Station Casinos Raises OIutlook Amid Vegas Boom

Station Casinos Inc. (STN), a casino operator that caters to local Las Vegas residents, Tuesday sharply raised its first-quarter profit forecast on greater-than-expected customer spending, sending its shares up 12 percent to a record high.

Shares of Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD), whose casinos also target Las Vegas locals, also hit a record high, gaining 8.7 percent.

Station said it expects adjusted earnings for the first quarter in the range of $117 million to $119 million, or 66 cents to 68 cents per share, up from its previous forecast of 56 cents to 62 cents per share.

Wall Street had expected 60 cents per share, according to analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.

The company said it expects revenue to increase at the high end of its target growth range of 9 percent to 13 percent.

Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Falcone estimated in a report that, based on Nevada state figures, Las Vegas locals gaming revenues were up almost 30 percent year-over-year in January.

"The growing Las Vegas population continues to be a key driver of same-store growth at Station, in addition to creating increased demand to develop new casinos and expand existing ones," Falcone said.

Falcone also raised his first-quarter earnings estimate for Boyd Gaming Corp., whose casinos also target Las Vegas locals, to 55 cents a share from 51 cents.

Shares of Boyd rose $4.76 to $58.38 on the New York Stock Exchange (search), after hitting a record high of $58.65. Shares of Station Casino were up $7.50 at a record high of $69.05.

Station also said it will accelerate a planned expansion of its Red Rock Resort Spa and Casino (search), which is slated to open at the end of first quarter 2006.

The company said expansion is expected to begin in late 2005 and be completed by the end of 2006, bringing the total cost of the project to $800 million.

Red Rock, when completed, will include over 2,800 slot machines and about 850 hotel rooms.

Station projected Red Rock's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization at $65 million to $75 million in the first full year of operation, rising to more than $120 million by the third or fourth year of operation.