Ameristar net income drops 64 percent from 2009 level

Ameristar Casinos, a Las Vegas company, on Tuesday said first-quarter net income fell 64 percent compared with a year ago.

In a statement, Ameristar, which operates the Cactus Pete’s and the Horseshu in Jackpot, said its net income was $10.7 million, or 18 cents per share, for the three months ended March 31, down from net income of $29.9 million, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier.

The latest per-share results fell short of the 26 cents-per-share profit forecast by Thomson Reuters-polled analysts.

Revenue fell 4.2 percent to $302.6 million from $315.8 million.

The company said a fourth-quarter bridge closure in East Chicago, Ind., made visits to its Ameristar East Chicago inconvenient for patrons and hurt that casino’s results. Furthermore, the company said, harsh winter weather hurt performance at its Midwest properties in St. Charles, Mo.; East Chicago, Ind.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The economic recession also hurt results, the company suggested, reflecting in year-over-year market contraction in its Jackpot, Kansas City, Council Bluffs and Vicksburg, Miss., markets.

“In comparison to the extremely strong first quarter of 2009, when we established several all-time financial performance records, the initial quarter of 2010 proved to be more challenging due to a variety of negative factors that impacted our operating results,” Ameristar Chief Executive Officer Gordon Kanofsky said in the statement. “However, we are pleased our efficient operating structure continued to maximize profitability, especially in light of the long-term challenges in East Chicago, new competition in St. Charles and some anomalies that worked against us this quarter.”

In trading on the Nasdaq National Market, Ameristar shares fell 26 cents, or 1.32 percent, to close at $19.46.

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