Marina Bay Sands May Need Two More Years to Recover, Asserts Analyst

By | April 14, 2022

Marina Bay Sands is going to need some additional time to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The casino resort is beginning to rebound, but progress will be slow over the next two years.

Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The casino resort is ready to begin recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. (Image: Veena World)

After a few false starts over the past few months, Singapore is getting back on track. It’s beginning to welcome back its much-needed tourism industry, which will begin to restore the economy.

Marina Bay Sands (MBS), a Las Vegas Sands (LVS) property, has been waiting for this moment and will make the most of it as it starts to see more traffic. However, being able to recover from the fallout of the global COVID-19 pandemic won’t be easy. Vitaly Umansky, an analyst with the Sanford C. Bernstein brokerage, believes MBS will need all of the next two years to bounce back.

MBS Has a Bright Future

Singapore previously thought it would begin to easy international travel restrictions in September of last year. That failed after COVID-19 reappeared. This was a blow to MBS, as well as Resorts World Sentosa. It forced them to alter their expansion plans as revenue became just a fraction of what it was previously.

Umansky points out that, because Singapore is now lifting its international travel restrictions, MBS will soon begin to experience an increase in activity. This will put it on the road to recovery, with operations picking up sometime in the second quarter. They’ll continue to improve going forward and will “accelerate into 2023,” forecasts the analyst.

In March of last year, air traffic dropped to around 18% of where it was prior to COVID-19. By the end of this year, it will reach 50% of the pre-pandemic level and continue to rise next year.

As a result, MBS will benefit, as well. Its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) should reach $1.7 billion by 2024. It could then increase to $1.9 billion within the following 12 months.

Assisting MBS in securing greater growth will be the upgrades coming to the property. LVS is spending $1 billion on new amenities and options. These are in addition to the $3.31-billion package the company agreed to include in order to retain its exclusivity in the region.

That’s a lot of money LVS has committed to the future of MBS. Umansky believes it will pay off, but will only offer a “low double-digit percentage return” in the immediate future.

Singapore Economy Looks for Stability

Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) reports that the country’s economy grew 3.4% in the first quarter of the year compared to a year earlier. This is slightly lower than what economists had expected, according to Reuters. They previously forecast a year-on-year improvement of 3.8%.

It’s also less than the growth in the fourth quarter of last year. At that time, with more COVID-19 restrictions in place, the economy added 6.1%.

However, generally speaking, the outlook is favorable. One analyst, economist Alex Holmes with research firm Capital Economics, predicts overall growth of 4% for this year.

The reaction to the return of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix could serve as a positive indicator of Singapore’s economic growth this year. The race is returning after a two-year break and, within just six hours of tickets going on sale yesterday, all grandstand and hospitality packages sold out.

The event, which will take place from September 30 to October 2, will give a significant boost to the economy. Attendance was 268,000 in 2019 and, based on the preliminary results of the ticket sales, will be greater this year.

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