Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PartyGaming Ready to Up the Ante for Growth

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PartyGaming Ready to Up the Ante for Growth

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme Evans

Top flight companies PartyGaming and Arriva will be in the headlines this week, although some well-known businesses from the second tier of the market will also have their turn in the spotlight.

The gaming industry has experienced a tumultuous few weeks after the chief executive of BetonSports was charged with racketeering in the United States.

Although PartyPoker owner PartyGaming said it was unconcerned by the BetonSports developments as it does not have a US-based sportsbook, its shares have enjoyed a rollercoaster ride.

The City will be watching closely on Tuesday for clues as to PartyGaming's next plans for growth after it said in June international expansion remained a "clear objective" over the coming months, particularly in Europe and South America.

The firm entered the sports bookmaking market with the acquisition of the Bulgarian-based Gamebookers for pounds 69m earlier this month and has been linked with several other betting firms, including Victor Chandler, which is thought to be worth around pounds 400m.

Analysts expect poker revenues to show strong growth, while casino revenues are expected to have risen dramatically year on year following the successful launch of its Blackjack product in October 2005.

A consensus of analysts is forecasting revenues for the sixth months to June 30 to come in at pounds 347.5m ($662m) compared to pounds 229.6m ($437.4m) for the same period last year.

Underlying profits are forecast at pounds 197.9m ($377m) compared to pounds 135.3m ($257.7m) last year.

Transport group Arriva is likely to declare itself happy with progress on Tuesday after completing the repositioning of the group's portfolio in February with the sale of its vehicle rental business.

The impact of the disposal is likely to knock half-year profits, with analysts forecasting a figure of around pounds 47.8m against pounds 50.3m a year earlier.

The restructuring has seen Arriva expand further into Europe, including into the German transport market by acquiring Bils, a 118-bus operation in North-Rhine Westphalia. As well as the performance of the new operations, analysts will be looking at how the company plans to deal with its rising fuel bill, which is expected to increase by pounds 14m for its UK bus operation this year. …

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