|By Steve Green, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 01, 2012--Hotel-casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corp. of Las Vegas on Tuesday said its first-quarter loss widened, even as business improved in Las Vegas.
Caesars said it lost $280.6 million, or $2.24 per share, in the quarter ended March 31 vs. a loss in the year-ago quarter of $147.5 million, or $1.18.
Net revenue of $2.27 billion was up 4.3 percent.
Caesars said the loss widened as interest costs for its $19.79 billion in debt increased.
Caesars said that in Las Vegas, where its properties include Planet Hollywood and the Rio, visitation to its hotels and casinos increased 5.9 percent during the quarter vs. 2011's first quarter.
Las Vegas customers, however, spent 1.7 percent less per trip during the quarter, Caesars said.
For Las Vegas, this resulted in quarterly net revenue of $771.6 million, up 6.2 percent from the 2011 period.
Las Vegas EBITDA on the property level increased 9.3 percent to $211.3 million. EBITDA is a key casino industry performance measure meaning earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
Caesars attributed the Las Vegas improvements to strength in the international, high-end gaming segment and to the January opening of the 662-room Octavius Tower at Caesars Palace.
Overall in Las Vegas, average daily room rates increased 1 percent to $95.
"In Las Vegas, business from international visitors continued to drive growth in gaming revenues, as visitation to the city increased in February for the 24th consecutive month and the macro-economic environment continued to show signs of improvement," CEO Gary Loveman said in a statement.
Caesars' report on stronger visitation numbers to Las Vegas is similar to trends reported by Las Vegas Sands Corp. for its Las Vegas properties in the first quarter.
According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 3.1 million people visited Southern Nevada in February, up 6.4 percent from February 2011.
Elsewhere for Caesars in Nevada, its properties in Laughlin, Reno and Lake Tahoe generated net revenue of $100.7 million, down 4.6 percent on reduced spending by hotel and casino visitors.
In Atlantic City, the No. 2 market for Caesars behind Las Vegas, net revenue was off 3.7 percent to $432.5 million.
Result were mixed for Caesars' properties in Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
Despite the wider companywide loss, Loveman said, Caesars improved its financial position by selling stock and extending debt maturities.
(c)2012 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)
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