MARKETS SPECTATOR: Spending like an Aristocrat

Aristocrat Leisure has excited investors by increasing its target payout ratio.

Aristocrat Leisure, the maker and seller of gaming machines, says it has raised its target payout ratio to 80 per cent from 60 per cent.

“The new policy demonstrates the board’s commitment to disciplined capital management and willingness to distribute capital to shareholders in the most efficient manner,” Aristocrat said in an ASX statement today.

The company said it will pay a 7 cent dividend, or 74 per cent of net profit, after reporting today its net income, operating profit after tax and non-controlling interest, in the six months to March 31 rose 11 per cent to $52.6 million.

But earnings before interest and tax dropped 1 per cent to $75.3 million and revenue fell 7.5 per cent to $383.2 million. EBIT and sales drops were attributed by the company to fewer gambling releases in Japan compared to previous periods.

Chief executive Jamie Odell said in an ASX statement he expects 2013 second-half earnings to be “broadly in line with the first half”.

Aristocrat shares rose to a 52-week high of $4.49 on May 20. Yesterday the stock rose 3 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $4.05. The shares are up 39 per cent in the last 12 months and 29 per cent this year. 

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