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(Adds details on margins, casino gaming growth)
STOCKHOLM, April 26 (Reuters) - Sweden's Evolution Gaming Group reported a 150% jump in first-quarter core earnings, beating market estimates, as the pandemic boosted demand for online casino games, particularly in Asia and the United States.
Evolution Gaming, which develops and licenses casino games such as online slot machines and roulette games, said quarterly EBITDA rose to 160.1 million euros ($193.27 million) from 64.1 million a year ago, beating the mean forecast of 144.3 million euros, according to Refinitiv estimates.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) margins rose to 67.9% from 55.7% a year earlier.
"The positive trend from 2020 continues in to the first quarter of 2021 where we see a good momentum both in terms of growth and profitability," Chief Executive Martin Carlesund said in a statement.
Evolution dominates the online casino landscape in Europe and its purchase of NetEnt AB for $2.12 billion last year gave it access to a slots business and several top 10 slot titles.
Adding NetEnt to the equation, Evolution's offering has become a must-have and reminiscent of a monopoly, according to research firm Redeye.
Carlesund said the company achieved its target of reaching 40 million euros cost synergies related to the acquisition of NetEnt, nine months earlier than originally planned.
Evolution splurged another 450 million euros to buy Australia-based online slot machine developer Big Time Gaming earlier this month.
Asia and North America segments continue to be the two primary sources for growth for Evolution, with revenue in Asia more than doubling and North America jumping three times in the quarter.
($1 = 0.8284 euros) (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; editing by Niklas Pollard)