Aristocrat Leisure Limited share price soars: Here’s why

The Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL) share price has soared in early trading today, after the poker machine manufacturer upgraded its earnings forecasts for the 2016 financial year (FY16).

Aristocrat’s share price is up 11% at $11.64 before lunch, thanks to a substantial increase in net profit for the six months to end of March 2016 and the full year to end of September 2016.

The company now says it is expecting to report net profit after tax and amortisation (NPATA) of around $183 million – well ahead of market expectations – and up 66% over the underlying NPATA reported last half year.

Additionally, Aristocrat says the second half is likely to be broadly in line with the first half, suggesting NPATA of $366 million for the full FY16 year. The company reported $236 million in NPATA in FY15, demonstrating strong growth of 55% this financial year.

The strong growth has been driven by significant market share gains and growing margins in the US, Australia and digital social gaming according to CEO Jamie Odell.

However, investors should also note that Aristocrat acquired Video Gaming Technologies (VGT) for US$1,283 million in July 2014, with the acquisition completed in October 2014. That means this half year is the first full half year that VGT has contributed to, so those growth figures are slightly misleading.

Still, Aristocrat is performing well compared to rival Ainsworth Game Technology Limited (ASX: AGI) – which reported a lacklustre first half in February 2016, and has seen its share price sink nearly 20% over the past six months.

Foolish takeaway

At the current share price of around $11.64, Aristocrat is trading on a prospective P/E ratio of around 20x, but generating strong double-digit growth in FY17 and beyond is likely to be much harder, now that VGT has been fully integrated for more than a year.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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