Why Investors Took a Bad Beat in Shuffle Master

Meeting expectations is no longer good enough for game makerShuffle Master (NAS: SHFL) . The company's fiscal second-quarter earnings, reported yesterday, were in line with expectations, but after earnings had risen for most of the past year, people seemed to be hoping for more.

Revenue increased 10% to $66.1 million, and net income grew 23% to $9.7 million. The company's transition to a recurring revenue model is going well, and expansion in gambling around the world is helping the industry grow.

The company's acquisition of Ongame had a negative effect on the current quarter, but it should be a strength going forward. Shuffle Master is trying to position itself to capture some of the profits if online poker is legalized. Ongame provides capabilities across multiple devices for online gaming and could tuck well into new game platforms as they're built.

Gaming suppliers have seen expectations rise, with International Game Technology (NYS: IGT) and Bally Technologies (NYS: BYI) both experiencing strong growth in the gaming industry. But now that expansion in Asia is nearly complete and new gambling hubs are years off, the industry will have to rely on new games and the game-replacement cycle to provide revenue. Therein lies the problem for Shuffle Master.

If Shuffle Master isn't able to outperform expectations in the current environment, the pace of growth will probably only slow in the coming years. Las Vegas Sands (NYS: LVS) is currently completing Sands Cotai Central, which will be the last new casino there until Wynn Resorts (NAS: WYNN) opens its new resort a block away in four years.

The market reaction may seem overdone on the surface, because Shuffle Master did meet expectations, but in light of the run-up in shares and the dwindling growth opportunities, it seems more justified. Shares are now trading at 16 times fiscal 2012 earnings estimates, so there's beginning to be some value, but I wouldn't try catching this falling knife until the multiple falls a few more points.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorTravis Hoiummanages an account that owns shares of Wynn Resorts. You can follow Travis on Twitter at@FlushDrawFool, check out hispersonal stock holdings, or follow his CAPS picks atTMFFlushDraw. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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