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LAS VEGAS-Las Vegas Sands Corp. late Wednesday reported a 4% increase in fourth quarter net revenue that got soaked up well before it got to the bottom line, due in part to one-time asset impairment charges and slower spending by US consumers. The owner of the new Palazzo casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip, its neighbor the Venetian and two China properties posted a net loss of $111.3 million (-$0.27 per share) compared to a profit of $39.9-million ($0.11 per share) in the same 2007 period. Excluding one-time items, the company reported a net loss of $17.8 million when analysts were expecting a profit of $34.3 million.

On a GAAP basis, Las Vegas Sands lost $136.5 million; the net loss to common stockholders was $176.4 million. The company attributes the loss to increases in net interest expense; pre-opening expense; depreciation and amortization expense; asset impairment losses; and accumulated dividends on preferred stock.

Las Vegas Sands began reacting to the slowing economy in November, halting construction on all but two projects–one in Singapore and one in Pennsylvania–and completing an emergency $2.1-bilion capital raise that more than doubled the number of outstanding shares in the company. The company’s share price, which has fallen 96% in the past year, closed up 6.1% at $3.98 on the New York Stock Exchange. Wednesday’s earnings report was released after the close of trading.

In Las Vegas, revenue was way up across the board thanks to the opening of the Palazzo in 2008–retail sales up 68%, room revenue up 40.7%, food & beverage revenue up 39.9%, and casino revenue up 16%. But the revenue per available room fell 23.8% and the average daily room rate fell 21.3%. Average occupancy in the fourth quarter was 91.9% at the Venetian and 96% at the Palazzo. For the full year, average occupancy at both properties is in the 91% range, down 700 basis points from 2007, when average occupancy was upward of 98%.

Company COO William Weidner says the company’s near-term plans remain three-fold: to maximize cash flow from its current operations; to complete its Singapore and Bethlehem, PA, developments on time and on budget, and to purse the sale of non-core assets. The company says its cost savings target for Las Vegas is approximately $125 million annually.

Capital expenditures during the fourth quarter totaled $880.6 million. This includes construction and development activities of $479.2 million in Macao, $188.8 million for Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, $106.8 million at Sands Bethlehem, and $105.8 million in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas capital expenditures were principally for The Palazzo and the Shoppes at The Palazzo, and included approximately $30 million at the suspended St. Regis Residences in Las Vegas.

Sands Bethlehem is scheduled to open in less than four months. The Singapore property is scheduled to open in less than one year. St. Regis Residences (pictured) is a high-rise residential project in front of the Palazzo and Venetian casinos that was halted in November.

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