Updated from 11:28 a.m. EST
( TRMP) posted an 81% jump in third-quarter earnings, abating fears that the its Atlantic City casinos were badly hurt by increased competition in the market.
Trump earned $5.8 million, or 19 cents a share, in the quarter, up from $3.2 million, or 12 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts, on average, expected earnings of 20 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.
Revenues rose 4% to $288.4 million, beating Wall Street's estimate of $281 million.
"In our opinion, Trump, excluding the Plaza, put up a stellar net revenue number," says Steven Gart, an investment analyst with Nickel Capital, which owns Trump shares. Net revenue at the Plaza rose just 1%.
Trump share rose as much as 8% in early trading, but by Tuesday afternoon were up just 5 cents to $20.
Results would have been even better in the quarter without the three-day government shutdown of New Jersey state services, which forced the casinos to also close from July 5 to July 7.
Recently, Trump's stock has been abuzz with speculation that the company is teaming up with
redevelop the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City.
Last week, Donald Trump told the
Press of Atlantic City
that he was working with Steve Wynn about "something very exciting and very interesting," but he didn't provide any details. Trump no longer operates Trump Entertainment, but remains the company's chairman and largest shareholder.
On the company's earnings call, Trump CEO Jim Perry said the "board is committed to a process that is carefully examined," but he said it was too early to talk publicly about any specific possibilities.
Donald Trump, however, did his best to promote the company's Atlantic City assets, telling investors on the call, "From a real estate perspective, we have the best locations or certainly as good as they get."
The company owns three casinos in Atlantic City: Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza and Trump Marina. This summer, the market became more competitive following the opening of the newly expanded hip Borgata Casino. That property is jointly owned by
The world's biggest casino operator,
( HET), reported
weak third-quarter operations in Atlantic City because of increased promotional spending to compete with the Borgata. But Trump management didn't even raise this issue in its earnings call.
"Clearly, the efforts of the new management team of Jim Perry and Mark Juliano are beginning to pay dividends," Gart says. "This is particularly impressive, given the July 4th shutdown, and the challenging promotional environment in Atlantic City during the third quarter."
While operations improved at Trump's casinos, investors continue to look for ways for the company to monetize some value inherent to the existing Trump properties.
On the call, Perry did not rule out the possibility of selling assets, although he stated there are significant tax consequences to any sale.
Nonetheless, Trump said, "A transaction could be extremely positive for the company." Of course, it's no surprise "The Donald" would say this, given that the company will be required to cover the impact of any changes in his individual tax liabilities related to a sale.
As for the potential development opportunities at the Marina and Plaza properties, management said that it would further these plans at its next board meeting.
One sticking point in the possible redevelopment of the Plaza site is that an elderly woman named Vera Coking owns a dilapidated house that sits in the middle of a parking lot adjacent to the Plaza. Trump unsuccessfully tried to force her into a sale at one point through the process of eminent domain.
In an article from the
Press of Atlantic City
last week, Coking was quoted as saying the company recently offered her $250,000, which she declined. She also said the company has not accepted her unspecified counter offer.
"We don't know where she got that number from," Perry said on the call.
He added that the company has had no discussions with Coking in the last six to eight months.
"If necessary, we can build around here," Trump said.
As for the aging Steel Pier it owns near the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, the company said it plans to do a condo hotel project, rather than retail. "Retail has always been tough in Atlantic City," Trump said.
He said results at the recently opened luxury retail shops at the Pier at Caesar's property in the city "are spotty at best." This site is owned by the Gordon Group and
In November, Trump's plans for a Philadelphia casino will be heard by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which is expected to grant approval by the end of the year for several slot-machine casinos in the state.
As well, Trump is moving forward with the planning process for a possible development in Diamondhead, Miss.
Trump shares recently were up 8 cents to $20.03.