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Last Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005, 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK
William Hill hit by winning bets
Recent Premiership match between Manchester United and Newcastle United
Recent sporting results have improved, William Hill said
A run of winning bets by punters and the lack of a major football tournament to attract gamblers this summer has hit profits at bookmaker William Hill.

Pre-tax post-exceptional profits at the firm fell 17% to 99.7m in the 26 weeks ending 28 June.

The firm said its results had been "adversely" affected by unfavourable sporting results but said it was confident about its future prospects.

Boosting earnings will be the shops that William Hill bought from a rival.

'Strong position'

William Hill bought 624 Stanley Leisure betting shops for 504m in June and said that only ten days' trading figures from these stores were included in the most recent results.

Overall, William Hill's sales rose 30% to 5.05bn during the 26 weeks to 28 June.

But the company was hit by a run of losing bets in the first part of the year, and there was an unfavourable comparison with last year when the Euro 2004 football tournament boosted results.

"We remain confident about the Group's future prospects and are committed to returning value to shareholders."
Charles Scott, William Hill chairman

The bookmaker said its fortunes had improved in recent weeks with its 'gross win' from all bets up 5.5% in the nine weeks to August 30.

"The acquisition of Stanley Leisure's retail operations substantially enhances our market position," said chairman Charles Scott.

"We remain confident about the Group's future prospects and are committed to returning value to shareholders."

The firm said it planned to repurchase shares worth between 200m and 300m over the next 18 months.


SEE ALSO:
William Hill buys Stanley shops
16 May 05 |  Business
Wm Hill in talks to buy Stanley
18 Apr 05 |  Business


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