15 Feb 2012

Record half year profit for casino

6:45 pm on 15 February 2012

SkyCity Entertainment has posted a record half year profit and says a strong start to the year has put it on track to beat full year profit expectations.

SkyCity, which has operations in New Zealand and Australia, reported a net profit of $78.8 million in the six months to December, 17% more than at the same time a year earlier.

Strong revenues at its flagship casino in Auckland boosted profits, lifted partly by increased business during the Rugby World Cup.

Auckland revenues jumped 14%, while overall New Zealand income rose 13.6%.

In Australia, revenues at the Adelaide casino rose nearly 7% to $A83 million, while earnings at the Darwin operation were flat.

Chief executive Nigel Morrison says a $50 million reinvestment in the Auckland property was the main driver of growth.

Talks have restarted with the Government about a proposed $350 million national convention centre in Auckland and Mr Morrison says he's hoping for a resolution within two months.

The company will invest $350 million in the centre in return for an early renewal of its Auckland casino licence beyond 2021.

It also wants to increase its gaming products and is pushing for changes to gaming regulations.

Dividend up

The company declared a dividend of 9 cents per share, up 1 cent from the same time a year ago.

SkyCity shares on Wednesday fell 5 cents to $3.59.