 percent year-over-year drop, and the sixth month this year of declines.
Through the first 10 months of this year, Macau’s GGR resides at $30.56 billion, a 1.8 percent decrease from the same period in 2018.
Analysts estimate that last month, VIP GGR plunged 20 percent, but mass revenue increased. Sands China, the operator of the Plaza Macao, Sands Macao, and Venetian Macao, is less dependent on the high-end segment than some of its rivals.
It’s estimated that for every $1 in profit the company earns on the peninsula, 90 cents is derived from mass players and non-gaming activities.
Macau is dealing with some gaming market turbulence this year, but LVS remains committed to the world’s largest gambling center. Wong noted Sands China recently had a soft opening for guestroom expansion at Four Seasons Macao. The company is planning $2.2 billion of non-gaming investments there.
“We remain steadfast and I believe that Macao is the best market in the world with respect to the continued deployment of our capital,” said LVS Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson on the company’s earnings conference call.
Ahead of Macau’s 2022 license renewal process, Sands and rival operators are looking to bolster non-gaming offerings to contribute to the SAR’s effort to diversify the local economy.