Poised for a Bonus at Acres Gaming

Corporate execs aren't the only ones who hanker for bonuses: Las Vegas gamblers like to win them when playing the slots. That has been a boon to Acres Gaming (AGAM ), whose electronic gear delivers rewards such as free tickets to shows, complementary dinners--or just plain cash---to casino gamblers. In addition, casinos can track gamblers' habits and predilections, using data from the bonus cards that they have to plug into the machines.

"It improves the casinos' efficiency and profitability," says Joe Crivelli, portfolio manager at J.A.G. Funds, in Wyomissing, Pa., who bought more Acres shares after September 11, when they skidded to 2.11 a share from 7 on Apr. 4 last year. The stock has since rallied to 5.17, helped by increasing demand for its bonus technology. Acres, with 10% of the bonus market, helps provide incentives not previously offered by casinos.

Acres had an order backlog of $20 million and cash on hand of $12.6 million, or $1.15 a share, at the end of the fiscal second quarter ended Dec. 31. With those pluses and improved margins, "the stock is a compelling buy," says David Bain of Roth Capital Partners. He has a 12-month price target on the shares of 10. He expects Acres to earn 52 cents a share in fiscal 2002 on revenues of $31.3 million.

By Gene G. Marcial

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