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Legoland demand helps boost Merlin first-half earnings
July 31, 2014 / 6:36 AM / 3 years ago

Legoland demand helps boost Merlin first-half earnings

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LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - Merlin Entertainments said it was on track to meet full-year expectations after strong trade at Legoland parks and good weather in Northern Europe helped boost visitor numbers and first-half profit.

The world’s second-biggest operator of visitor attractions behind Walt Disney said on Thursday core earnings for the 26 weeks to June 28 rose 14.3 percent at constant currency to 120 million pounds, broadly in line with market forecasts.

Revenue rose 11 percent to 513 million pounds, led by a strong showing from Legoland in the U.S., boosted by the Lego Movie. Sales at attractions open over a year rose 8.1 percent.

On a reported basis, core earnings rose 7.5 percent with revenue up 6.1 percent due to the strength of sterling against its key foreign currencies.

Merlin, which floated in London in November, said Legoland had helped offset weaker trade at its short-stay attractions such as Madame Tussauds and Sea Life Centres where political unrest in Thailand and severe cold weather in North America hurt sales.

Merlin said July trading had been consistent with its expectations and it remained on track to meet annual forecasts. The firm is expected to post full-year core earnings of 403 million pounds, according to a Reuters poll of 13 analysts.

Shares in the group, whose other attractions include London Eye and Alton Towers, closed at 350.9 pence on Wednesday, 11 percent above it 315p offer price. (Reporting by Neil Maidment)

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