Landry's Restaurants (NYSE:LNY) is proving that "better late than never" doesn't always apply. Its late SEC filings are helping to send waves through the market -- enough to spook investors into dropping the shares by more than 5%.

A little backtracking is in order. The company delayed filing its reports with the SEC in the first place because the agency was investigating its stock-option granting practices. The SEC recommended that no action be taken, and the reports were filed yesterday. In addition, its $400 million in 7.5% senior notes were reinstated temporarily, after having been accelerated by the trustee. Landry's even obtained financing to replace the notes, should a court not extend the injunction.

This all seems like good news, right? So where's the problem? First, the new financing is less advantageous than those on the existing notes. The company would have to pay a higher rate of interest and pledge more collateral, and it would be a shorter-term obligation. While getting the new financing may help avert bankruptcy, it will hurt the company's finances if it receives a ruling to repay the existing notes on Thursday. Bondholders on the current notes are claiming that Landry's violated its debt covenants by failing to file its required SEC reports in a timely manner. Talk about investor loyalty.

It's becoming apparent that none of this has anything to do with the company's operations. Many of the names in the casual-dining restaurant sector have been struggling lately, including Ruby Tuesday (NYSE:RT), and Denny's (NASDAQ:DENN). And Landry's is trying to compensate for the downturn by expanding into other areas. It led a failed bid to acquire Smith & Wollensky (Nasdaq: SWRG), an upper-end steakhouse, but it has purchased the Golden Nugget casino in Las Vegas. Not a bad move -- people will always gamble. The company also already owns the fun Rainforest Cafe restaurants.

First-quarter results weren't great. Revenues rose only 6%, to almost $310 million. However, expenses increased even faster, and operating margins contracted by 80 basis points, to 10.7%. The restaurant segment struggled, but the gaming business actually did well, with a 33% rise in profitability. Given that glimmer of success, along with management's penchant for deal-making, the company may well acquire further gaming operations if the price is right.

I wouldn't bet on the short-term outcome of a court decision. But in the longer term, there may be some value here, given Landry's stable of restaurants and its casino. Stay tuned.

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Fool contributor Larry Rothman is happy to receive feedback, and he promises to read it when he's not being wrestled by his three children. He doesn't have any positions in the companies mentioned.