Revenue slips slightly but Churchill filling up Mansion

jpatton1@herald-leader.comNovember 5, 2012 

Churchill Downs Inc. announced a mixed bag for third-quarter results on Monday. Everyday racing continued to suffer but new special seating at the Kentucky Derby is nearly sold out, the company said in a news release.

For the quarter, net revenues were down 1 percent, or $1.5 million, to $164.9 million, compared to the same period in 2011.

Year-to-date, Churchill reported net revenues up 5 percent to $573.9 million in 2012, compared to $547.6 million in 2011.

Net earnings were down 70 percent, from $19.78 million in 2011 to $5.97 million in 2012; earnings per share were down 71 percent, from $1.17 in 2011 to $0.34 in 2012.

Net earnings for the first nine months were down 1 percent to $55.9 million from $56.5 million; earnings per diluted share were down 4 percent, to $3.20 per share from $3.35 per share.

Churchill Downs Inc. chairman and CEO Robert L. Evans said the Louisville-based racetrack, casino and online gambling company will be looking to make the most of new growth opportunities in the fourth quarter.

"We hope to see the ... growth impact of these new opportunities starting in the fourth quarter of this year, and into 2013 and 2014, including our decision to proceed with construction of our joint venture casino project near Lebanon, Ohio; the completion of the acquisition of Riverwalk Casino Hotel; the launch of the real-money gaming site, Luckity.com; and significant progress on the $15 million renovation and rebuilding of Harlow's following the 2011 Mississippi River flood which we expect to complete by year-end," Evans said in a news release.

He also said seats in the Churchill Downs "Mansion" are selling fast.

The area is 93 percent sold or committed under three- to seven-year contracts. He also noted the track's new Paddock Plaza area will add more than 200 upper-price-range seats for various big events next year.

According to Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal, new Churchill board member and former NBA basketball player turned restaurant franchise owner Ulysses "Junior" Bridgeman has bought 150 of 322 seats in The Mansion for $1.5 million.

Much of the company's growth and future opportunity continues to come from online. Churchill said in the release that net revenues from online grew 9 percent, or $3.6 million, to $45.6 million in the quarter. Handle on TwinSpires.com was up 10.6 percent, to $20.5 million. The company also is developing an exchange wagering platform.

Racing revenue dipped $3.9 million, or 6 percent, due to three fewer racing days at Churchill Downs racetrack and weather-related cancellations at Calder Race Course in Florida.

Evans will discuss results with stock analysts at 9 a.m. Tuesday in a conference call that can be heard on Churchilldownsincorporated.com.

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: janetpattonhl

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