Zeal results exceed expectations
Zeal Group has posted better-than-expected earnings in its unaudited preliminary results for 2017 after a bumper fourth quarter.
Billings of €78.8m ($97.3m) in the final three months of the year represented a 21% rise on the lottery firm’s figures in the third quarter.
The group generated earnings before interest and tax of €25.2m and a total operating profit of €141.2m for the year – also above previous guidance.
The company also revealed a 31% increase in new registered customers for the year, with total billings reaching €280.5m.
Zeal praised the results, which came in spite of what it described as “an exceptionally weak jackpot environment during the third quarter”, as well as higher hedging costs as a result of rule changes to the EuroMillions lottery and significant pay-outs in the first quarter.
Zeal said that its late surge in 2017 was driven by a combination of the introduction of Powerball and record billings in the Spanish Christmas Lottery, El Gordo.
Zeal’s chief financial officer, Jonas Mattsson, said that the firm had delivered “strong financial results in challenging conditions”.
He added: “This just goes to highlight the underlying strength of our business, and gives me confidence for the future.”
The group launched in three new markets during the year – including Norway and the UK in the fourth quarter.
Zeal chief executive Helmut Becker added: “We made good strategic progress in 2017: launching in three new markets, improving our products, enhancing our technology and operational efficiency, acquiring more new customers, and continuing to unearth new ways to disrupt the lottery industry.
“While the regulatory environment remains challenging, we believe the global lottery market is full of, as yet, untapped potential. As a diverse and long-term focused business, we are well positioned to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Zeal added that it expects to deliver earnings before tax of between €33m and €43m this year and an operating profit of between €150m and €160m.
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