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Q4 earnings ‘flat’ for Isle;
Aztar hurt by parking garage collapse

Feb 17, 2004 4:42 AM

Both adjusted net income and adjusted earnings per share were relatively flat for the third quarter of fiscal 2004 for Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE), according to a financial report issued on Thursday of last week.

The company said its adjusted net income was $8.8 million, barely higher than the $8.4 million recorded in the corresponding quarter of fiscal 2003. As for earnings per share, the 2004 amount was $0.28 per share, exactly the same as last year.

However, for the first nine months of the current fiscal year, the company reported adjusted net income of $33.4 million or $1.09 per diluted share, easily topping last year’s $27.4 million or $0.90 per share.

Additional construction and expansion has been in the forefront of the company’s operating policy. The company reported the opening of a new casino at Our Lucaya in the Bahamas, and the acquisition of a two-thirds interest in Blue Chip Casinos, PLC, the operator of a casino in Dudley, England.

Expansion projects were completed at several different properties including the Isle-Kansas City, Mo., the Isle-Biloxi, Miss., and the Isle-Bossier City, La., while it began construction of a new $75 million casino expansion at the Isle of Capri Black Hawk, Colo.

Management did not provide investors with any guidance for the forthcoming quarters.

Aztar Corp.

Despite improvements at its Las Vegas property, Aztar Corporation (AZR) reported lower revenue and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for the fourth quarter of 2003.

Impacting the company’s activities were the collapse of a parking garage under construction at the Tropicana Atlantic City.

Consolidated EBITDA was $30.2 million, which does not include potential profit recovery from claims made under the company’s business interruption insurance. This compared to $40.3 million for the 2002 quarter.

Diluted per share earnings reached $0.32 but this included $0.19 cents from an IRS settlement. Last year earnings per share totaled $0.31 when a three cent IRS settlement was added.

Revenues for the Atlantic City property fell to $88.9 million compared to last year’s $106.4 million, reflecting the impact the construction collapse had on business. In Las Vegas, the Tropicana facility showed revenue of $37.3 million, up from last year’s $34.6 million.

Increased marketing programs are now being used in Atlantic City, explained Paul Rubeli, chairman and CEO.

"The marketing emphasis is on a substantially increasing advertising, entertainment and promotions, not on increasing coin giveaways or complimentaries. A new promotion called "Derby Days" was launched this month and will be heavily advertised."

The company has resumed construction work on the new 500-room hotel tower and portions of the 200,000 square-foot dining, entertainment and retail complex to be known as The Quarter.

Pinnacle Entertainment

A double victory in Missouri, as well as construction of a new property in Louisiana, has encouraged investors to boost the share price of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK) to a level more than double what it was last fall.

Missouri gaming regulators announced last week that Pinnacle Entertainment had been chosen to build a $208 million casino and luxury hotel at Laclede’s Landing in downtown St. Louis and a $300 million in St. Louis County.

That, plus the fourth quarter results that showed operating improvements "at almost all of our properties," said Dan Lee, chairman and CEO, offered further encouragement as the company entered a new fiscal year.

For fiscal 2003, the company reported revenues of 531.5 million, an increase of 3.4% over the previous year and EBITDA of $90.5 million compared to the $84.3 million reported for 2002.

Adjusted net loss for the year was $4.7 million or $0.18 per share compared to an adjusted net loss of $5.2 million or $0.20 per share for the prior year.

Lee underscored that "in addition to focusing on efficiencies at the property level, we’ve accomplished a great deal in recent months to strengthen our balance sheet and create opportunities for the future."