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PENN should be the first of three strong regional gaming earnings releases followed by ASCA and PNK.

We’ve been positive on the regional gamers for the past month or so and we’re confident that PENN’s Q1 earnings release next week will prove us right, at least on the fundamentals.  March was a good month for regional gaming as evidenced by the state released gaming revenues, all of which, thus far, have proven to be sequential upticks from Q4 and January and February.

Our Q1 EBITDA and EPS estimates for PENN of $172 million and $0.42 slightly exceed both company guidance and the Street consensus. Certainly, there are headwinds including high gas prices and unemployment.  However, we expect management will be reasonably constructive about near term trends.  Management rarely exudes bullishness and we don’t expect that they will get expectations too high now either.  Their tone should be nonetheless, positive on the margin.