News Column

Isle of Capri stock falls after company announces job changes

July 11, 2014

By Tim Bryant, St. Louis Post-Dispatch



July 11--Stock in Isle of Capri took a beating Friday, a day after the Creve Coeur-based gaming company announced job shuffles in the executive suite.

Analysts interpreted the moves as a signal that a company sale, rumored for weeks, might be off.

Kim Noland, director of high yield research at Gimme Credit, an independent research service on corporate bonds, noted recent media reports that Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc. was considering a bid for Isle.

But in a research note Friday, she said the departure of Dale Black, Isle's chief financial officer, "to pursue other interests," and the appointment of Eric Hausler, the chief strategic officer, as CFO, "suggests a sale may not be as close as reported."

Isle stock fell Friday to $8.69, down nearly 14 percent from Thursday's close of $10.05.

Among other job changes Isle announced Thursday was the appointment of Robert Goldstein, the board's vice chairman, as the board's non-executive chairman.

Noland said the Goldstein family, which owns 40 percent of Isle, had been reported to have solicited purchase bids through a banker.

GLPI is a real-estate investment trust spun off last year by Penn National Gaming. Noland pointed out that as a REIT, GLPI would need to find an operator for Isle's portfolio of properties in different states in an outright sale agreement.

Isle is a regional gaming company with 15 casino properties in seven states. Its Missouri casinos are in Boonville, Cape Girardeau, Caruthersville and Kansas City.

Isle's spokeswoman declined to discuss the job shuffles but pointed out the statement from Virginia McDowell, Isle's chief executive, that the changes would streamline company operations and save $2.5 million annually.

At least one analyst, Robert Shore of Union Gaming Group, indicated that too much could be made of Isle's job shuffles.

"We do not view changes, namely the change at CFO, as a negative development," Shore said in a report Friday.

Black is "amply succeeded" by Hausler, who has 15 years of relevant experience, Shore wrote.

"He is also a highly skilled communicator with the investment community and acutely focused on maximizing shareholder value," Shore added. "Further, we would not speculate one way or another on the impact of these changes to the likelihood of whether or not the company will be sold."

Tim Bryant covers commercial real estate, development and other business stories for the Post-Dispatch. He blogs at Building Blocks, the Post-Dispatch development blog.

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Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


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