* Q2 EBITDA jumps 50 percent to 68.6 million euros
* Results boosted by World Cup, helped by cost cutting
* Sales rise 8 percent to 947.3 mln euros
(Add sales, details)
ATHENS, Aug 27 Greece's OPAP, Europe's
second-largest gambling firm by market value, reported a
bigger-than-expected rise in second-quarter core profit, boosted
by the World Cup soccer tournament and cost cutting.
Core profit, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation
and amortisation (EBITDA), rose 50 percent year-on-year to 68.6
million euros ($90.6 million), beating the average forecast of
61.8 million in a Reuters poll of analysts.
A six-year, austerity-induced recession at home and a hefty
levy slapped on gross revenue last year has hit OPAP, which
offers lotteries and sports betting in Greece and Cyprus.
But the company's efforts to rejuvenate its games and cut
distribution costs are paying off.
Net profit dropped 44.5 percent to 15.7 million euros due
largely to a 21.6 million euro retroactive tax. Excluding this
tax and other one-off items, net profit rose 56 percent to 44.2
million euros, the company said.
Sales climbed 8 percent to 947.3 million euros and were
broadly in line with analysts' forecasts. The rise was driven by
a 31.5 percent increase in flagship sports betting game Stihima,
bolstered by the June 12-July 13 soccer World Cup in Brazil.
New games, including a scratch card launched in May, also
boosted sales by 121 million euros.
OPAP shares have gained 27 percent so far this year,
outperforming the Athens bourse's general index which is
(1 US dollar = 0.7573 euro)
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Renee Maltezou and