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LAS VEGAS-Wynn Resorts Ltd. today reported a first quarter loss that was worse than analysts’ average expectation but apparently not as bad as some feared it might be; its share price was up 16% in early afternoon trading. The casino-resort company operates two casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, including one that opened four months ago, and one in Macau, with a second in Macau on track to open this time next year.

The company reported a net loss of $33.8 million, or $0.30 per share, on revenue of $812.8 million. In the same 2008 period, which did not benefit from the company’s four-month-old Encore resort in Las Vegas, the company produced a profit of $46.7 million, or $0.41 per share, on revenue of $836.3 million.

Despite the new casino-resort, which grew its global room count and casino area by 61% and 23%, respectively, casino revenue fell by $50 million or 8.5% and room revenue grew by just $13.1 million or 15.4%. Gross Revenue fell by $23.5 million or 2.8%; net revenue fell by $38.7 million or 5%, due in part to a $15-million (25%) increase in promotional expense related to the opening of Encore.

On the cost side, Wynn’s depreciation and amortization expense grew by $38.7 million or 61.7% while G&A expense grew $14.2 million or 18%. Total operating expenses grew by $24.7 million or 3.6%. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell 36% at its Las Vegas operations, and dropped 11% in Macau.

More than a couple of analysts opined that the results were not as poor as they could have been once atypical items are removed from the calculations. Some likened the results to that of MGM Mirage, which posted a 20% decline in revenue after the close of markets on Monday and on Tuesday was trading up 33%.

Echoing MGM executives who spoke to analysts on Monday, Wynn Resorts chairman Steve Wynn told analysts that fundamentals have improved over the last several weeks – rooms are being booked farther out and occupancy is back up in the 90% range despite the growth in rooms–which has allowed it to push the minimum room rate up somewhat. He was “reticent” to declare that revenue was ready to bounce back, saying the economy is “bouncing around” but did admit to being “cautiously optimistic that maybe we’ve seen the bottom.”

With MGM Mirage considering shedding assets as part of its debt restructuring, Wynn was asked about the likelihood he might consider acquiring any of their high-end assets, such as Bellagio. He acknowledged being in a strong position and chose his words carefully.

“We’ve never been a buyer but we might be now,” he said. “There is no deal cooking, nothing of that sort at this moment.”

Just before the end of the first quarter Wynn Resorts completed a secondary common stock offering of 11.04 million shares for net proceeds of $202.3 million. The company’s total cash balances on March 31, 2009 were $1.7 billion. Total debt outstanding at the end of the quarter was $4.8 billion, including approximately $2.8 billion of Wynn Las Vegas debt, $1.6 billion of Wynn Macau debt and $375 million outstanding under the Wynn Resorts Term Loan Facility. The company recently pushed out $900-million of $1.3 billion in near-term debt maturities to 2013.

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