Market report: bet on the bookies as William Hill races ahead

In the public mind, William Hill is perhaps most closely associated with glum stores, and ageing clientele.

But the US arm is making waves and was looking like a good bet today.

The shares jumped 8% to 214p, leaving the business valued at more than £2.2 billion.

That was after Hill’s US partner Caesars Entertainment signed a deal with major sports broadcaster ESPN.

William Hill’s odds and markets will appear on ESPN.com among other deals.

William Hill’s chief executive officer Ulrik Bengtsson said: “ESPN is one of the pre-eminent brands in sports. Tens of millions of fans will now have a direct link to our sports betting apps and odds.

“Giving ESPN users this access will accelerate our leadership as we continue to expand in the US.”

Analysts were pleased. James Wheatcroft at Jefferies thinks the shares are still a buy despite today’s leap. The bookie is building momentum in the US “yet zero is priced in”, he said.

Goodbody analyst Gavin Kelleher notes that ESPN is the number one sports broadcaster in the US which makes this deal “a big positive” for William Hill.

Flutter, the giant behind Paddy Power, joined the party, up 430p at 12,227p.

In the wider market, the FTSE 100 kept its head above water, and above 6000 – just.

The market shrugged off unemployment fears and focussed instead on upbeat industrial output data from China which powered shares of miners.

Milan Cutkovic at AxiCorp said: “Chinese economic data beat expectations, with industrial production accelerating and retail sales returning to growth for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc. Investors are still optimistic that the global economic recovery remains on track.”

Glencore was up 4p at 186p, while Anglo American added 34p at 1972p.

The FTSE 100 was up 15.76 at 6042, while the more UK focussed FTSE 250 gained 31 points to 17,708.

The worst performer today was B&Q owner Kingfisher, down 13p at 272p.