Trump's casinos could be sold

May 8, 2008 1:41:11 PM PDT
One or more of the three Trump casinos could be sold if the right deal presents itself, the company said Thursday. Mark Juliano, chief executive officer of Trump Entertainment Resorts, said the gambling company is "looking at strategic alternatives" and would sell if a good deal materializes.

At least two potential deals to buy part or all of the company fell through last year.

"If an opportunity presents itself that creates value for the company, we will definitely execute it," he said on a conference call to discuss the company's first-quarter earnings.

Juliano said after the call that there are no current sale discussions going on with anyone.

The company reported a wider quarterly loss in the first quarter of this year, blaming a general economic slowdown, competition from out-of-state slots parlors, and promotional costs associated with its new player loyalty program, TrumpONE, which tracks play and awards comps at all three Trump casinos. Each casinos used to have its own player card.

The company reported a net loss of $18.6 million, or 59 cents per share, compared with a loss of $8.1 million, or 26 cents per share in the same period a year ago.

The company's stock closed at $2.45, down 9.6 percent, or 26 cents. It had traded between $2.55 and $17.15 within the past year.

Goldman Sachs said the latest figures marked the second quarter in a row in which Trump Entertainment had missed the firm's estimates "by a relatively large margin."

"The company has taken positive steps through its revenue management and TrumpONE initiatives, but we feel that until the Atlantic City market improves, Trump could continue to struggle," Goldman Sachs wrote in an investment note Thursday afternoon.

Trump casinos include the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort; Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, and Trump Marina Hotel Casino.

Juliano said the company's key event this year will be the opening around Labor Day weekend of the 782-room Chairman Tower at the Taj Mahal, named after company chairman Donald J. Trump. The $255 million project is on time and within budget, Juliano said.

It is the centerpiece of the company's strategy to concentrate more on cash-paying customers who stay longer, rather than spending to attract less profitable day trippers.

Trump Plaza plans to be the first casino in Atlantic City to offer electronic poker games in June, when 12 machines will be installed.

The company's total debt increased by $3.7 million over the first quarter to $1.64 billion.


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