November 02, 2009

Football bad breaks hit Unibet third quarter

Unibet has not excaped the run of unfavourable football results that has hit competitors, revealing a 22% year-on-year fall in third-quarter pre-tax profit to £3.5m, from £4.5m for the same period last year.

The first 66 Premier League matches saw just four draws, compared with a five-year season average of 25% of games being drawn, which also hit third-quarter profit at sportsbooks Ladbrokes and William Hill Online.

The dip contrast sharply with Unibet’s half-year results, when pre-tax profit rose to £16.6m on a half yearly basis, from £6.9m in 2008.

However a strong live betting performance helped the Swedish operator turn in a better top-line performance than WHO and Ladbrokes during the period.

Chief executive Petter Nylander cited the company’s in-play offering as a “driving force” behind Unibet achieving record sportsbook turnover and a 3% year-on-year rise in quarterly gross winnings revenue to £30.1m for the three months to the end of September 2009, from £29.3m for the same period last year.

Ladbrokes and William Hill Online recorded revenue falls over the same period, of 15% and 3% respectively.

Unibet’s active customers also rose 25% over the course of the quarter to stand at 330,000 compared to 264,000 at the end of June 2009, which Nylander said reflected the success of the company’s marketing initiatives.

The company added that the poor gross winnings margin resulting from the run of unfavourable football results in August and September had since recovered to exceed historical norms.

Nylander said: “During October, the gross winnings margin has been higher than the long-term average, highlighting the short-term volatility of sports betting margins and that it is important to look at margins over at least one-year periods.”

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