For the three-month period, Penn earned $178 million, or 48 cents a share, above analysts' outlook of 41 cents.
Revenue rose nearly 13% to $667 million, better than the $664.4 million Wall Street forecast.
Looking ahead, Penn foresees second-quarter earnings of 47 cents a share, compared with the 41 cents analysts had projected. For the full-year it is calling for a profit of $1.64 a share, also better than estimates of $1.53."We think Penn's solid first-quarter results speak to the rational promotional and comping environment across most regional gaming markets, allowing for the regional casinos to generate stronger profitability and improved EBITDA margins," J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff, wrote in a note. "We believe that this has positive, lateral implications for Pinnacle, who should benefit from these trends as well as its own company-specific efficiency initiatives." Pinnacle is scheduled to report its first-quarter results on April 28, and analysts are calling for a profit of 4 cents a share on revenue of $289.5 million. "We believe Penn's guidance speaks to the comfort level management has in the recovering domestic gaming patron in 2011 and the ability to expand margins without assuming considerable boosts in patron spend," Wells Fargo analyst Carlo Santarelli wrote in a note. "We would be buyers of Pinnacle for this reason as well." --Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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