November 3, 2010 / 1:21 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Ameristar quarterly profit falls 17 percent

* Q3 EPS ex-items 21 cents vs Wall St view 21 cents

* Revenue almost flat at $299.6 million

* Shares fall 0.8 percent (Adds analyst comment, company comment, share price)

LOS ANGELES, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Ameristar Casinos Inc ASCA.O, which said in August that its board would consider selling the Las Vegas-based company, reported a 17 percent drop in third-quarter profit as consumer demand for gambling remained weak.

Shares of Ameristar fell nearly 1 percent.

The casino operator posted a profit of $11.9 million, or 20 cents per share, down from $14.5 million, or 25 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Ameristar earned 21 cents a share, matching the analysts’ average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue was almost flat at $299.6 million.

Talk of a potential buyout has swirled around Ameristar following the 2006 death of founder Craig Neilsen, whose estate, including a more than 50 percent stake in the company, went to a foundation that focuses on spinal cord research.

But on a Wednesday conference call. company officials declined to discuss any potential sale, saying Ameristar was not able to comment publicly.

For the quarter, Ameristar’s East Chicago and Kansas City properties exceeded expectations, while the Black Hawk, Colorado, facility fell short, JPMorgan analyst Joe Greff said in a research note.

He also said Ameristar’s performance in St. Louis was roughly in line with his estimate, but down 9.1 percent from a year earlier due to new competition.

Ameristar operates eight casinos in seven markets that also include the Omaha, Nebraska, area, but not Las Vegas or Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Shares of Ameristar were down 0.8 percent at $17.85 on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Deena Beasley in Los Angeles and Viraj Nair in Bangalore; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott and Lisa Von Ahn)

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