Caesars Entertainment

(CZR) - Get Report

said first-quarter profits shrank because of costs related to its pending acquisition by

Harrah's Entertainment

( HET).

The Las Vegas-based casino operator beat Wall Street estimates, however, on strong business at its Las Vegas and Mississippi casinos.

In what is likely to be its last earnings report as a stand-alone company, Caesars reported net income of $50 million, or 16 cents a share, down 29.6% from $71 million, or 23 cents a share, a year before.

Net income included $155 million of costs related to the Harrah's merger, which will create the world's largest casino company. It also included $4 million in income from properties Caesars is selling, a $68 million after-tax gain from the sale of a stake in a South African casino, and $1 million in pre-opening expenses.

Excluding those items, adjusted net income totaled $82 million, or 25 cents a share, better than the 22-cent analyst consensus from Thomson First Call.

Revenue was $1.10 billion, up 2% from $1.08 billion a year before but less than the $1.12 billion consensus.

Shares gained 9 cents, or 0.4%, to $20.34.

"Our robust first-quarter performance was driven by the continuing strength of our Las Vegas Strip properties, which together reported record

earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA; year-over-year gains in the mid-south and overall margin improvement resulting from our ongoing efforts to reduce expenses and increase efficiency," said Wallace R. Barr, the company's CEO.

"As we move toward the scheduled completion of our acquisition by Harrah's Entertainment, we know that we have put in place a strong portfolio of first class casino resorts that are well positioned to continue their remarkable success under a new owner," Barr said.

Caesars' western casinos delivered EBITDA of $159 million, up 7% year over year. Those results were driven by higher room rates on the Las Vegas Strip, and continued strength in the flagship Caesars Palace resort.

The company's mid-south region, which encompasses Indiana and Mississippi, recorded EBITDA of $65 million, up 5% from $62 million a year before. That improvement resulted from strong profits at Mississippi resorts.

In Atlantic City, profits suffered, with EBITDA declining 13% to $66 million. The company blamed poor January weather and increased competition in the market.

Caesars did not provide guidance.

Caesars and Harrah's expect to close their merger sometime in the second quarter. On Wednesday,

Harrah's reported strong first-quarter earnings growth.