Pinnacle weathers Hurricane Harvey, grows revenues in third quarterAaron Stanley, CDC Gaming Reports · November 7, 2017 at 1:02 pm CEO says rumors of Penn National merger are “not credible”Pinnacle Entertainment reported third quarter revenue and adjusted EBITDA growth Tuesday morning, despite Hurricane Harvey’s effects on its L’Auberge property in Lake Charles, Louisiana. “The hurricane began impacting the financial performance of our L’Auberge Lake Charles business in late August, principally as a result of reduced visitation from its core feeder markets of Houston and Beaumont, Texas,” said Anthony Sanfilippo, Pinnacle’s chief executive officer, noting that further cost control efforts minimized the extent of the overall disruption.“While Hurricane Harvey did have a notable impact on our financial results, our efforts to drive cost controls at L’Auberge Lake Charles successfully mitigated the impact of the storm. We managed to limit the decline of [L’Auberge’s adjusted EBITDAR] to a low single digit percentage despite a low double-digit percentage decline in net revenues in the third quarter.” Sanfilippo said.The company estimated that the storm had an adverse impact to the tune of $6.4 million in revenue and $4.2 million in EBITDAR (EBITDA with rent costs added).Aside from L’Auberge Lake Charles, every location in Pinnacle’s sixteen property portfolio grew adjusted EBITDAR and margins during the period. Aside from L’Auberge and the Meadows outside of Pittsburgh, which was acquired last September, same-store revenues grew 1 percent year-over-year while same-store EBITDAR grew by 8.8 percent.Enterprise-wide, Pinnacle reported net revenues of $647.4 million, an increase of $52.2 million from the prior year quarter while factoring in a $72.9 million contribution from the Meadows. Adjusted EBITDAR grew by $22.7 million to $178.1 million, including $14.4 million from the Meadows.Income from continuing operations was $13.9 million against a $0.5 million loss in the prior year quarter, with diluted earnings per share checking in at $0.23.“The driver of this performance was an improving economic environment in our regional gaming markets (along with) our continual focus on growing profitable revenue streams, streamlining our operating cost structure, and maximizing the efficiency of our marketing expenditures,” Sanfilippo explained.While the numbers from Pinnacle’s South segment decreased year-over-year, the Midwest segment grew revenues by 17.5 percent to $391.7 million, and the West segment grew by 3.8 percent to $2.4 million.Sanfilippo also shot down rumblings of a proposed merger with Penn National Gaming that appeared in an October Wall Street Journal article.“It was a strange article that came out and we didn’t comment on it and neither did any other source that would be considered credible. So, there’s really not much to say about that.”Pinnacle shares were down slightly on Tuesday morning, opening at $26.89 and trading as low as $24.68.The company also continued its debt-payoff efforts, which have now totaled $118.4 million for the year.“In the 2017 third quarter we repaid $63.9 million of Conventional Debt. Our debt pay down through the 2017 third quarter brought our Conventional Debt balance down to $834.5 million and our conventional leverage ratio to approximately 2.8 times,” said Carlos Ruisanchez, chief financial officer.Pinnacle also repurchased 1.15 million shares during the quarter for $22.3 million, or $19.51 per share – reducing its overall outstanding share count by 2 percent. The company has repurchased a total of 7.3 million shares for $92.5 million since the buyback program was instituted in 2016.