Tabcorp lifts first-half profit

Gaming company says H2 focus will be on increasing returns, productivity.

Tabcorp Holdings Ltd says its focus in the second half will be increasing returns and driving productivity improvement after posting a slight lift in first-half profit, despite a 10% slide in revenue from ordinary activities.

In the six months to December 31, Tabcorp posted a net profit of $74.6 million, a 2.3% increase on the $72.9 million profit recorded in the first half of the previous year.

In the same period revenue from ordinary activities was $1.045 billion, a 10.3% decline on the previous corresponding period's $1.165 billion.

Revenue from continuing activities edged one% higher to $1.045 billion, from $1.034 billion.

Earnings from the company's wagering business were up two% to $140.6 million, with revenue growth from its digital arm offsetting a decline in turnover from Victoria and New South Wales.

The company also recorded an 8.5% lift in earnings from its media and international business to $34.9 million, while gaming services earnings were up 32.7% $33.7 million.

But earnings from the Keno business slid 1.6% to $36.1 million due to a higher number of $1 million-plus jackpots paid out to customers in its Queensland business.

The group will pay a full-franked interim dividend of eight cents on March 24. The payment has a record date February 17.

Tabcorp managing director and chief executive officer David Attenborough said the group was seeing the benefits of its investments in growth initiatives in recent years, which he said will continue to underpin its market leadership.

"In the context of a relatively subdued retail environment, we achieved overall earnings growth, supported by good cost control," he said.

"Tabcorp continues to grow in a competitive gambling and entertainment market through strategies that leverage our market leading brands and unique multi-product, multi-channel distribution model."

Mr Attenborough said each of Tabcorp's businesses had clear priorities to focus on in the second half of the year.

"In wagering, we will continue to invest in customers, channels and products," he said.

"The focus will be on growth in fixed odds, digital and key events such as Racing NSW’snew carnival ‘The Championships’, and the Soccer World Cup.

"For Media and International, our focus is on securing media rights and continuing to expand the globalisation of Australian racing."

Mr Attenborough said gaming services would focus on through targeted venue sign-ups, while the Keno business was working on extending and developing the product range, as well as pursuing approvals to pool jackpots between states.