Shares of casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment (NYSE:PNK) are among today's biggest gainers after the company announced second-quarter results that topped analyst expectations for the third consecutive quarter. Net income swung to a $15.7 million profit ($0.43) from a year-earlier $2.4 million ($0.09) loss. Backing out gains from the sale of assets, and a few other one-time items, adjusted earnings per share improved to a $0.04 profit from a $0.08 loss.

Pinnacle, previously known as Hollywood Park, manages five riverboat casinos in Indiana, Louisiana, and Mississippi, as well as land-based casinos in Reno, Nev., and Argentina, and receives lease income from gaming properties in California. After net income plummeted from a $76.8 million profit in 2000 to a $28.2 million loss last year, the company has posted back-to-back profitable periods.

Aside from the Boomtown-Reno, each property turned out solid increases in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). The Casino Magic Argentina posted the largest jump in EBITDA with 74.8% to $1.9 million, with the others ranging from a 52.3% increase in Belterra, Ind., to 7.6% at Boomtown-New Orleans. Companywide adjusted EBITDA grew 27.1% to $27.1 million.

Other than the Bossier City, La., casino -- which is last in a five-horse field that includes Harrah's (NYSE:HET), Penn National's (NASDAQ:PENN) Hollywood, and Isle of Capri (NASDAQ:ISLE) -- revenues were stronger across the board. Paced by Belterra, where there was a 16% spike thanks to recent property renovations and a new hotel tower, overall revenues ticked up 5% to $139.9 million.

Pinnacle has several major projects that are still in the planning stages. Last month, the company announced intentions to expand the budget for a Lake Charles, La., casino to $365 million. The property, in the heart of Cajun country and only a short drive from the Houston market, includes a 746-room hotel and championship golf course. Two St. Louis-area casinos were also recently given the green light, one near the famed Arch in Laclede's Landing and another in Lemay to be accompanied by retail stores, a movie theater, and a bowling alley.

Unlike riverboat pure play Argosy (NYSE:AGY), which relies heavily on one property in Lawrenceburg, Ind., that constitutes more than half of the company's earnings, Pinnacle's business is spread evenly. Furthermore, cost containment and operational efficiencies have widened EBITDA margins (EBITDA as a percentage of revenues) from 16% to 19.4%. The company has made marked improvements, and future projects look promising, but it might be premature to say that Pinnacle has completely turned the corner. Given recent consolidation in the industry, however, I wouldn't rule it out as an attractive takeover candidate.

Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter owns none of the companies mentioned.