he company is also on track to boost its online presence with its recommended offer for Sportingbet's Australian and Spanish operations and a move to acquire Playtech's 29% in William Hill Online. It also launched an iPad app in December as well as a number of mobile gaming sites during the second half.
A strong football programme in the period outweighed a number of horse racing cancellations due to the weather. The company's shares have climbed 14.8p to 381.2p following the update, making it the biggest riser in a falling FTSE 250.
Analyst Greg Johnson at Shore Capital said: “The group remains on track to complete the Sportingbet acquisition by the end of the first quarter of 2013 with an announcement on the Playtech minority due at a similar date. We believe that these two prospective deals transform the group's growth profile going forward.
“Following today's update we upgrade our 2012 pretax profit estimate by around us$ 39.2 million to us$ 463.7 million and would expect some modest upgrades to our 2013 estimate of us$ 421.2 million albeit the group faces some headwinds in 2013. We believe that with a fair wind and a completion of the two proposed underlying pro-forma earnings could reach 31p which implies an underlying rating of under 12 times. With the business transforming to an online dominated group we believe a further re-rating is likely. Buy.”