Caesars Entertainment Corp. blamed reduced visitation at the company’s hotel-casinos nationwide, especially in Atlantic City, for a first-quarter decline in overall revenues and a net loss.
The casino operator, which controls 10 resorts on or near the Strip, said Wednesday that overall revenues fell 2.9 percent to $2.143 billion in the quarter that ended March 31. Caesars lost $217.6 million, or $1.74 per share, compared with a net loss of $280.6 million, or $2.24 per share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Analysts polled by FactSet expected a loss of $1.46 per share.
“Atlantic City continued to struggle with economic and competitive pressures and a slow recovery from the impact of Hurricane Sandy,” Caesars Entertainment Chairman Gary Loveman said. “A nationwide slowdown in casino customer spending as the year began and the strong growth recorded in the 2012 first quarter resulted in an unfavorable comparison for the 2013 first quarter.”
The company, which owns Caesars Palace, Bally’s, Harrah’s Las Vegas, the Rio and Planet Hollywood among other properties, saw revenues decline 2.6 percent in Las Vegas to $751.7 million. Casino revenues declined 5.7 percent and hotel revenues were down 3.4 percent, but food and beverage revenues climbed 8.2 percent.
Caesars said construction associated with the $550 million Linq, renovation of the Imperial Palace into The Quad, and the closing of Bill’s Gambling Hall, which is being renovated into the $187 million Gansevoort Las Vegas, lowered revenues in the market.
Meanwhile, Caesars’ four casinos in Atlantic City and its Harrah’s Philadelphia racetrack casino saw revenues decline 15.5 percent to $365.3 million during the quarter.
Caesars said the region will face continued challenges from a slow recovery after the October storm and competitive pressures from neighboring markets. The company said it would continue to focus on controlling costs in the region.
Loveman touted Caesars’ expansion activities during the quarter, including the opening of the $400 million Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati and the expanded Thistledown Racetrack casino near Cleveland. Both projects are in partnership with Detroit-based Rock Gaming.
“We also continued efforts to win a gaming license with Suffolk Downs in Boston and presented our vision of an integrated resort to officials in Toronto,” Loveman said.
Last month, Caesars formed Caesars Growth Partners, an entity that will own Caesars Interactive, Planet Hollywood and the company’s joint-venture interests in Horseshoe Baltimore.
“This transaction will help strengthen our balance sheet and our ability to pursue growth opportunities,” Loveman said.
RBC Capital Markets gaming analyst John Kempf said Caesars’ cash flow continues to decline. He also expressed concern with Caesars’ long-term debt of more than $20 billion.
“The company’s capital structure remains the larger issue,” Kempf said.
Shares of Caesars fell 71 cents, or 4.46 percent, to close Wednesday at $15.20 on the New York Stock Exchange. They fell an additional 25 cents, or 1.64 percent, after hours.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.
com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.