William Hill's share price rises despite losing another executive and being hit by hefty gambling duties

 
James Nickerson
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William Hill said it was hit with £87m of additional UK gambling duties

William Hill was hit with hefty gambling duties and reported the loss of another top executive, but that didn't stop its share price rising after posting results in line with expectations.

The figures

William Hill reported full-year operating profit of £290m, in line with market expectations.

Online full-year net revenue rose four per cent to £527.4m. That's due to an 11 per cent rise in full-year net revenue from online core markets (UK, Italy, Spain), to £436.2m.

However, retail full-year net revenue fell two per cent to £911.4m.

The bookmarker also said it was hit with £87m of additional UK gambling duties.

Why it's interesting

The UK bookie posted full-year operating profit of £290m, the bottom of analysts' expectations, so the news won't be too much of a shock.

That's because the company was hit with £87m of additional gambling duties, which includes the point of consumption tax and machine games duty.

Read more: William Hill warns on full year profits

The gambling duties have caused harder times, which led to a series of mergers in the gambling industry, with Ladbrokes having teamed up with Gala Coral and Paddy Power and Betfair coming together (in what we can only hope will be called Betty Power).

But William Hill was left to fend for itself after an unsuccessful bid for 888 Holdings.

Panmure Gordon's Karl Bruns forecasts "limited earnings growth, whilst rising competition could also have a negative impact on the business. We believe there is better value elsewhere in the quoted gaming sector, notably GVC/Bwin".

Yet the outlook may not be so bleak, especially given that Uefa Euro 2016 is upon us. The company plans to "capitalise on the investments ... to bring customers a differentiated and more personalised William Hill experience" during the tournament.

Read more: William Hill takes a punt on NeoGames

The company also announced that Andrew Lee, managing director of online, will be leaving the business at an unspecified point in 2016. Crispin Nieboer has been appointed interim MD of online.

Lee's departure follows that of finance director Neil Cooper, who left in 2015 to join Barratt Developments, and chief marketing officer Kristof Fahy, who has since joined Ladbrokes.

William Hill also named Kevin O'Connor as chief information officer.

What William Hill said

Chief executive James Henderson said:

I am pleased that we have delivered results in line with the market's operating profit expectations for 2015.

Retail has delivered another resilient performance, our US business continues to grow strongly and I am encouraged by the performance of the William Hill brand as the growth engine of the Australian business.

In short

While William Hill has been hit with a big gambling duties and lost another executive, the company is expecting a boost in 2016 from the Uefa Euro 2016 football tournament.

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