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Merrill Boosts Harrah's Outlook

Merrill Lynch boosted estimates on Harrah's Entertainment (HET).

Analyst David Anders says first quarter results beat his estimates for all of the company's regions. He says strong results confirm that the company's customer loyalty projects drive significant same casino gains. Also, room additions are yielding attractive returns.

Anders notes the company said it will benefit from the full year contribution of its Harvey's acquisition, along with renovations of other properties. He also notes Harrah's added a hotel tower in the first quarter, and will open a hotel/casino expansion in Atlantic City.

Anders will raise his $2.50 2002 and $2.80 2003 earnings per share estimates to $2.90 and $3.25, respectively. He rates Harrah's as a near-term and long-term strong buy.

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