Australian poker machine giant Aristocrat Leisure says it will continue to cash in on its booming online computer game business, which now accounts for 41 per cent of its revenue, as new games reach a critical mass of players, and give it the space to pull back on marketing.
Growth from mobile games, including the popular War of Clans and RAID: Shadow League titles, helped the $21 billion ASX-listed group ramp up its normalised full-year profit after tax by 22 per cent to $752 million, the company said on Wednesday.
The result, also helped by pokies sales growth in North America and favourable currency movements, topped market expectations, sending its share price 6 per cent higher to close at $33.71.
Aristocrat’s online games – which are free to play but make money through in-app purchases – delivered $US1.25 billion ($1.83 billion) in revenue for the 12 months to September 30, a lift of 24 per cent.
That is almost as much as flowed through its entire US “land-based” operations, but it booked about half as much profit ($US370 million versus $US750 million) as it spent up big on marketing.
Digital casino games – where players can buy virtual chips and the play card games or digital version of some of Aristocrat’s poker machines – were softening however, with revenue falling about 1 per cent in the second half.
Mr Croker said those products could be improved by introducing more features from Aristocrat’s physical gambling units into its digital games.
Group-wide revenue rose 22.7 per cent to $4.4 billion. Machine sales in the Americas lifted 14 per cent in US dollar terms to $US1.36 billion, while revenue was flat in Australia, New Zealand at $455 million, and fell 7 per cent to $195 million in other markets.
The company’s normalised net profit after tax in constant currency was up 14 per cent, and statutory profit was up 29 per cent to $699 million.
Aristocrat declared a full-year dividend of 56¢ per share, an increase of 10¢ from last year.