ST. LOUIS (AP) â¿¿ Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. said Monday that cost-cutting measures and improved revenue helped it slash its third-quarter loss by 75 percent to beat Wall Street estimates. The St. Louis company lost $2.7 million, or 8 cents per share, in the period ended Jan. 23. That compares with a year-earlier loss of $10.6 million, or 33 cents per share. Revenue rose 2 percent to $232 million from $227.1 million. Analysts, on average, were expecting a loss of 14 cents per share on $236.9 million in revenue, according to FactSet. Analysts typically exclude one-time items from their estimates. Isle of Capri owns 15 casinos in Mississippi, Louisiana, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado and Florida. It also runs a harness track in Florida. The company said that while it recorded fewer visits to its casinos, people tended to spend more money while they were there. On a conference call, President and Chief Operating Officer Virginia McDowell said sales during the holidays grew "for the first time in years." Isle of Capri also improved its bottom line by streamlining its cost structure, adopting a more cost-effective marketing campaign and making changes to its customer service. It also benefitted from lower-than-expected insurance costs. Still, the company said bad weather in December and January tempered its revenue. In some areas, that severe winter weather has continued into February. The company added that lingering unemployment, particularly in the South, hurt its business. For fiscal 2011, which ends in April, the company lowered its revenue forecast, saying it expects to earn between $6.9 billion and $7.3 billion. Previously, the company had forecast revenue of $8.5 billion. It has generated $5.5 billion in revenue so far this year, and on the conference call McDowell said she expected $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion during the current quarter â¿¿ not the $3 billion needed to meet that original $8.5 billion forecast.
Analysts predict revenue of $1.01 billion, according to FactSet.The company also faces potentially higher taxes on gambling in some of the states in which it operates, including Iowa and Florida. Isle of Capri has been able to persuade lawmakers that a tax hike will not help these states attract new business. Within the next nine months, McDowell will transition into the role of chief executive officer while current CEO James B. Perry assumes the role executive chairman. McDowell said on the conference call that the company has begun its search for a chief financial officer to succeed her. The company's stock rose 10 cents to $9.34 during Monday afternoon trading.