Intralot’s first-half net meets forecasts

Lottery systems supplier Intralot said yesterday its first-half net profits rose 4.3 percent, meeting market expectations but were held back by the loss of a lucrative sports game contract and lower betting revenues. The world’s second-largest lottery systems supplier said net profits rose to -57.6 million, versus an average forecast of -58.5 million in a Reuters poll of analysts. First-half results compare with a very strong first-half last year, boosted by increased betting activity due to the soccer World Cup in June 2006. «Intralot’s management is very pleased since the group delivered increased net earnings despite the fact that betting operations globally compare with a very strong second quarter in 2006 due to the football World Cup,» Intralot’s CEO Constantinos Antonopoulos said in a statement. But earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 1.7 percent to -120.6 million, below market forecasts, sending Intralot’s shares down. Intralot, which operates sports betting around the world worth about -4.5 billion, in January lost the management of betting monopoly OPAP’s flagship fixed-odds sports bet Pame Stoichima. The loss of the contract meant it would no longer receive a commission of about 8 percent on the game’s sales, which came to about -2.3 billion last year. Last year, the firm signed a -65 million deal with OPAP to provide hardware and software for Pame Stoichima. Analysts had expected that the high profit margins of the new IT deal would offset the loss of Pame Stoichima along with start-up costs in Italy. «EBITDA was much lower than we had expected. This explains why the shares are down,» said an analyst who declined to be named. Sales dropped 0.8 percent to -378.8 million due to the loss of Pame Stoichima and lower revenues from Turkish sports bets. (Reuters)