Sands Regent on the prowl for an acquisition
Bouyed by the success of its acquisition
of Gold Ranch at Verdi, Reno-based Sands
Regent Corp. clearly is looking for a repeat
Ferenc Szony, president and chief executive
officer of the company that operates the
Sands Regency hotel casino in downtown
Reno as well as Gold Ranch, told analysts
last week that the company actively is looking
for acquisitions to reduce its reliance on
visitors from California.
As it reported its earnings for the first
quarter of its fiscal year, The Sands Regent
said its acquisition of Gold Ranch along
Interstate 80 at the California state line was
one of the key factors in improving its bottom
line. Among other benefits, the company
said, is the opportunity to cross-promote
the two properties
“We continue to look for opportunities
like Gold Ranch,” Szony said. “If we could
find another Gold Ranch opportunity, it
would be something we would jump on.”
But the company’s interest in diversification
doesn’t mean it’s giving up on downtown
Reno. Anything but.
Sands Regent said last week that occupancy
at the downtown hotel ran 92.5 percent
during the July-September quarter.
That, Szony said, is the best figure posted
by the hotel since 1994.
He played down, meanwhile, the effects
of an average room rate of $41 at the hotel
during the quarter. That’s about 5 percent
higher than the year-earlier figure.
In casino operations, Szony said, it’s far
more important to keep the rooms filled
with patrons who will spend money elsewhere
in the building.
That’s reflected in the 9.5 percent
increase in total revenue posted by the
downtown hotel during the quarter.
Besides, the Sands Regent executive
said, things may be changing in the region.
“Reno is an underpriced, value-driven
market,” Szony said.
So what will change?
As the region is more successful at
attracting business meetings and conventions,
he said, room rates no longer will be
driven entirely by hotel operators’ efforts to
capture the weekend getaway market.
Increases in meeting and convention
bookings already are apparent after renovation
of the Reno-Sparks Convention
Center, and Szony said he expects another
boost to his company’s downtown property
when the new events center is completed.
Even while Sands Regent looks for possible
acquisitions, it’s content in the meantime
to pay down a line of credit that carries
a 7.1 percent interest rate. The company’s
debt on Sept. 30 totaled $17.9 million, and
it paid $350,000 in interest during the
For the first quarter of its fiscal year,
Sands Regent earned $41.3 million, or 26
cents a diluted share, on revenues of $15.8
That compared with earnings of
$468,000, or 10 cents a share, on revenues
of $8.9 million a year earlier.
Business was so awful a year ago, however,
that Szony said the company compares
its results to 2000 figures. In the comparable
quarter of that year, the company earned
$757,000, of 17 cents a share, on revenues
of $10.8 million.
If you’re wondering why the company’s
quarterly earning report seems to be coming
awfully close on the heels of the company’s
report of its annual earnings at the end of
September, an investor relations spokeswoman
for the company explains: The
numbers for the fiscal year ended June 30
take a while to accumulate and doublecheck;
a quarter’s worth of revenue and
earning can be calculated and reported
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