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UPDATE 1-Online dating firm Cupid courts new markets as profits rise

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) - British online dating firm Cupid Plc's profits rose 31 percent last year as it signed up more lonely hearts to its relationship websites, with the company planning to court customers in new markets in 2013.

The company, which owns dating websites such as cupid.com and flirt.com, reported pretax profit of 9.2 million pounds ($13.9 million) on Tuesday, compared to 7 million in 2011.

Cupid said it wooed 1.78 million new subscribers to its websites last year, with particularly strong growth in France and the U.S. Revenues for 2012 increased by 51 percent to 80.9 million pounds.

The web dating firm, which operates in 58 countries, said it had made a strong start to 2013, and was looking to both expand geographically and to develop its portfolio of niche brands, which include a site for people who work in uniform and another for single parents.

"Whilst it is still early in the year, we are confident that the business is well positioned for another year of healthy revenue growth, profitability and cash generation," Cupid's chief executive Bill Dobbie said in a statement.

Cupid's share price slid nearly 28 percent in February, the biggest monthly fall since the company was floated on London's junior AIM market in June 2010.

Last month, the BBC published a report featuring claims from members of Cupid's online dating services who said that they suspected that fake communications had been used to encourage them to buy subscriptions.

The sites allow people to register for free, but members must buy a subscription if they wish to reply to messages.

Cupid denied the claims and said in a statement in February that it only acted "in a legal and appropriate manner".

Shares in the Edinburgh-based firm were up 2.4 percent at 139.5 pence at 0844 GMT on Tuesday.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130305/update-1-online-dating-firm-cupid-courts-new-markets-profits-ri