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LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The Tropicana can wait.
Penn National Gaming on Thursday said its second-quarter earnings missed Wall Street estimates. But the investment community was more interested in seeing whether the newly re-energized publicly traded company was ready to spend some of its $1.48 billion in funds it collected after an abandoned private equity takeover.
In a statement, Penn National Chief Executive Officer Peter Carlino said the Wyomissing, Pa.-based racetrack and casino operator had targeted potential expansion opportunities in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Kansas, Maryland and several other regions. Carlino, in a conference call with analysts and investors to discuss earnings, said the company was going to take its time and evaluate the market.
One questioner asked specifically about the troubled Tropicana.
"There is better stuff than that. We will look at everything," Carlino said. "Of course we are looking at Las Vegas. And now for the first time, in a very long time, it looks like there could be some properties. I cannot tell you what we are looking at (and) what we're thinking about but it would have to fit the profile of the Penn customer. You can count on us on looking very hard."
The company has already secured an option on a 36-acre site in Maryland, which could accommodate a slot machine parlor if voters approve a gaming referendum in November.
Penn National's planned $6.1 billion buyout by two private equity firms collapsed July 3 because of the souring credit markets. Penn National received an all-cash breakup fee of $225 million and a $1.25 billion interest-free loan from its former suitors.
Penn National said its earnings for the quarter that ended June 30 were $37 million, or 42 cents per share, down from $38.3 million, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected the company to earn 43 cents per share.
Penn National, which operates 19 casinos and racetracks in regional markets, said its quarterly revenue fell 0.7 percent to $620.6 million from $625.2 million.
Penn National executives said smoking bans in Illinois and Colorado, competitive pressures in some markets and the current economic downturn affected results.
"From an operating standpoint, most of Penn's properties performed in line with our estimates," Susquehanna gaming analyst Robert LaFleur said in a note to investors.
Penn National shares fell $1.37, or 4.77 percent, Thursday to close at $27.38 on the Nasdaq National Market.
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