Online casino, poker room and bingo operator 32Red was firmly in the red on Thursday following its full-year results despite posting a strong performance, in-line with expectations.
The group reported a 21% increase increase in total gross gaming revenue, up at £38.8m from £32.1m a year earlier.
Profit before taxation climbed 12% from £2.0m to £2.3m, while underlying earnings before, interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) improved from £3.4m to £5.0m. Earnings per share rose from 2.81p to 3.09p.
Ed Ware, Chief Executive Officer, said: "This is our fourth consecutive year of delivering double digit growth in both sales and EBITDA underpinned by a step-up in marketing investment and our continued focus on providing a second to none customer service. With the momentum continuing into 2014 and our greater focus on driving returns from our increasing marketing spend I am confident in making further progress in the year ahead.
"Trading in the first nine weeks of the year has been good with both gross and net revenues up 5% against challenging prior year comparatives. We are encouraged by the initial response to the increased marketing investment in the UK and by recent regulatory clamp downs instigated by the Italian regulator, AAMS, which should ensure that the recent momentum in the business continues.
The group declared a final dividend of 1.0p (2013: 0.8p) giving a full-year pay-out of 1.8p (2013: 1.4p).
Analysts weigh in
Sanlam Securities UK Research said it was "slightly disappointed by the performance in Italy, which reported a loss of £1.2m".
"However, we believe there is an opportunity to increase its market share," it added.
For its part, Numis gave a target price of 100p, with a 'buy' rating, while Daniel Stewart & Company was of the same opinion albeit with a 95p target.
Avocet Mining, a West African gold mining and exploration company, issued a disappointing set of full-year results that revealed the group had swung to an annual loss.
Hit by a decline in gold production and a fall in the average realise gold price, revenue decreased from £204.11m to £149.26m.
This, combined with an increase in cash production costs, pushed the group into the red, with a loss before tax and exceptional items of £45.99m, compared to a profit of £18.27m a year earlier.
Gold production fell from 135,189 to 118,443 ounces year-on-year, while total cash costs came to $1,203 an ounce.
David Cather, Chief Executive Officer, said: "While 2013 was a difficult year for both the gold price and the company, we have now refocused our efforts at Inata and put in place several key initiatives to underpin the mine's future.
"As we announced in December, the weaker gold price has led to a change in approach at the mine, and our engineers are in the process of completing a new plan for Inata, with smaller pit shells and higher grades to ensure the mine will deliver strong cash flow over its life."
The new plan will feature operation of the carbon blinding circuit from mid-year, enabling Avocet to process higher grade carbonaceous ore as it is mined, rather than stockpiling this material for processing later, as had previously been necessary.
The Souma deposit is now being added to the Inata life of mine plan, and the company is in the process of taking the initial steps towards a mining licence application for Souma. The company said it remained confident that there is potential for additional ounces at both Inata and Souma in future.
Avocet added: "Corporately, we are conducting a business review of our assets to maximise shareholder value and we will make announcements as further progress is made."