LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK – Slot machine maker International Game Technology (IGT) Thursday said quarterly profit eased 1.4 percent on weaker international sales, but the results still beat Wall Street estimates.
Shares of the Reno, Nevada-based company were up $3.18, or 10 percent, to $35.10 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Net income in the fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 31 fell to $120.6 million from $122.4 million a year earlier.
Earnings per share rose, though, to 34 cents from 33 cents a year ago, as the diluted shares outstanding decreased to 362.7 million shares compared with 374.1 million shares last year. Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 27 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
Profit margins for gaming operations rose due to a better product mix, cost controls and favorable interest rates, the company said.
Chief Executive T.J. Matthews, speaking on a conference call, said IGT still expects net income of about 30 cents a share in each quarter of its current fiscal year, excluding employee stock options expense and acquisition-related costs.
"If good things happen ... those numbers could move up," he said.
Matthews said the company still faces near-term challenges as demand from U.S. casinos continues to be slow, but is focusing on future growth in international markets, like Asia and Mexico, and on nonmachine sales.
"I think they just don't want to make expectations too high," said Aimee Marcel, an analyst at Jefferies. She said IGT's prospects overseas and in markets like downloadable games are very promising.
David Bain, an analyst at Merriman Curhan Ford, said IGT has "an excellent vision for the future of gaming," but there is not enough upside to shares over the next 12 months to become an aggressive buyer of the stock.
IGT said its first-quarter revenue fell about 3.9 percent to $616.2 million.
North American sales increased to $206.7 million in the quarter from $182.1 million a year ago, while international sales fell to $117.8 million from $172.2 million.
The company had 43,300 installed units at the end of the quarter, up 6.300 from a year earlier.
Results for the quarter showed that the domestic slot market continues to be challenged, but it also demonstrated IGT's resiliency as the company managed to offset the weakness in slot sales through substantial increases in systems revenue, Goldman Sachs analyst Steven Kent said in a report.
Before today, the company's shares were up 3.7 percent this year, compared with with a roughly 2.2 percent rise in the S&P casinos index .
The company said it benefited from additional product placements in several domestic markets, including California, Oklahoma, Washington, Florida and Alabama. However, it added that it sees limited near-term possibilities in the U.S. market.
"While visibility to North America machine sales remains limited, we continue to effectively execute on our strategy to grow our international business," Matthews said.
IGT's sales pace has slowed after a period of strong growth when casinos switched from older coin-based slots to machines that issue paper tickets.
The company also owned and operated gaming machines in several casinos along the U.S. Gulf Coast that were shut down by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.