On the Street, what a difference a day makes

May 15, 2001 9:23 AM

Shares in WMS Industries (WMS) were a big hit on Wall Street Monday, rising more than 13 percent on heavy volume. Traders saw the stock open at $21.90 and rise to $23.20, just a shade below its 52-week high.

Analysts had different views on why the stock was so active, but most thought it represented several good news items affecting the company.

Among these are the new machines the company is introducing, coupled with the need for California Indian casinos to upgrade their slot floors and have the new machines in place by today. Plus, there’s the recent announcement that WMS had signed an agreement with IGT to work closely on developing new products. And last week it was revealed that WMS had acquired the rights to create new gaming machines based on the popular television series Survivor.

Commenting on recent happenings, Jason Ader, senior gaming analyst for Bear Sterns, said that all factors combined "solidified their prospects for growth and really creates a pretty compelling landscape for this company’s future versus just one month ago."

Turn up the volume

Visitor volume in Las Vegas showed an increase of 5.5 percent during the month of March, according to a report from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Total number of visitors was 3.3 million, compared to last year’s 3.1 million.

During the same period, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported that gaming revenues were up 3.2 percent in all of Clark County but showed a plus of 4.9 percent along the Las Vegas Strip.

Particularly responsible for the visitor increase was the boost provided by convention attendance. This showed an increase of 33.6 percent for the month. Also reflecting a positive outlook for the area was the number of passengers that used McCarran Airport. This came in at 3.5 million, a jump of 7.9 percent.

Auto traffic, as monitored at the Yermo, Calif., station, was down 4.5 percent.

Nothing but ’Net

Internet gaming will be the subject of the Mid-Atlantic Gaming Congress set to get under way in Atlantic City on May 24.

Among the speakers scheduled are: Steve Donahue, managing partner of Gambling Consultancy Limited in Great Britain; Lee Richardson, COO of Eurobet; dee dee Molnick, CEO of Las Vegas-based Home Gambling Network; Fernando DiCarlo, an executive with Toronto’s Internet Gaming Software Solutions; and Sebastian Sinclair of Christiansen Capital Advisors.

THE INSIDER: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the senior debt rating for Coast Hotels and Casinos from B3 to B2, citing the company’s strength in the Las Vegas locals market.

Word is that Donald Trump, who already has an agreement to build and manage an Indian casino in Southern California, now has set his sites northward. Trump met last week with Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who would like Trump to build a hotel in downtown Oakland. However, for a casino license, Brown said, Trump would have to stand in line.

Lack of attendance for its daily racing program has caused Churchill Downs (CHDN) to close its grandstand seating area for the remainder of the current race meeting, which ends July 8.

Lance Callis, identified as an "affiliated person," has advised the SEC that he plans to sell 253,564 shares of Argosy Gaming (AGY). The estimated proceeds are in excess of $7 million.

Hilton Hotels (HLT) has sold, through Credit Suisse First Boston, $400 million of seven-year notes with a coupon of 7.625 percent.

Acquisition of the bankrupt Claridge Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City by Park Place Entertainment (PPE) took another step forward last week with a vote by creditors to approve the sale.

Gaming analysts at CIBC World Markets have placed "Strong Buy" ratings on Hollywood Casino Corp. (HWD) and Isle of Capri (ISLE) and "Hold" ratings on Churchill Downs and Mandalay Resort Group (MBG).

Harry Curtis, senior gaming analyst at Robertson Stephens, has raised his rating on Park Place Entertainment from "Long-Term Attractive" to "Buy."

Tom Baker, president and CEO of International Game Technology (IGT), has advised the SEC that he plans to sell 100,000 shares. Estimated proceeds of the sale are $5.6 million.