MTR Gaming Reports Strong Fourth Quarter, Year-End Results

MTR Gaming Group, owner of Mountaineer Park, reported double digit increases in revenue, net income, and earnings for the fourth quarter and 2001. The West Virginia company (Nasdaq:MNTG) also reported decreases in earnings per share for the quarter and for the year.

For the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, the company increased total revenue by 25% to $54 million and net income rose 25% to 2.9 million before a non-cash charge of $5.5 million. Considering the extraordinary charge, MTR Gaming reported a net loss for the quarter of 2 cents per share compared with a gain of 9 cents per share for the same period a year ago.

For the year, total revenue rose 28% to $218.4 million and net income, before the $5.5 million charge, increased 27% to $19.2 million. After the extraordinary charge is considered, earnings per share was 57 cents compared with 59 cents per share for 2000.

Edson "Ted" Arneault, MTR Gaming's president and chief executive officer, said he was pleased with the companyês performance and expects significant growth in 2002 as the company completes a 260-room hotel and continues upgrading its machines to accept a new higher $5 bet limit.

MTR Gaming has experienced delays in upgrading its International Gaming Technology-made slot machines earlier in the year, but Arneault told analysts Tuesday morning that progress is being made.

"A lot of what we are doing with our non-IGT machines is recycling them and replacing them with new machines that accept the higher wager," he said. "We are waiting for a way to increase the nickel and quarter machines to the $5 limit. We have been in touch with IGT and are talking to them but we have not received anything."

While the upgrades are being done, Mountaineer intends to move 80 slot machines from the racetrack grandstand to the Speakeasy Casino, which generates nearly three times the win per day per machine. Slots in the grandstand generate about $105 per machine per day during the fourth quarter compared with $300 per machine per day in the casino.

Arneault expects a lot of new growth from the new hotel that he called the "lynch pin" of the company's goal to make Mountaineer a full-blown resort. He said the hotel, which expected to open May 1, is on budget and on schedule.

"We are stone's throw from completing the puzzle," he said. "As it was a benchmark when we offered the first grade III race in the state in the West Virginia Derby, I think this will be a benchmark we can all be proud of and say we were right."

MTR Gaming stock rose 4% by 10:30 a.m. on the good news, increasing 68 cents per share to $15.25.