William Hill tops forecasts thanks to World Cup

Bookmaker William Hill said it expected to report operating profit at the top-end of analysts' expectations after a strong third-quarter helped by favourable football results and the later stages of the World Cup.

The company, which has a high-street and an online presence, said net revenue grew 22 per cent, with Internet revenue up 35 per cent against 16 per cent growth for retail, and group operating profit rose 64 percent in the 13 weeks to 28 September.

Chief executive Ralph Topping said: "We have seen an ongoing positive performance from our growing online business and from machines which, when allied to a period of very favourable sports results, have driven strong net revenue performance."

He said the group was well placed for the final quarter, although wider economic concerns kept it cautious for 2011.

Analysts expect the group to report operating profit for the year of £253m, with a range of £247m to £262m, according to a company-supplied consensus.

Investec analysts Paul Leyland upgraded his expectation for 2010 earnings per share by 5.5 percent to 19.3 pence and pretax profit by 4.5 per cent to £200.6m pounds after the update.

"This was driven almost entirely by a better than average football margin and so we are not changing 2011E forecasts," he said in a note on Thursday.