By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN, March 4 Paddy Power's profit
growth slowed as expected in 2013 after a run of unfavourable
sports results amid intense competition in UK online betting
that the bookmaker believes will lead to further consolidation.
Paddy Power, used to posting stellar top-line profit growth,
had flagged in November that an "exceptional" run of
punter-friendly results would see full year operating profit
come in about 11 million euros ($15 million) lower than
The Dublin-based group said on Tuesday that operating profit
was in line with consensus at 137.4 million euros, 1 percent
higher than a year ago or 4 percent in constant currency terms.
Revenue grew by 17 percent to 745 million euros.
"It was a pretty horrific run of sports results, but if it's
good for the punters, ultimately it will be good for us. You
never can tell, but over time, it evens out," Paddy Power chief
financial officer Cormac McCarthy told Reuters.
The amount of money staked by customers was up 16 percent in
January and February, Paddy Power said ahead of a busy period
that includes the soccer World Cup in June when activity
traditionally rises significantly.
Its shares were 1 percent lower at 59.8 euros at 1030 GMT.
The bookmaker, which also has a presence in Italy, France,
Australia and Canada, said it had signed a new contract with the
largest operator in Slovakia, a move that McCarthy said would
not be significant to earnings but showed Paddy Power's strength
in the business-to-business market.
With British bookmakers advertising aggressively to chase
market share ahead of the introduction of a new 15 percent tax
on online winnings in December, Paddy Power, which opened 57 UK
shops last year, said market share was already consolidating
amongst the larger operators.
"We have scale, we are very efficient and we have got a very
significant customer base. We think as this plays out those with
scale and something unique like we have will trade through this
very successfully," said McCarthy.
"Others who can't match that will struggle."