Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS ) has been on a growth tear since the company came public, driven by a savvy decision by Sheldon Adelson to focus his attention on expanding in Macau. Not only has Macau grown to be six times the size of the Las Vegas Strip, but Las Vegas Sands also now dominates Cotai, Macau's growth engine, with three resorts and another on the way.
So, how can the company continue to keep the chart above moving higher in coming years?
Macau is the foundation
The first growth avenue investors should watch for is Macau. The company already has four major resorts there, most recently adding Sands Cotai Central (seen below), and owns a dominating position on Cotai. Overall revenue in Macau is up 16.2% this year, and momentum continues to be strong, so this will have the effect of lifting all casinos.
The next phase of growth in Macau is The Parisian, a Paris-themed resort located next to Four Seasons Macau. This is likely to be the next major resort to open on Cotai, and it will give a foundation of resorts in the middle of Cotai.
After The Parisian opens in late 2015, it will quickly be followed by resorts from Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN ) , MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM ) , and Melco Crown (NASDAQ: MPEL ) building more capacity on Cotai. If Las Vegas Sands were to only one building we could project a huge jump in growth but these new competitors will pull some potential growth away from existing casinos. Only time will tell of these developments will actually cannibalize some of Las Vegas Sands's Cotai revenue or create a critical mass that draws even more customers from the Macau Peninsula. What we do know is that adding more exposure to Cotai will be a positive for Las Vegas Sands one way or the other.
A big bet on Europe
One growth avenue that's been on the table for years is a massive project in Madrid, Spain. Las Vegas Sands has registered the name Eurovegas for the development that could be over $20 billion when it's fully completed. Right now the project is up in the air and Adelson didn't give much detail in the last conference call other than saying "there are a variety of steps left in development process."
Initially, Adelson plans have six casinos, 12 hotels, and $7.9 billion in investment from the company. The challenge is that gambling isn't exactly new to Europe and Spain's unemployment rate is still over 25%. That's not a healthy economy that could support major casinos and may be one reason Las Vegas Sands seems less eager to build in Europe than it was a few years ago.
Foolish bottom line
The only sure growth for Las Vegas Sands in the foreseeable future will come from adding The Parisian and organic growth in Macau. Marina Bay Sands doesn't appear to be a growth driver, reaching critical mass quickly and now experiencing falling EBITDA from its peak. There are possibilities for gaming expansion in Japan and Korea but those will be years away any company.
Las Vegas Sands will have to leverage Cotai for growth, not a bad position to be in considering the fact that Macau is the largest gaming region in the world and Cotai is its hear and soul. Focusing on Cotai will probably be the right move given risks associated with opening up gaming in other parts of the world.
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