he average estimate of eight analysts compiled by Bloomberg was us$ 22.6 million. The London-based owner of 2,165 UK betting offices said August 1 that the World Cup, the most-watched sporting event, generated about 1 billion pounds of wagers across the industry.
Earnings also were helped by the 2005 acquisition of 560 Stanley Leisure Plc betting shops. “I am delighted with the performance of the group, particularly the retail business, which has prospered this year following the successful integration of Stanley,'' CEO David Harding said the statement.
Shares of William Hill rose us$ 0.09, or 1.1 percent, to us$ 0.08 in London on March 2. The stock advanced 18 percent last year and has a market value of us$ 304 million. Gross takings advanced 15 percent to us$ 126.7 million in the period, and grew 11 percent in the nine weeks to February 27, the company said. William Hill said it's ``comfortable'' with analysts' profit estimates for fiscal 2008.
The lack of an event comparable to the World Cup means William Hill may struggle this year, Credit Suisse analyst Craig Fraser said in a report last week. Higher taxes on fixed-odds betting terminals and increased competition for online wagers may also hamper growth this year, he said. Fraser said about 22 percent of revenue comes from Web gambling.
William Hill is adding outlets in Italy and Spain to fuel growth, applying with Spanish partner Codere for a sports- betting license in Madrid. In December, the company was awarded the right to open 27 betting shops in Italy, where the government has also relaxed laws. Larger UK rival Ladbrokes has won licenses for 58 such outlets, 33 horse-betting shops and 51 in locations such as cafes and bars.
William Hill in September stopped accepting online poker and casino bets from U.S. customers, three days before Congress passed laws to make it a crime to process online bets.