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( HET) third-quarter earnings missed estimates as strong results at its Las Vegas casinos were spoiled by weakness in Atlantic City and other markets.

The casino operator, in its earnings conference call, also refused to discuss the latest news on the buyout bid it is evaluating from private equity shops.

Harrah's said its net income totaled $117.2 million in the third quarter, up from $169 million a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, which excludes certain items, earnings per share were 94 cents, down from $1 a year earlier. Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 99 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

Revenue rose to $2.51 billion from $2.27 billion a year earlier, ahead of analysts' estimate of $2.41 billion.

For Harrah's Las Vegas properties, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization jumped increased 25% in the quarter. In Atlantic City, however, EBITDA fell 7% due to aggressive promotional spending in the market and increased competition from the renovated Borgata Casino, which is owned by

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In a sense, the quarter wasn't that meaningful for investors, since most of the stock's action is based on speculation about the likelihood of the company accepting an

$81 buyout bid from Apollo Group and Texas Pacific Group. The company provided no update on the status of that bid on the conference call, and management declined to confirm or deny recent press reports that the bid had been raised to $83 to $84 a share.

"We can't field questions with respect to any offer to buy the company," Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman said on the call.

Harrah's shares recently were up 44 cents to $74.39.