Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Sportingbet Plc, a U.K. online betting company whose shares have tripled in five months, said second- quarter profit jumped 84 percent as Paradise Poker contributed to earnings for the first time since being bought for $298 million.
Net income rose to 15.6 million pounds ($29.7 million), or 3.6 pence a share, in the three months through January, from 8.5 million pounds, or 2.8 pence, a year earlier, the London-based company said today in a statement. The earnings included 8 million pounds of profit from Paradise Poker, Sportingbet said.
Paradise Poker, the world's No. 3 online poker operator, doubled the size of the business when it was acquired in November and reduced Sportingbet's dependence on sports events such as the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Sportingbet is seeking to make more acquisitions, Chief Executive Nigel Payne said in an interview.
``This industry will continue to consolidate very quickly,'' Payne said. ``We have always said that once we digested Paradise we would be back in the market for the right deal at the right price. We would be interested in growing the business further.''
Shares of Sportingbet rose as much as 11 pence, or 3.8 percent, to a record 304.5 pence in London and were 303 pence as of 8:42 a.m. local time, giving the Alternative Investment Market- traded company a market value of 914 million pounds.
Payne said the company's next acquisition is likely to involve online casinos or sports betting rather than poker. A transaction may not need to be funded with new equity, he said.
``It would be entirely possible to fund a medium term deal through cash flow,'' he said. ``It's not necessarily that case that we would need to dilute the equity base any further.''Sports Betting
Business at Sportingbet in the first three weeks of the fiscal third quarter has been ``strong,'' Payne said. Sports betting volumes have risen ``at an encouraging rate'' while casinos, gaming and poker ``performed well,'' he said.
Payne said analysts are increasing their estimates of the company's full-year earnings before interest and amortization to as much as 54 million pounds from 47 million pounds. First half profit on that basis rose 86 percent to 26 million pounds.
Almost 4 percent of British adults who have access to the Internet have gambled online in the past two years, according to the Gaming Board for Great Britain, which regulates U.K. casinos. A sixth of them used the Internet to play casino-style games.
Sportingbet's first-half revenue rose 30 percent to 825 million pounds, including 12.5 million pounds from Paradise Poker.
The company plans to pay its first dividend later this year.