ityCenter - a joint venture with Dubai's government that MGM Mirage touted as the most expensive private development in North America and the largest private job creator in the U.S. last year - hired some 12,000 workers. And its launch has provided a spark to the soft Las Vegas market.
But the casino operator reported a loss of us$ 433.9 million, or 98 cents per share, for the quarter. Excluding one-time charges, including a write-down reflecting the drop in the value of undeveloped land it holds in Atlantic City, MGM Mirage lost 21 cents per share.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who generally exclude one-time items, predicted a loss of 13 cents per share.
MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren said the company booked 440,000 future convention room nights during the fourth quarter, triple its bookings during the same quarter in 2008 and double the nights booked in the 2007 quarter. Murren said the booking numbers excluded the Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter, which opened December 16. CityCenter started opening December 1.
Murren said half the bookings are new customers who have not booked with the company before. The company hopes to book even more convention customers - now about 11 % of its business - because they usually pay higher rates than leisure travelers. "That's going to have a profound impact on our pricing going forward," he said.
The company said it planned to relaunch its customer loyalty program this year, in hopes of better mining data on some 60 million customers. Chief Financial Officer Dan D'Arrigo said he thought this would help improve the company's margins.
"Some of our competitors do this probably better than we have historically - and shame on us for not addressing this sooner," D'Arrigo told The Associated Press. "But I think it is a huge opportunity to cross-market our properties, to know our customers better and know the needs of our customers where we can be in front of them more than being reactive to them."
The company's stock fell 91 cents, or 7.8 %, to us$ 10.72 in afternoon trading. The shares have traded between us$ 1.81 and us$ 14.25 over the last year. Revenue for the three months that ended December 31 met Wall Street's average forecast of us$ 1.45 billion, a drop of 11 % from us$ 1.62 billion a year earlier.
The Las Vegas company, in which billionaire Kirk Kerkorian is a major investor, said its gambling and non-gambling revenue continued falling from a year earlier, but its Strip revenue fell more slowly than it fell the quarter before.
Revenue per available room on the Strip fell 16 % in the quarter. That was a smaller drop-off than the 23 % decline posted in the third quarter. Revenue per available room is a key gauge of a hotelier's performance. MGM Mirage said its average room rate was us$ 111, down 17.8 % compared with the fourth quarter of 2008 but above the averages across Las Vegas.
MGM Mirage's quarterly results come a day after rival Las Vegas Sands Corp. posted a smaller fourth-quarter loss than a year earlier. Sands, led by Sheldon Adelson, said its Macau casinos showed recovery. For the year, MGM Mirage reported a wider loss of us$ 1.29 billion, or us$ 3.41 per share, compared with a loss of us$ 855.3 million, or us$ 3.06 per share, in the prior year. Annual revenue slid 17 % to us$ 5.98 billion from us$ 7.21 billion.