Gordon Graves' company was named the fastest growing public company listed on the Nasdaq in 2001 by USA Today, but he seems to be taking the success in stride.
"I think it probably gives some motivation to the staff, that's the main thing," he said.
"I was delighted to see that we had outperformed everybody else. I knew we'd had a really good year, but I was a little surprised and delighted to see that we'd come out that high."
And then, after pausing, "And it perhaps brings us some new investors to look at the company."
Graves, CEO and chairman of the board of Multimedia Games, an interactive bingo company, said he was thumbing through USA Today on Jan. 2 when he noticed the company had been listed at the top of the newspaper's ranking of the fastest growing companies in 2001.
Multimedia Games, whose bingo software is used on the Internet by the Lac Vieux Desert tribe of the Chippewa American Indians in Saginaw, Mich., grew by 641 percent during the past year. According to USA Today, the source of the rankings was Solomon Smith Barney.
"I was delighted to see that we had outperformed everybody else," Graves said. "I knew we'd had a really good year, but I was a little surprised and delighted to see that we'd come out that high."
USA Today ranked the top 20 best and worst stocks for publicly traded companies on both Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange. Multimedia Games was listed as No.1 on the Nasdaq's "best" list. Following it were Flir Systems, at No. 2; McAfee.com at No. 3; Ameristar Casinos at No. 4; Overture Services at No. 4 and PEC Solutions at No. 5.
On the New York Stock Exchange, the companies leading the top 20 with the most growth were Pharmaceutical Resources at No.1 with 387 percent growth during the last year, followed by United Auto, EDO, Sonic Automotive and Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea.
The newspaper also listed the bottom 20 companies for each exchange. On the New York Stock Exchange, those companies included Enron, which shrunk by 99 percent. On the Nasdaq, the "worst" list was headed by Frontline Capital, which also had a negative 99 percent change in 2001.
Graves credited gaming's counter-cyclic market for part of the company's success within the past year. When the economy is in a downturn, he said, people turn to gaming for diversion.
"One of the reasons people game is because of the dream of winning a big prize that would change their lifestyle," he said. "And so I think that motivation is increased when there's a recession," he said.
He also gives credit to Multimedia Games' suite of products.
"We've been fortunate enough to get into a very favorable market position in the gaming marketplace where we're very well respected by the whole Indian gaming marketplace, and the Indian gaming marketplace is the fastest-growing segment of the gaming market," he said.
USA Today also listed the top 25 best and worst Standard & Poor's industry groups. Gaming was no. 6 in the "best" category, just after consumer jewelry, novelty and gifts and containers. The "worst" category was lead by computer peripherals and communications equipment.
Graves said he was not surprised at gaming's success as an industry. As time goes by, he said, gaming is becoming a more socially acceptable form of entertainment. State legislators are also realizing the industry's power to raise money for state purposes. If not for the Sept. 11-induced travel decrease, gaming might have been higher on the list, he said.
"I think it would be rated even higher, but the travel--so many people are afraid of traveling that Vegas hasn't done very well," he said.
USA Today is second only to the Wall Street Journal in terms of circulation size in the United States. Each day the Arlington, Va.-based publication reaches more than 1.6 million readers.