Excluding write-downs, earnings declined due to still-soft demand

Aristocrat Leisure posted a profit of A$49.3 million for the first half of the year, reversing a $33.4 million loss over the same period in 2009, when the Sydney-based slot giant took $79.9 million in write-downs related to its investments in Elektroncek and PokerTek.

Net income worked out to 9.2 cents per share for the six months ended June 30.

Earnings before items fell 17 percent to $36.6 million amid declining demand in Australia and the United States, where pubs and casinos are scaling back new machine purchases. In Japan the company posted an operating loss as sales slumped 58 percent.

“Conditions across most markets during the first half of 2010 have been very difficult and have impacted our operational performance,” Chief Executive Officer Jamie Odell said in the statement. “While we do not expect conditions to improve in the second half of this year, we anticipate performance to be weighted to the second half.”