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Howard Stutz
 

Shuffle Master's Profit, Revenue Up

21 March 2006

LAS VEGAS -- Shuffle Master said Monday it is increasing its international gaming presence.

While announcing first- quarter earnings, the Las Vegas-based gaming equipment provider said 25 percent of the company's total revenues came from outside of North America.

Shuffle Master executives expect that number to expand over time, especially after closing its $108 million purchase of Australian-based equipment provider Stargames in February, a company that has a strong presence in Macau, China and other burgeoning foreign casino markets.

"Our international revenues will grow faster than our domestic revenues over the next few years," Shuffle Master Chief Financial Officer Richard Baldwin said during a conference call with gaming analysts and investors.

He said sales of the company's gaming-chip sorting device for roulette tables, which Shuffle Master unveiled last year after acquiring CARD, a European gaming equipment provider, grew during its first quarter, which ended Jan. 31, and should continue in the months ahead.

"The revenues from the Easy Chipper product in the quarter were as much as all of last year," Baldwin said. "There are a lot of roulette tables on the market, many more internationally than domestically."

Shuffle Master's net income was $7.3 million, or 21 cents per share, up from $6.1 million, or 18 cents per share a year earlier. The latest per-share earnings matched the consensus estimate of analysts polled by Thomson First Call.

Revenue rose 31.1 percent to $33.3 million from $25.4 million.

Shuffle Master spent much of December and January focusing on closing the Stargames purchase, which the company expects will help revenues and earnings the rest of this year.

"Our performance was also impressive given that we finalized the largest acquisition in our company's history during the quarter," Shuffle Master Chairman Mark Yoseloff said. "As this would suggest, our domestic and international opportunity has never been better and we anticipate our shareholders will benefit from our market position as we continue to expand and leverage our global infrastructure over the long-term."

Shuffle Master announced earnings after the close of trading Monday. Shares in the company finished at $26.23 on the Nasdaq National Market, up 25 cents or 0.96 percent.

Shuffle Master's revenue from its table-game equipment sales, such as automated card shufflers, was $21.9 million in the first quarter, an increase of 64 percent compared with $13.4 million in the first quarter of 2005. A growth in the shuffler business and the rollout of the roulette chip sorting device attributed to the increase.

By the end of the quarter the company had sold 273 of the chip sorters, accounting for $3 million in revenues. A year, the company has zero chip sorters in the field.

Yoseloff said the Stargames acquisition gives Shuffle Master the platform to capitalize in the growing Chinese gaming community of Macau, where companies such as MGM Mirage, Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands Corp. will open large hotel-casinos over the next 18 months.

He said the company has placed 500 automated shufflers in Macau and Yoseloff said he expects new gaming tables will also carry the equipment.

Yoseloff added that the company's electronic table games, which are now being field tested in Nevada and have been slowly rolling out in North America, will also find a home in Macau.

"There is no question that electronic wagering will be an important aspect of the casino landscape in Macau and Shuffle Master will continue to be the No. 1 equipment supplier in Macau," Yoseloff said.

Shuffle Master told gaming analysts it expects to witness a 25 percent growth in quarter-over-quarter earnings per share during 2006 as it begins to absorb the revenue stream from Stargames.

At the end of February, Shuffle Master filed its year-end report for 2005 with the Securities and Exchange Commission after a several-month delay. The company said two adjustments that forced the postponement were immaterial to the casino equipment provider's overall results.