Published: Mon, January 13, 2020
Markets | By Otis Pena

Bookmaker William Hill forecasts annual profit above estimates

Bookmaker William Hill forecasts annual profit above estimates

William Hill's full-year adjusted operating profit for 2019 is expected to be in the range of £143m ($185.4m) to £148m.

William Hill's worldwide sports betting revenue was weak, but its gaming offering enjoyed good performance driven by Mr Green, the Swedish online gambling group that William Hill acquired early in 2019.

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Shares in gambling firm William Hill (WMH) surged as much as 6% to 195p in early trade after it revealed that operating profits for previous year would be "ahead of market and management expectations".

United Kingdom online revenues grew in line with market expectations over the quarter, while net revenue was broadly flat in its worldwide online business.

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It said the retail arm was boosted by favourable sporting results in December, while the company's gaming division also performed strongly.

As well as observing that the retail betting shops had benefited from strong sporting margins and better than expected gaming performance, Peel Hunt also noted that reported retail profits will benefit from the leases on shops to be closed being treated as exceptional, while the revenue prior to closure being treated as normal.

Worldwide online revenues were mixed with the fourth quarter expected to be flat on a year ago. "We now expect to be break even for the U.S. business overall in 2019, compared to the guided range of $0m to -$20m", it noted.

Since taking the reins in September, Mr Bengtsson has embarked on an overhaul of William Hill's top team, hiring a new chief technology and product officer and creation of a chief operating officer role.

William Hill's U.S. sports betting business continued to generate strong growth during the last quarter of 2019, thanks to "wagering growth and disciplined investment". The company said today that during 2019, it made "good progress" towards delivering its long-term strategy to become a "digitally led and internationally diversified business of scale while continuing to embed a culture of responsible gambling".

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