Rank bullish as profits beat City forecasts: Results 'achieved with no overall recovery in markets'

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The Independent Online
RANK Organisation, Britain's biggest leisure company, yesterday surpassed City profit expectations and made upbeat statements on prospects.

Taxable profits for the year to 31 October climbed from a restated pounds 125.8m to pounds 276.6m against analysts' forecasts of between pounds 260m and pounds 264m.

The shares rose 20p to pounds 10.01. The 25p par value is being reduced to 10p, increasing the number in issue 2.5 times. There is no final dividend, with the company having already paid out 31p.

Michael Gifford, chief executive, said: 'The results were achieved with no overall recovery in Rank's markets. The underlying trend in the second half, however, improved.'

Mr Gifford was less forthcoming about the identity of the joint backers for the company's bid for the National Lottery. 'The consortium will involve six to 12 institutions,' he said.

A strong performance by film laboratories helped to boost operating profits in the film and television division by 60 per cent. But video distribution losses were only reduced modestly in dollar terms due to high product returns by retailers.

Rank's holiday operations, Butlins and HavenWarner, saw volume sales rise 8 per cent to more than 3 million.

Bingo clubs and casinos, particularly in London, did well. Spending per head in bingo clubs rose 6 per cent.

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