Bwin Resilient amid Fourth-Quarter Doldrums

6 February 2009
Bwin Interactive Entertainment A.G., whose shares have gained 31 percent in recent weeks, turned in a resilient fourth-quarter performance relative to competitors in the listed gaming sector.

Gross gaming revenue for the quarter came in at 117.7 million euros, up 15.1 percent against the year-ago period and 22.7 percent, sequentially.

The performance was driven largely by the company's sports betting operation, which generated record revenue of 64.5 million euros from turnover of 793.2 million euros.

The company's poker offering would appear to be taking market share from European competitors like GigaMedia Ltd. and PartyGaming, as revenue, 27.7 million, was up 27.1 percent over last year and 21.4 percent versus the previous quarter. Active customers, moreover, were up 53.9 percent over last year.

Although it wasn't mentioned Friday, the company's Italian poker operation was generating 30,000 euros, in 12-hour segments, at third-quarter results time. For other sector peers with Italian poker sites or networks, returns so far have been positive.

Bwin's casino, meanwhile, generated 19.3 million in gross gaming revenue, up 19.5 percent over 2007 and 14.2 percent, quarter on quarter. And games revenue was up 27.9 percent, year over year, to 6.2 million euros.

The company -- like a handful of others in the sector -- is emerging as a business-to-business player. In November, it inked a deal with Éditions Philippe Amaury, a French media group, to build out an online gambling offering once the French government fully implements a new regulatory scheme that has yet to be delivered.

Bwin is also mulling whether to spin off its in-house payments business as a standalone. One of that business' two arms, Vincento Payment Solutions Ltd., is set to debut imminently a prepaid card in the United Kingdom -- a sign of the company's interest in converting existing customer accounts into e-wallet accounts, one analyst argues.

A heavy marketing investor in recent years, the company appears poised this year for a long-anticipated move into the black, with roughly 40 million euros to be trimmed off the cost line. It reiterated guidance for adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of at least 100 million euros in 2009.

Chris Krafcik is the editor of IGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Mo.