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Trump Entertainment and the Art of the Deal

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Casino operator signals willingness to entertain offer.

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Trump Entertainment (TRMP) released its first quarter earnings ahead of the opening bell Thursday. In the period ended March 31st, the well-known casino operator reported a loss of $18.6 million or 59 cents per share. The loss was markedly worse than the $8.1 million, 26 cent per share loss it reported in the first quarter of last year. Meanwhile, revenue came in at $227.6 million, down from the $234.3 million it posted in the same period last year.

Analysts had been expecting the company to lose 42 cents per share and generate revenue of $229.7 million.

But it's not the quarterly numbers that deserve attention. Here's what does: On the first quarter earnings call, the Associated Press reports, CEO Mark Juliano said, "If an opportunity presents itself that creates value for the company, we will definitely execute it."

Strip away the double talk and he essentially said that the company would entertain a decent offer from a suitor.

It's telling that Trump Entertainment would consider any bid at this point. That is, at a time when the Atlantic City market -- essentially its lifeblood -- is in the tank. Wouldn't it make sense to wait for a rebound rather than selling at what could be a bottom?

Hold the emails, people. It's true that as CEO Juliano has a responsibility to shareholders to review serious offers, but the timing of his comment could be construed as a sign of desperation.

So what are the odds that a favorable offer might be presented, or that a buyer will emerge? It's possible, but unlikely that anyone would offer any sort of premium at this stage.

For those contemplating whether the company might turn itself around on its own, it's certainly not out of the realm of reason. After all, Trump Entertainment has been a mainstay in Atlantic City for years and has weathered several storms. But Juliano's comment does little to inspire confidence that an in-house solution to financial problems is right around the corner.

Check out what Hoofy and Boo think about "The Donald".

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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