"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," Santarelli wrote in a note. "We would be buyers of Pinnacle for this reason as well."In March, Pinnacle announced the resignation of its Chief Financial Officer Stephen Capp, who left the company to pursue new opportunities. Capp was replaced by Carlos Ruisanchez, Pinnacle's executive vice president of strategic planning and development. "While losing a solid member of a management team is never a positive, we do not believe Mr. Capp's resignation was driven by internal strife, but more a desire to pursue new opportunities after eight years in his current role," Greff wrote following the announcement. Pinnacle also announced in March that it entered into a strategic agreement with Wynn Resorts that will allow customers use their loyalty points at the Wynn and Encore resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Pinnacle doesn't have a Strip casino, and Wynn doesn't have other regional operations. "The alliance is unique in that it will allow Pinnacle to reward its top players with a Vegas experience without having to outlay the capital required to build, buy or maintain a Vegas asset," Santarelli wrote following the announcement. Santarelli believes this will be one of several announcements from Pinnacle regarding providing benefits to its tiered customers. 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 continue to believe that Pinnacle's relatively new CEO, Anthony Sanfilippo, and his team will drive increased operating efficiencies, allocate capital prudently and sell noncore businesses/assets," Greff wrote. --Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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