William Hill profits slid 12% to £155.7m (€220.67, $241.3) in the first half of 2015 after tax reforms to the gambling industry hit the bookmaker. Operating profit in the 26 weeks to 30 June narrowed from £176.9m a year earlier and left the group with after tax profits of £69.5m.
The group's dividend rose by 0.1p (3%) to 4.1p a share while net revenue was flat at £808.1m. CEO James Henderson said the firm's fortunes were hit by £44m in gambling duties but pointed to growth overseas.
Henderson said: "Whilst factors such as the Point of Consumption Tax and the increase in the Machine Games Duty rate have impacted our cost base as expected, we continue to progress our strategy and invest in our long-term growth drivers. Looking ahead, the Board is confident that the Group remains well positioned to gain share in key markets, notwithstanding the impact of increased taxes and regulation.
"In UK Retail, we anticipate some further impact from the £50 journey during the second half. We are making good operational progress in building a leading business in Australia, repositioning William Hill Australia in the key recreational segment in that market."
William Hill at a glance
- Group net revenue grows despite rolling over 2014 World Cup.
- Group operating profit hit by additional £44m in gambling duties from Point of Consumption Tax (POCT) and increase in Machine Games Duty (MGD) rate.
- 16% growth in Online's UK net revenue and key football TV contracts secured for 2015/16 season and Euro 2016.
- Rebranding of Sportingbet to William Hill in Australia is generating positive momentum.
- Profit growth in the US.
- Interim dividend of 4.1p per share, up 2.5%, reflecting the Board's continued confidence in the outlook for the Group.
Source: William Hill