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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Shuffle Master turns fourth quarter profit

15 January 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Shuffle Master Gaming turned a healthy profit in the fourth quarter, reversing a net loss from a year ago.

Management and analysts Thursday signaled the company could be poised for a healthy rebound in 2010 thanks to gaming expansion in Pennsylvania and other states.

Shuffle Master, which makes table games, automated card shufflers and table game management systems, said its fourth-quarter profit was helped by strong growth of its lease business and higher revenue from its electronic dealerless table games.

For the fourth quarter that ended Oct. 31, Shuffle Master posted net income of $6.2 million, or 12 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $15 million, or a loss of 28 cents a share, in the same quarter a year ago, which included a goodwill impairment charge of $22.1 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn 9 cents a share.

Shuffle Master said revenue rose 2 percent to $54.6 million. Revenue at the company's electronic gaming machines segment, which makes the electronic table games, rose 25 percent.

"Despite the adverse economic climate, we achieved year-over-year revenue growth in the quarter," Shuffle Master Chief Executive Officer Tim Parrott said.

Parrott said the opening of CityCenter brought in about $1.6 million in sales of gaming equipment for the company.

Shuffle Master is expected to benefit from recent legislation in Pennsylvania that allows casinos to add table games. However, Parrott said the company may lose some of its electronic table games if live gaming tables are added to the market.

"We anticipate we will lose some seats, but like Nevada and elsewhere, we believe there will be a market for electronic table games and live table games," Parrott said on a conference call with analysts.

In addition, Parrott thought Shuffle Master would find new revenue sources in other markets seeking to add table games.

Roth Capital Partners gaming analyst Todd Eilers said Shuffle Master has unique growth opportunities.

"We believe the company will continue to keep an open eye toward alternatives that might become available from other distressed sellers or those looking to shake loose non-core assets," Eilers said.

Shuffle Master has been shifting its business model to generate more lease-based revenue while targeting cost reductions to help balance reduced sales during the recession.

Shares of the Las Vegas-based company closed at $9.02 on the Nasdaq National Market, up 29 cents, or 3.32 percent.