he operator of Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos said adjusted pretax profit for the year was us$ 57.7 million, compared with 46.2 million in 2007, beating all forecasts in a Reuters Estimates poll of 12 analysts, which ranged from 31 million to us$ 54.2 million, and averaged at us$ 51.2 million.
CEO Ian Burke said Rank’s performance had stabilised in 2008, having been hit hard by an indoor public smoking ban and legislation outlawing certain kinds of gaming machines from its clubs in 2007. However, he cautioned that the near-term outlook remained "clouded by economic uncertainty".
The company said like-for-like sales had been flat in the first eight weeks of 2009, despite the impact of an unusually cold and snowy winter on attendances. As previously announced, Rank is not paying a final dividend, and the company said it would resume dividend payments when trading conditions and the market outlook improved.
Shares in Rank, which have lost nearly 40 % of their value over the last year, were trading up 1.7 %. Numis analyst Richard Carter upgraded the stock to "buy" from "add" and indicated he would raise his 2009 pretax profit forecast to us$ 56.1 million from us$ 50.6 million.