William Hill (LON:WMH) Downgraded by Deutsche Bank to Hold

Andrew Cummings
January 14, 2020

William Hill said they "look forward" to working with BoyleSports.

It also bought the 13 betting shops in the English Midlands from independent retailer Wilf Gilbert to mark its arrival on the United Kingdom retail betting market.

The UK-based gambling giant also announced that Chief Financial Officer Ruth Prior intends to step down, the Market Watch reports.

The company expects operating profit of between £143m to £148m, thanks to favourable sporting results through the year end.

William Hill's retail business was hit heavily by the state cut, which prompted the company to flag the closure of 700 betting shops around the UK.

Worldwide online revenues were mixed with the fourth quarter expected to be flat on previous year. The company pointed out that weakness in online gaming revenue was offset by a strong sports betting gross win margin.

The US business - which investors are pinning their hopes on for future expansion - experienced "strong growth" in the final quarter and is now expected to break even instead of making losses of up to $20m.

The bookmaker saw mixed performance of its worldwide online operations last year, saying that it now expects net revenue to be broadly flat during the fourth quarter of the year. Sportsbook revenue was weak, with the firm boosted by a good performance in gaming that was driven by Mr Green. As a result, it expects to break even for the USA business overall in 2019.

Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO of William Hill, commented: "The group has delivered a strong operating performance, ahead of our expectations and against a challenging regulatory backdrop".

The gambling operator used to rely heavily on revenue from its retail operations, but was seeking to improve its digital arm's performance and expand its regulated USA sports betting presence to offset the losses it has and would suffer from the clampdown of FOBTs.

Prior then moved on to Pinewood Shepperton film studios to be independent non-executive director and audit committee chair, which she left after four years to join London-headquartered online payment company Worldpay, in 2013, as deputy CFO.

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