William Hill share price drops as favourites start winning
By abigail
After a prosperous first half of the year, William Hill have registered a drop in share price. Following less successful months in July and August, the bookmaker’s share price fell 2.3 percent, or 12.5 pence to a value of 530 pence. Their falling stock was the largest experienced by any company in the FTSE 100 index.

Chief Executive of William Hill, David Harding accompanied the figures with a statement saying “We’ve had some bad results in the second half”. The main factor in the financial results has been the swing from surprise results in large sporting events to favourites winning. Harding cited racing events at Goodwood and York as having particular impact on the company’s results.

In the first half of 2004, unexpected winners at events like Euro 2004 proved to be hugely prosperous for bookmakers. With a flurry of betting activity, and the unlikely Greece win made William Hill profits of £11 million. The change in performance is now a result of less favourable outcomes for bookies.

Harding revealed that the win percentage in the eight weeks up to 24 August was 8 percent, compared to 18 percent in the first six months of the year. He added that, “In terms of gross win, we were 8 million to 9 million pounds ahead of where we expected to be in the first half, and are 3 million to 4 million pounds behind in the second six months.”

Despite this down turn so far in the second half of the year, there is no plan to adjust the financial forecasts for this year. Currently analysts Morgan Stanley have predicted the company will earn a pre-tax profit of £220 million, compared to £170.8 million made in 2003. The addition of the fixed odds betting terminals in betting shops has been a profitable move for William Hill, and the plans to increase the number this year, support the prediction for further increased profits. The success also of the online betting branch of the company, and the growth experienced by the online gambling industry as a whole, are also thought to be strong enough factors to believe this increase in profits for 2004 is still achievable.

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