(Adds comments from investor call, updates share price)
By Doyinsola Oladipo
NEW YORK, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Las Vegas Sands Corp on Wednesday reported quarterly results that fell short of Wall Street estimates, but the casino operator expects a broad recovery, including at its property in Macau.
The Las Vegas-based casino said it saw a return of traffic to locations following the Lunar New Year as well as an increase in spending per customer compared to 2019 levels. Macau saw 71,000 visitors on Monday, the highest single day since the pandemic.
Shares of the company rose 5.4% in trading after the bell.
Retail was a bright spot, with a 26% increase in tenant sales per square foot versus 2019.
"They're spending in retail, they're spending in gambling," said Las Vegas Sands Chief Executive Robert Goldstein on an investor call. "The most aggressive gamers and retail spenders show up first and we're seeing that strongly in Macau," he added.
The casino operator is looking to return to the U.S. market after closing its Las Vegas properties in 2021 to focus on its Asian operations. It announced plans to pursue a casino project on Long Island, New York this month, but some are skeptical.
"They wanted to focus on Asia and we agreed with that," said Morning Star Senior Equity Analyst, Dan Wasiolek, adding that a U.S. operation may be less profitable for the company.
"I'm interested to hear if it meets their 15-20% historic return on investment hurdle," he added.
"For the winning bidders, it's going to be an amazing opportunity," said Goldstein, adding that they plan to invest $4 to $5 billion dollars in the project.
Las Vegas Sands posted an adjusted fourth-quarter loss of 19 cents per share missing analysts' expectations for a loss of 9 cents a share, according to Refinitiv data.
The casino operator's revenue rose to $1.12 billion in the fourth quarter from $1.01 billion a year earlier, but missed analysts' average estimate of $1.18 billion. (Reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo in New York; Editing by Anna Driver)