Ladbrokes Profits Halve Despite World Cup Surge
Ladbrokes profits have halved in the first six months of 2014, but it claims to now be ready for growth.
The gaming company cited its restructuring in preparation for the World Cup as the reason for its decline in pre-tax profit, which fell 49.7% to £27.7m.
It was also hit by "customer-friendly results" from football in January and horse racing in June.
Ladbrokes says it has delivered on all its key operational objectives for the first half of the year, which included switching its gaming products to a new system and replacing 9,000 gaming machines with more sophisticated models.
Once these restructuring changes are taken into account, operating profit was £56.8m, down 33.7% from the same period in 2013, broadly in line with market expectations.
Chief executive Richard Glynn will hope that this is enough to reassure Ladbrokes shareholders, who have raised concerns in recent weeks over the company's performance.
Betting in this year's World Cup was up 20% on the previous tournament in 2010.
Mr Glynn called 2014 "the Mobile World Cup", as 1100% more gamblers placed their bets over their mobile devices.
An improvement in Ladbrokes's digital division will be welcomed by the markets, ahead of a 15% online betting tax set to be introduced in December.
Mr Glynn said high street betting "offers a resilient source of cash flow despite a challenging trading and regulatory environment", as Ladbrokes completed 46 store closures of the 50 to be shut down this year.
The company has chosen to focus on football as its priority market, as it claims "horse racing still struggles to attract younger betting customers".
The Ladbrokes share price was up 1% in lunchtime trading.