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Caesars cuts net loss in fourth quarter

Caesars Entertainment Corp. said Tuesday the casino company's net loss declined in the fourth quarter but the Strip gaming giant termed the year a success following the bankruptcy filing of its largest operating division.

The company, which operates nine resorts on or near the Strip, said net revenue for quarter that ended Dec. 31 was $1.12 billion, an increase of 8.7 percent. The company's net revenue for all of 2015 grew 14.7 percent to $4.5 billion. Caesars said its net loss in the quarter was $76 million, compared with a loss $262 million a year ago.

Caesars CEO Mark Frissora said in a statement the company had its best full-year of operating results since 2007.

Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., which the company placed into a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization 13 months ago, was excluded from the reported results. The operating unit includes nearly two dozen regional casinos, along with Caesars Palace, Caesars Atlantic City and Harrah's Reno.

When the operating unit's net revenue of $4.7 million was factored into the results, the company's overall 2015 net revenue increased 6 percent to $9.05 billion.

Frissora told analysts during a conference call to discuss results that he would not address any questions about the bankruptcy reorganization, which is expected to conclude sometime this summer. Caesars hopes to trim almost $10 billion of the division's $19.6 billion of long-term debt by splitting the operating unit into an operating company and a real estate investment trust.

Frissora said higher hotel revenue, including a double-digit increase in average daily room rates, were reasons for the 2015 financial results. He said Caesars' full-year cash flow grew 46.1 percent to $1.3 billion. He said the company "exceeded" internal expectations.

During the conference call, Frissora outlined some of the company's operating highlights in 2015, including cost savings efforts that resulted in $350 million in additional cash flow. He said the bottom line also benefited from a full year of operations from the Cromwell and Linq hotels in Las Vegas and the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.

"We remain focused on executing a balanced agenda of enhancing revenue growth while driving productivity gains to improve margins and cash flow," Frissora said.

He also outlined several capital improvement efforts for the upcoming year. Caesars plans to renovate some 4,800 hotel rooms at its Strip resorts, including Planet Hollywood, Paris Las Vegas and Harrah's Las Vegas. Another 900 hotel rooms will be upgraded in regional markets, including its Biloxi, Miss., property and Caesars Atlantic City.

Frissora said Caesars says is trying to "re-energize" its core slot player and increase business from millennial gamblers by adding new table games with side wagers and introducing newly approved skill-based slot machines.

Shares of Caesars were down 21 cents or 2.72 percent to close at $7.52 on Nasdaq.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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