Scientific Games Shares Popped: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Scientific Games (Nasdaq: SGMS  ) surged almost 11% in early trading after the maker of technology for lotteries and other types of gaming reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter sales.

So what: Revenue fell 9% to $212.1 million. Analysts were expecting just $202.7 million, validating December's big purchase by company insiders.

Now what: Even so, this isn't a growth story. The company's operating loss improved to just $11 million thanks to fewer non-cash charges. Debt is also up over the past year, from $1.37 billion to $1.39 billion.

Scientific Games says it produced $61.9 million in free cash flow during 2010, but that's balanced against more than $100 million in interest payments over the same period. Seeing that, I wonder where the funds for growth will come from and who will end up paying the tab. Keep clear of this stock, Fool.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is at least 10% better than other disclosure policies.


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