Gambling can be an unpredictable business. As if the news of a dip in profits wasn’t bad enough, William Hill was left red faced yesterday when it was forced to publish its quarterly trading figures earlier than planned after they were sent out to analysts 11 hours ahead of schedule.
The results themselves were a mixed bag for Britain’s biggest bookmaker. In the 13 weeks to December 30th group operating profits slumped 7% and revenues were down 2%, mainly due to unfavourable sporting results. William HIll's shares were down 4% to 361.5p this this morning.
‘In Q4, generally weaker sporting results in December impacted our revenue progression, as did a very tough November comparative, but gaming continued to grow,' said its language-mangling chief executive James Henderson. 'In particular, Boxing Day - one of the busiest days in our year - was a very good day for the customer with all but one of the top ten football favourites winning that day.’
The bigger picture looks a little better. Operating profits were up 11% in 2014 as a whole and revenues were up 8%. This has been driven largely by growth in William Hill's US and Australia businesses. American gamblers poured another 30% into its coffers last year and Australia revenue was up 41%. Group operating profit is expected to be around £371m.
It’s little wonder things are going well in Australia. Four in five adults there reportedly gamble, the highest proportion in the world, so it makes sense for William Hill to put more of its chips on the down under table. This year it will be consolidating its Centrebet, Sportingbet and Tom Waterhouse brands there under the William Hill name in a bid to build a global brand.
MT just hopes the 11 hour time difference doesn’t cause any more confusion over the timing of results.