William Hill full-year operating profit falls 10%

Sports Betting

William Hill has posted its final results for the year to 27 December on Friday, with net revenue rising 1% to £1.6bn, although adjusted operating profit fell 10% to £261.5m.

The FTSE 250 firm’s adjusted earnings per share were also down 10% to 22.3p.

Reported profit before interest and tax improved 1% to £225.6m, while earnings per share were off 13% at 18.9p.

William Hill said its balance sheet remained “healthy” with net debt for covenant purposes at 1.8x EBITDA, up from 1.3x in 2015.

Since year-end, William Hill said it had seen positive trends in amounts wagered in all four divisions, including encouraging improvement online with UK sportsbook wagering up 10% and UK gaming net revenue up 8%.

Sporting results had been favourable in the UK, but behind in Australia and the US since the end of the year.

Going forward, the company said it had three strategic priorities going forward – to grow UK market share with increased investment in product, marketing and omni-channel, to continue international revenue growth and diversification with focused investment, and to deliver two key projects to support growth and reinvestment.

It said those key projects were a transformation programme that, by increasing efficiencies, will provide £40m of capital to reinvest in product, marketing and technology; and a programme with OpenBet to build a global technology platform for the group over three years.

“2016 was a challenging year for William Hill, but one in which we made considerable operational progress, leaving us well-placed to drive the business forward in 2017,” said interim chief executive Philip Bowcock.

“We have delivered extensive product, user experience and marketing improvements in online, modernised our retail management structure to focus more on the customer and continued to grow in our key international markets.

“There are now encouraging signs in all our divisions, in particular online’s UK business, which is now delivering sustained growth.”

Looking forward, Bowcock said the board wanted to keep improving the customer experience, making it both fast and easy, as well as enjoyable and personal, to bet with William Hill.

“To do this, we are expanding our product range, increasing our marketing investment and deploying our technology assets and expertise in key areas.

“At the same time, we expect our transformation programme to continue delivering important efficiency savings that we can reinvest to deliver an even better customer experience and faster growth.

“We have a clear strategy to take the business forward and grow market share in the UK, while expanding our revenues internationally.”