Paddy Power upgrades profits forecast after 'good' end to 2015
Betting chain Paddy Power has said it expects a 9% boost to profits, buoyed by "good" trading at the end of last year.
The Dublin-based bookmaker upgraded its forecast for underlying pre-tax earnings of around 180 million euro for 2015, a rise of 16.2 million euro on 2014.
It had previously said it expected a mid-to-high single-digit percentage rise in annual profits.
The upgrade comes as the company looks set to become one of the world's biggest betting firms on February 2 when it officially completes its tie-up with Betfair.
Paddy Power said it saw an uplift in trading for the last seven weeks of 2015, following on the back of a 7% rise in like-for-like betting stakes at its shops in the 19 weeks to November 15.
Like-for-like revenues also edged ahead 1% in the 19-week period, while online betting stakes surged 23% and revenues grew 7%.
However, it said its performance was pegged back by a run of results which favoured punters in the period to November 15.
November's results in the Champions League - with favourites Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Juventus all winning - had helped punters betting on accumulators, the company said in its November update.
Paddy Power and its online rival Betfair agreed a £5 billion merger (6.6m euro) in August last year, which would create a combined business commanding 7,000 staff and drawing £1.2 billion (1.6m euro) in sales.
The British competition watchdog cleared the deal in December. The merger was also given the green light by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in Ireland earlier this month.
The tie-up will see Paddy Power's 336 shops in the UK and 252 stores in Ireland combine with Betfair's online betting operation.
Paddy Power expects to state its preliminary results for the year ending December 31 2015 on March 8.