10/22/2002 11:00PM

Churchill earnings on target

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Churchill Downs Inc. had net earnings of $7.9 million in the third quarter this year, or 59 cents a share, on record revenues for the quarter and the first nine months of the 2002.

The results met the average estimate of four analysts. Churchill officials said during a conference call on Wednesday morning that the company was on pace to hit its target of $1.77 to $1.80 in earnings per share this year, compared with $1.67 last year.

Churchill's stock declined 24 cents on Wednesday to $38.32, or six-tenths of a percent, on light trading of 11,200 shares.

Tom Meeker, Churchill's chief executive, said during the conference call that ontrack handle at Churchill's tracks was flat in the quarter, but that the company cut costs while promoting its simulcast business.

Revenues in the third quarter were $125.6 million, 3.6 percent over the third quarter last year. Revenues for the first nine months of the year were $329.2 million, compared with $316 million through the first nine months of 2001.

Bob Decker, Churchill's chief financial officer, said that all of Churchill's tracks posted a profit in the quarter except Ellis. According to Churchill's third-quarter filings, Arlington Park led the way with operating income of $8.3 million, followed by Hollywood Park with $5.7 million.