Penn National Gaming's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Penn National Gaming (PENN)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 19, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Joseph Jaffoni -

Peter M. Carlino - Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Timothy J. Wilmott - President and Chief Operating Officer

Eric Schippers - Senior Vice President of Public Affairs

William J. Clifford - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Finance

Analysts

Felicia R. Hendrix - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Shaun C. Kelley - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Mark Strawn - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Steven M. Wieczynski - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Brian D. Egger - Topeka Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Joel H. Simkins - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Dennis I. Forst - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Larry Haverty

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Penn National Gaming First Quarter Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the conference over to Joe Jaffoni, Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Joseph Jaffoni

Thank you, Lindsay, and good morning, everyone. And thank you for joining Penn National Gaming's 2012 First Quarter Conference Call. I'm going to review the Safe Harbor language, after which, we'll get the management's presentation and comments and then your questions and answers.

In addition to historical facts or statements of current conditions, today's conference call contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements reflect the company's current expectations and beliefs but are not guarantees of future performance. As such, actual results may vary materially from expectations.

The risks and uncertainties associated with the forward-looking statements are described in today's news announcement and in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company's reports on Form 10-K and 10-Q. Penn National Gaming assumes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.

Today's call and webcast may include non-GAAP financial measures within the meaning of SEC Regulation G. When required, a reconciliation of all non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable financial measures calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP can be found in today's press release as well as on the company's website.

With that, I'm happy to turn the call over to Peter Carlino, the company's Chairman and CEO. Peter?

Peter M. Carlino

Thanks, Joe, and good morning, everyone. Obviously, we're happy to report a nice quarter and with me today are most of the usual group, our senior management team. And in light of our quarter, although I can anticipate some of the questions you folks may have, I think I'm just going to let you ask them. So operator, why don't we open the floor to questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Felicia Hendrix with Barclays Capital.

Felicia R. Hendrix - Barclays Capital, Research Division

So just a few questions. One is you certainly did report a great quarter. I'm wondering, you talked in the release about a variety of things that benefited the quarter, whether some improvement on the gaming side, specifically. Just wondering, is there any way that you can parse out? I know it's tough but maybe if you can help give us an idea of how much of that good performance do you attribute to the better weather? And then, actually how much of it is actual increased spend per visit?

Peter M. Carlino

It's a very -- I mean, that's an obvious question, Felicia. I was watching Larry Kudlow the other night, who was castigating somebody for the weather excuse. We try not to use weather as an excuse on the downside, although clearly sometimes, that is the case. And we often and usually don't use it on the upside either. Clearly, weather had some impact. But make no mistake, this is visually a very strong quarter. Our customers are back, and they're back in force. And most of our properties are doing extremely well. So there is an energy out there that transcends weather. That's my broad response. I'll let Tim give you the real truth.

Timothy J. Wilmott

Yes. Felicia, just to add to Peter's comments, we certainly saw the benefit of that weather in February, we believe. January and March were pretty typical months. You can even argue March was -- the weather may have been too good compared to other Marches, and people were outside taking care of their spring activities a month earlier than usual. The other thing that we certainly had in the quarter was an extra day in February. That certainly had a positive impact. But generally, we're seeing a slightly improved behavior from our customers. The strength continues to be like we saw in the fourth quarter in the 400-and-above segment. We are seeing overall increased spend per visit, slightly. And our marketing activities continue to move low-end customers away from being rated into unrated. So that has an overall effect of improving the quality of your rated play on a per-trip basis. The good news is there's rational promo environment out there. We don't see anybody causing any fight for share that we think is detrimental to our business and to our customers. So the quarter, I think, has been better than what we've seen in the last couple of years, slightly. The recovery, I think, will continue to be slow, which is reflected in our guidance for the balance of the year. And we do see the strength in our VIP segment, which is good to note that we're protecting our VIP customers even though we're able to continue to improve our margins at the lower end of our rated database.

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