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William Hill - Online returns to growth

Equity research team | 14 November 2016 | A A A
William Hill - Online returns to growth

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William Hill plc Ordinary 10 pence

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Online returns to growth

William Hill saw group net revenue increase 6% in the third quarter. This was led by a return to growth in Online following significant investments in the mobile sportsbook offer. Net revenue in retail remained unchanged.

William Hill shares rose 2.5% following the announcement.

Our View

2016 has certainly been an eventful year for William Hill. Unfortunately, two bids and a CEO later the group doesn't look much further forward than it was in January.

This year was supposed to see William Hill's online business regain its mojo, following a number of operational challenges in FY15. Instead the group warned of lower profits from the division, barely a month after issuing full year results.

We can forgive the group an unfavourable run of sporting results, which are clearly outside its control, but the warning was more a result of an acceleration in the number of time-outs and automatic self-exclusions in its online business. Basically 'problem gamblers' being locked out of their accounts.

With the distracting mergers from earlier this year now behind it, the group seems to be knuckling down to the job of sorting out the core business.

Like all bookies William Hill is trying to recruit more "recreational" clients. Punters who don't take it seriously enough to really know what they are playing at, and can therefore be relied upon to bet money at poor odds, in return for a bit of a thrill.

With a small recovery in the online business all the group has to show for its efforts so far this year, hopefully the renewed focus will start to deliver some results.

Third Quarter Results:

Online net revenues increased 4%, with gross win, with amounts wagered in the group's core market increasing 9%. Overall grow in margin in Online increased 0.1 percentage point to 8.4% as a strong performance in other markets was partially offset by a 0.2 percentage point decline in Core.

Net revenue in Retail, comprising the group's high street estate, was flat overall. Over the counter (OTC) net revenue fell 6%, with the gross win margin falling 0.3 percentage points and amounts warred down 5%. Gaming machine revenues rose 6%. The roll-out of 2,000 self-service betting terminals is now complete.

Amounts wagered increased 14% in Australia, with net revenues up 27% and gross win margin improving 0.7 percentage points.

The group plans to implement £30m of efficiency saving in 2017.

Alongside third quarter results William Hill announced the appointment of three new non-executive directors. John O'Reilly, former Managing Director at Coral Interactive, Robin Terrell, former Chief Customer Officer at Tesco PLC, and Mark Brooker, former Chief Operating Officer at Betfair.

Unless otherwise stated, all estimated figures, including prospective dividend yields, are taken from a consensus of analyst forecasts compiled by Thomson Reuters. These estimates should not be taken as a reliable indicator of future performance.

This article is not advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any investment. No view is given on the present or future value or price of any investment, and investors should form their own view on any proposed investment. This article has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is considered a marketing communication. Non-independent research is not subject to FCA rules prohibiting dealing ahead of research, however HL has put controls in place (including dealing restrictions, physical and information barriers) to manage potential conflicts of interest presented by such dealing. Please see our full non-independent research disclosure for more information.