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05 May 2009
Approximately $1.7 billion of rated debt affected.
New York, May 05, 2009 -- Moody's Investors Service today affirmed all of Ameristar Casinos,
Inc. ("Ameristar") ratings, and revised the rating outlook
to stable from negative. The outlook revision was based on the
recent amendments to the company's credit facility financial covenants
that alleviated concerns regarding a potential violation of the senior
leverage covenant. It also reflects the substantial improvement
in Ameristar's earnings and anticipates that the company will address
the November 2010 expiration of its $1.4 billion revolver
-- almost all of which is currently outstanding --
well before it expires.
Corporate Family Rating at Ba3
Probability of Default Rating at B1
Senior secured bank loan at Ba3 (LGD 3, 35%)
Speculative Grade Liquidity rating at SGL-3
Ameristar reported a substantial EBITDA improvement in the three month
period ended March 31, 2009 compared to the same period last year.
The implementation of an aggressive cost cutting program combined with
the incremental earnings contribution from its St. Louis expansion
and the removal of loss limits in Missouri in November 2008, grew
EBITDA almost 24%. Worth noting is that all of the company's
properties improved in terms of absolute EBITDA growth and EBITDA margins.
Although Ameristar remains exposed to weak demand trends, there
are several earnings catalysts that should help the company sustain its
EBITDA improvement. These include the company's Black Hawk
expansion that is scheduled to open later this year and regulatory reform
in Colorado that goes into effect in July 2009 allowing expanded casino
operating hours and higher maximum bet limits. These earnings catalysts
combined with an improved cost structure and lower development capital
expenditures should make it possible for Ameristar to achieve and sustain
debt/EBITDA at below 5 times. Moody's also believes that
leverage should remain below 5 times despite the expectation that weak
demand trends will continue. Debt/EBITDA for the latest 12-month
period ended March 31, 2009 was 5.1 times.
Moody's last rating action for Ameristar was on February 13, 2009
when the company's rating outlook was revised to negative from stable.
The outlook revision was based on negative fiscal 2008 fourth quarter
revenue trends and concerns regarding the company's ability to comply
with its bank loan senior leverage covenant.
The principal methodology used in rating Ameristar was Moody's Global
Gaming Methodology, which can be found at www.moodys.com
in the Credit Policy & Methodologies directory, in the rating
Methodologies subdirectory. Other methodologies and factors that
may have been considered in the process of rating this issuer can also
be found in the Credit Policy & Methodologies directory.
Ameristar Casinos, Inc. (NASDAQNM: ASCA) owns and operates
eight hotel/casinos in six jurisdictions. The company generates
approximately $1.3 billion of consolidated net revenues.
Senior Vice President
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
Moody's revises Ameristar's outlook to stable from negative
Peter H. Abdill, CFA
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
No Related Data.
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