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Scientific Games (SGMS - Analyst Report) is scheduled to release its fourth quarter 2012 results on Mar 11, 2013, after the closing bell. Scientific Games posted a negative surprise of 214.3% in the third quarter. The company has posted an average negative surprise of 136.9% over the last four quarters. Let’s see how things are shaping up for the company in this quarter.

Factors Affecting Growth this Past Quarter

Scientific Games reported dismal third quarter results, failing to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Loss per share widened on a year-over-year basis due to a sharp rise in operating expenses, which fully offset a modest revenue growth.

The year-over-year growth in revenues was primarily driven by higher sales of lottery systems and terminals and better-than-expected service revenues. Moreover, strong growth in U.S. instant ticket retail sales and U.S. lottery systems customer retail sales fully offset lackluster China instant ticket retail sales and instant ticket retail sales in Italy during the reported quarter.

Earnings Whispers?

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter projects earnings of 6 cents per share while that for fiscal 2012 stands at a loss of 36 cents per share. There have been no revisions in the fourth quarter and full year 2012 estimates over the last 60 days.

The lack of downward movement in estimates signals that the fourth quarter might not be too different from the past quarters. This is also indicated by that fact that the stock carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

We caution against stocks with Zacks Ranks #4 and #5 (Sell rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Other Stocks to Consider

Our model states that a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP (Read: Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method) and a Zacks Rank of #1, #2 or #3 to beat earnings estimates. You could, however, consider the following stocks that satisfy both criteria:

Bally Technologies Inc. (BYI - Snapshot Report) has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and Zacks Earnings ESP of +1.18%.

MGM Resorts International (MGM) has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and Zacks Earnings ESP of +10.00%.

Fiserv Inc. (FISV - Analyst Report) has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and a Zacks Earnings ESP of +0.76%.

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