Analysts dis Betfair; Chartwell revenues fall; Tabcorp won’t sell; tough Tote talk

bet365-betfair-chartwell-tote-tabcorpThe financial minds at Espirito Santo have trained their analytical eyes on Betfair, and they don’t like what they see. While the analysts give Betfair props for having a good concept and the technology to make the concept work, they don’t see Betfair as anything special – certainly not worth the hoopla (nor the £13/share IPO). With competition from William Hill and Paddy Power and an uncertain regulatory environment in Europe, the number-crunchers estimate a proper share price is more like 701p. With Betfair currently trading at 877p, Espirito Santo is recommending you sell now while the selling’s good. No, really… Do it now. We’ll wait.

Meanwhile, privately-held Bet365 has maintained its lead over Betfair on Oddschecker’s rankings. Stan James slipped from fourth to sixth position, enabling William Hill and Victor Chandler to each nudge up a notch, and Boylesports continued its upward momentum since sneaking back onto the list last month. The full top-10 reads as follows: Bet365 (18.9%); Betfair (15.7%); Paddy Power (8.4%); William Hill (8.3%); Victor Chandler (7.6%); Stan James (7.3%); Coral (5.7%); Skybet (5.0%); Boylesports (4.4%); and Betfred (4.3%).

Canadian software provider Chartwell Technology saw revenues decrease 10.3% to $2.2m in the three months ending Jan. 31. Chartwell lost a major licensee (Betfair) in August, and though the company subsequently signed deals with Rank Interactive and Centrebet, Chartwell posted a net loss of $1.9m, far more than the $796k loss over the same period last year. On the plus side, the company still has $15.3m in the coffers and virtually no debt. Chartwell CFO Alan Richter says the company is “working aggressively to replace the decline in revenue that occurred over the last year.” Richter believes the Rank and Centrebet deals will begin to pay off soon, and has high hopes for the new relationship with Live Dealer supplier Ho Gaming.

Aussie betting outfit Tabcorp has spurned an offer to sell its media offshoot Sky Channel. Racing broadcaster ThoroughVisioN (TVN) and media partner Telstra offered AU $400m for Sky Channel’s three TV channels and its New South Wales radio service, but couldn’t sell Tabcorp on the deal. After word leaked out about the offer, Tabcorp publicly stated that it “has never contemplated and is not contemplating” any sale of Sky Channel. TVN, which is operated by a group of racing outfits (including Racing Victoria and the Australian Jockey Club), was encouraged to make the offer after the government’s Productivity Commission suggested Tabcorp’s relationship with Sky Channel gave the betting operation an unfair competitive advantage.

Finally, on the same day that UK jobless figures hit 2.53m – the highest since 1994 – Tote chairman Mike Smith announced that the upcoming sale of the state-owned pari-mutuel institution could lead to even more redundancies. Also, the £4m the Tote kicks back annually to British racing would suffer a drop if the country’s fourth-largest bookmaker is purchased by “someone taking very short-term views” who doesn’t “feel obligations to staff or the racing industry.” Of course, if instead the government were to select the Racing Foundation’s bid (led by Smith and fellow Tote exec Trevor Beaumont), well, there will be a chicken in every pot and a horse in every gate. Especially if they follow Ed Pownall’s advice.