Caesars' 1Q loss shrinks but still misses estimate

AP News
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Posted: May 01, 2013 5:54 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corp. posted a smaller loss for its first quarter on Wednesday, but results still missed expectations as a drop in visitors dragged down revenue.

Caesars owns or manages more than 50 casinos, most of them in the U.S. and Britain. In addition to its Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., resorts, Caesars operates properties in Indiana, Louisiana and several other states. U.S. casinos, however, have been slow to recover from the economic downturn and Caesars is the only major U.S. casino company without a presence in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. Rival gaming companies Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands have both reported gains for the first three months of the year, helped by their lucrative Macau properties.

Revenue slipped 3 percent to $2.14 billion from $2.21 billion as its Atlantic City properties continued to be hurt by the slow recovery from Hurricane Sandy and customers spent less at its other casinos. Caesars' average daily room rates remained flat, and its occupancy rates decreased by nearly 3 percentage points, driven especially by empty rooms in Atlantic City. Caesars linked the drop in visitors to weak consumer sentiment, particularly among less affluent customers.

The company has been engaged in a flurry of activity on the Las Vegas Strip in an effort to draw new business. It opened the boutique Nobu Hotel within the sprawling Caesars Palace casino this year, and is the midst of overhauling Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon into the luxury Gansevoort Las Vegas and building Linq, a new project designed to appeal to Gen Xers.

The company said that losses for the first three months of the year shrank to $217.6 million, or $1.74 per share, from $280 million, or $2.24 a share, a year ago when it booked a big charge for a halted Mississippi project.

Analysts had expected a smaller loss of $1.46 per share on higher revenue of $2.18 billion, according to FactSet.

Shares of Caesars Entertainment ended regular trading down 71 cents, or 4.5 percent, at $15.20. The stock slipped 3 percent to $14.95 in aftermarket trading following the report. Still, shares are up about 20 percent this year.

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Hannah Dreier can be reached at http://twitter.com/hannahdreier .