Harrah's Entertainment Inc., the No. 3 casino company, said its fourth-quarter profit topped analyst estimates as its casinos in the Midwest and the Eastern U.S. attracted gamblers reluctant to fly to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas-based Harrah's said it earned 44 cents to 48 cents a share in the fourth quarter, above the 35-cent average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call. A year ago the company lost $1.41 a share because of charges related to its investment in National Airlines Inc. and other events.
Harrah's 25 casinos in 12 states include properties in markets such as Atlantic City, N.J., and St. Louis that gamblers have driven to since the September terrorist attacks as an alternative to flying to Las Vegas.
Gambling revenue in Las Vegas, which gets half its visitors by air travel, has fallen since September.
Excluding gains from the sale of some real estate and other items Harrah's will report net income of 47 cents to 51 cents a share, the company said.
Harrah's shares rose $1.12 to $39.23 on the NYSE. Harrah's released its statement after the close of trading.