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Boyd Gaming suffers rough 2020, but officials see better days ahead

Updated February 16, 2021 - 7:24 pm

2020 was a rough year for Boyd Gaming Corp., but executives are optimistic for a brighter 2021.

The Las Vegas-based company reported $2.18 billion in revenues throughout 2020, down more than $1 billion from the 2019 total of $3.33 billion, according to financial reports. Boyd reported a net loss of $134.7 million last year compared with net income of $157.6 million in 2019.

“For obvious reasons, we are happy to close the books and move beyond 2020,” Boyd Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Josh Hirsberg told investors on an earnings call Tuesday. “On the other hand, 2020 has created exciting opportunities for our company for this year and the future.”

Boyd’s downtown hotel-casinos have struggled during the pandemic, while its locals properties in the Las Vegas Valley fared better as the year progressed, executives told investors.

Company officials see a potential second-half return of tourism spurred by vaccine rollouts and the recent easing of restrictions as reasons to believe better days area ahead.

The Fremont and the California Hotel, Boyd’s two open downtown properties, suffered without general tourist visitation downtown, President and CEO Keith Smith said Tuesday. Compounding the issue was low visitation from its key Hawaiian customer demographic while the islands’ strict travel restrictions remain, he said.

“I don’t see much of a change in the trajectory of that business over the next three to six months,” Smith said. He anticipates it will be “a number of months” before the company resumes its Hawaiian charter flights.

Main Street Station in downtown and the Eastside Cannery off Boulder Highway are Boyd’s two locals properties yet to reopen.

The downtown business segment generated $94.5 million in revenue during 2020, down from $257.7 million in 2019. It’s fourth-quarter revenues were down 73.9 percent year over year to $18.2 million, “reflecting continued weakness in tourism to the southern Nevada market, particularly from the segment’s core Hawaiian customer base,” the company reported.

Its Las Vegas locals segment stayed afloat in 2020 through a “resilient” customer base, Smith said. Those properties, which include Aliante, Sam’s Town, Cannery, Gold Coast and others, brought in revenues of $161.5 million during the fourth quarter compared with $223.9 million during the same period in 2019.

The Orleans, however, struggled during 2020 because of the “softness” of business and tourist travel, Smith said. He said the company is working to get approval for large meetings and gatherings under Gov. Steve Sisolak’s most-recent directive.

In a release earlier Tuesday, Smith pointed to a positive sign in achieving “record Companywide operating margins for the second consecutive quarter, as nine properties nationwide set fourth-quarter EBITDAR records.”

He also cited “encouraging results” from online gaming. “Through our partnership with FanDuel, we are benefiting from strong growth in mobile sports betting, and expect further upside as we prepare to launch a Stardust-branded iCasino in Pennsylvania in April, pending regulatory approval.”

Streamlining operations over the course of the year improved the company’s margins to record highs in the third and fourth quarters, the latter at 33.1 percent, Smith said on the earnings call. Boyd eliminated its entertainment division over the summer and laid off thousands of workers as a result of the pandemic.

The company announced Monday its plans to roll out a digital wallet program over the course of 2021.

Boyd shares, traded as BYD on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $53.85. It was the second-highest closing price since the pandemic began, trailing only the $54.60-per-share price on Feb. 8.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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