Churchill Downs Inc. reports small loss in first quarter

jpatton1@herald-leader.comApril 23, 2014 

Despite record first-quarter revenues, Churchill Downs Inc. on Wednesday reported a slight loss, in part due to $600,000 spent on a failed effort to bring casinos to Kentucky.

For the quarter, the Louisville-based gambling and racetrack company reported a loss of $700,000, or 4 cents per share, compared with earnings of $1,058,000, or 6 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2013.

The company's net revenues increased $19.4 million, or 13 percent, to a record $167.3 million, due primarily to revenue from the Oxford, Maine, casino acquired in July.

Online revenue also improved $3.2 million, with an 8.8 percent increase in handle through Twinspires.com, Churchill's advance deposit wagering platform.

But bad weather hurt attendance, and thus revenues, in Mississippi and Louisiana, Churchill said, resulting in a $1.5 million decline in earnings. Online earnings were hurt by the loss of the Texas market and increased taxes in some states.

Churchill also spent an additional $1.1 million on its Internet gambling platform.

Racing revenue increased because of 39 additional live race days at Calder Race Course in Florida. But bad weather at Fair Grounds in New Orleans forced turf races to be canceled, and winter weather in Louisville hurt simulcasting while driving up utility bills, resulting in only a $1 million gain in earnings.

"We're pleased with our record first-quarter revenues of $167.3 million, up 13 percent over 2013, and record adjusted EBITDA of $24.5 million, up 16 percent over last year," chairman and CEO Robert L. Evans said in a statement, using the common acronym for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. "However, we are more excited by the spectacular unveiling of our new, 15,224-square-foot, 4K-resolution video board, the 'Big Board', on opening night, this Saturday, ... which kicks off Kentucky Oaks and Derby Week. Our pre-Oaks and Derby Week metrics look strong compared to last year and we hope to set many new performance records for Thoroughbred racing's biggest week."

Churchill Downs will discuss the results in a conference call with analysts 9 a.m. Thursday on Churchilldownsincorporated.com.

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

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