Great comeback for Rank plc

Shares have outperformed the FTSE All Share Index by 30 percent YTD

The once seemingly almost moribund UK online and land gambling group Rank plc has staged a remarkable comeback this year, seeing its stock soar 40 percent year to date, outperforming the FTSE All Share Index by 30 percent.

The share price at close Wednesday reached almost 118 pence a share, valuing the company at GBP 454 million as the latest results were released.

Management said that strong sales at the Grosvenor Casinos and Rank Interactive subsidiaries underpinned an "encouraging" start to 2010, and that it was confident on full-year prospects.

The Mecca Bingo chain has recovered from the effects of cold weather in January, and Top Rank Espana had shown modest growth in spite of the weak economic environment in Spain.

Group revenue for the 16 weeks to April 18 was up 4 percent, on a 10 percent rise in total group revenue.

"The Group has made a positive start to the year with revenue growth in each of its four businesses and remains confident in the full-year prospects for the Group and in its longer term growth strategy," Rank said in a statement.

Management revealed that a new VAT reclaim of around GBP 42 million relating to amusement machines and main stage bingo, and an existing GBP 59.1 million reclaim for interval bingo would now be received later in the year, rather than in the first quarter, as previously expected.

Rank plc has 34 land casinos and 103 bingo clubs in Britain, and in February reinstated its dividend after posting a forecast-beating rise in full-year pretax profit, according to the Reuters news service.

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