March 2, 2010 / 2:51 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 3-Boyd Gaming 4th-qtr loss narrows, shrs rise

* Q4 adj net break-even vs. estimate break-even

* Revenue falls nearly 9 percent

* Still interested in Station Casinos assets

* Shares up 6 percent

(Adds company comments, updates stock; changes dateline, previously ATLANTA)

LOS ANGELES, March 2 (Reuters) - Casino operator Boyd Gaming Corp (BYD.N) on Tuesday posted a narrower fourth-quarter net loss because of cost cuts and cited signs of stabilization at some Las Vegas properties.

Its shares were up 6 percent in early afternoon trading.

The Las Vegas-based company posted a net loss of $1 million, or 1 cent a share, compared with a loss of $220.8 million, or $2.51 per share a year earlier when it recorded large impairment charges.

Excluding items, Boyd had break-even results, in line with analysts’ average estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The results “show the start of some stabilization in Boyd’s core Las Vegas markets,” Goldman Sachs analyst Steven Kent said in a research note. “However, near term we think the shares will continue to trade more on the potential for Boyd to acquire some of Station’s assets.”

Boyd has made a $2.45 billion bid to buy Las Vegas-based Station Casinos Inc [STN.UL], which is currently mired in bankruptcy court.

Speaking on a conference call, Boyd Chief Executive Officer Keith Smith said “that offer still stands,” noting that even if Station has reached a deal with key lenders “it will leave a considerable number of assets in play.”

Both companies run Las Vegas properties that cater mainly to local residents, rather than tourists.

Kent said Boyd Gaming’s Las Vegas properties showed 20 percent sequential growth in cash earnings, and on a two-year basis the year-over-year declines started to ease.

Revenue fell to $384.9 million from $422.6 million. Analysts had expected revenue of $386.1 million. Costs and expenses fell about 46 percent in the quarter.

The company, which owns and operates 16 casinos in six states, suspended work in 2008 on its partially built Echelon project on the Las Vegas Strip.

Boyd also owns 50 percent of the Borgata resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. MGM Mirage (MGM.N), which owns the other 50 percent, has said it plans to sell its stake.

CEO Smith said Boyd holds the right of first refusal on any sale of MGM’s holdings and plans to monitor the situation. “We are pleased with the 50 percent ownership position in Atlantic City gaming — for us, it will continue to be business as usual at Borgata,” he said.

Boyd shares were up 6 percent at $8.13 in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Deena Beasley in Los Angeles and Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Dave Zimmerman, Robert MacMillan and Phil Berlowitz

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