Ameristar Casinos given greater chance of surviving

Feb 17, 2009 5:00 PM
by Ray Poirier | Regional casinos such as Ameristar Casinos Inc. (ASCA) are being given a greater chance of surviving the economic downturn and analysts point to the fourth quarter results as a reason for hope.

During the quarter, the company reported a loss of $101.1 million or $1.77 per share but this was caused primarily by a $109.7 million impairment charge related to a previous acquisition.

Without the impairment charge, the company showed a profit of $0.20 per share compared to last year’s $0.14 per share profit.

Revenue for the period fell to $293 million, or 3% below last year’s $302.8 million.

For the full year, the company said revenues increased to $1.27 billion from $1.08 billion in 2007.

Nick Danna of Sterne Agee said in a client note that he was pleased with the strong January performance of Ameristar’s St. Charles and Kansas City, Missouri, properties.

"We are optimistic regarding future performance in Missouri and Colorado and expect well over $2 per share in free cash flow following completion of the Black Hawk Hotel," Danna wrote.

However, another analyst said he was taking a more conservative view because the casino industry was struggling as consumers tightened its discretionary spending. He maintained his "buy" rating but lowered his target price to $12 from the previous $16.