888’s record year brings dividend bonus

888’s record year brings dividend bonus

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 Totally Gaming

888’s share price enjoyed a significant rise on the London Stock Exchange today (Tuesday) after the online gambling operator announced a special dividend following a “record-breaking year”.

888 confirmed this morning that a one-off dividend of $0.07 (€0.06) per share would be paid on top of an ordinary final dividend of $0.045 per share following an impressive 2014. By 1.30pm GMT today, 888’s share price had improved by 3.6 per cent to more than £1.58, giving the company a market capitalisation of over £561m.

The results will fuel speculation that 888 is a prime takeover target, although talks over a possible acquisition by UK bookmaker William Hill fell through last month.

888’s underlying profits jumped by 33 per cent to $101m last year as its casino business continued to prosper, and while poker held its own despite “negative industry trends”, 888Sport enjoyed impressive growth of 115% thanks to the Fifa World Cup.

Revenue increased 14 per cent to $455m with mobile now representing a third of UK revenue and growth in Spain and Italy.

Chief executive Brian Mattingley, who is set to move into the role of executive chairman in May, described 2014 as a year in which 888 “delivered strong growth in revenue and profitability”.

He added: “This outstanding result reflects the fundamental strength of our business and the continued execution of our focused strategy. This is underpinned by our strong brands, exceptional technology and industry-leading marketing systems.

“The outstanding 115-per-cent revenue growth from 888Sport was an undoubted highlight of 2014 and we continue to see very exciting growth opportunities in this vertical.

“Whilst the business faces external challenges in the form of Point of Consumption Tax in the UK, VAT in certain jurisdictions and adverse foreign exchange movement from a strong US dollar, I am confident that the group is well placed to take advantage of opportunities that regulatory change opens up to companies such as 888.”

The company’s annual results also gave chairman Richard Kilsby the opportunity to reflect on his impending departure, with his retirement announced last August and due to take effect in May.

Kilsby said: “It is with a heavy heart that I conclude my nine-year tenure as chairman.  However, I am consoled by the knowledge that I am leaving the company at the top of its game and only getting stronger.

“With Brian as executive chairman, we feel confident that we have an industry-leading senior team to continue 888's growth and development in the years to come.

“We are very excited at this move, which will allow the company to continue to take advantage of Brian’s wealth of experience, particularly in maintaining and developing relationships with regulators. In Brian Mattingley, shareholders have an executive chairman with huge experience of the gaming industry and extensive knowledge of our business.” 

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