Reflecting the challenges facing Atlantic City's gambling market, Donald Trump's casino company is faced with dropping revenue and is trying to dodge another trip to Bankruptcy Court.
The deadline for Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. to reach agreement with its lenders and note holders on restructuring $1.25 billion in debt is tomorrow. The company, which owns the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza and Trump Marina in Atlantic City, missed a $53.1 million bond payment on Dec. 1, and got a 30-day extension.
In a November filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the holders of roughly 70 percent of the company's outstanding senior secured notes due in 2015 agreed to wait until tomorrow to exercise their rights related to the missed bond payment. The lenders involved in a $490 million loan agreement also agreed to wait until tomorrow to exercise their rights.
If no deal is reached, Trump Entertainment could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - its fourth such filing since 1991.
Wall Street analysts say Trump Entertainment cannot cut expenses as fast as revenue is declining at its three Atlantic City casinos.
The company's stock has dropped precipitously over the last few years. It plunged more than 40 percent in December 2006 after Trump failed to land one of two slots licenses in Philadelphia. Analysts said the failure underscored the company's inability to grow beyond Atlantic City.
The stock was trading as high as $25 a share in 2006. It closed at 22 cents today on the New York Stock Exchange, down 3.56 percent.
The Trump casinos, like every gambling hall in Atlantic City, is getting battered by the weak economy and Pennsylvania slots competition.
Resorts International Holdings L.L.C., which owns Resorts Casino and the Atlantic City Hilton, was also in debt-structuring talks with its lender after it failed to make a November interest payment.
All three Trump casinos reported revenue declines from January to December 2008 compared with the year before. The Taj Mahal was down 5.1 percent year-to-date, Trump Plaza 6.4 percent, and Trump Marina 15.8 percent.
The company is trying to sell its weakest performer, Trump Marina. Coastal Development L.L.C., of New York, has agreed to buy the property for $270 million and transform it into a Margaritaville-themed casino. The deal is set to close in May, but the floundering credit markets could delay that.
Trump, the celebrity real estate developer, is the company's founder, chairman and largest stockholder, but he no longer runs the company.
"Operationally, it's struggling, as is Atlantic City and regional competitors," said Barbara J. Cappaert, a high-yield bond analyst with KDP Investment Advisors Inc., of Montpelier, Vt.
Cappaert said the typical visitor to Trump's properties was spending at the same rate as he did previously, but there were fewer visitors because many were now gambling in Pennsylvania and New York slots parlors.
In addition, Cappaert said, Trump's casinos had low liquidity and high leverage, and they were considered second-tier properties. As of Sept. 30, the company had a total debt load of $1.72 billion.
"They are not considered A-1 properties, like a Borgata or a Caesars," she said.
Cappaert said talks to restructure the company's massive debt and fend off bankruptcy were likely to resume - at least for now.
"From the bank lenders' perspective, as long as the company stays current and is paying on second-lien debt, they should be supportive of negotiations," she said. "My guess is there will be an extension."