Amaya CEO says he's moving towards takeover bid as Q4 beats expectations

MONTREAL – Amaya amassed more customers and capped a strong end to 2015 as the owner of PokerStars and other online gambling sites grew its adjusted profits nearly 27 per cent in the fourth quarter.

The Montreal-based company said Monday that “aggregate customer registrations” increased by almost two million in the same period, to about 99 million at the end of 2015. The company now has more than 100 million customers.

Amaya said its “emerging online casino offerings” are already among the world’s fastest growing, and that they have one of the largest player bases among its competitors.

The company earned $111.25 million in adjusted profit from continuing operations in the fourth quarter, up from $87.87 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement.

That equalled 53 cents per diluted share, up from 42 cents a year earlier.

Including $68-million in one-time charges including nearly half from prior duties, net losses from continuing operations were $15.8 million, compared to $35.6 million in earnings a year earlier.

Revenues during the three months ended Dec. 31 grew 15 per cent to $389.5 million. Poker generated $302.7 million of revenues.

Amaya’s chairman and CEO, meantime, said he’s preparing to make a formal takeover bid for the company.

“I’m in a position to move towards submitting a proposal to acquire the outstanding shares of Amaya consistent with my previously announced intentions,” David Baazov said Monday during a conference call about the company’s results.

Baazov indicated in early February that his group would be willing to offer $21 per share in cash. Amaya as a whole would be worth $2.79 billion at the suggested purchase price, including the stock and options that Baazov already owns.

For the full year, Amaya earned $372.2 million or $1.76 per share, up from $314.9 million or $1.53 per share in 2014.

Revenues were up 8.3 per cent to $1.37 billion.

Its stock closed down 40 cents at $18.40 Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Amaya had been expected to earn 49 cents per share in adjusted profits on $340 million of revenues in the quarter, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.