Published: Tue, January 14, 2020
Markets | By Otis Pena

William Hill (LON:WMH) Downgraded by Deutsche Bank to Hold

William Hill (LON:WMH) Downgraded by Deutsche Bank to Hold

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

In a separate announcement, the FTSE 250-listed group said chief financial officer Ruth Prior is stepping down, with a 12-month notice period.

The company said it made good progress despite a challenging regulatory backdrop which saw its retail business hit by a heavy reduction in the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Stifel Nicolaus downgraded William Hill to a hold rating in a research report on Tuesday, December 3rd.

Irish bookmaker BoyleSports is set to significantly expand its Northern Ireland retail footprint after agreeing to acquire William Hill's entire NI betting shop portfolio.

In its latest update, the betting firm said that its retail business is now expected to post profits ahead of its forecast of between £50m and £70m.

William Hill has cited strong progress throughout 2019 as it delivers profits ahead of expectation across key markets during a year of transition.

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Online UK grew in line with the market for the third consecutive quarter, while weakness in gaming net revenue was offset by a strong sporting gross win margin, the bookmaker said.

William Hill plc provides sports betting and gaming services in the United Kingdom and internationally.

The bookmaker saw mixed performance of its global online operations last year, saying that it now expects net revenue to be broadly flat during the fourth quarter of the year.

The gambling operator used to rely heavily on revenue from its retail operations, but was seeking to improve its digital arm's performance and expand its regulated USA sports betting presence to offset the losses it has and would suffer from the clampdown of FOBTs. The company has also expanded its presence in Nevada, the only state where sports betting had been legal prior the 2018 strikedown of the federal prohibition, most recently through the acquisition of the sportsbook assets of troubled CG Technology in the Silver State and the Bahamas.

Group CEO Ulrik Bengtsson attributed the updated projection to "wagering growth and disciplined investment".

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