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Sept. 10 (Reuters) - Online money transfer company Optimal Payments Plc said it expects to beat its forecast for the full-year after robust sales at its high-margin Neteller e-wallet business drove first-half pretax profit up 78 percent.
The company's shares rose as much as 7.8 percent to 510 pence in early trade on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
Pretax profit jumped to $27.5 million for the six months ended June 30, from $15.5 million a year ago.
"The acquisitions of Meritus and GMA in July satisfy our previously stated objectives to strengthen our presence in the US market and provides Optimal Payments with a springboard for strong North American growth," Chief Executive Joel Leonoff said in a statement.
Optimal has a target list of about ten companies that it is evaluating for possible acquisitions and expects to whittle it down further over a number of months.
"We just bought a company that was in the 11-12 times EBITDA range.... We're comfortable with those levels," he told Reuters, adding that the company's preference is to pursue deals that would be "accretive to shareholders right away."
Leonoff also expects to integrate Apple Inc's mobile payments offering, unveiled on Tuesday, into Optimal's current payment processing system.
First-half revenue rose 34 percent to $159.1 million, with the football World Cup in June contributing about $5 million, the company said.
Revenue from Optimal's payments processing business, which contributes nearly 74 percent to the total, rose 31 percent to $117.4 million, while that from Neteller was up 46 percent.
Isle of Man-based Optimal's AIM-listed shares were up 2.4 percent at 484.75 pence at 0837 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bangalore; Editing by Sunil Nair)