Aristocrat lifts HY profit 15% to $356.5m

Aristocrat Leisure shares have spiked higher after the company reported double-digit profit growth

Gaming giant Aristocrat Leisure has lifted first-half profit 15 per cent to $356.5 million following an improved domestic performance and strong growth in its North America and digital businesses.

Net profit, which includes one-off items, rose by even more, lifting 34.9 per cent to $346 million for the six months to March 31.

"Another double-digit profit improvement over the six months to 31 March 2019 demonstrates our sound and ambitious strategy and strong commercial execution," said Aristocrat chief executive Trevor Croker.

The company's operating revenue was up 29.8 per cent to $2.1 billion.

Aristocrat lifted its interim dividend by three cents to a fully franked 22 cents.

At 1041 AEST, Aristocrat was the best-performing stock on the ASX200, up 8.94 per cent to $28.90, a seven-month high.

Aristocrat said its digital revenue grew by 37 per cent to $US587 million ($A853m), driven by its acquisition in 2017 of Tel Aviv-based game developer Plarium for $US500 million and its 2018 purchase of Seattle-based Big Fish Games for $US990 million.

Aristocrat said the acquisitions expanded its digital portfolio from "casual casino" games to include casual, strategy, RPG and simulation games.

"We have successfully integrated our recently acquired digital businesses, and make significant progress transitioning towards a stronger, more diverse digital portfolio," Mr Coker said.

Aristocrat said its business profile had changed over the last few years and it now makes the majority of its profit from the US.

It said it was therefore making changes to its business structure to reduce the overseas taxes it pays by 150 to 250 basis points, to 25 to 26 per cent..

The company doesn't expect the changes to reduce its Australian taxes, which have averaged $120 million a year over the last three years.

ARISTOCRAT'S FLASH FY

* Net profit up 34.9pct to $346m

* Operating revenue up 29.8pct to $2.1b.

* Interim dividend up 15.8pct to 22 cents per share, from 19 cents.