) to strong buy from buy.
Analyst Todd Eilers upgraded given the positive quarterly results, near-term catalysts, and existing expansion projects. He notes first-quarter earnings per share beat his estimate by 6 cents due to lower-than-expected interest expense and a minority interest expense.
Although he expects construction disruption to persist through fiscal 2005 (Apr), he says the completion of Black Hawk and Biloxi, Miss. casino expansions in early 2005 will propel the company back to organic revenue and earnings growth in fiscal 2006. Also, he notes potential near-term catalysts in Iowa, Missouri, and Florida with respect to new casino-license awards and racing legislation. Eilers has a $24 target.