Pools and gaming group OPAP yesterday reported a better-than-expected 22 percent rise in third-quarter profit on rising sales due to the increasing popularity of some new games and a turnaround by some old ones. In the third quarter, usually subdued due to the summer holidays, net profit rose to 64.5 million euros ($73.7 million). «Growth rates are mainly due to a good performance of football betting game Stoichima, the success of the two new numerical games Super3 and Extra5 and a turnaround of Joker in the third quarter,» said George Papangelis, an analyst at Egnatia Securities. OPAP shares closed up 1.12 percent at 10.84 euros, giving it a market value of about 3.46 billion euros. «Results were broadly in line with market expectations… so today’s announcement didn’t include any major surprise,» Papangelis said. «However, OPAP shares are trading at a significant discount of about 30 percent to European peers with p/e around 11 for 2004 versus a sector average of 15.5,» he added. OPAP said it had approved an interim dividend of 0.30 euro per share, an increase of more than 11 percent from last year. OPAP is the number one operator of its kind in Europe by market value and the second by sales volume after rival UK betting house William Hill. The gaming company, 51 percent-owned by the State, has a 42 percent share of Greece’s 4.6-billion-euro gaming and casino market last year, and holds a license monopoly over all of the football betting and numerical games until 2020. Nine-month profit declined 11.6 percent decline, slightly less than expected, to 155.6 million euros ($177.8 million), due to the extraordinary provisions of 81 million euros OPAP took in the first quarter to cover potential damage claims by gaming systems operator Intralot. Nine-month sales rose 23 percent to 1.67 billion euros, broadly in line with expectations.