Good morning at the races: William Hill shares and profit forecasts up

William Turvill
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William Hill abandoned merger talks with Amaya last month (Source: William Hill)

Bookmaker William Hill’s share price jumped two per cent this morning as it named three new non-executive directors and raised its profit forecast.

The figures

Full-year operating profit is now expected to come in at the top end of previous guidance of £260-280m.

William Hill said its online business has returned to growth, with net revenue in this area up four per cent in the second half of the year so far.

Read more: Bets off: William Hill ends merger talks with online gambling group Amaya

Net revenue overall is up six per cent in this period, the group said.

Will Hill also said today it had identified around £30m of efficiency opportunities for 2017.

The company’s share price jumped two per cent to 289p on Monday morning.

14 November 2016 @ 8:15amWilliam Hill (WMH)

Why it’s interesting

The bookmaker also named three new non-executive directors today: John O’Reilly, former Coral Interactive managing director; former Tesco chief customer officer Robin Terrell; and former Betfair chief operating officer Mark Brooker.

The trading statement and non-exec announcement comes nearly a month after William Hill ended merger talks with Canadian online gambling group Amaya.

Nicholas Hyett, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, appeared pleased that no other deals appear on the table currently.

“Having considered mergers with what feels like every other gaming company around, William Hill finally seem to be knuckling down to the job of turning the core business around,” he said in a note this morning.

“The online business is back in growth, efficiency savings have been identified and the self-service terminal roll-out is complete.”

Read more: William Hill keeps its bets on merger talks with Amaya despite opposition

He added: “It’s good to see William Hill betting on the core business again rather than rolling the dice on big strategic moves that have so far failed to pay out.”

What the company said

Interim chief executive Philip Bowcock said:

Looking forward, we remain on track to deliver 2016 operating profit at the top end of our guided range.

With our significantly improved products and user experience, we are confident that this is the right time to invest further in our online business.

Therefore, the marketing efficiencies we are announcing today will be reinvested in driving faster digital growth to benefit future performance.

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