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.