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Sands reports US$136.5m Q4 loss

CASINO operator Las Vegas Sands said on Wednesday that it lost US$136.5 million in the fourth quarter, down from a profit of US$39.9 million a year earlier, as gambling markets continued to decline in Las Vegas and China's Macau.

The company reported that it lost 27 cents per share on revenue of US$1.09 billion that was slightly higher than its 2007 fourth-quarter revenue of US$1.04 billion. In the year-ago period, the company earned 11 cents per share.

"I don't need to remind you of the significant uncertainty the economy and the markets are currently experiencing," William Weidner, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands, said in a conference call with investors.

"People in both of those markets are clearly spending less once they arrive," Weidner said. "While we cannot control consumer confidence or know when the market conditions will improve, what we can and will do is control our cost structure and focus all of our collective efforts on the disciplined execution plan."

Cost cutting

For the full fiscal year, which ended on December 31, the company lost 48 cents per share, or US$188.8 million, compared with earnings of 33 US cents per share, or US$116.7 million, in 2007. Revenue was US$4.39 billion in 2008, compared with US$2.95 billion in 2007.

The company said it will more than double its cost-cutting effort companywide, in hopes of saving US$250 million annually.

The company previously laid out plans for saving US$100 million a year at its two Las Vegas casinos, the Venetian and Palazzo resorts, and said effort would be increased to US$125 million. Sands said its new plan would include an effort to save US$125 million annually in its Macau operations.

Las Vegas Sands said it was pressing ahead with a development in Singapore and is less than four months from opening its US$743 million Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, casino, though the company has put off finishing the restaurants, entertainment and other non-gambling elements planned there.

The company expects to open its US$5.4 billion Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore in less than a year. Sands said it was working with government tourism officials there to determine the exact timing.


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