Sunday 23 November 2014

After strong World Cup Ladbrokes bets its online troubles are over

Paul Sandle

Published 13/08/2014 | 02:30

Ladbrokes
Ladbrokes

Betting chain Ladbrokes said it had a strong World Cup, laying the foundations for a better second half after disruption caused by switching its online operations to a new platform caused first-half operating profit to fall by a third.

Britain's second-biggest bookmaker after William Hill has struggled to establish its online presence and an alliance with software developer Playtech has taken longer than expected to deliver improvements.

The group, which trades from more than 2,800 shops as well as online, said operating profit fell to £56.8m (€71.4m) just beating market expectations, on net revenue up 1.6pc to £577.8m for the six months to the end of June.

Chief executive Richard Glynn, who had come under pressure from some shareholders eager to see evidence of improvement, said the operational problems had been fixed.

"We set ourselves a target at the beginning of the year to make ourselves match-fit for the World Cup and I think on anyone's examination we had a strong World Cup," he said.

"That sets up well for delivery of growth across the business in the second half of the year and into 2015."

Shares in the company, which have fallen 27pc since the start of the year, were trading up 2.5pca t 134pw yesterday.

Analyst James Ainley at Citi, who has a "sell" rating on the stock, said a renewed commitment to a "flat" full-year dividend should provide share support in the short term.

"The World Cup football performance adds a glimmer of hope for a digital revival," he said. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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