Crown profit falls to $181m

James Packer's casino operator Crown has posted a 34 per cent drop in first half profit, as weak consumer sentiment and refurbishment work affected its business.

Crown made a net profit of $180.8 million in the six months to December 31, down from $274.4 million in the previous corresponding period.

The result included a $74.3 million loss on Crown's investment in Sydney and Queensland casino operator Echo Entertainment.

Crown operates casinos in Perth and Melbourne, and holds an interest in Melco Crown in Macau.

Chief executive Rowen Craigie said the result for the first half of the 2012/13 financial year was reasonable.

"Revenue growth reflects the benefits of recent property refurbishments, particularly the expansion of the main gaming floor in Perth," he said in a statement on Friday.

"However, both properties were also impacted by disruption to patron activity arising from the capital works program and weak consumer sentiment, especially in Melbourne."

"Cost control continues to be a focus at both properties."

Crown said its result was also negatively impacted by its lower win rate in VIP play.

That came in Melbourne, where earnings were down nine per cent from the same period in the previous year to $271.6 million.

Perth's earnings rose by 2.5 per cent to $144.6 million.

Main floor gaming in Perth and Melbourne generated revenue growth of 5.9 per cent, compared to the previous corresponding period.

The company offered no specific update on its trading performance for the first weeks of the second half of the financial year, as the different timing of the Chinese New Year celebration in 2013 made it difficult to compared to the previous year.

"Trading at Crown Perth continues to benefit from the expansion of the main gaming floor while Crown Melbourne continues to be affected by refurbishment disruption," it said.

Crown declared an interim dividend of 18 cents, franked to 50 per cent.

No new details were provided on the company's plans for a hotel and casino in Sydney, for which government approval is still needed.

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