Tuesday, April 20, 1999 | 12:05 p.m.
Ameristar Casinos Inc. of Las Vegas today reported its year-old Reserve hotel-casino in Henderson produced positive cash flow for the first time in February and March.
The improvement helped Ameristar substantially lower its first quarter loss to $112,000 or 1 cent per share compared to a loss of $6.6 million or 32 cents in the year-ago quarter.
Net revenues were $70 million for Ameristar, up from $61.4 million in the 1998 first quarter. Besides the Reserve, Ameristar has casinos elsewhere in Nevada and in Iowa and Mississippi.
Income from operations for the three months ended March 31 was $6.3 million, up from $4.1 million before preopening costs in last year's quarter.
"The improved operating results from the 1998 first quarter to the 1999 first quarter are the result of an improvement in operating performance at each of the company's properties," Ameristar said.
Ameristar Vicksburg (Miss.) and Ameristar Council Bluffs (Iowa) had record operating income and EBITDA (cash flow) for the period, said Ameristar Chief Executive Craig Neilsen.
"We believe that our company-wide strategies implemented in the fourth quarter of 1998, including the purchase of innovative, new generation slot machines as well as more effective direct mail and aggressive slot marketing promotions at each of the properties, have positioned the company for a significant improvement in its performance in 1999," he said in a statement.
Net revenues for the Reserve, which opened on February 10, 1998, were $12.4 million for the first quarter of 1999 and $8.4 million for its first 49 days of operations in 1998. The Reserve's operating loss before preopening costs was $2.4 million for the first quarter of 1998 compared to a loss of $1.9 million for the first quarter of 1999.
"The company has continued to aggressively implement revenue-generating programs at the Reserve to improve operating performance, including direct mail marketing, promotions and a cash-back program that has been added to benefit players club members. Along with the revenue enhancements, reductions in labor costs and improved operating efficiencies throughout the property have resulted in improved operating results. The Reserve has shown marked improvement in EBITDA (cash flow) during the first quarter of 1999, with February and March producing positive EBITDA," Ameristar said.
Net revenues at Ameristar Council Bluffs increased from $24.1 million in the first quarter of 1998 to $25.4 million for the same period in 1999. Its operating income was $4.6 million, compared to $3.7 million for the same period in 1998.
Ameristar Vicksburg's net revenues increased to $19.1 million in the first quarter of 1999, compared to $16.5 million for the same period in 1998. Income from operations increased to $3.6 million compared to $3.5 million in the 1998 first quarter.
Ameristar's Jackpot, Nev., properties in Northern Nevada -- Cactus Petes and the Horseshu -- increased net revenues to $13.1 million in the first quarter of 1999 compared to $12.4 million for the same period in 1998. Operating income increased to $2.4 million, compared to $1.6 million for the same period last year.