Merrill Upgrades Ameristar Casinos to 'Buy'

Analyst David Anders doesn't see an increase in Missouri's gaming taxes

Merrill Lynch upgraded Ameristar Casinos (ASCA ) to buy from neutral.

Analyst David Anders says Thursday night, the Missouri Senate approved a budget bill, which didn't include any changes to its gaming legislation; only one week remains in the legislative session with no gaming bills having made it out of committee. He thinks this is positive because legislation proposed by the governor had sought to raise gaming admissions tax from $2 to $4 per person, and contained a 2% increase in the state's gaming tax.

Anders notes more than 60% of Ameristar's EBITDA is generated in Missouri. He's keeping his $1.56 2003 earnings per share, and $1.71 for 2004. He has a $21 12-month target.

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