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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Caesars Entertainment, Caesars Acquisition, Century Casinos, Monarch Casino & Resort and Las Vegas Sands

CHICAGO, Aug. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the Caesars Entertainment Corporation (Nasdaq:CZR-Free Report), Caesars Acquisition Company (Nasdaq:CACQ-Free Report), Century Casinos Inc. (Nasdaq:CNTY-Free Report), Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc. (Nasdaq:MCRI-Free Report) and Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS-Free Report).

Zacks Investment Research, Inc., www.zacks.com

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Gambling Stocks in the News

In the past week, Caesars Entertainment Corporation (Nasdaq:CZR-Free Report) posted dismal second quarter results with both earnings and revenue missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate. It also entered into an agreement with bondholders to cut its indebtedness by $548.4 million.

Meanwhile, Caesars Acquisition Company (Nasdaq:CACQ-Free Report) that was formed in Feb 2013 to make an equity investment in Caesars Growth Partners, LLC (CGP LLC), a joint venture between Caesars Acquisition and subsidiaries of Caesars Entertainment, also posted second quarter results.

Century Casinos Inc. (Nasdaq:CNTY-Free Report) posted mixed second quarter results. Its earnings missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate while revenues beat the same. Meanwhile, Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc. (Nasdaq:MCRI-Free Report) completed the first phase of extensive casino redesign and upgraded its Monarch Casino Black Hawk per the plan approved in Apr 2013.

Further, Hong Kong has lowered its economic growth forecast for the year to 2% to 3% from its previous expectation of 3% to 4%. Hong Kong is located about 40 miles from Macau and this revised forecast has clouded the prospects of leading U.S.-based casino operators such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS-Free Report) and others operating in the region. (Read last to last week developments: Gambling Stock Round up for Aug 11, 2014)

Recap of the Week's Important Stories:

1.    Caesars Entertainment Corporation posted adjusted loss per share of $2.31 in the second quarter of 2014, which compared unfavorably with the year-ago loss of $1.69 and also the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of $1.24. The downside reflects higher interest expenses incurred by this debt ridden company. Moreover, persistent weakness in Atlantic City and regional markets added to the downside. Though total revenue of $2.19 billion was up 3% year over year, it missed the consensus mark of $2.21 billion by 1%.

In a separate development, the company entered into an agreement with bondholders that would cut its indebtedness by $548.4 million and interest expense by $34 million annually. Per the agreement, bondholders have agreed to sell Caesars' $89.4 million of 6.5% notes due 2016 and $66 million of its 5.75% debt due 2017. These steps are intended to get rid of the company's $20 billion of obligations.

Caesars has not been able to post profits for a very long time, failing to recover from its debt load since the recession. The company runs casinos across the U.S., primarily in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Atlantic City, once East Coast's gambling hub, is currently facing stiff competition after gambling was legalized in neighboring states including Pennsylvania and New York. As a result, several casino operators are withdrawing themselves from the market. Moreover, the company's failure to acquire a gambling license in Macau has added to the woes.

2.    Casino asset and entertainment firm Caesars Acquisition Company posted second quarter earnings per share of 6 cents, down 25% year over year and missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 37 cents by 84%.

3.    Century Casinos posted second-quarter 2014 adjusted earnings of 1 cent per share that missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 6 cents by 83.3%. Further, earnings declined 93% from the year-ago figure of 15 cents per share. The significant downside reflects higher total operating costs and expenses and non-operating expenses.

However, net revenue increased 11% year over year to $31.6 million and also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $31 million by 2%. The upside in revenues reflects 31% and 11% increase in revenues at Casinos Poland and Century Casino, Calgary, respectively. Adjusted EBITDA of $3.2 million was down 18% year over year.

4.    Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc.'s, subsidiary Monarch Casino Black Hawk has completed the first phase of extensive casino redesign and upgrade per the Planned Unit Development (PUD) master plan approved by the Black Hawk City Council in Apr 2013.. Now it includes an all-new granite-top stage bar, which has a 211-inch high-definition video wall. In Sep 2013, the company had introduced a new buffet as part of the redesigning plan.

Completion of the project would nearly double the casino space and will add a 22-story hotel tower with 507 guest rooms and suites, spa and pool facility, four restaurants, additional bars, a new parking structure and associated support facilities. Also, parking spaces will increase from approximately 500 to 1,550.

5.    Hong Kong's economic growth forecast for the year has been lowered to 2% to 3% from its previous expectation of 3% to 4% owing to the slowdown in China. Retail sales in Hong Kong have declined for five straight months through June owing to moderate economic growth in China.

Moreover, the country's anti-corruption campaign has curtailed tourists' spending on luxury items. Share price of Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, WYNN Resorts and Melco Crown declined in response as Macau casino resorts rely on tourists from throughout China and nearby Asian countries.

Gambling revenue in Macau, the world's top casino destination, has been witnessing a downside lately.  The slowdown can be attributed to the fact that high-stake gamblers are curtailing spending amid a cooling Chinese economy. Further, the nationwide crackdown on corruption in China has compelled Macau officials to impose restrictions on VIP gamblers in order to stop billions of dollars from being siphoned off illegally from mainland China to Macau.

Given the current choppy environment, a few analysts have lowered their revenue forecasts for the year while lowering their target prices. However, they remain bullish over the long term.

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

About Zacks Equity Research

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Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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