Shares of Penn National Gaming Inc. (NASDAQ: PENN) touched a new 2-year high of $40.45 on Thursday. The company's first quarter earnings and revenue exceeded Street view as its casinos saw a growth in business, and it raised outlook for the year.

The Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming, which operates casinos, racetracks and off-track wagering sites in 15 U.S. states and in Ontario, Canada, posted first quarter earnings of $51.5 million or 48 cents a share, up from $36.2 million or 34 cents a share last year.

Revenue for the quarter grew 13 percent to $667.02 million. Revenue benefited from the addition last summer of table games at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, and the opening last fall of Hollywood Casino Perryville. Analysts had expected earnings of 41 cents a share on revenue of $664.53 million for the first quarter.

Segment-wise, revenue from gaming rose to $609.1 million from $543.4 million. Revenue from food, beverage and other increased to $85.3 million from $80.4 million, while revenue from management service fee rose to $3.32 million from $3.19 million.

Looking forward, the company expects second quarter earnings of 47 cents a share and revenue of $682.7 million, while Street analysts predict profit of 41 cents a share on revenue of $678.52 million.

For the full year 2011, the company raised its earnings guidance to $1.64 a share from previous forecast of $1.48 a share. The company also increased its revenue outlook to $2.71 billion from previous forecast of $2.69 billion. Street analysts predict earnings of $1.53 a share on revenues of $2.71 billion.

We’re generally seeing a stabilization of consumer spending across our businesses and markets, though we are hesitant to forecast higher revenues based on February and March trends which benefited from favorable weather versus 2010, said Peter Carlino, Chief Executive Officer of Penn National Gaming.

The company said that beginning in June 2011, operating results are expected to reflect the acquisition of The M Resort, an upscale locals and destination-oriented casino resort in the Las Vegas market.

Penn National stock gapped open sharply higher April 21 at $38.80 compared to previous day's close of $37.34. The stock touched a new 2-year high of $40.45 on Thursday.

The stock closed Thursday's regular trading up 7.07 percent at $39.98 on the NASDAQ Stock Market with a record volume of 2.71 million shares. The stock has grown from $28.81 on April 17, 2009 to $39.98 on April 21, 2011. The stock traded between $22.34 and $40.45 during the past 52 weeks.