Harrah's Profits Up On Higher Gaming Revenue

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Gambling giant Harrah's Entertainment Inc. said second-quarter profits jumped nearly 18 percent thanks to record results at its southern Nevada properties.

Las Vegas-based Harrah's on Wednesday reported net income of $90.2 million, or 79 cents a share, for the latest quarter, compared with $76.7 million, or 69 cents a share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Property earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization increased 6 percent to $301.1 million from $283.6 million.

Second-quarter adjusted earnings were 79 cents a share, up from 74 cents a share a year ago. That met the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $1.13 billion from $1.08 billion.

Harrah's said revenues rose 23.2 percent at its southern Nevada casinos but fell 5.9 percent at the company's two Atlantic City properties. Harrah's blamed the disappointing results on competition from the flashy Borgata hotel-casino, which opened last year.

Harrah's officials were still upbeat about the Atlantic City market.

Cross-market play - or gambling by customers at more than one Harrah's property - increased almost 12 percent. Gambling by customers using the company's Total Rewards player cards, or tracked play, rose nearly 9 percent.

For first-half 2004, Harrah's had net income of $172 million, or $1.52 a share, up from $157.8 million, or $1.43 a share last year. Six-month revenue rose 4.6 percent to $2.24 billion from $2.14 billion.

Last week, Harrah's, which owns, operates and manages more than 20 casinos in 13 states, said it would pay about $9.44 billion to acquire rival Caesars Entertainment Inc. to create the world's largest gambling company.

Gary Loveman, Harrah's president and chief executive, said in a conference call that his company intends to apply its marketing strategies to the Caesars properties, which include Bally's, Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo and its flagship Caesars Palace.

Loveman said there was a big opportunity to raise the performance of these hotels through the use of its database and technology.

Harrah's shares were at $47.79 in trading Wednesday, up 25 cents, or .53 percent, on the New York Stock Exchange.