Saturday October 8, 2011 : In-play betting and Aussie operations the stars in latest results
 
The international online betting group Sportingbet plc has posted its results for the fiscal year ended July 31, reporting EBITDA up by 11 percent to GBP 51.4 million pounds ($79 million).
 
Key highlights in the company's year included:
 
*Discussions are continuing with Ladbrokes regarding a possible offer for the entire issued share capital of the group and also with Gaming VC regarding a possible disposal of the Sportingbet’s Turkish language website
 
* Integration of Centrebet proceeding well and in line with expectations
 
* EBITDA for the year up 11 percent to GBP 51.4 million (2010: GBP 46.5 million).
 
* Amounts wagered up 4 percent year on year to GBP 2,054 million with NGR up 1 percent
 
* Amounts wagered online in Australia up 62 percent
 
* In-play continues to perform strongly – now 67 percent of European sports amounts wagered (2010: 61 percent) at an industry leading margin of 9.7 percent (2010: 9.3 percent)
 
* Solid start to new financial year: NGR up 17% in first two months
 
* Operating profit for the year increased 8 percent to GBP 38.1 million (2010: GBP 35.4 million).
 
* As at 31 July 2011, the group had GBP 180.2 million (2010: GBP 58.9 million) of cash and liquid resources on its balance sheet. After taking into account GBP 123.6 million held in respect of the acquisition of Centrebet; GBP 22.7 million (2010: GBP 18.2 million) of customer liabilities; GBP 4 million (2010: GBP 4 million) of bank loans secured on residential properties in the Channel Islands; and GBP 3.1 million (2010: GBP 2.5 million) of finance
leases, net cash at the period end stood at GBP 26.8 million (2010: GBP 34.2 million).
 
Andrew McIver, group chief executive, reported to investors: ‘’This has been a year of significant progress for the group both in terms of financial performance and corporate developments.
 
"We have delivered a strong set of financial results, and the benefits of operating across a broad geographical base were demonstrated with strong growth in our Emerging Markets division, Australia and some of our European territories, offsetting the economic weakness in Greece and Spain.
 
"With the acquisition of Centrebet in Australia and the passing of regulations in two of our largest European markets, Greece and Spain, Sportingbet is now well positioned to maximise the opportunities available to it as the global online gaming market continues to develop and regulate.
 
"The Group has had a solid start to the new financial year with NGR in the first two months 17 percent above the same period last year.’’
 
Amounts wagered on sports betting in Europe (incorporating the financial results for the Emerging Markets division) grew by 0.8 percent to GBP 1,174.6 milion (2010: GBP 1,165.1 million), earning NGR of GBP 109.5 million – down 1.9 percent year on year. On a like for like basis European sports
NGR was up 3.9 percent.
 
Online casino and gaming contributed a further GBP 44 million, and poker GBP 13.3 million, to both amounts wagered and NGR (2010: GBP 44.9 million and GBP 17.4 million).
 
Amounts wagered on Australian sports betting grew by 10.5 percent to GBP 822 million (2010: GBP 743.9 million), earning post betting tax NGR of GBP 37.2 million (2010: GBP 33.6 million). This growth excludes the Centrebet acquisition which was completed following the year end.
 
As a percentage of amounts wagered, the European and Australian sports NGR were 9.3 percent and 4.5 percent respectively (2010: 9.6 percent and 4.5 percent). However, amounts wagered and NGR are stated after a deduction for customer bonuses of GBP 20.3 million (2010: GBP 18.8 million).
 
Exceptional costs totalled GBP 10.8 million (2010: GBP 24.5 million) and related mostly to the acquisition of Centrebet International Limited and the possible disposal of the Turkish language website.
 
The Emerging Markets division again saw strong NGR growth up 56 percent driven by Sportingbet's Brazilian operation and the group's regulated South African operation.
 
Management reports that the continued increase in smartphone penetration has driven mobile usage to an average of around 15 percent on Sportingbet's more mature domains, with the take up varying widely from country to country. Those customers using smartphones tend to spend more across both online and mobile channels, and next year will see the introduction of Mobile Casino and Games by the group, which is expected to incrementally increase mobile revenues by the end of the next financial year.
 
"With regulatory change well under way in Europe we are confident that the increased advertising opportunities, improved payment processing and stable business platform this provides will drive profitable growth in the medium term," the company statement notes.
 
"The group has already started paying tax on its Spanish business at an estimated cost of around GBP 8 million per annum and will do so in Greece once the laws are clarified at an estimated cost of approximately GBP 4.5 million per annum.
 
"The discussions with Gaming VC on the disposal of our Turkish language website are continuing. Similarly, the discussions with Ladbrokes over a possible offer for the group are also continuing.
 
"Whilst the economic outlook remains challenging, our diversified business model across the different economic cycles of Europe, Australia and South America gives us confidence for the current financial year."