Profits before tax for the year to 2 October were at the top end of analysts' expectations at £20.2m. The result compared with £9.4m, and prompted a round of upgrading of analysts' expectations for this year from an original consensus of £26m to almost £28m.
The result did benefit from £750,000 of property disposal profits, rate rebates of £1.3m and a reduction in interest charges from £18.3m to £11.8m.
Sir Lewis, who will soon retire and be succeeded by Richard Cole-Hamilton, said trading since the year-end had continued to improve, with hotel occupancies and room rates rising, and spending in the company's casinos increasing a further 10 per cent. He added: "There is concrete evidence that Stakis has for at least a year been no longer a recovery, but rather a growth company."
The company's balance sheet, awash with debts and weighed down with hundreds of negative-equity properties when Sir Lewis took charge, now radiates a gearing ratio of just 28 per cent. That would rise to 48 per cent if Stakis spent all its available banking facilities of £70m, which includes £20m left over from last year's £67m rights issue.
David Michels, chief executive, said that while Stakis was keen to buy more individual hotels and casinos, "we are still looking for larger opportunities". However, he added: "Our objective is only to run hotels and casinos."
Stakis spent almost £34m on acquisitions in 1993/94, which took its hotel room stock from 3,795 to 4,254. Hotel occupancy nudged up from 68.4 to 69.3 per cent, and the room rate rose by £1.88 a night to £41.66. Occupancy since the year-end has risen to almost 70 per cent, and the room rate to £43.01.
There will be a final dividend of 0.9p for 1993/94, lifting the total payout 55 per cent to 1p.Reuse content