International Game Profit Drops

The slot machine market remained challenging.
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International Game Technology's

(IGT) - Get Report

profit fell as the slot machine market remained challenging.

Although the Reno, Nev., company beat Wall Street's estimates, its forward guidance appeared to disappoint investors.

The slot machine maker said net income totaled $114.7 million, or 32 cents a share, in its fiscal third quarter, which ended June 30. That compares with $141.1 million, or 38 cents a share, a year earlier.

The company beat the average analyst forecast for EPS of 30 cents, according to Thomson First Call. Revenue totaled $579.6 million, which was down from $618.9 million a year before but was ahead of the $557.7 million analyst consensus.

Shares fell $1.79, or 6%, to $27.21 Thursday.

The domestic slot market has slowed in recent quarters as casinos -- sated by an earlier replacement binge -- curtailed purchases. At the same time, IGT has faced heightened competition from rivals such as Australia's

Aristocrat Leisure

.

"Despite the challenging domestic environment in which we operate, we continue to execute well, both operationally and strategically," said T.J. Matthews, the company's chairman and CEO. "Our international operations are poised to deliver another record-breaking year in terms of both revenues and operating income."

IGT's gaming operations unit had revenue of $305.1 million, slightly above $303.3 million a year before. Gross profits slipped to $164.5 million from $166.5 million a year earlier. The company's installed base of recurring revenue machines finished the quarter at 38,500 units, up 2,100 from a year before.

Meanwhile, product sales revenue totaled $274.5 million, down from $315.6 million a year earlier. The unit's gross profits fell to $143.7 million from $171.8 million. The unit sold 24,100 units, compared with 35,100 a year before.

During a conference call, Matthews said the company expects earnings of $1.20 a share in its 2006 fiscal year, which ends in September of next year. The outlook is consistent with the company's recent "baseline" guidance of 30 cents a share in coming quarters, but it's well below the $1.44 analyst consensus.

Some analysts said the forecast shouldn't alarm investors, however. Robin Farley at UBS noted that later in the conference call, executives clarified that their outlook doesn't include orders from Pennsylvania that could come in during fiscal 2006. Farley believes those orders could add 10 cents to 15 cents to annual earnings.

Profits could be further boosted above the baseline forecast by the company's expected share repurchases, she added.