MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGG) shares are down off this year's highs of near $80, but at today's price (around $71 per share), the stock is still up more than 40% since the beginning of October. More important, the hotel and casino operator has the performance record to support the rise in stock price.

MGM Mirage reported first-quarter results this morning, and they were impressive.

Net revenues in the quarter were up 13% to $1.2 billion, with property-level EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) up 18% to a quarterly record $437 million, and operating income up 15% to $293 million. Meanwhile, adjusted earnings from continuing operations climbed from $0.70 in last year's first quarter to a record $0.87 per share, blowing away the analysts' earnings estimate of $0.75 per share.

MGM Mirage showed strong gains across the board -- by virtually every metric. Citing a "solid" convention calendar and "increased visitation to Las Vegas," the hotel operations on the Las Vegas Strip continued to gain momentum. RevPAR (revenue per available room) climbed 15% to $167, as occupancy rates edged up to 92% from 90% last year, and the average daily room rate (ADR) jumped to a record $155 from $138 in the first quarter of 2004.

With particularly high levels of play during the Super Bowl and Chinese New Year periods, casino revenue increased 10%. Baccarat play alone was up a whopping 39%. Company-wide slot revenue was also up 13%, with the flagship Bellagio property showing an impressive 30% gain.

Meanwhile, the company's property-level EBITDA margin edged up to a record 36% from 35% in Q1 2004.

Overall, it was yet another fantastic quarter, with no sign of slowdown, for a major Strip player. Looking ahead, MGM Mirage expects RevPAR growth of 10% for the second quarter, with adjusted earnings between $0.70 and $0.75 per share. The current analysts' estimate is $0.74 per share.

Separately, CEO Terry Lanni said on a conference call that the $7.9 billion acquisition of fellow Strip giant Mandalay Resort Group (NYSE:MBG) could close as soon as Monday, pending approval by the Illinois gaming board of a move to place Mandalay's 50%-owned Grand Victoria property into escrow. The companies had previously delayed the close of the merger until as late as the end of June.

This morning, MGM Mirage also announced that its 50-50 partnership with Pansy Ho Chiu-King had been granted a sub-concession to build the $975 million MGM Grand Macau on a site next to a new hotel being built by Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) in the red-hot Macau gaming market. The property is expected to open in 2007, at which point MGM Mirage will join Wynn and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) as the only U.S.-based casino operators in the market.

Rival Harrah's Entertainment (NYSE:HET), which raised its guidance significantly earlier this month, reports its first-quarter results on Wednesday.

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Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns none of the companies mentioned above.