Spending by S&P 500 companies on private air travel for top executives hit a record last year, and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) was among the contributors to that trend.
ISS Corporate Solutions, a unit of Institutional Shareholder Services — an advisor to professional investors — said S&P 500 companies spent $33.8 million in 2021 on private jets for executives, up 35% from 2020 levels.
Of that $33.8 million, Las Vegas Sands spent approximately $800,000, putting it in a tie with Ford and Warner Brothers Discovery. Just three companies — Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Tyson Foods, and Lockheed Martin — spent more on private plane travel for high-ranking executives than did Sands, according to ISS data.
Interestingly, Las Vegas Sands, which is the largest US-based gaming company by market value, spent slightly more on private jet expenditures for executives than did Apple. The iPhone maker is the biggest US company by market capitalization.
Sands Private Jet Spending Makes Sense
In the casino business, it’s a given that companies will spend capital on private planes to bring “whale” gamblers to Las Vegas or other locations. That’s simply industry protocol.
Specific to Sands, the company no longer has US properties. But the company is rumored to be interested in bringing integrated resorts to Florida, New York, and Texas. It’s possible some of the company’s 2021 private plane expenditures were devoted to trips to those states.
Likely, plenty of that roughly $800,000 was allocated to travel to Macau and Singapore — the homes of the operator’s six gaming venues. In 2021, there was ample discussion about Macau’s new gaming laws, and with Sands China being the largest operator there, it’s likely executives from the US-based parent spent time in the special administrative region.
Morgan Stanley recently published lists of US companies with the highest percentages of revenue exposure to China, breaking the firms into groups by semiconductors and others. On the latter list, just four US-based firms, including Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), rely on China for larger percentages of revenue than does Sands at 62%.
Not Unusual in Gaming Industry
The ISS report highlights private jet spending by 15 S&P 500 companies, of which Sands is the only casino operator on the list.
However, it’s likely that, owing to Macau exposure, among other factors, the likes of MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) and Wynn leverage the efficiencies of private planes. It’s also possible that companies with sprawling domestic portfolios, such as Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) and Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) do the same.
In the gaming space, casino operators aren’t the only ones spending to this effect. Regulatory filings indicated that in 2021, DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) spent almost $643,000 on private jets and personal security for cofounder and CEO Jason Robins.
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