Paddy Power Breaks Performance Records

2013 a generally successful year for land and online bookie, but tax and levy problems loom

Reporting to shareholders at the Paddy Power plc annual general meeting today (Tuesday), chairman Nigel Northridge described the year as memorable for its record turnover, which reached Euro 6.2 billion and delivered an operating profit of Euro 137 million.

Net revenue increased by 17 percent in constant currency and earnings per share grew by 2 percent, he said.

"The proposed final dividend makes for a total 2013 dividend of 135 cents per share, an increase of 13 percent. Last year was also a year of continued significant investment in product, marketing, technology and people, in line with our long term strategy, and we are further increasing that investment this year," the chairman revealed.

Turning to 2014 trading, Northridge said that so far this year the company has maintained and accelerated growth, with sportsbook stakes up 20 percent (2013: 18 percent) in online and 5 percent like-for-like (2013: 3 percent) in retail.

Customer acquisition has increased, with first-time bettors up 16 percent in the period, compared to an 8 percent increase last year, with mobile a particularly successful channel where 54 percent of total online revenue was generated in April 2014.

On a negative note, Northridge said unfavourable sports results in January have been experienced again in March, particularly in the football betting sector. This compared poorly with overall positive sports results in the equivalent period last year, and will unfavourably impact year-on-year first half results, he said.

The online gambling section of Northridge's report shows that total online net revenue grew by 1 percent, with 12 percent growth in e-gaming/B2B net revenue offsetting the adverse impact of year-on-year sports results.

Online stakes grew by 20 percent, 22 percent in Australia and 19 percent at group level if Australian numbers were excluded. Australian online revenue was up 38 percent, and total net revenue for the company soared the same amount.

Excluding Australia, sports betting net revenues were down 27 percent, whilst gaming and B2B revenues were up 12 percent.

"In our UK and Irish online business, Paddy Power.com, we are pleased with the impact of the additional investment we have made in marketing, product and value for customers since late 2013," Northridge said. "This has driven sportsbook growth of 16 percent in stakes and 12 percent in active customers."

Turning to the company's Italian ventures, the chairman said that Paddy Power.it achieved a 10 percent share of the sports betting market and an increased share of the casino market to 3 percent in the period. Overall market growth in active customers had been slower than anticipated in recent months, resulting in less opportunity to win new customers and take market share. With football accounting for over three quarters of sports betting in Italy, the forthcoming World Cup is seen by Paddy Power as a key opportunity for customer acquisition.

The company's land (retail) business reports shows that retail stakes grew by 5 percent this year in the period, 4 percent in Ireland and 8 percent in the UK. Paddy Power's UK estate now stands at 280 units, and there are 234 units in Ireland.

Including new shops, sportsbook stakes and total net revenue both increased by 15 percent.

The company notes that in the UK strong machine gaming performance was up 14 percent.

Northridge's report highlights the changes to FOBT operational requirements and taxation in the UK. Last year tax costs in the UK Retail operations of the company accounted for 10 percent of operating profit.

From March 2015, Machine Gaming Duty will increase from 20 percent to 25 percent of net revenue, the company warns, adding that the government is also considering extending the horseracing betting levy to bookmakers based outside the UK.

As at 11 May, the Paddy Power group had no debt and net cash of Euro 264 million, or Euro 197 million excluding customer balances.

Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa

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