888 Holdings share price jumps as it announces one-off dividend after "record" year

Emma Haslett
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The company said growth in online gambling is "set to continue" into this year (Source: 888)

Investing may be a gamble, but this morning 888 Holdings shareholders won big after the online gaming group recommended a special dividend of 7 cents per share, on top of a final dividend of 4.5 cents per share. The news sent shares up 4.75 per cent at 160p as the market opened.

The company said it was able to pay the divi after a "record" year, with revenue growing 14 per cent to $455m, while adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation rose 33 per cent to $101m, and profits before tax climbed 28 per cent to $67.9m.

Last month 888 ended talks with William Hill over a possible takeover, saying a "significant difference of opinion" had derailed them. William Hill had offered 200p per share for the business, valuing it at more than £700m.

Shares in 888 have yo-yoed in recent weeks, jumping 20 per cent on news of a takeover by William Hill, then falling 14 per cent when the talks ended.

Chief executive Brian Mattingley warned the new Point of Consumption tax in the UK, plus higher VAT in certain regions and a strong US dollar could create problems.

However, 888 chairman Richard Kilsby added that growth in the online gambling industry is "set to continue in 2015, despite challenging poker market dynamics and a competitive UK bingo market".

New markets are becoming regulated, presenting opportunities across the globe. In the US, we are uniquely positioned to exploit the progressive regulation of the market as the only operator active in all three regulated states... Our approach gives us the financial firepower to take advantage of these significant opportunities while ensuring that our investment in the US is disciplined as the market is established.

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