Source: Aztar Corporation

AZTAR REPORTS RECORD FIRST-QUARTER RESULTS, EPS OF 28 CENTS

Phoenix, Arizona 
April 18, 2001

     Aztar Corporation (NYSE: AZR) today announced record first-quarter operating cash flow,  operating income and net income. Highlights of the quarter, ended March 29, 2001, were:

  • Earnings per share of  28 cents, diluted, compared with 25 cents per share a year earlier. 
  • Net income of $11.4 million compared with $11.0 million last year.
  • Operating income of $28.8 million compared with $28.4 million. 
  • Operating cash flow of $46.7 million compared with $46.2 million in the 2000 quarter. 
  • Operating cash flow margin of 22.4% compared with 21.9% last year.
     “Despite tough comparisons to last year’s record first-quarter results and this year’s adverse weather conditions, our first quarter this year set new records.  Our results reflect the successful and ongoing efforts of our management to market to patrons with higher profit value and to pay attention to the cost side of our operations,” said Paul E. Rubeli, Aztar chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer.
    “We continue to focus on programs that increase quality revenues with higher profit components and to cull out those revenues that prove to be marginally beneficial in producing operating cash flow.  We are committed to our goal of increasing cash flows in 2001 at each of our five properties, and we have a high level of confidence that we will be able to do so.” 

    Operating cash flow, as measured by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and rent (EBITDAR) now has increased over the year-earlier quarter in 20 of the last 21 quarters.  For the last twelve months, EBITDAR was $187.1 million.
 

Tropicana Atlantic City
    Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City reported first-quarter operating cash flow of $23.4 million, compared with a record $24.6 million in the comparable 2000 quarter.  This year’s quarter represents the second best first quarter in the Tropicana’s history.  Revenues declined 4% due primarily to harsh winter weather, particularly a major storm over New Year’s Eve weekend which fell in our fiscal first quarter.  Operating cash flow margin was 21.9%, down from 22.2% last year.

Tropicana Las Vegas
    Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas reported first-quarter operating cash flow of $7.6 million, compared to $6.0 million a year ago.  Revenues increased 8% and operating cash flow margin increased  2.6 points to 18.5%.

Ramada Express Laughlin
    Ramada Express Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada reported first-quarter operating cash flow of $8.2 million, matching last year’s record first quarter.  Revenues in the first quarter decreased by 4%, but operating cash flow margin increased one point to 30.6%.

Casino Aztar Evansville
    Casino Aztar, the company’s riverboat casino in Evansville, Indiana, reported first-quarter cash flow of $9.5 million, compared with $9.3 million in the year-earlier period.  Revenues declined 3% but operating margin increased two points to 35%.

Casino Aztar Caruthersville
    Casino Aztar, the company’s riverboat casino in Caruthersville, Missouri, reported $1.3 million of first-quarter operating cash flow, compared with $1.1 million in the year-earlier period.  Revenues increased 2%, and operating cash flow margins increased 2.4 points to 18.9%.
 
 

Balance Sheet Items
    Long-term debt, including the current portion, was $456 million at the end of the first quarter, down from $465 million at the end of fiscal 2000.  Cash and cash equivalents were  $43 million compared to $48 million at year end.  The company’s ratio of long-term debt to EBITDA remained at 2.7 times compared to the end of fiscal 2000. There were 37.8 million shares outstanding at the end of the quarter.

Stock Repurchase
    During the first quarter of 2001, the company purchased 1.0 million shares of Aztar common stock at prices ranging from $9.00 per share to $13.33 per share at an average price of $11.14 per share.  From the beginning of the share repurchase program in May 1999 through March 29, 2001, the company purchased 9.6 million shares at prices ranging from $6.69 per share to $15.63 per share at an average price of $11.45 per share.

Conference Call
    The company’s fiscal first-quarter 2001 earnings conference call will be broadcast live on the Internet beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time today. Individuals may access the live audio webcast through our website at www.aztar.com and at www.streetfusion.com.  The call also will be available on replay through our corporate website and streetfusion.com for 30 days following the call.
 

    Aztar is a publicly traded company that operates Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ramada Express Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, Casino Aztar in Caruthersville, Missouri, and Casino Aztar in Evansville, Indiana.
 

The disclosures herein include statements that are ‘forward looking’ within the meaning of federal securities law.  These forward-looking statements generally can be identified by phrases such as the company “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “foresees,” “forecasts,” “estimates,” or other words or phrases of similar import.  Similarly, statements herein that describe the company’s business strategy, outlook, objectives, plans, intentions or goals are also forward-looking statements.  Such forward-looking information involves important risks and uncertainties that could significantly affect results in the future and, accordingly, such results may differ from those expressed in any forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of the company. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those relating to economic conditions, the cyclical nature of the hotel business and the gaming business, competition, the effects of weather, legislative and regulatory matters, and reliance on key personnel.  For more information, review the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company’s annual report on Form 10-K for December 28, 2000 and certain registration statements of the company. 


 

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