BUSINESS

Big Fish Games is Churchill Downs Inc’s top earner in Q1

TAGs: big fish games, Churchill Downs, churchill downs incorporated, Twinspires

churchill-down-big-fish-gamesJust in time for Derby Week, gaming operator Churchill Downs Inc. (CD() reported new earnings and revenue records in Q1 2015

CDI reported revenue of $250.9m in the three months ending March 31, a 50% gain over the same period last year. Adjusted earnings were up 97% to $48.3m and cash from operating activities rose 73% to $89.7m.

The figures were boosted by CDI’s late-2014 acquisition of social and mobile gaming operator Big Fish Games, but expenses associated with that $885m purchase resulted in a $19.3m net loss for the quarter. On the plus side, the company’s net debt decreased by $70m to $700m.

CDI’s new Big Fish toy is now its top earner, contributing $91.9m in revenue and $20m in earnings. Big Fish’s social casino games provided the bulk ($49.3m) of total bookings and marked a 67% year-on-year improvement. Quarterly average paying users rose 50% and average daily bookings per paying user rose 12%.

Big Fish’s free-to-play casual games bookings shot up $21.3m to $27m thanks to the successful Q3 launch of the Gummy Drop! title. Premium games bookings fell 28% to $28.5m as the paid PC games market continues to dwindle.

CDI’s online advance deposit wagering site Twinspires saw revenue slip 2% to $45.3m. Betting handle nudged up 1% to $214m compared to a US-wide decline of 5.2%. Earnings rose 12% to $11.2m thanks to a favorable tax ruling in Pennsylvania and last fall’s closure of CDI’s online bingo site Luckity.com.

CDI’s brick-and-mortar casino revenue slipped $1m to $85.4m, while earnings improved by 6% to $28.8m. The company blamed most of the revenue downturn on an $800k decline at its Harlow’s property in Greenville, Mississippi.

Racing revenue was down 20% to $24.4m and handle fell 22%, which the company blamed on last July’s cessation of racing at Florida’s Calder Race Course. But lowered expenses helped reduce the racing vertical’s quarterly loss by 10% to $9.2m.

On the post-earnings analyst call, CEO Bill Carstanjen said Big Fish “has been everything we hoped it would be.” Earlier in the week, Carstanjen told Kentucky.com that the Big Fish acquisition didn’t mean CDI had abandoned its real-money online gambling ambitions. “If we get the additional opportunity to have real money franchises in the US, that’s a bonus.”

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