William Hill has cited unfavorable football and horseracing results in December as one of the main reasons for lower-than-expected profits in 2016.
In a trading update published ahead of its full-year results statement in February, the bookmaker said operating profit for the 12 months to December 31, 2016, amounted to £260 million (€300.7 million/$317 million), which is at the bottom end of guidance of £260 million to £280 million.
William Hill added that during the nine weeks since its trading statement on November 16, wagering trends continued to be in line with those previously reported. However, gross win margins were “below expectations”, mainly due to unfavorable football and racing results.
Analyst at Numis securities commented that the figures were “entirely gross win margin related” and “not a structural issue” and kept the full-year EBIT consensus forecast at £279m. Barclays for its part lowered its William Hill 2016 estimate by 6% to £260m and its 2017 forecast by 2%.
Philip Bowcock, interim chief executive at William Hill, said: “Importantly, the improvements we saw in wagering in online and Australia in the second half have continued in recent weeks.
“However, all four divisions saw customer-friendly results at the back end of the year, which translated into profits being c£20m below our prior expectations.
“With key underlying trends continuing to be positive, the recent run of sporting results have not changed our confidence in a better performance in 2017.”
William Hill will announce its final full-year results on February 24.