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Aztar Reports Operating Results for Q3 2000

17 October 2000

PHOENIX, Arizona (Press Release) --Oct. 17, 2000 -- Aztar Corporation (NYSE: AZR) today announced the results of its operations for the third quarter, ended September 28, 2000. Highlights of the quarter were:

Earnings per share of 34 cents, fully diluted before extraordinary items, compared with 18 cents a year earlier.

Revenues of $222.2 million, a 6% increase.

Operating cash flow of $51.8 million, a 15% increase.

Operating income of $33.8 million, a 25% increase.

Operating cash flow, as defined by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and rent (EBITDAR), was $51.8 million, a 15% increase from $44.9 million a year earlier. Each of the company's five properties posted higher operating cash flow than in the prior-year quarter and consolidated operating margin increased to 23.3%. For the last 12 months, operating cash flow was nearly $187 million. Our operating cash flow has increased over the year-earlier quarter in 18 of the last 19 quarters.

Long-term debt, including the current portion, decreased to $445 million from $454 million at the end of the second quarter. Cash and cash equivalents were $47 million at the end of the third quarter compared to $39 million at the end of the second quarter.

The company's ratio of long-term debt to EBITDA was 2.6 times, decreasing from 2.8 times at the end of the second quarter. During the quarter, the company purchased 1.3 million shares of Aztar common stock at prices ranging from $14.44 per share to $15.63 per share at an average price of $15.04 per share. There were 39.8 million shares outstanding at the end of the quarter.

``Once again we are pleased to report a terrific quarter for the company, with third-quarter records for revenues, income and operating cash flow,'' said Paul E. Rubeli, Aztar chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer. ``We continued during the quarter to use our substantial free cash flow to repurchase our stock and to further strengthen our balance sheet. Last week we reported a new authorization to purchase 3.0 million additional shares of stock. That authorization will permit us to continue our program of stock repurchase into next year.''

Tropicana Atlantic City

Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City reported record third-quarter operating cash flow of $34.3 million, an 8% increase from the comparable 1999 quarter. This quarter marks the sixteenth straight in which the property has produced quarterly operating cash flows higher than the year-earlier quarter.

Revenues at the Atlantic City Tropicana increased 8% and operating cash flow margin increased to 27.1%. The room occupancy rate was 98% and cash room revenue increased 22%. Operating cash flow at the Atlantic City Tropicana during the last twelve months was $112.5 million, a record for the property.

Tropicana Las Vegas

Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas reported operating cash flow of $7.0 million, more than double the $2.9 million in the 1999 third quarter. Revenues increased 6% and operating cash flow margin increased to 18.1%, more than doubling the margin in last year's quarter. Occupancy for the quarter was 98% and cash room revenue increased 19%. During the last twelve months, the Las Vegas Tropicana generated $26.1 million of operating cash flow.

Ramada Express Laughlin

Ramada Express Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada reported operating cash flow of $3.8 million, up from $3.7 million in the year-earlier quarter. Revenues were 3% higher. During the last twelve months, the Ramada Express generated $22.9 million of operating cash flow.

Casino Aztar Evansville

Casino Aztar, the company's riverboat casino in Evansville, Indiana, generated operating cash flow of $9.0 million, up from $8.8 million in the year-earlier quarter. Revenues were 6% higher. Operating cash flow during the last twelve months was $34.0 million.

Casino Aztar Caruthersville

Casino Aztar, the company's riverboat casino in Caruthersville, Missouri, reported $725,000 of operating cash flow, up from $695,000 in the year-earlier quarter.

Year-to-date Results

For the first three quarters of 2000, operating cash flow was $150.0 million, up from $124.1 million; operating cash flow margin was 22.9%, up from 20.5%. Operating income was $96.6 million, compared with $71.2 million a year earlier. Net income after the effects of a non-recurring tax benefit of $7.5 million in the 2000 period and an extraordinary loss of $4.5 million in the 1999 period was $47.9 million, equivalent to $1.10 per share, diluted, compared to $12.9 million, or $0.27 per share, diluted, a year earlier.

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