By Ian Neubauer
Aristocrat Gaming Technologies has reported a net profit after tax of $247.2 million for the first half of the 2007-08 fiscal year, representing a 3.4 per cent improvement on the corresponding period of 2006.
Aristocrat attributed the positive result to strong underlying revenue from emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region, South America and South Africa; a $5.9 million profit from its Japanese business and an 8.5 per cent spike in operating cash flow.
Aristocrat CEO Paul Oneile said performance was hamstrung by smoking bans in Australian casinos, a 9.5 per cent increase in research and development, and a strong Australian dollar that reduced earnings by 7 per cent.
“I am disappointed with the modest growth, however our result demonstrates the underlying strength and sustainability of our business in some of the most adverse operating conditions many in the gaming industry can recall,” Oneile said.
“While these market conditions impacted trading in our core businesses, I am particularly pleased with our results in emerging markets where we have captured a significant share of new opportunities.”
Oneile said the growth in key markets the company had been expecting last year is more likely to emerge over the next 12 months. He based the prognosis on recent approvals in California and Florida that will significantly grow demand in the US, and a pick up in the replacement market in Australia driven by the introduction of the new Viridian cabinet and Gen7 gaming platform.
Aristocrat shares climbed 7.1 per cent to $10.60 after posting results on the ASX this morning and climbed another percentage point later on in the day. The group will pay a final 2007 dividend of 25 cents per share on March 31.