Results this morning from Paddy Power are slightly better than expected with revenue for the year to the end of December up 17% at €745m and profit before tax 5% higher at €141m. The group said there was growth in every division, with particularly strong growth online, which now delivers over three quarters of group profits. It says it is positioned for growth and is investing accordingly, and looks forward to 2014 and beyond with confidence.
Paddy Power's chief executive Patrick Kennedy said that the company's Australian business continued to perform well while it also opened a record number of new shops (67) across Ireland and the UK last year. Pointing to the level of growth, Mr Kennedy says that five years ago, the company had just two shops in the UK market while now it has 99. Defending Paddy Power's recent ad campaign focused on the murder trial of South African track star Oscar Pistorius, he says that it is the "water cooler conversation" around the world and the company has a long track record of offering bets on key world events.
Wilbur Ross and Fairfax are selling some of their Bank of Ireland shares after the company's full year results yesterday. 6.4% of the bank's shares are being offered for sale.
Cantor Fitzgerald's Ronan Reid said the timing of the sale is natural after publication of the bank's results yesterday and reflects the bank shares' price appreciation. Mr Reid says the bank is doing well, and the tripling of the value of shares reflects the fact that the bank - and the Irish economy - has travelled very far since the days of the financial crisis. He says the investors want to take some profits from their investment off the table.
MORNING BRIEFS - Russia's stock market saw an 11% fall yesterday, and the rouble fell to historic lows against the dollar and the euro on escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
*** Total Produce has reported revenue up 13% to €3.2 billion, with adjusted profit before tax up 12.5% to €52.9m. The company's chairman Carl McCann said its growth is primarily driven by successful acquisitions completed in recent years, including the investment in Oppenheimer in North America.
*** Published yesterday the Forbes Magazine rich list sees Microsoft founder Bill Gates back at the top. With a net worth of $76 billion this year (up from $67 billion in 2013) he has knocked Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim off the top spot this year. Mr Gates has been top of the list for 15 of the last 20 years. Forbes says there are now a record 1,645 billionaires, and the funds needed to make it into the top 20 are now $31 billion, up from $23 billion last year. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg became the biggest gainer in net worth, with his fortune more than doubling to $28.5 billion. WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton entered the list at number 202 and 551 respectively, thanks to Facebook's $19 billion purchase of the messaging app last month. The US still has the most billionaires, with 492. Europe is next, with 468 in total, followed by Asia, which had 444 billionaires. Wealth is spreading, with four new countries featuring for the first time - Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania and Uganda.