ECONOMY

Not quite a jackpot for OPAP’s 2005 profits

Greek gaming group OPAP reported slower profit growth in 2005 yesterday, hurt by lower revenues from its flagship sports betting game Pame Stoichima after it raised the payout to winners. Net profits rose 11.9 percent to 458.3 million euros for the year, versus an average forecast of 439.9 million euros in a Reuters poll, with fourth-quarter net profit up 12.1 percent to 146 million euros. OPAP’s net profit rose 40 percent in 2004. «The changes implemented in Pame Stoichima have been very effective in reviving the game, as evidenced by its strong performance in the fourth quarter,» OPAP’s CEO Vassilis Neiadas said in a statement. Pame Stoichima revenues fell 10.8 percent to 1.438 billion euros last year with a strong rebound in the fourth quarter, when OPAP took a series of measures to rejuvenate the game, including allowing live and spread bets. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew 8.4 percent to 714.3 million euros, with sales up 16.3 percent to 3.695 billion euros. OPAP will propose a 1.42 euro dividend per share, translating to a dividend yield of 4.5 percent. It paid 1.48 euros in 2004. The group, with a market value of around 10 billion euros, has exclusive rights to organize sports betting and numerical games in Greece until 2020. (Reuters)