William Hill gallops ahead as its system proves a winner

 

William Hill showed arch rival Ladbrokes a clean pair of heels today, reporting a boom in profits thanks to the success of its digital arm.

It also enjoyed its best Grand National ever although that came after the reporting period. Hills said revenue was up 15% in its first quarter while profit jumped 8%.

The quickly expanding online and mobile phone arm was again the star performer, with sums bet on the internet now higher than what the company takes over the counter in its High Street stores.

The news contrasts sharply with an announcement on Monday from Ladbrokes, which blamed bad results at Cheltenham and less spending from its high-rolling customers for a profit warning. Ladbrokes shares plunged 8% that day. William Hill today surged 19p, or 5%, to 409p, valuing the business at £3.5 billion.

Chief executive Ralph Topping is so confident about the future he thinks the company should be worth £5 billion before long. Analysts say Hill will reap even greater benefits from its online activities after spending £424 million to buy out its joint-venture partner Playtech. Topping said: “It has been a successful start to 2013 in trading terms, moving forward with our strategy, expanding into Australia and taking full control of William Hill Online.

“Having grown our UK online market share from 10% to 15% over the last four years, we aim to increase our share and are making significant investments in marketing, technology and people to achieve that.”

Alastair McCaig at IG Group said: “These impressive figures show there can be a sure thing at the bookies.With the release of these figures, it looks very much like William Hill has hit upon a winning formula.”

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