William Hill Sees Its 2009 Profits Dive By 59% To £120.9 Million

William Hill has released its financial figures for the full year to December 31, which show a 4% increase in its revenue to £998 million, despite the company’s pre-tax profit diving 59% from £292.3 million in 2008 to £120.9 million in 2009.
William Hill operates one of the biggest bookmakers in the UK, as well as deriving income from its online sportsbook, casino, bingo and poker online operations.
Being blamed for the company’s slump in profits is the difficult economic climate, which has seen customers wagering less but winning more than normal, particularly on the football pitch where a high volume of draws squeezed the company’s profit margins. Also, one high roller customer ended up costing William Hill’s telephone betting business £5 million and William Hill’s chief executive Ralph Topping, commenting on the overall situation, said:
“While we would normally expect fluctuations in sporting results during a year, these were more extreme in 2009 than we had experienced previously.”
However, the upcoming Football World Cup 2010 in South Africa is expected to net William Hill a healthy profit, with the company hoping a good run by the England team will attract a flood of new punters to back the side, although a win by England would be potentially disastrous for the site. William Hill is currently offering odds of 5-1 on England, which makes them second favourite to win along with Brazil.
William Hill derives three-quarters of its turnover from its retail arm and despite its revenue dropping 4% throughout 2009, the company’s recently remodelled joint venture online business with Playtech saw a 63% increase in revenue to £203.5 million.
Commenting on the overall results, Ralph Topping said: “In terms of 2009, the scale and breadth of our business ensured that we were well-placed to ride out the extra volatility in sporting results and the areas affected by the economy were counteracted by good growth in gaming machines and our improving online performance.”
“We have transformed key parts of William Hill in the last year. William Hill Online is almost unrecognizable from a year ago, with highly competitive gaming products, proven marketing expertise and a sports book that has more pre-match and live betting products.”
Shares in William Hill have ranged in the last 52 weeks from a high of 257.50 in March 2009 to a low of 160.50 in October 2009. Shares in the company are currently trading at 199.00.

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