DUBLIN (Reuters) -Flutter posted a 20% fall in first-half earnings but saw no sign of cash-strapped customers betting less and expects to finish the year ahead of 2021 excluding a final year of losses in the U.S, sending its shares higher.
The world’s largest online betting firm said on Friday that increased investment in its fast growing U.S. Fanduel unit, tighter gambling regulations elsewhere and greater spending on initiatives to curb gambling addiction accounted for the expected dip in earnings.
However, it said Fanduel became the first online operator in the recently opened U.S. market to deliver a quarterly profit, putting the unit firmly on track to meet a target of delivering full-year profitability in 2023.
“Fanduel’s continued expansion is fundamentally reshaping the group as we look at it today. The brand continues to exceed all our expectations,” CEO Peter Jackson told reporters.
Flutter shares were 6.7% higher at 118 euros at 0710 GMT.
Group adjusted EBITDA fell to 476 million pounds ($580 million)from 597 million a year ago and the record 684 million reached during the stay-home gambling boom of the COVID-19 hit first half of 2020.
Excluding the U.S. business, first-half earnings were down 11%.
The Paddy Power, Betfair and Pokerstars owner said it expected full-year core earnings of between 1.29 billion pounds and 1.39 billion pounds, excluding a U.S. loss of 225 million to 275 million pounds.
It posted core earnings of 1.24 billion pounds in 2021.
Rival Entain, which owns the Ladbrokes and Coral brands, last month lowered its online gaming revenue forecast for the year, saying online punters were spending less money on gambling due to the cost-of-living squeeze in Britain.
888 Holdings Plc also cited the impact of higher inflation when reporting a slump in first-half profit on Friday.
($1 = 0.8205 pounds)
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Jason Neely and David Evans)