Adelson splashes the pot in Asia

November 30, 2009

Sands China’s weak debut in Hong Kong - a first-day drop of 10 percent – was the fourth-worst launch on that market this year, but came as little shock to analysts who were betting against the Asian gambling play. Rival Wynn Macau is down 5 percent since listing in October.

Sands China’s $2.5 billion IPO wasn’t helped by the default tremors kicked off by Dubai, which has helped to expose a whole new area of risky bets in emerging markets.

“The fever for casino stocks is seen to be over now,” said Patrick Yiu, a director at CASH Asset Management. “Investors are worrying about the industry outlook, especially keen competition, when more casinos are ready for business.”

“We’re not in this for a day’s trading, we’re in it for the long term,” Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson said.

So is this a time to hold ‘em, fold ‘em, walk away or run? Adelson clearly is not counting his money while sitting at the table, and there will be many who argue that betting against the Chinese appetite for gambling never made anyone rich. More likely, fund managers will look for more attractive price points to place their bets, while Sands plays with house money.

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