(Adds shares, analyst quote, details)
March 21 British online gaming company 888
Holdings declared a special dividend for the fifth
straight year as full-year pretax profit surged 82 percent,
driven by strong performance in its sportsbetting and casino
The company's shares rose as much as 7.6 percent in morning
trade to hit their highest in nearly 11 years on the London
The group, which operates 888 casino, poker, sport and bingo
brands, said it was recommending a final dividend of 5.1 cents
per share along with an additional one-off 10.5 cents per share
The additional payout would bring the total to 19.4 cents
per share, including an interim dividend of 3.8 cents announced
888 and casino operator Rank Group Plc pursued a
deal last year to snap up William Hill as the gambling
industry has been pressured by higher taxes and tighter
regulation, while a series of mergers intensified competition.
However, William Hill rejected the takeover proposals.
Investec analysts said consolidation in the sector is set to
continue into 2017 and beyond.
"Given 888's size and superior technology offering, as well
as its growing Sport product vertical, we regard 888 as either a
consolidator or key potential take-out target," Investec
analysts, who rate the stock a "buy", wrote in a note.
The company said revenue at its casino division rose 21
percent, while the sports unit's revenue grew 49 percent. Total
group revenue rose 13 pct to $520.8 million.
Pretax profit rose to $59.2 million from $32.5 million a
Shares in the company were up 5.9 percent at 248 pence at
(Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha