Aristocrat hails “outstanding” H1 amid revenue and earnings growth

For the six months to 31 March, revenue at Aristocrat hit AU$3.27bn (£1.72bn/€2.01bn/US$2.19bn). This is 6.1% higher than in H1 last year, helped by growth in all core segments.

Ahead of posting the results, Aristocrat announced a change in the way it will report finance data. This follows the acquisition of NeoGames, which completed in late April. Its Anaxi arm and NeoGames operations are now being managed as a single business under ‘Aristocrat Interactive’. Former NeoGames CEO Moti Malul is overseeing the entity as CEO.

As such, with effect from H1, Aristocrat is now reporting results for three primary segments: Aristocrat Gaming, Pixel United and Aristocrat Interactive. This, it says, better aligns to its strategy, management structure and growth expectations.

The good news for Aristocrat is that each of these segments reported year-on-year growth in H1. Gaming remains by far its primary source of revenue, drawing $1.83bn in Q1, with Pixel United at $1.33bn and Interactive $109.4m.

Together, this led to an increase not only in overall revenue, but also EBITDA and net profit. Croker welcomed the increases, hailing an “outstanding” period for the group.

“This was once again an outstanding result, reflecting Aristocrat’s resilience and ability to grow share and drive profitability through different operating environments,” he said.

“We delivered strong revenue and EBITDA growth over the half. This was underpinned by record Aristocrat Gaming performance, led by an exceptional North America gaming operations result and strong growth in Aristocrat Interactive, while Pixel United achieved improved profitability despite mixed market conditions.”

Gaming drives growth at Aristocrat

Going through the results segment by segment, Aristocrat begins by praising the success of its Gaming arm. Revenue increased 8.3% year-on-year to $1.83bn, a record quarter for the segment.

Aristocrat puts this down to strong performance in North America gaming operations, which it says reflects the expansion of the installed base and portfolio strength. This was despite a 9.0% drop in unit sales in the region, although overall figures were helped by higher sales in the rest of world.

Turning next to Pixel United, revenue edged up 0.9% to $1.33bn, despite a drop in bookings. Aristocrat noted its social casino franchises within this segment outperformed the market. In addition, overall Margin increased to 35.0%, reflecting a focus on optimising user acquisition spend and operational efficiency.

Finally, the new-look Interactive segment saw revenue rise 52.2% to $109.4m. Aristocrat said this was driven by customer experience services revenue growth, as well as ongoing scaling of igaming in North America and Europe. Focusing on igaming, Aristocrat notes launches with major operators in the US, Canada and UK, its expanding games portfolio and impact of the Roxor acquisition.

Higher costs fail to halt profit rise in H1

In terms of spending, cost of revenue was actually slightly lower year-on-year at $1.37bn. However, Aristocrat noted an increase in several areas across operating costs.

Selling, general and administrative was the main operational outgoing at $527.6m, while design and development costs topped $424.9m. As for finance costs, these were also higher at $79.2m.

However, such was the impact of revenue growth that pre-tax profit was up by 12.8% to $961.7m. After paying $250.5m in tax, net profit hit $711.3m, an increase of 8.9%.

Aristocrat also noted other factors that impacted bottom line for H1. These include an $83.8m negative impact from foreign currency exchange and a $13.4m loss on fair value of interest rate hedge. As such, Aristocrat ended H1 with a comprehensive net profit of $614.1m, up 39.0% year-on-year.

As for EBITDA, this also increased 12.2% to $1.20bn.

“The result again highlights resilience and scale as fundamental strengths of our business, supported by an effective focus on operational efficiency and extracting operating leverage,” Croker said.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on portfolio performance and capturing the significant strategic opportunities in front of us, including integrating NeoGames and positioning Aristocrat Interactive to achieve its full potential in this next chapter of Aristocrat’s growth.”

Aristocrat set for strategic review

Aristocrat also used the H1 results announcement to set out details of an upcoming strategic review. This will focus on its casual and mid-core gaming assets: Big Fish Games and Plarium Global.

The group said with the expanded Interactive business now sitting alongside Gaming, it has “clear opportunities” to lean into its strengths in regulated gaming content. It said gaming content and enhanced technology spans multiple verticals at Aristocrat, including social Casino through its Product Madness business.

With this in mind, the group intends to conduct a strategic review of the casual and mid-core gaming assets. Aristocrat stressed no decisions have been made and will assess all options to maximise shareholder value and ensure the ongoing success of these businesses. Aristocrat will provide more detail on the review when appropriate.

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