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Aztar Reports Record Results for Fourth Quarter of 2000

31 January 2001

PHOENIX, Arizona – (Press Release) -- Jan. 31, 2001 -- Aztar Corporation (NYSE: AZR) today announced record fourth-quarter operating income and operating cash flow for the quarter ended December 28, 2000. Highlights of the quarter were:

-- Earnings per share of 12 cents, diluted, compared with 10 cents per share before extraordinary items a year earlier.

-- Revenues of $193.4 million, flat with the year-earlier level.

-- Operating income of $18.9 million, compared with $18.4 million.

-- Operating cash flow, as defined by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and rent (EBITDAR), of $36.6 million, compared with $36.5 million in the 1999 quarter. For the 2000 year, operating cash flow was $186.6 million, a 16 percent increase from the 1999 level. Operating cash flow has increased over the year-earlier quarter in 19 of the last 20 quarters.

``We are pleased to be able to report higher earnings per share and increases in operating income, operating cash flow, and operating margins in the fourth quarter,'' said Paul E. Rubeli, Aztar chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer. ``We believe our operations and markets continue to be fundamentally sound, and we are confident about the outlook for our results in 2001.

Balance Sheet Items

Long-term debt, including the current portion, was $465 million at year's end, down from $501 million at the prior year's end. Cash and cash equivalents were $48 million compared to $54 million at the prior year's end. The company's ratio of long-term debt to EBITDA was 2.7 times compared to 3.5 times at the end of fiscal 1999. There were 38.7 million shares outstanding at the end of the quarter.

Tropicana Atlantic City

Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City reported record fourth- quarter operating cash flow of $23.0 million, compared to $22.8 million in the comparable 1999 quarter. Casino revenues were flat, although slot revenue was up 4%. Other revenues were up 13%, driven primarily by a 20% increase in cash room revenue. This quarter marks the seventeenth straight in which the property has produced quarterly operating cash flows higher than the year- earlier quarter. Operating cash flow at the Atlantic City Tropicana during 2000 was $112.6 million, up 11% from the prior year.

Tropicana Las Vegas

Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas reported record fourth-quarter operating cash flow of $6.3 million, up 43% from $4.4 million in the 1999 fourth quarter. Revenues increased 3%. Operating cash flow margin was 17.7%, compared with 12.7% in the year-earlier quarter. Occupancy for the quarter was 92%, six points higher than in the year-earlier quarter. During 2000, the Las Vegas Tropicana generated a record $28.0 million of operating cash flow, up 85% from the prior year.

Ramada Express Laughlin

Ramada Express Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada reported operating cash flow of $3.7 million, down from $4.9 million in the year-earlier quarter. During 2000, the Ramada Express generated $21.7 million of operating cash flow, up 5% from 1999. Revenues in the fourth quarter were down 5%, and the property's room occupancy rate was down nearly 5 percentage points from the year-earlier quarter. Seniors are an important customer segment at the Ramada Express, and we believe that their visitation patterns were altered in the fourth quarter by concerns, fostered during the election period, about social security, health care costs, and energy prices. However, revenues in the month of January 2001 have returned to prior-year levels, with hotel occupancy of 88%, up 3 points from January of 2000.

Casino Aztar Evansville

Casino Aztar, the company's riverboat casino in Evansville, Indiana, generated fourth-quarter operating cash flow of $6.1 million, compared with $7.0 million in the year-earlier period. Operating cash flow during 2000 was $33.1 million, flat with 1999. The company believes that the 5% decrease in revenues during the fourth quarter can be largely attributed to the severe winter weather in southwestern Indiana during December. Casino revenues in the month of January 2001 have returned to prior-year levels.

Casino Aztar Caruthersville

Casino Aztar, the company's riverboat casino in Caruthersville, Missouri, reported $596,000 of fourth quarter operating cash flow, compared with $703,000 in the year-earlier period, with severe winter weather in December adversely affecting results. Operating cash flow for the year 2000 was $3.2 million, up 23% from the prior year. Casino revenues in the month of January 2001 have returned to prior-year levels.

Stock Repurchase

During the fourth quarter of 2000, the company purchased 1.2 million shares of Aztar common stock at prices ranging from $11.63 per share to $15.44 per share at an average price of $14.39 per share. From the beginning of the share repurchase program in May 1999 through 2000, the company purchased 8.7 million shares at prices ranging from $6.69 to $15.63 at an average price of $11.49.

Year-to-date Results

For fiscal 2000, the company reported record revenues of $848.1 million, up 6% from 1999. Consolidated operating cash flow was $186.6 million, a record, up 16% from $160.6 million; operating cash flow margin was 22.0%, up from 20.1%. Operating income was $115.5 million, a record, up 29% compared with $89.6 million a year earlier. Income before the effects of a non- recurring tax benefit of $7.5 million in 2000 was $45.6 million, equivalent to $1.05 per share, diluted, compared to the year-earlier $22.1 million, or $0.46 per share, diluted, before an extraordinary loss of $15.7 million.

Accounting Periods

The company uses a 52/53-week fiscal year ending on the Thursday nearest to December 31. The company's 2000 fiscal year, which began on December 31, 1999, ended on December 28, 2000, and included 52 weeks. The company's 2001 fiscal year, which began on December 29, 2000, and ends on January 3, 2002, will include 53 weeks.

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