* Q1 EPS $0.10 vs loss $0.16/shr year ago
* Net revenue falls 8 pct to $398.4 mln
* Sees year-over-year growth during H2 2010
* Shares rise 0.7 percent (Adds analyst comment, company comment, share price)
LOS ANGELES, May 4 (Reuters) - Casino operator Boyd Gaming Corp (BYD.N) swung to a first-quarter net profit, citing improving business trends and cost cuts, and forecast growth during the second half of 2010.
The Las Vegas-based company reported net income of $8.4 million, or 10 cents a share, compared with year-earlier loss of $13.8 million, or 16 cents per share.
The results beat the average analyst estimate of 7 cents per share, as compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Profit margins were better than expected, helping to offset softer revenue, Goldman Sachs analyst Steven Kent said in a research note.
Net revenue at Boyd, which runs Las Vegas properties that cater mainly to local residents rather than tourists, fell 8 percent to $398.4 million, which was short of the $409.5 million forecast by analysts.
Total costs and expenses fell 10 percent to $379.3 million.
“We continue to be encouraged by improving trends in our business, which clearly reflect the signs of an emerging recovery,” Chief Executive Officer Keith Smith said in a statement. “Given the positive developments in our business, combined with continued improvement in the national economy, we expect to generate year-over-year growth during the second half of 2010.”
The company, which owns and operates 16 casinos in six states, suspended work in 2008 on its partially built Echelon project on the Las Vegas Strip.
Boyd also owns 50 percent of the Borgata resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where MGM Mirage (MGM.N), which owns the other 50 percent, has said it plans to sell its stake.
Shares of Boyd were up 9 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $13.56 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Deena Beasley, editing by Dave Zimmerman)