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Betting shop magnate, GVC, which owns Ladbrokes and Coral, is sticking to its plan to close 900 bookies in the next two years despite another profit upgrade which has sent share prices soaring. Wednesday’s upgraded guidance, the second in three months, anticipates EDIBTA of between £670m to £680m, up from previous expectations of £650m to £670m. The news sparked a share price rise of 3%, taking it to 788.60p at the time of writing, a massive 43% jump since the first upgrade in August. So, is GVC stock worth a flutter or are bets off for the stock to rise much further? Analysts seem to think the betting firm has potential for greater gains – many believe the shares could return to their record high of close to 1,100p in July of last year. Retail performance for the group, which owns 3,200 UK shops has not been as poor as expected so although overall retail performance in the third quarter was down 18 per cent, over-the-counter bets were up 7 per cent. Despite the proposed store closures, which will take place gradually based on store performance, analysts are optimistic about GVC’s $200m joint venture with US casino giant MGM. GVC’s CEO, Kenny Alexander, says the group is aiming for a 10-15 per cent market share in New Jersey, the biggest state to have legislated sports betting within the next six months. Comparing the GVC/MGM merger to Flutterstars, the power partnership formed from Flutter and Stars Group, analysts Broker Jeffries described GVC as trading at an ‘unwarranted discount.’
Share prices have also surged for Hollywood Bowl this week, after it announced stellar profit growth for the year to the end of September. The bowling alley operator expects its profit growth to be more than 10 per cent, and it anticipates total revenue for the year to be up 7.7 per cent. Consequently, share prices have soared to 229.00p at the time of writing, a rise of 5.2 per cent. The board is also considering returning extra capital to shareholders, which could mean another special dividend on top of the 4.3p paid last year. So is the stock still worth buying or has the bowling firm already scored its strike? Analysts are optimistic that there’s still more room for growth – Liberium and Shore Capital have target prices of 265p and 280p respectively. Hollywood Bowl’s strong out-of-town locations, reasonably priced tickets and product innovations seem to have hit their target, so does the stock still have room for growth?
Budget airline EasyJet released soaring profit guidance this week but its share prices have still taken a nosedive. In its Tuesday trading update, the airline announced it expected to hit the upper end of its profit guidance, anticipating between £420 million and £430 million for the full year. This wasn’t enough to impress investors though and shares slid by 6%, now standing at 1,108p at the time of writing. So, are investors facing turbulence or could the low-cost carrier be flying high again soon? Along with its trading update, EasyJet warned of a 12 per cent rise in costs due to fluctuating currency prices and rising fuel costs. It also announced that it expected to report a fall in headline cost per seat for the year, thanks to investment in operational resilience. Analysts remain on the fence currently, with some pointing out that EasyJet’s shares have rallied by 37 per cent since June, but that the firm needs to maintain its momentum to regain its FTSE 100 status in December.
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