OPAP Q2 net up 34.5 percent, above forecasts

Gaming monopoly OPAP said yesterday second-quarter net profit rose 34.5 percent, above analysts’ forecasts, as a much lower-than-expected one-off cost helped offset slower sales from its fixed-odds betting business. Europe’s biggest betting firm said net profit rose to 141.9 million euros, compared with an average forecast of -116.46 million by nine analysts in a Reuters poll. First-half net profits rose 25.1 percent to -285.3 million. The firm said it booked a one-off cost of -9.2 million for an IT deal it has signed with Greek lottery systems supplier Intralot. The cost is much lower than analysts had forecast due to a different accounting treatment, OPAP said. «The additional operational capabilities that were recently ensured, both in terms of technological infrastructure and supporting services, allow us to be optimistic about our future performance,» OPAP’s CEO Vassilis Neiadas said in a statement. Group sales dropped 1.8 percent to -1.224 billion as revenues from the firm’s flagship sports betting game Stoichima shrank by 25.9 percent year-on-year to -525.8 million compared with a strong second quarter in 2006, when the soccer World Cup boosted Stoichima sales by about -300 million. Revenues from OPAP’s second-biggest game Kino rose 33.5 percent to -567.8 million after the firm extended the game’s playing hours late last year. OPAP shares trade at about 14 times 2007 estimated earnings, compared with about 12 times for British bookmaker Ladbrokes and 13 for William Hill, according to Reuters Estimates. Separately, Intralot, the world’s second-largest lottery systems supplier, is seen posting a 6 percent rise in first-half profit. Eight analysts polled by Reuters forecast on average a net profit of -58.49 million, up from -55.2 million a year earlier. (Reuters)