LONDON Nov 29 Merlin Entertainments,
which runs tourist attractions such as Madame Tussauds waxworks
and Legoland, on Tuesday forecast good profit growth for 2016,
in line with market expectations.
Updating on trading for the 47 weeks to Nov. 19 the world's
second-biggest visitor attractions group behind Walt Disney
said underlying trading at its Midway Attractions
division, which includes Sea Life and The Dungeons, had remained
consistent with its September update, when it downgraded
Merlin had lowered its full-year core earnings margin
forecast at that time due to weaker trading at its Midway unit,
which runs city centre attractions.
The firm said its Resort Theme Parks division, which
includes Alton Towers, enjoyed a strong Halloween period, helped
by favourable weather.
Its Legoland Parks division showed continued positive
momentum following two years of strong growth, although trading
in Florida remained soft due to challenging market conditions.
Prior to Tuesday's update analysts were forecasting a pretax
profit for 2016 of 273.3 million pounds ($339 million), up from
250 million pounds in 2015.
Shares in Merlin, up 4 percent so far this year, closed
Monday at 436.5 pence, valuing the group at 4.46 billion pounds.
($1 = 0.8061 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Sarah Young)