Thursday, February 04, 2010

Billionaire James Packer on a winner in Macau - 4th February 2010

The parent company of James Packer's casino venture in Macau has declared a surge in profits in January on increased market share and says the business is "ramping up nicely".

Mr Packer was also reported to be interested in selling down his stake in the venture, something which his partner in the two casinos in Macau described as "total nonsense", The Australian reports.

Shares in Melco International Development rose 3 per cent on the Hong Kong exchange yesterday on the profit news.

The company controls Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, in which Mr Packer's Crown has a 32 per cent stake.

Melco estimated its January earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation would be more than $US40 million ($45.4m), providing some optimism after a poor quarterly result. Melco reported a net loss of $US89.7m for the December period compared with a loss of $18.9m a year earlier. But sales rose 58 per cent to $US400.2m from $US253.5m a year earlier, beating the $398m analysts had estimated.

The result was hit by higher costs from the opening of Melco Crown's City of Dreams casino on Macau's Cotai Strip last June.

Melco reported a surge in market share to 16 per cent, from 12 per cent in December, prompting the company to upgrade its January guidance.

"Our fourth quarter has been a tough quarter as we work through important changes to our business," Melco chief executive Lawrence Ho said.

"Going forward into 2010, I believe our business is in its best shape yet." Mr Ho said reports that US casino company Harrah's Entertainment was negotiating to buy a stake in the Macau casinos were "total nonsense". (Credit: Wires, News Limited)