William Hill, the owner of the UK's largest chain of betting shops saw first-half pre-tax profits slide to £99.7m from £119.7m last year, as the group was "hit by a run of unfavourable sporting results," says Forbes. The fall came despite a 30% surge in turnover to £5.1bn from £3.9bn before.
The problem, which it had in common with other bookmakers, was the Euro 2004 football tournament making for tough comparatives, and punter-favouring results on various sporting events.
But results have improved in recent weeks as punters' luck has diminished "the gross win rate has risen to 5.5% in the nine weeks to August 30, compared with a 2.5% rise in costs".
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Better news for shareholders, came in the form of plans to "return wads of cash to shareholders", said ShareCast. The company is set to buy back between £200m to £300m of shares in the next 18 months, while the interim dividend was hiked 11% to 6.1p.
The company bought rival Stanley Leisure's 624-strong betting shop chain in May, taking its total number of outlets to 2,100. The chain's integration is "progressing well", said Reuters.
John is the executive editor of MoneyWeek and writes our daily investment email, Money Morning. John graduated from Strathclyde University with a degree in psychology in 1996 and has always been fascinated by the gap between the way the market works in theory and the way it works in practice, and by how our deep-rooted instincts work against our best interests as investors.
He started out in journalism by writing articles about the specific business challenges facing family firms. In 2003, he took a job on the finance desk of Teletext, where he spent two years covering the markets and breaking financial news. John joined MoneyWeek in 2005.
His work has been published in Families in Business, Shares magazine, Spear's Magazine, The Sunday Times, and The Spectator among others. He has also appeared as an expert commentator on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, BBC Radio Scotland, Newsnight, Daily Politics and Bloomberg. His first book, on contrarian investing, The Sceptical Investor, was released in March 2019. You can follow John on Twitter at @john_stepek.
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