Owner of Stratosphere sees revenue improve, still posts loss

A view of the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino, Thursday April 5, 2012.

Stratosphere hotel-casino owner American Casino & Entertainment Properties LLC on Friday reported continued improvements in business with a smaller quarterly loss on higher revenue.

Besides the Stratosphere on Las Vegas Boulevard, the company owns the two Arizona Charlie’s casinos in Las Vegas and the Aquarius in Laughlin.

First quarter net revenue of $87.1 million was up from $86.4 million in the year-ago quarter. The net loss of $1.4 million compared to $6.2 million lost in the 2011 quarter.

The results improved in part thanks to a decline in expenses from $81 million to $77.4 million.

EBITDA — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — rose from $16.4 million to $18.4 million.

The company said net revenue at the Stratosphere increased 1.6 percent to $38.4 million, thanks to a 4.6 percent increase in casino revenue.

Hotel occupancy at the 2,427-room property fell from 84.5 percent to 82 percent. Room rates on average edged up from $50.50 to $51.80. The hotel was affected by a more favorable convention calendar in the 2011 quarter, American Casino said.

Net revenue at the two Arizona Charlie’s properties fell 3.1 percent to a combined $24.7 million. They’ve been experiencing intense competition in the Las Vegas locals market, which has been hit hard by foreclosures and high unemployment.

The Aquarius posted a 3.9 percent increase in net revenue to $24 million, thanks to higher play volumes on its slot machines, its table games winning more from gamblers on a percentage basis and its 1,907-room hotel booking more rooms.

Occupancy at the Aquarius improved from 44.6 percent to 49.3 percent while the average daily room rate grew 30 cents to $44.43.

American Casino & Entertainment is hoping for improvements in casino revenue at all its properties after introducing in March what it called its new and enhanced “ace PLAY” rewards program providing benefits in the form of cash back, discounted slot play or comps.