IGT Has Solid First Quarter Earnings

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International Game Technology continued a four-year winning streak Thursday, reporting first quarterly net income of $176 million, or 50 cents a share.

The world's largest maker of slot machines and gambling systems credited expanding markets and a strong demand to replace older machines with cashless technology for its continued financial success.

"We are off to a great start for fiscal 2004," Maureen Mullarkey, IGT's chief financial officer, said during a conference call with financial analysts.

Net profits for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2003 were up from $91.5 million, or 26 cents a share, for the same quarter last year.

Income from continuing operations rose 38 percent to $116.7 million, or 33 cents a share, beating Wall Street expectations by 4 cents and marking the 16th consecutive quarter the Reno-based company has posted gains over the prior year.

At midday Thursday, IGT shares on the New York Stock Exchanged traded at $37.34, up 74 cents from Wednesday's close.

Worldwide, IGT sold a record 46,100 machines during the quarter, up from 29,700 machines in the same quarter last year.

Revenue from product sales jumped 37 percent to a record $330.5 million.

Domestically, 22,600 machines were sold. Of those, 16,400 were replacement machines, an increase of 48 percent from 2003.

"The improvement in total domestic unit sales resulted primarily from strong replacement sales across all of our domestic markets, as well as new unit sales into the Canadian casino and video lottery markets," the company said in a written statement.

IGT Chief Executive T.J. Matthews said the company anticipates steady growth in the coming year as more states consider legalized or expanded gambling as a way to meet budget constraints and demand remains strong for replacement machines.

"The future remains bright and expectations for growth remain very much intact," he said.

Marc Falcone, a gambling analyst with Deutsche Bank in New York City, agreed.

"We continue to think IGT will report record quarterly results over the next several quarters and we are increasingly encouraged about the prospects for expanded gaming in the U.S. with the start of the 2004 spring legislative sessions," he said.