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JP Morgan Ups Penn National Gaming to Overweight


JP Morgan upgraded Penn National Gaming (PENN) to overweight from neutral, citing a recent Gaming Board ruling that will give the casino company some breathing room.

Monday the Illinois Gaming Board allowed Penn to keep its riverboat casino in Alton and extend its deadline to sell the Empress casino in Joliet, IL.

Analyst Harry Curtis says the development removes the possibility of a fire sale price on the casino and also gives Penn National Gaming more time to strengthen its relations with the Gaming Board even further. At $34 per share, he believes the risk in Penn National Gaming's stock is negligible, yet the potential return on investment could be sizable over the next 18 months. Curtis notes that Penn's earnings per share (EPS) growth through 2008 should be among the strongest in the small-mid cap gaming universe. He sees $1.90 2006 EPS and raises his $1.95 2007 estimate to $2.30.


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