World's second-largest slot maker blames loss on combination of soft demand and disappointing investments

Aristocrat Leisure, the world’s second-largest maker of slot machines, reported a first-half net loss of A$33.4 million (US$28 million) on a combination of soft demand and some disappointing investments.

Sales were down 5.3 percent compared with the six months ended June 30, 2008, the company said, and a Bloomberg report noted that U.S. casinos are delaying orders, and Australian customers are sticking with existing machines amid a drop in consumer demand, the result of the economic downturn.

Profit before items was A$44.2 million, but the company took A$79.9 million in charges against its 16 percent stake in North Carolina-based PokerTek and its 50 percent holding in Slovenia’s Electroncek.

CEO Jamie Odell said going forward the company would focus on its three largest markets of Australia, North America and Japan.

“More of our management team will be based in North America, reflecting our determination to become more genuinely embedded in the region,” he said in the statement. “We expect to exit around 30 low-margin jurisdictions over the coming months. One size no longer fits all.”