Each December we pick three Winners and three Losers to summarise the year just gone. We kick off the week-long series with our first Winner of 2013, 888 Holdings plc. It was the easiest pick of the lot.
There is one thing that each of our Winners have in common. Whenever you speak to anyone who works at these three companies, they are absolutely buoyant. It is a good indication of a company’s good health. The enthusiasm is catching and, of course, that makes their continued success self-fulfilling.
People like working in a happy place and they work harder in a happy place. The enthusiasm infects their sales efforts with B2B, it infects their customer relations with B2C, it infects their creativity with technical innovation and it infects their dealings with investors and media alike. Everyone loves a success story and once a certain level of momentum is established, it is not easily derailed.
It sounds simple but at least two of our Winners have been derailed in the past. External factors, such as recession and - in this industry - regulation, can hit hard and if a company becomes overambitious, unfocused or complacent it is also likely to see hard times again.
888 has certainly been guilty of some of these faults in the past but the current management, headed by CEO Brian Mattingley and COO Itai Frieberger, seem well capable of walking that tricky tightrope that separates success from failure.
Mattingley and Frieberger’s enthusiasm is sky high right now. This can be a little galling for onlookers but less so when you look at the achievements behind the rhetoric. Net profit more than doubled to $32.1m for the first half of 2013 and the company was on track to hit consensus EBITDA of around $74-75m at the end of the year. It share price has also risen by more than 50 per cent this year.