William Hill profit to come in at top of forecasts

City A.M. Reporter
William Hill, Britain's biggest bookmaker, said full-year operating profit would be at the top end of expectations after a surge in demand for in-play betting underpinned a strong fourth quarter.

William Hill, which has around 2,300 betting shops in Britain and Ireland, said on Wednesday it expected an operating profit of around £275m for its year to 28 December.

Market expectations were in a £256-276m range, with the average at £264 million, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.

"This is a strong performance and our online business and the gaming machines in our shops continued to see encouraging revenue growth during quarter four," chief executive Ralph Topping said.

William Hill Online grew net revenue 24 percent during the year. In sports betting, sales rose 57 per cent including growth of 114 per cent in in-play betting, which enables gamblers to bet on sporting events while they are going on.

"Our continuing technological developments in what is a fast changing industry have underpinned growth and the doubling of our turnover from in-play this year demonstrates that customers are welcoming this innovations," Topping said.

William Hill said net revenue at its shops grew three per cent with a 13 per cent rise in gross win (total bets minus payouts) from its gambling machines offsetting a one per cent decline in over-the-counter (OTC) revenue.

Investec reiterated its 'buy' recommendation.