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Is it too late to buy Aristocrat Leisure Limited shares?

This year the Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL) share price has been one of the standout performers on the local share market.

With its shares up another 2% today, the gaming solutions company’s shares have risen almost 50% since the turn of the year.

Is it too late to invest?

With its shares changing hands at approximately 29x annualised earnings, it certainly isn’t the bargain buy it was at the start of the year.

But for the level of growth it is producing, I feel it could be a decent option for patient buy and hold investors.

After all, in May the company posted a stunning 56.9% jump in half-year profit from ordinary activities after tax to $249.6 million.

The key driver of this strong result was its fast-growing digital segment. Profit in the segment grew 53.3% to $77.7 million thanks partly to the sustained popularity of its Heart of Vegas game.

I’m not the only one that has taken a liking to the company. A research note out of Citi this morning argues that Aristocrat Leisure’s shares are great value.

Its analysts believe that the continued success of its Lightning Link games collection could provide the company with stronger-than-expected growth this year.

Looking further ahead, Citi is of the opinion that Aristocrat’s pipeline of games will result in strong earnings growth for a good few years to come.

As a result, the investment bank has a buy rating and $25.45 price target on its shares.

Overall, I would have to agree with Citi on this one. Whilst I would love to invest at a cheaper price, there’s a reasonable chance that its shares are on an upwards trajectory and may not provide such an opportunity.

In light of this, I would suggest investors consider a long-term buy and hold investment today ahead of rival Ainsworth Game Technology Limited (ASX: AGI).

Finally, if you like growth shares like Aristocrat Leisure, then I think you'll love these quality growth shares as well.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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