William Hill Rallies Ahead of Earnings as Investors Bet on Bullish US Commentary

Posted on: August 4, 2020, 11:30h. 

Last updated on: August 4, 2020, 12:47h.

William Hill’s (OTC:WIMHY) US-listed shares are higher by 9.32 percent in midday trading Tuesday, soaring in advance of the company’s Wednesday earnings update. Analysts and investors wager the bookmaker will deliver encouraging commentary about July betting trends and the US market.

William Hill Results Eagerly Awaited By Analysts
The William Hill sportsbook at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. Analysts are enthusiastic about the company’s US exposure. (Image: Press of Atlantic City)

The stock came under pressure in June after the company announced a massive, dilutive share sale equivalent to almost 20 percent of its shares outstanding. However, that news was accompanied by a positive update on May and June betting trends, something analysts believe carried over into July due to the return of fuller sports calendars in Europe and the US.

We wait to hear if these positive trends continued for the remaining weeks,” said Numis Securities analyst Richard Stuber in a note to clients today.

Tomorrow, William Hill is reporting results for the first half of 2020, a challenging period for sportsbook operators because of canceled and postponed athletic competitions by leagues on both sides of the Atlantic that sapped results in late March and into April.

US Focus

While William Hill has long been one of the dominant sportsbook operators in its home market of the UK and in other parts of Europe, the focus is now on the US.

The US is the fastest-growing sports betting market in the world, and the operator’s exposure here hasn’t yet been adequately reflected in its share price. Nor is it fully appreciated by investors, argue some analysts. In a note out today titled “Free Ride in the US,” Deutsche Bank lifted its rating on William Hill to “buy” from “hold,” contributing to the aforementioned rally in the stock.

The bank said the British bookmaker is amassing compelling competitive positioning in the US, and that it’s likely to apply for licenses in every state that legalizes sports wagering going forward. It added that investors overreacted to news of the June share sale.

“We see this as a response to a combination of post-placing indigestion, a note of caution on the US market opportunity, and most significantly, the anticipation of what will be a particularly weak set of interim results,” according to Deutsche Bank.

Clean Balance Sheet

While investors punished William Hill for the secondary offering, the capital raise helped the company shore up its balance sheet.

Numis Securities’ Stuber says the operator’s net debt/earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) ratio is just 1x, and that neither the company’s balance sheet nor liquidity is challenged.

As for boosting market share, William Hill has an efficient avenue for doing that. With the recent creation of the new Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR), the sportsbook operator will leverage a previously existing relationship with the company formerly known as Eldorado Resorts to eventually manage sportsbooks previously run by the “old Caesars.”

In the US, William Hill has operations in nine states and Washington, DC.