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GVC hails 'excellent' 2019 as annual earnings near £680 million

GVC Holdings chief executive Kenny Alexander: "excellent financial performance"
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Chief executive Kenny Alexander hailed the "excellent" performance of GVC Holdings as the owner of Ladbrokes Coral released a post-close trading update for 2019 on Friday.

The company said earnings for the year would be towards the top end of previous guidance of £670 million to £680m, as the company's online division made up for the financial blow to betting shops from the cut in FOBT stakes to £2 from £100 in April.

GVC reported "strong growth" in online with net gaming revenue (NGR) up 13 per cent, while trends in the company's UK retail estate remained ahead of initial guidance.

Like-for-like NGR in the betting shops was down 12 per cent overall. Over-the-counter NGR was up by 17 per cent due to partial substitution from machines and favourable sports results, while machines NGR was down 31 per cent due to the FOBT stake cut.

Total group NGR was up two per cent, GVC added.

GVC Holdings acquired the Ladbrokes estate in March 2018

Roar Digital, the joint venture with MGM in the US, made "good progress" in the fourth quarter according to GVC after signing a sports betting partnership with Yahoo Sports in October.

"Online revenues grew strongly throughout the quarter and the group is excited about the outlook for 2020 and beyond," the statement added of the US.

Alexander said: "The group's operational and financial performance in 2019 has been excellent with the strong momentum reported at Q3 continuing throughout Q4.

"The performance continues to be driven by our industry-leading technology, products, brands, marketing capability, people and local execution, all of which is underpinned by our determination to spearhead the industry’s approach to responsible gaming. 

"As the group continues to deliver the opportunities provided by both the Ladbrokes Coral integration and our sports betting joint venture in the US, the board is confident that the group is well placed for a successful 2020."

Analyst Gavin Kelleher of Goodbody described the announcement as a "good update" from GVC. 

He added: "The online division again delivered underlying revenue growth in double digit territory, and its rate of growth in online remains well ahead of the majority of its peers."

Nevertheless, GVC shares were down 23.2p at 910.6p at the close on Friday.

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The board is confident that the group is well placed for a successful 2020
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