he company, which is spending billions to transform Macau into a resort destination, lost 14 cents per share compared with a gain of 27 cents per share in the third quarter of 2006. Revenue rose 19.5 percent to us$ 661 million.
Shares of Las Vegas Sands plunged 15.1 percent, or us$ 18.90, to us$ 106.40 in after-hours trading. Before the results were released, the stock fell 5.9 percent to close at us$ 125.30.
Adelson, who ranked third on Forbes' list of richest Americans, lost more than us$ 6 billion on paper in the share collapse, roughly one-fifth of his estimated net worth.
"We just didn't have a good quarter. That's the end of it. That quarter is not lasting," Adelson said on a conference call. "It's just the nature of the business. And it makes a good trading opportunity for day traders and hedge funds."
The company estimated that lower-than-usual hold percentage on casino games wiped out more than us$ 30 million in profits, while pre-opening costs were up us$ 75.9 million.
Costs rose because of the debut of the 3,000-room The Venetian Macao on August 28, as well as preparations to open The Palazzo hotel-casino in Las Vegas on December 20 and other properties in Macau, Singapore and the US.
The company plans to open more hotels in Macau under brands such as Four Seasons, Sheraton and St. Regis in an attempt to change the one-time den for Chinese day-trip gamblers into a destination resort with shopping, fine dining and entertainment. By 2010, Las Vegas Sands plans to invest up to us$ 12 billion and build 20,000 hotel rooms on an area of reclaimed land called the Cotai Strip.
Jefferies & Co. analyst Lawrence Klatzkin said the company still had a bright future despite the poor performance of The Venetian Macao at its opening. "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water," Klatzkin said. "It was a bad start, but the fundamental story doesn't change, and the quality of the product doesn't change."
Adjusted net income was us$ 41.8 million, compared with us$ 117.6 million, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial, on average, expected earnings on that basis of 31 cents per share, and revenue of us$ 783 million.
As an example of the bad luck, the volume of gambling increased at The Venetian in Las Vegas, but the casino's win percentage on table games was only 14.7 percent, compared with 23.4 percent in the third quarter of last year. The win is expected to range from 20 to 22 percent.
Adelson said initial results showed guests at the new Venetian Macao are staying longer than the market's average stay of 1.2 nights. "As each day goes by and each week goes by, the number of multi-night stays continues to increase," he said. "I would say that the vision of the Cotai Strip with the opening of The Venetian Macao is emphatically validated."
President William Weidner said that after The Venetian Macao opening, the company had to reduce the number of available rooms so that its staff could be properly trained. But the casino still averaged 65,000 visitors a day.
Adelson fired back at critic and rival Steve Wynn, whose Wynn Resorts Ltd. is competing for a piece of the Macau market that caters to the richest customers. Wynn implied his casinos were of better quality and only lacked the size of competitors'. "Notwithstanding what our competitors say: Bigger is better," Adelson said.