Churchill Downs Revenues, Earnings Increase to Record Levels

Churchill Downs reported Monday that net revenues increased 17.6 percent to $427-million in 2001 and that net earnings for the year were up 15.2 percent to total $22-million. Both were record levels for the Louisville, Ky. racetrack operating company.

Earnings per diluted share were $1.67, compared with $1.75 per diluted share the previous year. Churchill had 13.2 million average diluted shares outstanding in 2001, compared with 10.9 million average shares outstanding in 2000. The increase of 20.8 percent in the number of average diluted shares outstanding for 2001 was due principally to the issuance of 3.15 million common shares in conjunction with the September 2000 merger with Arlington, Churchhill reported.

For the fourth quarter of 2001, the company reported net revenues of $110.8-million, a 9.6 percent over the $101.1 million reported during the same period in 2000. Net earnings for the quarter were $4.0 million, an increase of 77.2 percent from the $2.3 million earned during the last quarter of 2000. Earnings per diluted share were $0.31, compared with $0.17 per diluted share for the same period in 2000, an increase of 82.4 percent year-over-year.

"While we generated record net revenues and net earnings in 2001, we were unable to deliver another record year in earnings per share," said Thomas H. Meeker, CDI's president and chief executive officer. "Against the unprecedented challenges of 2001, however, we believe the Company's overall performance speaks well to the underlying demand for our racing product, the resilience of our organization and the soundness of our strategies. We had recognized early in the year that achieving a gain in earnings per share for 2001 was going to be difficult. The energy crisis in California and the subsequent downturn of the California economy had an adverse effect on Hollywood Park's performance, and the nationwide recession that followed negatively impacted all of our racetracks. We were successful in mitigating the consequences of these factors through cost reductions, and our year-over-year gains in revenues and net earnings were aided significantly by the inclusion of Arlington Park for a full year.

"Our performance for the fourth quarter was consistent with the guidance we provided in connection with our release of third-quarter results," Meeker continued. "The year-over-year earnings gain was primarily due to additional racing dates at Arlington Park in the fourth quarter of 2001. We concluded successful fall meets at Calder Race Course and Churchill Downs in the fourth quarter that give us a strong foundation and positive momentum going into 2002."

Meeker said Churchill Downs is poised to confront the challenges posed by increased competition and a downturn in the U.S. economy.

"We are facing steadily increasing competition in other gaming and entertainment offerings, but our overall financial performance for 2001 validates our strategic focus," Meekder said. "The cornerstone of our strategy remains to build and promote the industry's strongest live racing product. Our success in reaching this objective is being advanced by the growth of our simulcast vehicle, the Churchill Downs simulcast network. CDSN unites the signals of our tracks under a common brand that we are supporting through an aggressive marketing effort."

Meeker concluded, "In looking at 2002, we face the well-publicized uncertainty about the direction of the general economy. We believe we have an advantage, however, based upon our historical experience, that confirms the relative stability of demand for our racing-related products and services. We expect that our loss for the first quarter of 2002, which occurs because of the absence of live racing scheduled at our tracks during that period, will be in the $0.94 to $0.97 range, compared to the loss of $0.84 per diluted share reported a year ago. This projection reflects significant increases in insurance and other operating expenses that we will not be able to begin to offset until our live racing resumes. However, we expect earnings in each of the subsequent quarters to make up that first-quarter shortfall, leading to earnings for the full year of $1.77 to $1.87 per share diluted, compared to $1.67 per share in 2001. The forecasted earnings for 2002 include the benefit of approximately $0.09 per diluted share in after tax reduction of amortization expense related to the adoption of Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 142 concerning goodwill.

Meeker noted that Churchill has allocated about $20-million in 2002 for the first phase of the master plan renovation of Churchill Downs. Churchill spent $14-million for capital expenditures in 2001.