Shares of Sands China (1928.HKG), a casino division owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.NYSE), climbed to a record high in Hong Kong Thursday on the back of a 44% increase in fourth-quarter profits, Bloomberg reported. Profits for the last year totaled US$1.13 billion, beating analyst expectations. The firm’s stock rose 4.9% to HK$27.75 (US$3.58) in Hong Kong on the news, up 26.4% this year. “The results are encouraging,” said Philip Tulk, head of Asian conglomerates and gaming research at Royal Bank of Scotland. Tulk pointed to the company’s new Sands Cotai Central in Macau, scheduled to open in eight weeks, as a potential source of new customers. However, some analysts expect Macau’s gambling revenue growth to slow from the 42% it notched up last year, as China’s high-roller gamblers find it harder to access credit.