Company swings to loss - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Herbst Gaming Inc. reported a net loss for the full year ended Dec. 31, hurt by a one-time charge related to the early retirement of debt.

The Las Vegas owner of the Terrible Herbst brand of casinos and convenience store slot machines posted a loss of $8.8 million in 2004 compared with a profit of $8.2 million in 2003. The 2004 results included $38 million in costs associated with the early retirement of debt that occurred in the second quarter.

Revenue, including promotional expenses, rose 20 percent to $375.6 million.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization -- a key indicator of casino performance -- rose 37 percent to $76.7 million for the year.

Applied to the company's slot machine route, earnings before certain costs rose 33 percent to $64.9 million. Herbst's casinos posted a 40 percent increase, to $22.8 million.

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