(Reuters) - Pest control company Rentokil Initial Plc on Thursday reported a 7.4 percent rise in 2018 adjusted pretax profit, boosted by acquisitions and higher demand for its services, making it shares the biggest gainer on the UK's bluechip index.
Shares of the FTSE-100 company, which also provides washroom hygiene services, rose 5.1 pct at 345.8 pence as of 0831 GMT.
Rentokil, known for bulking up its business by buying smaller companies, said it acquired a record 47 businesses in 2018.
The company also said it expects a slight increase in market expectations for 2019 as its benefits from the momentum of the year.
"We have made a good start to the year and we would expect the underlying outperformance in 2018 to flow into 2019," Rentokil said.
Jefferies said Rentokil beat its expectations for adjusted pretax profit in the second half of 2018, adding that it expects low-single-digit upgrades to 2019 estimates.
Rentokil reported adjusted pretax profit of 308 million pounds for the year ended Dec. 31.
The company, which in December said it would offload about 1.5 billion pounds of pension liabilities, in a separate statement on Thursday said Richard Solomons will succeed John McAdam as chairman. McAdam has held the position for more than 10 years.
(This story has been refilled to attribute the quote in paragraph 5)
(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Anil D'Silva)