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Ameristar Casinos 1Q profit falls, revenue drops

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Ameristar Casinos said Friday that its net income slid 57 percent in the first quarter, pressured in part by acquisition-related costs, economic conditions and bad weather.

For the three months ended March 31, the casino operator — which is being acquired by Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. — earned $18 million, or 51 cents per share. That's down from $41.4 million, or $1.21 per share, a year earlier.

Stripping out acquisition-related costs and costs related to the development of a new property, earnings were 56 cents per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 60 cents per share.

Pinnacle announced in December that it would buy rival Ameristar for about $869 million, plus take on $1.9 billion of its debt. Ameristar shareholders approved the deal late last month. The transaction is expected to close in the second or third quarter.

Ameristar said that its comparison to the year-ago period was tough because last year was a leap year and included a very mild winter. The company said the higher payroll tax, a delay in income tax refunds and escalating fuel and utility costs also weighed on its performance.

Revenue dropped 5 percent to $295.1 million from $312.1 million as it pulled in less money from gambling and lodging. The company was also slightly more promotional during the period.

Wall Street predicted $302.4 million in revenue.

Ameristar Casinos Inc. has eight casino-hotel properties that mostly serve people from Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska and Nevada. It is building a new casino resort in Lake Charles, La.

Its stock added 4 cents to $26.40 in morning trading.