Corporate By William Hill PLC

William Hill PLC - Preliminary Results

Solid performance in a year of transformational change

William Hill PLC (William Hill or the Group) (LSE: WMH) announces its results for the 52 weeks ended 29 December 2009 (the period).

Financial highlights 52 weeks ended 29
Dec 2009 (£m)
52 weeks ended 30 
Dec 2008 (£m)
vs 2008 (%)
Net revenue 997.9 963.7 4%
- Retail net revenue 757.5 790.7 -4%
- William Hill Online net revenue(1)  203.5 125.1 63%
EBITA(2)  258.5 278.6 -7%
Profit before tax (pre-exceptionals) 197.5 216.1 -9%
Exceptional items -76.6 77.2 -
Profit before tax (post-exceptionals) 120.9 293.3 -59%
Earnings per share – basic, adjusted(3)  20.6p 31.9p -35%
Earnings per share – basic (3)  9.5p 47.3p -80%
Dividend per share 7.5p 7.75p -3%


The Group has delivered a solid performance in a year characterised by significant volatility in sporting results and tough economic conditions. Group net revenue was up 4% to £997.9m and pre-exceptional earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) was down by 7% to £258.5m. Underlying performance in Retail was robust and William Hill Online made good progress against the backdrop of its transformational activities.

Whilst reported post-exceptional pre-tax profit and earnings per share (EPS) are substantially lower than in 2008, this is a result of the exceptional charges and the increased number of shares in issue following the rights issue. The year-on-year change is largely driven by the swing from a profit on the transfer of 29% of William Hill Online to Playtech in 2008 to the exceptional charges for accounting adjustments in 2009. Of the exceptional charges, only £9.1m are cash items in 2009.

Overall, however, 2009 was a year of transformation across the Group. At William Hill Online we have integrated the assets acquired from Playtech, expanded our operations and transformed our product offering. In Retail, we will shortly complete the roll-out of the ‘Storm' cabinets, delivering state-of-the-art gaming machines across much of the estate. We also have a stronger balance sheet, with a substantially lower net debt position, diversified sources of funding and longer maturities.

Key points on 2009 performance vs 2008:

  • Strong fourth quarter with higher than average football margins
  • Robust Retail performance in tough economic conditions
    • OTC gross win -12%
    • Gaming machines gross win +8%
    • OTC gross win margin of 17.7% within normal trading range
  • William Hill Online platform for growth established
    • Integration completed
    • Sportsbook net revenue flat but good growth in amounts wagered +19% and customer accounts +30%
    • Gaming net revenue +95% (pro forma +11%)
    • Unique active players +31% and new accounts +28%
  • Net debt for covenant purposes reduced by £419.5m to £602.6m, reflecting successful rights issue and strong operating cash flow


(1) 2009 period includes assets acquired from Playtech.
(2) Earnings before interest, tax and amortisation relating to trade names, affiliate relationships and non competition agreements as described in note 12 to the Group Financial Statements, excluding exceptional items.
(3) 2008 EPS numbers are restated to reflect the rights issue completed in April 2009. EPS is based on 641.3 million shares for 2009 and 494.4 million shares for 2008.
(4) Pro forma numbers compare William Hill Online's 2009 results with the combined 2008 results of William Hill's existing online business and the assets acquired from Playtech, as detailed in the announcement issued on 20 October 2008.


Ralph Topping, Chief Executive of William Hill, commented:

“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 unrecognisable from a year ago, with highly competitive gaming products, proven marketing expertise and a Sportsbook that has more pre-match and live betting products. ‘Storm' machines will shortly be available across much of the estate, giving us 22-inch HD technology to enhance the customer experience. In addition, we have addressed the balance sheet issues to leave us in a much stronger position.”

Analyst and investor presentation
9.00 a.m. GMT
The Lincoln Centre
18 Lincoln's Inn Fields
London WC2A 3ED
Live conference call:
Tel: 0845 634 0041 
Int'l: +44 (0)20 8817 9301 
Passcode: 2426517
Archive conference call: 
Tel: +44 (0)20 7769 6425 
Int'l: +44 (0)20 7769 6425 
PIN: 2426517
(available after the meeting
until 5 March 2010)
Video webcast:
Available live and until 
26 February 2011 as an


William Hill PLC Ralph Topping, Chief Executive Today: tel +44 (0) 20 7404 5959
  Simon Lane, Group Finance Director Thereafter: tel +44 (0) 20 8918 3600
  Lyndsay Wright, Head of IR  
Brunswick Simon Sporborg Tel: +44 (0) 20 7404 5959
  Justine McIlroy  
  Tom Williams  


Notes to editors:

William Hill is one of the UK's leading betting and gaming companies and employs more than 16,000 people. It is one of the UK's largest bookmakers, and also operates in Ireland, with over 2,300 LBOs that provide betting opportunities on a wide range of sporting and non-sporting events and, in the UK, offer gaming machines. The Group's online business, William Hill Online, is one of the leading European online betting and gaming businesses by profitability, providing sports betting, casino games, poker, bingo, numbers betting and skill games.

Cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements

These results include statements that are, or may be deemed to be, "forward-looking statements". These forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, including the terms "believes", "estimates", "anticipates", "expects", "intends", "plans", "goal", "target", "aim", "may", "will", "would", "could" or "should" or, in each case, their negative or other variations or comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements include all matters that are not historical facts. They appear in a number of places throughout these results and the information incorporated by reference into these results and include statements regarding the intentions, beliefs or current expectations of the directors, William Hill or the Group concerning, amongst other things, the results of operations, financial condition, liquidity, prospects, growth, strategies and dividend policy of William Hill and the industry in which it operates.

By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties because they relate to events and depend on circumstances that may or may not occur in the future and may be beyond William Hill's ability to control or predict. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance. The Group's actual results of operations, financial condition, liquidity, dividend policy and the development of the industry in which it operates may differ materially from the impression created by the forward-looking statements contained in these results and/or the information incorporated by reference into these results. In addition, even if the results of operations, financial condition, liquidity and dividend policy of the Group and the development of the industry in which it operates, are consistent with the forward-looking statements contained in these results and/or the information incorporated by reference into these results, those results or developments may not be indicative of results or developments in subsequent periods.

Other than in accordance with its legal or regulatory obligations (including under the Listing Rules, the Disclosure and Transparency Rules and the Prospectus Rules), William Hill does not undertake any obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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