Investors take punt on William Hill thanks to online growth

Investors have rallied to bookies William Hill this morning, after the chain revealed that it has enjoyed unexpectedly strong growth online.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 26 Sep 2013

What’s the bet that Ladbrokes bosses are a bit miffed this morning? It looks like their arch rival William Hill, already the UK’s largest bookmaker, is stealing a march in the online gambling stakes, after it released a trading update showing yet more growth in its online business.

It said it expects to report full-year operating profits of £330m, up from £276m for 2011. It added that profits from its online operations were up 36% compared with the previous year – final figures will be published on 1st March.

Predictably, investors feel a bit more confident to take a gamble on some Will Hill shares, as the share price rose by about 4% in early morning trading. 

Chief executive Ralph Topping said: ‘Performance was robust in retail and profits continues to grow strongly in online, with sporting results going in our favour in both channels.’

The firm also revealed that a 12% rise in revenue was helped by a 7% rise in the average amount wagered by its customers. It is worth noting that betting shops typically do better in tough economic times, as more people attempt to find a quick fix to their personal financial woes.

The company also has plans for expansion in the near future: it wants to boost its online operation by buying the Australian branch of Sportingbet (another online outfit), and a portion of Sportingbet’s Spanish operation for £454m.Furthermore, it is also toying with the idea of buying out the 29% stake of William Hill Online that is owned by Playtech.

Expansion and consolidation. Sounds just the ticket.

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