MTR Gaming Reports Fourth-Quarter Profits

Casino and racetrack operator MTR Gaming Group Inc. reported April 2 its fiscal fourth-quarter profit increased sharply due to higher sales and a significant increase in interest income.

For the three-month period ended Dec. 31, the company posted net income of $518,000, or 2 cents per share, compared with $41,000, or nil per share, in the prior-year period.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $86.7 million from $82.4 million

In the latest period, the company recorded interest income of $478,000, compared to interest income of $65,000 the year before.

The company's flagship property, The Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming resort in West Virginia, increased revenue by 8 percent to $68 million for the fourth quarter. However, its Binion's Gambling Hall & Hotel in Las Vegas lost $1 million in revenue in the fourth quarter compared with the same period in 2005.

The company did beat Wall Street expectations. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected the company to report a loss of 4 cents per share.

For 2006, the company reported net income of $4.4 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with $7.8 million, or 27 cents per share, in 2005.

The company said the decrease in net income was due to higher net interest expense related to the issuance of $125 million in senior subordinated notes in May 2006, among other things.

Annual revenue totaled $372.8 million, a 7 percent increase from $350 million in 2005.

In a statement, Edson R. Arneault, MTR's president and chief executive, said the company has been investing in initiatives over the several years, including development of the Presque Isle Downs & Casino in western Pennsylvania, which opened in late February. The racino's first Thoroughbred racing meet is expected to be held in September.

"We expect Presque Isle to generate significant levels of revenues and profits, thus substantially diversifying MTR's operations," he said.

Shares of MTR shed 6 cents to close at $13.02 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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