MGM Resorts Edges Closer to Profit, But Casino Revenue Slips

MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) narrowed its fourth-quarter loss and edged just ahead of Wall Street estimates, however traders still seemed to boo the lower casino and room revenues, which slid across its Las Vegas resorts.

The company posted a net loss of $139 million, or 29 cents a share, compared with a loss of $434 million, or 98 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. Excluding one-time items, the company lost 20 cents a share, just ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of a 22-cent loss.

Revenue for the operator of casinos and resorts in Nevada, Mississippi and Michigan was $1.46 billion, up from $1.45 billion a year ago, matching the Street’s view.

Sales slipped in its casino, rooms, food and beverage, and entertainment segments, partially offset by fewer promotional allowances than in the year-earlier period.

A record quarter for MGM Macau, which was able to repay MGM $192 million in interest and non-interest bearing notes in relation to the joint venture, also helped ease the losses.

Casinos revenue fell 3%, driven by an 11% decline in table games, partially offset by a 2% increase in slots. Table games volume fell 13%. Occupancy in rooms on Las Vegas Strip fell to 84% from 86% in the year-earlier period.

The downtrodden economy has weighed heavily on casino profits as consumers remain reluctant to spend big on leisure activities and luxury vacations. MGM has struggled in recent quarters to turn a profit.

Despite the weaker results, Jim Murren, MGM’s chief executive, called 2010 a transformational year.

“We have built the foundation needed to benefit from an economic recovery and are highly focused on initiatives such as M life, our new customer loyalty program, to improve our business,” he said.

Murren said the company is so far encouraged by the level of business activity in 2011, with its forward booking pace already ahead of last year.