Company looks for another tough year in 2010

Australia-based slot giant Aristocrat Leisure reported a second-half loss on provisions for damages from a U.S. lawsuit.

Aristocrat had a loss of A$124.5 million (US$112 million) in the six months ended December 31, down from a profit of A$30.8 million in the same period in 2008. Second-half earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization from North America dropped 38 percent to A$67.5 million as the slump in U.S. consumer spending hit its casino customers in Las Vegas.

Australian earnings rose 52 percent to A$40.7 million.

The Japanese division had a second-half profit of A$11.1 million, down 57 percent from a year earlier.

Included in the results is the impact of a $187.3 million provision the company made for a lawsuit brought by holders of U.S. bonds who argued the company wrongfully terminated their rights to convert the debt to equity.

Excluding charges, profit for the year fell 17 percent to $116.4 million.

“2010 is going to be another tough year and we have a lot of work ahead,” Chief Executive Officer Jamie Odell said in the statement. “While we are still in the early stages of our three- to- five-year turnaround, we are making important and steady progress across the breadth of our strategic change agenda.”