The owner of Yellow Pages yesterday said it had continued its profits growth despite investing in its operations on both sides of the Atlantic.
Reading-based Yell said underlying earnings for the six months to September 30 came in 15.8 per cent higher at #232.9 million, helped by strong revenues growth in the United States and an " excellent performance" from Yell.com in the UK.
Turnover rose 17.6 per cent to #711 million.
This left it "well on track" to meet full year expectations, after a period in which it bought American directory publisher TransWestern as part of its expansion in the US.
The company increased its interim dividend by 21 per cent to 5.1p a share.
Revenues at online directory Yell.com surged 56.7 per cent to #25.7 million, driving a five per cent increase in UK revenues to #341.2 million.
Within printed directories, the number of advertisers dropped by 3.9 per cent to 244,000, reflecting increased competition and a fall in retention levels. However, this was offset by a 6.2 per cent increase in the average revenue per advertiser.
Yell is the biggest supplier of classified directory advertising in the UK, employing more than 3,500 staff in Reading, Slough and eight other offices.
It operates the Yellow Pages and Business Pages, as well as Yell.com and the 118247 telephone service formerly known as Talking Pages.
Total US revenues grew by 32.3 per cent to #369.9 million, including #40 million from the acquisition of TransWestern --completed in July.
Yell said it was making "excellent progress" in the early stages of integrating TransWestern.
The deal establishes Yell's US operation Yellow Book as the fifth largest directory publisher in the United States. Yell has now completed 26 US acquisitions since 1999, including McLeod and National Directory Company in 2002.
Chief financial officer John Davis said the earnings momentum had continued as the firm continued to invest for future revenues growth on both sides of the Atlantic.
He said: "We expect to continue this investment during the remainder of the year, particularly as we integrate TransWestern."
Goldman Sachs said Yell had delivered another set of strong numbers with the dividend increase a highlight, and raised its full-year earnings forecast by four per cent.
Yell's British operations work under a price cap which limits price increases to six percentage points below the rate of inflation, effectively meaning it must cut prices every year.
On top of that, Yell is under threat from a regulatory probe of the industry, with a final report due in August after interim findings are published in January.
The TransWestern deal means more than half of Yell's future revenues and nearly half its operating profit will come from the United States.
Chief executive John Condron said Yell would continue to make more US acquisitions, albeit not on the same scale.