Giacomo shocked the world when he won the Kentucky Derby. The thoroughbred was a 50-to-1 long shot to win the race. The $102.60 win payoff was the second highest in Derby history, evidence of the amazing spectacle that transpired this past Saturday.
It was these kinds of odds that attracted enough bets to set a wagering record. The Derby brought in wagers of $103.3 million and became the first individual race in the United States to exceed $100 million in total betting.
But although records were shattered for Churchill Downs'
Churchill Downs owns and operates tracks in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Louisiana. The recent acquisition of the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans helped the company to improve its revenue growth dramatically. For the period, net sales posted a Triple Crown-like run of $56.3 million, a 49.3% increase compared with the same quarter a year ago.
That kind of revenue growth makes this horse looks like a thoroughbred champ. But not so fast. While its net sales increase was impressive, the increase to its expenses was equally dramatic. Operating expenses for the quarter grew by 37.7% to $65.4 million. The company's selling, general, and administrative costs climbed higher to $14.1 million, up 54.9% from last year's level.
The first quarter is a seasonally weak one for Churchill Downs, but when its operating loss expands by 23.9%, investors need to be concerned. The company pointed to legislative expenses in Florida, higher corporate expenses, and fewer simulcasts at its Arlington Park as the culprits for the widening loss.
For the quarter, Churchill Downs posted a net loss of $13.9 million, or $1.08 per share. This compares with a loss of $11.7 million from a year ago. When you consider that its balance sheet carries only $15.1 million in cash and equivalents and long-term debt of $246.4 million, it's clear that the company can ill afford further quarterly losses.
After a wider-than-expected loss for its first quarter, can Churchill Downs still manage to meet analysts' expectations of $1.75 per share? I'd say maybe. It has considerable ground to make up coming out of the first turn, and increasing costs and an unfavorable balance sheet do indeed make this investment wager look like a long shot. But, hey, even a Giacomo wins once in awhile.