CIBC World Upgrades Ameristar Casinos

Analyst William Schmitt says he upgraded based on valuation, after profit taking over stock option concerns pushed the price down

CIBC World upgraded Ameristar Casinos (ASCA ) to strong buy from buy.

Analyst William Schmitt says he is upgrading on price, and says the recent weakness of company shares resulted from concerns about dilution from stock option grants, which led to profit taking. He notes basic shares outstanding at the end of Q2 totaled 20.6 million shares, while diluted shares outstanding totaled 22.4 million shares. Schmitt believes virtually all of the company's vested options are in the money, and were reflected in its fully diluted share count at the end of Q2. He sees very few new options coming in the money for the remainder of the year, and maintains his $1.56 2001 EPS estimate and $1.75 2002 estimate. Schmitt has a $21 target.