Shares in Ladbrokes and Coral owner GVC (GVC) rallied 14% to 551p after upgrading its estimate of the coronavirus impact and cancelling its second interim dividend to preserve cash.

MITIGATION ACTIONS

The cancellation of a number of high profile sporting events and shuttering of its retail shops since mid-March has significantly reduced revenues and led the firm to put in place a number of actions to mitigate the financial impact.

The company had previously guided for an impact of around £100m per month before mitigation actions, but after today’s first quarter update the group now expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to be reduced by around £50m per month after identifying cost savings.

Consensus monthly EBITDA for 2020 was running around £65m according to the company, which will now be reduced to £15m before other cash costs of £30m, resulting in £15m of monthly cash losses.

GVC is taking advantage of the government grant for furloughed employees as well as business rates relief which combined will save around £20m per month.

AMPLE HEADROOM

At 31 December 2019 the group had net debt of £1.8bn, giving a net-debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 2.7 times, while at 31 March 2020 accessible cash was over £350m. GVC also has an undrawn revolving credit facility of £550m which is only tested if more than 35% is drawn-down at quarter end. In that eventuality the limit is four times.

The board has decided that the prudent course of action is to withdraw the payment of the second interim dividend of 17.6p due to be paid on 23 April, saving the company £103m.

CURRENT TRADING

In the first-quarter to 31 March 2020, group net gaming revenues were up 1% in constant currencies. The company’s strong online presence with 57% of revenues coming from casino and games contributed to overall online growth of 19%, in spite of the absence of sporting events.

UK retail like-for-like revenues fell 19% while European retail was flat.

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Issue Date: 06 Apr 2020