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IGT shares on a roll, trend should continue

Mar 6, 2001 6:18 AM

International Game Technology (IGT), the country’s largest manufacturer and distributor of slot machines whose stock price has risen from a 52-week low of $17.50 to Monday’s high of $55.78, got another boost from an analyst Monday.

Highly respected Harry Curtis, chief gaming analyst at Robertson Stephens, said he had increased his price projection even though the shares "had appreciated nearly 200% over the past 12 months."

He said he "had wrestled with forecasting earnings acceleration over the next 24 months that would drive the stock to $70 or higher. After spending several days with the company, we believe we now have that visibility. We are increasing our Fiscal 2001 and Fiscal 2002 earnings per share estimates to $2.60 and $3.00, respectively, from $2.55 and $2.85. Strong trends in both gaming operations and product sales are driving our estimate increases."

He said the product replacement cycle he had stressed for over a year "could last longer than we had anticipated, which should continue to drive IGT’s earnings and share prices above expectations."

Deal hammered out

Details of the agreement remain secret, but representatives of JCC Holding Co., the Greater New Orleans Hotel-Motel Association and the Louisiana Restaurant Association finally have an agreement to guide Harrah’s New Orleans Casino.

After a meeting of the parties late last week – and the intervention of Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster – members of the group said they had formulated an agreement on just how the casino could increase the number of restaurants and hotel rooms it operates.

Foster had indicated an agreement was necessary so he could bring a tax cut proposal for the casino before legislators. With only a tax cut and no restaurants or rooms, JCC Holding said it would have to close the casino March 31.

Boost for racing

MSNBCSports.com, the Internet home of NBC Sports, has announced a relationship with the Daily Racing Form that will surely increase the dissemination of racing news to Internet users.

According to NBC, the editorial agreement will have DRF supplying MSNBCSports.com with the most comprehensive horse racing coverage available in the sport.

Said an MSNBC Sports.com spokesman, "We’ve united top tier content with a first-class web site. With NBS Sports now airing the Triple Crown series, coupled with our agreement with the Daily Racing Form, we will be offering horseracing fans access to the most comprehensive content anywhere online."

Just like Connecticut?

In the early ’90s, Connecticut officials fought the expansion of gambling on Indians reservations, arguing such activity wasn’t permitted in the state. The Indians, however (especially the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe), countered that Connecticut permitted so-called "Las Vegas Nights" for charity groups.

When the arguments were taken up by the state’s highest court, a ruling finally came down in favor of the Pequots. The jurists said if gambling were permitted for charities, then the Indians had a right to conduct similar games.

That same argument is being used in Wyoming, where the Arapaho Indians have been denied a gaming compact. State leaders argue that Las Vegas-styled gaming is not permitted in the state. Yet newspapers continue to run ads for gambling fundraisers.

The Indians have filed a petition in the federal court.

Slowdown seen

The gaming industry is healthy, but faces a slowdown in the rate of revenue growth. That’s the opinion of gaming analyst Jason Ader of Bear Stearns. He made his views known at the ninth annual Louis Rukeyser Investors Conference at the MGM Grand.

"March and April will be a real test, given the difficult comparisons versus last year," he told an audience of more than 10,000 conference attendees.