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William Hill Plc

William Hill deliver strong first half performance

William Hill plc (LON:WMH) has announced its interim results for the 26 weeks ended 30 June 2020. Comparatives relate to the 26 weeks ended 2 July 2019 (‘H1 2019’).

 
 H1 2020
£m
H1 2019
£m
Change
%
H1 2020
£m
H1 2019
£m
Change
%
Net revenue554.4811.7 -32%554.4811.7-32%
Profit/(loss) before interest and tax2148.5(38.1)11.876.2-85%
Profit/(loss) before tax2141.1(63.5)(14.2)50.8
Earnings/(loss) per share (EPS) (p)313.2(7.1)(1.2)5.3
Dividend per share (p)2.662.66
Statutory results1 followed by Adjusted results1

Strategic and operational highlights

·      Our digital businesses have delivered good performances with new product launches Online and accelerated product development in the US. Operational emphasis on winning with the customer delivered material improvements in our NPS and customer satisfaction scores

·      International Online grew 17%, furthering our strategic goals of both geographic and product diversification

·      Our next phase of strategic alignment in the UK is the merger of our UK Online and Retail divisions to achieve a single view of our UK customer and improve operational efficiency. 119 shops will not re-open following the COVID-19 impact on the UK retail environment with minimal cost of closure

·      Our exclusive media partnership with CBS Sports is now live in the US, bringing cost efficient customer acquisition and access to a fantasy sports database. Operations commenced in 3 new states8 and the launch of iGaming in New Jersey is imminent. Eldorado’s completion of its acquisition of Caesars brings our US market share of sports wagering to 29%

·      Substantial increase in the volume of responsible gambling messages and use of ‘guard rails’ to encourage our customers to play safely 

·      In light of the robust recovery in the opening weeks of the second half, since mainstream sport resumed and our shops re-opened, Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme monies (the ‘Furlough Funds’) received from the UK government amounting to £24.5m will be repaid

·      Our decisive actions to preserve cash, protect liquidity and strengthen the balance sheet have enhanced strategic and financial flexibility to pursue our growth ambitions

Financial highlights

·      Net revenue down 32%, driven by COVID-19 disruption to sporting events and temporary closure of retail activities, partially offset by favourable sports results and a resilient gaming performance

·      Online net revenue increased 1%, driven by successful product launches, growth in International and a progressive resumption of sports events post-lockdown

·      Adjusted operating profit2 of £11.8m was ahead of expectations due to swift actions to control costs and deliver new Online content

·      Statutory operating profit of £148.5m includes recognition of the VAT refund, offset by an £81.9m non-cash intangible impairment of the UK Retail estate reflecting the revised UK high street outlook

·      After 13 weeks of ‘hibernation’ during lockdown, the majority of the UK Retail estate re-opened; reduced staking levels were offset by strong gross win margins which benefitted from the unseasonal contribution from football, leading to flat like-for-like6 net revenue for the last two weeks of June

·      VAT refund of £201.6m recognised after tax

·      Net debt for covenant purposes4 fell from £536m at 31 December 2019 to £340m following the successful placing of 19.99% of newly issued share capital, resulting in net debt/EBITDA for covenant purposes of 2.1x (31 December 2019: 2.4x)

Ulrik Bengtsson, William Hill Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“I am delighted with William Hill’s performance in these extraordinary times. Our team has been remarkable, supporting each other and our customers throughout the pandemic, and I would like to thank them for their continuing efforts. We are pleased with the moves we have taken to further strengthen customer protection, sending over 1.2 million player safety messages, and we are fully supportive of an evidence-based approach to the review of the Gambling Act, as suggested by the recent House of Lords report.

“We have clear proof that our strategy of focusing on Customer, Team and Execution is working. Our trading was strong before COVID-19, we controlled costs effectively during lockdown and we have recovered well post-lockdown with good performances in our online businesses throughout the first half. The furlough scheme provided welcome and timely support and meant we could protect the jobs of our 7,000 UK retail colleagues. Therefore, given the strength of our recovery post-lockdown, we have decided to repay the furlough funds.

“We have continued to develop both our technology platform and our product offerings, with more significant enhancements to come in the second half. The balance sheet has been strengthened by the prompt actions we took to keep cash in the business, the successful placing, and the recognition of the VAT refund.

“As a result, we have the financial strength to confidently pursue our growth agenda, taking advantage of our market leading position in sports betting in the US, and the terrific opportunity that Eldorado’s merger with Caesars brings.”      

Notes:

1.     Both the statutory and adjusted results include the performance of Mr Green since the acquisition completed in January 2019.

2.     Adjusted operating profit/loss is defined as profit/loss from continuing operations before interest and tax, excluding exceptional items and other defined adjustments. Further detail on adjusted measures is provided in note 3 to the financial statements.

3.     Basic EPS is based on an average of 884.7 million shares for H1 2020 and an average of 871.8 million shares for H1 2019. Adjusted EPS is based upon adjusted profit/loss after tax.

4.     Net debt for covenant purposes and EBITDA for covenant purposes are non-statutory measures. The basis of the calculation is as described in note 25 to the financial statements within our 2019 Annual Report.

5.     Where pro forma results are stated, this assumes Mr Green was consolidated into the Group at the start of January 2019, in order to provide a more meaningful comparator period.

6.     Where like-for-like (LFL) results are stated, this adjusts the 2019 comparative on a weekly basis for shops closed or sold during 2020, excluding period post 15th June where a daily calculation is used due to phased re-opening.

7.     We now report the combined US Existing and US Expansion business as William Hill US.

8.     When referring to states this includes Washington D.C.

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