Monarch Casino's earnings rise

Here's a good quarter:

Monarch Casino and Resort Inc. spent $11 million in cash to expand and upgrade its Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, and still boosted its cash balances to $16 million higher than they stood at the start of this year.

The Reno company said last week it earned $8 million on revenues of $43.6 million. A year earlier, the company earned $7.4 million on revenues of $41.8 million.

Monarch said revenues in its casino and restaurant operations were the highest ever during the quarter. The gross revenues in its hotel, $8 million, were a hair behind the record of $8.1 million set a year earlier.

The company's operating margin of 26.9 percent for the quarter was essentially the same as the 26.8 percent it recorded a year ago.

John Farahi, chief executive officer and co-chairman, noted that the growth in earnings came in the face of a soft gaming market in Reno and the disruption caused by expansion of Atlantis.

The expansion at the southeast side of the property is on schedule for completion next spring, Farahi said.

Monarch Casino remains debt-free, financing the expansion project out of its own pocket. Even with that expenditure, the company's cash balance on Sept. 30 stood at nearly $53 million compared with $37 million at the start of this year.

In the first nine months of this year, Monarch earned $20.4 million compared with $17 million in the first three quarters of 2006.


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