The year is almost done -- many people will be celebrating the holidays by entering casinos and trying their luck at the slots and the poker tables. Stock Advisor recommendation Shuffle Master (NASDAQ:SHFL) has finished its fiscal year -- should we likewise be celebrating its numbers? More importantly, should we be trying our luck with the company's shares?

For the fourth quarter, revenues grew 39% to $46.1 million. Income from continuing operations before taxes decreased 32% to $8.1 million. Net profit was $4.9 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, compared with $8.2 million, or $0.23 per diluted share at this time last year. On an adjusted basis, taking into account several charges (including those related to an investment writedown and share-based compensation), EBITDA actually increased 7% to $17.7 million.

For the fiscal year, revenues grew 45% to $163.5 million. Income from continuing operations before taxes declined 52% to $21 million. Net profit was $6.8 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, versus $29.2 million, or $0.80 per diluted share booked in the previous fiscal year. On an adjusted basis, eliminating various charges, EBITDA increased 23% to $70.8 million.

The adjusted operating numbers were pretty good, and they put a positive spin on the big GAAP declines. Cash flow from operations, however, didn't grow that much, going from $34.5 million in the previous 12-month period to $35.7 million this fiscal year. CEO Mark L. Yoseloff lamented Shuffle Master's performance. He pointed out that expenses and margin pressures really put the bite on bottom-line appreciation. The company isn't exactly the awesome growth story it once was.

Mr. Yoseloff also pointed out that recent acquisition activity -- i.e., the Stargames purchase -- provided a negative catalyst. The question is, should investors consider this a mere growing pain on the way to future shareholder value? I'm in the latter camp. Taking a look at other statistics throughout the release, we see that double-digit revenue gains have been achieved in specific areas. Entertainment products revenue jumped 74% for the quarter and 67% for the year. The installed base for table games rose 15% compared with last year. Entertainment products sales and service revenue rocketed more than 140% for both the quarter and the year. Utility products also performed well. There was some weakness in the metrics related to leases and royalties, however.

So, the top line is expanding nicely, while the bottom line is aching for improvement. The company needs better controls on costs and improvements in margins. Will they come? Right now Shuffle Master is absorbing an important acquisition. As time goes on, it should see opportunities for operational efficiencies to take advantage of the new revenue streams it's engaged. Once everything is fully integrated, the company can continue to make a play of what should be a secular trend -- gambling will always be with us, and I believe it will continue to grow. Entities such as International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT), Bally Technologies (NYSE:BYI), PokerTek (NASDAQ:PTEK), and WMS Industries (NYSE:WMS) will all be vying for that pile of discretionary cash.

In essence, I haven't changed my opinion since I last covered a Shuffle Master earnings release. I think it's a long-term growth story, and I am not dissuaded by the short-term woes it's suffering in the form of GAAP declines. Time will tell if the company's current strategy can get earnings back on track.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 5,016 out of 18,099 investors in the Motley Fool CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.