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SkyCity shares down as revenue dips

NZN 20/10/2016 Tina Morrison

Shares in SkyCity Entertainment Group dropped to a year-low after the casino operator posted weaker first-quarter revenue due to lower gaming and high-roller activity in Auckland, difficult trading conditions in Darwin, and the higher level of the kiwi dollar against the Aussie.

Revenue slipped 1.3 per cent to $260.7 million in the three months ended September 30 compared with the same period a year earlier, it said. On a normalised basis revenue fell 5.7 per cent to $262.1m.

Its shares fell as low as $3.69 and were recently down 13 per cent to $3.73.

At its largest complex in Auckland, revenue fell 1 per cent $134m as weaker gaming revenue offset growth in non-gaming revenue. The company said less gamblers had visited its Auckland facility than expected, and there was less activity from premium players and its automated table games weren't fully deployed. Still, it expects Auckland to return to growth for the remainder of the financial year.

In Australia, first-quarter revenue at the company's Darwin casino declined 7.2 per cent to $A32.5m due to continued difficult local economic conditions and increased rivalry from pubs and clubs, while revenue at Adelaide held unchanged at $A39.1m. The company said an appreciation of the kiwi against the Aussie had a $5m impact on normalised revenue.

Meanwhile, normalised revenue at its international business unit, which include high-roller gamblers, dropped 20 per cent due to fewer trips than expected from larger VIP customers. It expects international business activity to weaken further following recent developments in China, where employees of Australian casino company Crown were detained by the Chinese government. In China, it's illegal to arrange for more than 10 people to gamble overseas.

Sky City says it doesn't have an office in China or any China-based employees, but does engage independent contractors, and is confident they comply with all relevant laws and regulations in China.

"Our continued focus on direct VIP customer relationships and conservative approach to credit are expected to mitigate adverse impacts from the Crown situation," the company said.

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