Earnings season is here once again and for investors looking beyond the headlines of earnings reports this is a time to hear directly from management about how a company is performing. Conference calls are the one time every quarter that management gets a change to speak about their business and answer questions about where they're headed in the future.
These conference calls are particularly important in gaming right now because there's a lot of concern about the future of Macau, where Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) and others get most of their revenue. Gaming revenue was down every month in the third quarter and stocks are down as a result, but you wouldn't know the industry is struggling from what Las Vegas Sands' CEO Sheldon Adelson had to say. He's not normally one to be modest, but this quarter he was particularly animated in pointing out how well his company is doing. Here are five quotes that should resonate with investors.
Las Vegas Sands is differentiated
We are the creators of the large-scale convention-based integrated resort. As a result, we enjoy the benefit of revenue diversification and we are able to cater to virtually every type of business and leisure due to that. Today, well over 80% of operating profit in both our Macao and Singapore operations comes from mass gaming and non-gaming segments, with less than 20% of profits coming from VIP gaming.
This quote really gets to the core of Las Vegas Sands' business model and is the first thing investors should understand about the company. Sheldon Adelson built Las Vegas Sands as a convention based business that brings in thousands of customers for conventions and then offers hotel rooms, food, drinks, entertainment, and gambling to those patrons.
It's a model that was successful in Las Vegas and it's transferred to Macau in the form of a focus on the mass market on Cotai. Las Vegas Sands has built a critical mass of resorts on the Cotai Strip to draw customers and that mass market focus has helped the company weather the downturn in VIP play recently.
Differentiation leads to higher profits
In the first half of 2014, we secured 34% share of overall EBITDA in Macao's six player market. Let me point out to you that the highest of the also-ran was 18.4, just under twice the next one.
Clearly Las Vegas Sands is enjoying the spoils of mass market growth and this shows just how well it is doing as a result. Mass market players are higher margin and that has helped drive higher EBITDA market share versus competitors who focus more on VIP play.
For 2015, I am pleased to announce that the Board of Directors has recently increased the dividend by 30% to $2.60 per year or $0.65 per quarter, yay dividends. The increase in the dividend will take place beginning in the first quarter of 2015. We have every intention of increasing the dividends in the years ahead as our business and cash flows continue to grow.
In total, Las Vegas Sands returned $701 million to shareholders in Q3 -- $401.2 million in dividends and $299.8 million in share repurchases. That return of cash isn't slowing down either with the dividend increasing to $2.60 per share in 2015.
This is one of the fundamental changes in gaming stocks over the past few years. Companies used to use cash flows for expansion, but Las Vegas Sands has so much cash that it is returning money to shareholders and funding growth projects like The Parisian on Cotai in Macau. The dividend should be music to investors ears and the consistent increases we've seen of late show why this could be a great cash flow stock long-term.
Marina Bay Sands will drive future growth
Both Japan and Korea have extensively mentioned MBS, Marina Bay Sands, as their model for integrated resort development. Marina Bay Sands is the most iconic integrated resort in the world. That iconic appeal has driven strong growth and valuation from residents of Japan, Korea and the world to Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. We have prepared and presented in Korea, one of the most iconic buildings ever, will turn out to be the most iconic building in the world and we hope and we believe that its received a very, very strong reception, a positive reception.
Once The Parisian is completed in Macau there aren't any new projects on the docket for Las Vegas Sands. That's why Sheldon Adelson is putting a lot of effort into winning potential bids for an integrated resort in South Korea and Japan. What's interesting is that Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is like a showroom for Adelson in discussing those bids. The resort has become an icon for Singapore and as officials mull over the future of gaming and entertainment it shows just what Las Vegas Sands could bring to the table if it wins the bid.
It's also worth noting that Adelson said he wouldn't be interested in either market if it were only open to foreigners. For shareholders that's good news, but it's also a shot across the bow for government officials in Japan who have to decide what they want a potential gaming market to look like.
The Parisian may open in just over a year
Parisian targeted opening date. We have two categories of opening date, partial opening and complete opening. The last I am going to look at it next week. As I said earlier, I am going to Japan, Korea and I am also going to Macau. The last thing I have been told is that a full opening will occur in March, but we can still achieve a partial opening of the casino and some number of rooms if the government will allow us to do that in November or December. So it's not a minor issue. It's maybe we have a partial opening, which has occurred in the past to us and everybody else. So I hope we can open partially in November, December of 2015.
Like I said, The Parisian is the next growth catalyst for Las Vegas Sands, and a year from now we could finally see the resort partially open its doors. The resort is well under way and when completed it will be the final piece of Adelson's vision of Cotai.
The soft opening has been a staple of Adelson's in Las Vegas, and Macau is like a trial run for the resort before completely opening its doors. The big financial impact will come in 2016 though and for investors' sake hopefully the resort will be at least partially open for Chinese New Year in February of 2016.