"In our view the keys to Aztar share performance are improved EBITDA, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization at the Tropicana Atlantic City, which was disappointing, and interest in Aztar's assets by financial buyers," Curtis wrote. "Aztar mentioned interest in acquisitions to spur growth, so asset sales appear to be off the table." Curtis noted that Atlantic City EBITDA plunged 44% to $7.9 million in the fourth quarter from a year before. About $2.8 million of the $6.3 million decline was caused by a monthlong strike in Atlantic City.

In addition to the Tropicana casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, Aztar owns the Ramada Express casino hotel in Laughlin, Nev. and riverboat casinos in Missouri and Indiana.

Aztar's disappointing fourth-quarter results contrasted with those from other casino operators. Harrah's Entertainment ( HET), which is purchasing Caesars Entertainment ( CZR), beat Wall Street expectations. So too did MGM Mirage ( MGG), which is in the process of acquiring Mandalay Resort Group ( MBG).

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