Good results for Sportingbet

Veteran British online gambling group Sportingbet.com has released a set of impressive second quarter results to complete a robust half year of operational success in a difficult market.

Highlights of Q2 performance include a significant 131 percent rise in pretax profit, and a solid start to trading in the third quarter, with demand for its betting products continuing. The company said trading in the first four weeks of February was strong, with revenue up 17 percent on the same month last year, driven mainly by the strength in European sports betting.

"Whilst there are some signs of the economic downturn impacting upon some areas of our operations, such as Australian higher staking telephone business, our overall performance remains encouraging," Chief Executive Andrew McIver said in presenting the results.

For the quarter ended January 31, the company posted a pretax profit of GBP 8.3 million compared with GBP 3.6 million in the corresponding period a year ago, with net gaming revenue up 6 percent to GBP 43.6 million.

Sportingbet said operating profit was up by 35 percent to GBP 10.1 million in Q2, which eneded on January 31st 2009. The operating profit margin is now at 23 percent.

For the half-year, net gaming revenue was GBP 82.5 million, up 15 percent, with pretax profit up a remarkable 500 percent at GBP 13.2 million, compared to GBP 2.2 million the previous year.

H.2 operating profit was up by 39 percent to GBP 16.2 million with adjusted fully diluted EPS up 32 percent to 2.9p.

The firm had net cash of GBP 27.3 million at the end of Q2.

Andrew McIver said: "Quarter two concluded a robust first half of the financial year, with operating profit in the six months growing 39 percent to GBP 16.2 million. The Group's balance sheet remains strong with net cash of GBP 27.3 million.

"Demand for our market leading sports betting product continues to grow. Whilst there are some signs of the economic downturn impacting upon some areas of our operations, such as Australian higher staking telephone business, our overall performance remains encouraging. The third quarter has started strongly and the Board remains cautiously optimistic for the full year outcome."

Wagering on sports betting in Europe over the period achieved year-on-year growth of 10 percent, reaching GBP 234.3 million. Casino and gaming contributed a further GBP 10.9 million, and poker GBP 5.3 million.

Football continues to dominate Sportingbet’s business, representing 62 percent of group sports revenue and 74 percent of European sports revenue over the quarter. The company’s core markets of Spain and Greece also continue to perform well, with revenues up 16 percent and 83 percent respectively. The company said the Spanish market was showing a marked improvement since being brought in-house.

The results indicate that Australian horse racing operations accounted for 15 percent of group sports revenue and 96 percent of the group's Australian sports revenue. New state taxes and product levies impacted post-tax revenues, which fell by 8 percent year-on-year to GBP 4.5 million. The company expects this to be offset by the positive impacts on the Internet business as a result of the relaxation on sports betting advertisements across the country’s leading racing states of New South Wales and Victoria.

Sportingbet has obtained a licence in South Africa for online sports betting, currently the only legal gaming product available in this market. It will also launch a Romanian language website in the third quarter of 2009 to capitalise on the high growth rates currently being seen in its Eastern European markets.

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