Risky Trinity sale strategy
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Well, there is little doubt what today’s big story is. Trinity Mirror has confirmed Emiko Terazono’s scoop on our front page this morning and announced plans to sell 138 titles, including the Racing Post and regional businesses in the Midlands and South East. Given DMGT’s failure to attract a good price for its regional papers, eventually withdrawing them from sale, this strategy is not without risk. However, analysts think Trinity might be able to raise £550m, which would then be returned to shareholders. The group also issued a trading statement in which it said it expected the advertising market to stabilise next year. The shares were up a touch. In addition to the news, we’ll do plenty today assessing the strategy and looking at who might buy which titles.
Elsewhere, PartyGaming says its daily online poker revenues have stabilised and it is starting to see improvements in the number of new customers coming to its website. It also says it has suffered from the defection of some of its bigger gamblers to privately-owned online poker sites which are choosing to ignore the US online gambling ban. It must be time for one of the takeovers under discussion in this sector to come off, surely.
HBOS, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender, says it expects full-year earnings to exceed expectations as a result of revenue growth and tight cost control. James Eden at Dresdner Kleinwort got terribly excited. “Even if you blindfolded HBOS management and tied their arms and legs together, they would still find a way to beat expectations,” he writes this morning.
BT forecasts earnings growth at its retail division “in the teens” as it attempts to convince investors that margin growth at the business is sustainable. The group is due to make a presentation to analysts today about the retail business, and its consumer division. BT says its target is around three times higher than market forecasts and adds that, unlike the market, it expected to show earnings growth at the business in 2007-08. The shares are up just 0.4 per cent but let’s see if BT’s managers can pull off the same sort of “barn-storming” performance as Samir Brikho did at Amec yesterday (if you missed Brikho yesterday, you can still watch his webcast – as Andrew Hill wrote in Lombard this morning, it’s quite something).
We’ll also do more, I’m sure, on BP’s latest troubles in the US. Now it has been told by federal regulators in the US that it could face civil charges alleging price manipulation in unleaded petrol futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. BP’s shares are down 1 per cent.
MyTravel, the package tour operator which is trying to buy bits of First Choice, has reported its first annual profit before tax since 2001 but warned that conditions for the industry remained challenging.
Rumour of the Day: Things are looking a little rosier for Peter Hambro Mining, whose shares have halved since the Russians started getting difficult. The shares are today up 4½ per cent after the Russian environment agency said it would discuss options for co-operation with PHM.
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