William Hill says Euro 2016 made up for Cheltenham losses in first half

Caitlin Morrison
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Cheltenham Festival - Ladies Day
William Hill recorded a six figure loss from the Cheltenham festival this year (Source: Getty)

William Hill said today that better than expected takings around the Euro 2016 football championship had helped to offset this year's very poor Cheltenham festival, with revenue and pre-tax profit both increasing in the 26 weeks to 28 June.

The figures

Revenue rose one per cent to £814.4m from £808.1m in the same period last year.

Profit before tax was £100.7m, up 28 per cent from £78.7m in the first half of last year, while operating profit plunged 16 per cent, from £155.7m to £131.1m.

Earnings per share went up 23 per cent to 9.7p from 7.9p. The dividend was flat at 4.1p per share.

Shares were down 0.9 per cent, at 310.5p, in mid-morning trading.

Why it's interesting

William Hill's rivals 888 and Rank Group recently approached the bookmaker with a joint bid - but the preliminary offer got a frosty reception. William Hill said it wasn't clear that a takeover would enhance its "strategic positioning or deliver superior value".

In today's results, the group barely mentioned the potential deal, except to state that, although the guidance was prepared before William Hill received "the highly preliminary approach", it would not have any significant impact on the company's forecasts.

William Hill is expecting profit for the full year to be in the range of £260-280m.

What William Hill said

“We remain committed to our strategy of diversifying by expanding digitally and internationally," said interim chief exec Philip Bowcock. "While the first half of 2016 has been challenging, William Hill is a strong business with three of our four core divisions performing well.

"Looking ahead, our immediate priorities are to continue the recovery in online, to leverage our technology improvements across the business and to advance a focused approach to international growth. Trading is in line with our full-year expectations and we have a strong team in place to deliver on the opportunities before us and to improve the business for the long term."

In short

William Hill isn't letting a pesky takeover approach get in its way - potential bidders 888 and Rank Group are probably feeling the chill from today's statement - and is probably feeling more favourable towards the beautiful game than horse-racing right now.

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