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Ladbrokes' shares up 6pc despite poor Cheltenham

IT MAY have been a bad Cheltenham for the bookies, with 13 Irish winners sending the punters home happy, but that didn't stop Ladbrokes reporting higher first-quarter earnings yesterday.

Shares in the bookmaking giant jumped more than 6pc in London yesterday after the company reported a 2pc gain in first-quarter earnings, excluding the major gamblers, and said it had broken off takeover talks with a rival.

In Ireland the firm reported that over the counter (OTC) amounts staked were 2.4pc higher than 2010, largely due to fewer horseracing cancellations. OTC gross-win margin of 11.8pc was "significantly impacted by poor results at Cheltenham", the company said. Total net revenue in Ireland fell 11.6pc.

"[The Irish business] lost money on all four days at Cheltenham [but] we are pleased with the progress made in the first quarter [and] are mindful of the current consumer environment," said Ladbrokes Ireland MD Joe Lewins.

Mobile revenue surged more than 250pc year-on-year, with almost a fifth of digital customers placing at least one bet using their phone. Mobile represented 11pc of total sportsbook amounts staked during the quarter.

Overall, the group saw operating profit rise 1.9pc to £49.2m (€55.6m), excluding high rollers, on the back of revenue that increased 2.3pc. Operating profit from high rollers of £4.4m was down two-thirds on 2009's figure of £12.9m.

The company also revealed that it had broken off takeover with 888 Holdings, an offshore casino group.

Ladbrokes closed up 6.9pc.

Irish Independent