William Hill set to surpass profit expectations for 2019

13 January 2020

William Hill has revealed that it expects to post better-than-expected adjusted operating profit for the year ended 31 December, 2019, with the bookmaker forecasting that the final figure will fall between £143m (€167.0m/$185.8m) and £148m.

Adjusted operating profit – defined as profit from continuing operations before interest and tax, excluding exceptional items and other defined adjustments – had been forecast to total £130.0m for the year, based on Bloomberg estimates in January 2019.

However, William Hill said that it expects favourable sporting results through to the year-end to help push the figure up.

Reflecting on the performance of its business during the final part of the year, the operator said its UK online division is set to grow in line with the market for the third consecutive quarter. William Hill said weaker gaming net revenue was offset by a strong sporting gross win margin.

In terms of online international performance, the bookmaker described this as mixed, with net revenue likely to be broadly flat on a pro forma basis for the fourth quarter. According to William Hill, sportsbook net revenue was weak but a good performance in gaming was driven by Mr Green, acquired in 2019.

William Hill’s retail business is expected to generate operating profit above the guidance range of between £50m and 70m. The bookmaker noted the impact of favourable sporting results in December, while gaming also performed ahead of expectations.

In addition, William Hill said that its US business continued to perform well in Q4, driven by wagering growth and disciplined investment. Such has been the success of its US efforts that the bookmaker said the division should break even for 2019 beating a guidance of between $0m and a $20m loss.

“The group has delivered a strong operating performance, ahead of our expectations and against a challenging regulatory backdrop,” William Hill’s newly appointed chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said.

“We made good progress on a number of fronts, including our retail business, online and in the US, enabling us to deliver on our long term strategic ambitions. We look forward to building on these efforts in 2020 with a strong focus on customer, team and execution.”

William Hill plans to release its full financial results for 2019 on 26 February, 2020.

Meanwhile, William Hill has announced that Ruth Prior is to step down as its chief financial officer in order to take up the same role with Element Materials Technology in the private sector.

Prior’s contract requires her to give 12 months’ notice period and her departure date will be determined in due course. William Hill has now commenced a search to identify a successor.

Having joined William Hill in October 2017 as a member of the board and group executive team, Prior played a major role in several transformation initiatives. She also held responsibility for group assurance and procurement functions.

Bengtsson said: “I am very appreciative of Ruth's support and professionalism since I took on the role as CEO. She has supported the business during what has been a period of unprecedented change for the sector and we would like to thank her for all she has done for William Hill.”