January 13, 2020 / 7:27 AM / 9 days ago

Bookmaker William Hill forecasts annual profit above estimates

FILE PHOTO: A branded sign is displayed outside a William Hill betting shop in London, Britain July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

(Reuters) - British bookmaker William Hill Plc (WMH.L) on Monday forecast annual profit ahead of analysts’ estimates, powered by favorable sporting results in December, and said it expects its U.S. business to break-even for the year.

William Hill, which has aggressively expanded into the United States, said its U.S. division’s fourth quarter was bolstered by growth in wagering and that it expects to break-even as compared with its previous view of a range between no-profit and a loss of $20 million.

British betting companies have been pivoting to the United States after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting, while proposed regulatory curbs in the UK are posing a challenge to gambling firms at home.

The company said its online operations in the UK grew in line with the market, adding that weakness in gaming revenue was offset by strong sporting gross win margin. Retail business generated profit above its guided range as sporting results were above the long-term gross win margin range.

The company said full-year adjusted operating profit for 2019 from continuing operations is expected to be in the range of 143 million pounds ($186.14 million) to 148 million pounds.

Separately, the company announced that its Chief Financial Officer Ruth Prior intends to step down from her role.

Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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