Merrill Trims MGM Mirage Outlook

Analyst David Anders thinks domestic high-end play at casinos will remain weak at least through the first half of the year

Merrill Lynch cut its estimates and price target on MGM Mirage (MGG ).

The casino operator now expects earnings per share in the range of 24 cents to 27 cents, below the Street's 43 cents consensus.

Analyst David Anders says the reported earnings per share range of is well below his estimate of 39 cents a share. He says results continue to be affected by weakness in domestic high-end play, and a lower than normal hold percentage at casino tables, which cost MGM six cents a share during the quarter.

Anders cut his $1.98 2002 earnings per share estimate to $1.86, and cut the $2.08 estimate to $2.00. He reiterates his buy rating, but lowered the $37 target to $34 to reflect revised estimates, and his belief that domestic high-end play will likely remain weak at least through the first half of the year.