The best online casinos and most popular bookmakers have been squaring off for their share of the market ever since online gambling was introduced, yet none have come close to 888 Holdings’ incredible financial results. In news that will make its competitors wince with jealousy, 888 announced a special dividend for the fifth year in a row, after unprecedented growth.
The company’s full year pre-tax profits shot up by 82% on the previous year's figures, climbing from $32.5 million in 2016 to $59.2 million in 2017. The sharp spike has been attributed to a buoyant performance in its two key areas: online casino software and games, as well as sports betting.
The casino department managed to increase its profits by over a fifth, up 21% on figures for 2016. However, it was the sports book division that achieved the greater growth, up 49% on the previous year. This brought 888 Holdings’ total revenue to $520.8 million, which was an increase of 13%!
888 Holdings’ shareholders will have been delighted not just with the results, but also with the leap in share price caused by the news, which rose as much as 7.6% on the London Stock Exchange the day the information was made public. It managed to reach 252p per share at its peak, a new record for 888 since it debuted on the coveted list in 2005.
The same year, it managed to win a handful of awards, including 'Best Overall Online Gaming Operators' and 'Best Casino Operator of the Year'. Those who invested with the company since it started trading will now be reaping the rewards, with a final dividend of 5.1c per share, as well as an extra one-off 10.4c per share, meaning the total dividend payment is a cool 19.4c per share.
Such is the good fortune of the gambling firm that trading analysts at asset management firm Investec were rating the stock a very positive ‘buy’, commenting that:
"Given 888’s size and superior technology offering, as well as its growing Sport product vertical, we regard 888 as either a consolidator or key potential take-out target."
Investors were not the only ones with reason to celebrate. Itai Frieberger, 888 Holdings’ Chief Executive, elatedly said that:
"2016 was another fantastic year for 888 during which we continued to deliver very strong organic revenue and profit growth. This was again underpinned by further outstanding progress in Casino, Sport and across regulated markets. Current trading since the start of the year remains healthy with average daily revenue more than 11% above the previous year at constant currency. The Board continues to see a number of significant growth opportunities for 888 both in new and existing markets and we look forward to another exciting year of progress."
The future of the firm seems to be in bolstering the sections where it is experiencing the most growth while also expanding in exciting new areas – both geographically as well as gaming. Now sponsor of the World Series of Poker (WSOP), it’s looking to reinvigorate the regular poker events by re-instating a $10m first prize pay-out.
This eight-figure prize sum has not been seen since 2014 when Swedish pro Martin Jacobson won, and before that in 2006, when Jamie Gold managed to win a cool $12m. 888 will also be looking to take its operations to other territories. As Itai Frieberger notes, expansion into other countries was a key factor in driving its profit margin up.
"888’s further expansion in the UK, Spain and Italy is a strong demonstration of the Group’s ability to drive excellent growth and build leading market positions across regulated markets as the industry continues to head in this direction. These strong results demonstrate the truly outstanding underlying momentum in the business."
Movement into other areas can already be seen as far back as 2015, when 888 Holdings launched its 888poker, 888casino, and 888sport brands in Denmark and Romania. Frieberger was quoted then as saying:
"We are proud to offer the 888 marquee brands in these markets, reaffirming our strategy to become a dominant operator in global gaming regulations."
As Investec analysts noted, with such solid forward momentum, 888 Holdings may find itself in the crosshairs of a takeover. Given how well the company is doing, it’s unlikely that it would be victim of a hostile takeover, but rather a consolidation or merger with another gambling firm. If you want to check out the product driving this growth, visit 888sport today!
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