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Speedway Motorsports posts fourth quarter profit

- elyportillo@charlotteobserver.com
Wednesday, Mar. 09, 2011

Speedway Motorsports, Inc., posted a $6 million profit in its fourth quarter and offered a confident outlook for the next year, despite falling revenue and lowered ticket prices to lure fans to racetracks.

Fourth quarter revenues at SMI, which operates eight racetracks including Charlotte Motor Speedway, fell to $83 million compared to $91 million during the same period last year. But profits rose to $6 million, or 14 cents per diluted share, up from a $15 million loss during last year's fourth quarter.

"With 2010 gladly behind us, SMI is increasingly bullish that economic conditions are indeed improving, and believes the changes NASCAR continues making to our sport are undoubtedly improving on-track racing competition and creating renewed fan excitement and media interest," said Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsport's president and chief operating officer in a statement.

Positive television ratings for races so far this year bode well, Smith said, as does the fact that most racetrack sponsorships for 2011 have been sold.

Still, the company said that poor economic conditions - and possibly, increasing fuel costs - are impacting its business. Ticket prices were lowered last year to attract fans, and Speedway Motorsports said race attendance was flat, at nearly 4 million visitors total.

For the full 2010 fiscal year, Speedway Motorsports recorded a profit of $45 million, or $1.06 per diluted share, compared to a $10 million loss in 2009. But revenue tumbled from $551 million in 2009 to $502 million in 2010. For 2011, the company is forecasting similar profits and revenues of between $475 and $525 million.

Speedway Motorsports stock was trading up about $1.15 at $15.68 a share Wednesday afternoon, an increase of almost 8 percent.


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