Entain ups earnings forecast as sports and retail surge in Q2

| By Richard Mulligan
Entain has upped its earnings forecast for FY2021 to between £850m to £900m following a strong first half of the year in which sports betting and retail revenue grew compared to a chaotic 2020 while online held steady.

In a trading update, the group, whose brands include Ladbrokes, BetMGM and Bwin, said total net gaming revenue (NGR) was up by 42% in the second quarter to the end of June 2021. Given Entain’s net gaming revenue in H1 of 2020 was £1.62bn, this suggests NGR of around £2.23bn.

The figures were impacted by a huge increase in sports betting takings, reflecting limited sports activity in the prior year due to the cessation of major leagues and competitions due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Total NGR was boosted by a 22% hike in online revenue, suggesting online revenue of around £1.48bn. This was thanks to a 65% increase in online sports revenue and a 1% dip (or 1% rise in constant currency terms) in gaming.

Online sports wagers grew by 54% in the period, with retail sports wagers up 250%. The group added that the acquisitions of Enlabs and Bet.pt completed at the start of the second quarter and together made up 4% of online NGR in Q2.

Geographically, Entain reported a strong performance in all major online markets with online NGR growth of 32% excluding Germany, where it has been impacted by major regulatory changes, as it “benefited from extended lockdowns around the world”.

Retail NGR was up 359%, after Q2 2020 revenue was low due to closures in all its major markets.

Entain said it has been encouraged by early trends in retail as restrictions eased in phases during Q2. In the UK, since restrictions have progressively eased, Entain has seen volumes return to levels around 10% lower than pre-pandemic levels, while estates in Italy and Belgium were largely closed for Q2 with re-opening phased from early June.

Entain added that BetMGM, its joint venture in the US with MGM Resorts, continues to perform strongly with NGR of approximately $350m in the first half of the year. BetMGM is now the No.2 operator for sports betting and iGaming across the US with 21% market share, and No.1 in iGaming with 29% market share.

In terms of the first half of FY2021 to 30 June, Entain said total NGR was up 11% year-on-year, with online up 28%. It cited particularly strong performances in Italy and Brazil, which were up 76% and 153% respectively.

For the full year, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) are now expected to be in the range of £850m to £900m, which the operator said was ahead of the current City analyst consensus. The group delivered EBITDA of £843.1m in 2020, which was up 11% on the prior year, and revenue of £3.63bn.

Jette Nygaard-Andersen, Entain’s CEO, said: “We have delivered another strong performance across the group. Our diversified business model has enabled us to grow our business in all key markets while navigating channel and product mix changes as retail re-opens and we annualise last year’s restricted sports calendar.

“Outside Germany where the market is digesting regulatory changes, we saw excellent growth across all our major markets. Our recent acquisitions, Bet.pt in Portugal and Enlabs in the Baltics, have performed ahead of expectations, and BetMGM continues to grow market share in the US, now at 24% across our active markets.

“We have a powerful platform at Entain that enables us to deliver consistent growth from our existing markets, whilst also entering new markets, all powered by our industry leading technology capabilities, business intelligence and analytics. Our platform provides us with a significant opportunity to align our business better with our customers and increasingly deliver a wider breadth of exciting products, content and experiences as the worlds of media, entertainment and gaming converge.

“Following our strong first half, we are upgrading our expectations for the full year and we remain confident and excited by the breadth and scale of the long-term sustainable growth opportunities ahead of us.”

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