Ladbrokes scales back guidance after soft first quarter

High Street bookie Ladbrokes said it has said that it had experienced softer-than-expected trading in the first quarter due to a number of one-off factors.

High Street bookie Ladbrokes said it has said that it had experienced softer-than-expected trading in the first quarter due to a number of one-off factors.

As such, the company said that - coupled with its revised 2013 outlook for its Digital business following a deal with Playtech in March - group operating profits for the year will be at the bottom of the existing market range.

Ladbrokes said that it had always planned for a reduction in operating profits during the first quarter due to anticipated tax and cost headwinds in UK Retail and the expected second-half weighting of growth in Digital revenues.

However, the firm said that this reduction has been "exacerbated", particularly in the second part of the quarter, as it was hit by a significant reduction in profit from Cheltenham, lower revenues from high-value gaming customers and a proportionately higher impact from horseracing cancellations.

Group net revenue from continuing operations in the first quarter excluding High Rollers was up 3.3% on last year, but like-for-like net revenue (which excludes the impact of machines games duty) was down 0.9%.

Operating profit was just £37.4m, down £13m from £50.4m in the first quarter of 2012.

"The trading environment and economic conditions since the start of the year have remained challenging, which when combined with a number of specific one off factors in the latter part of the period, have driven a softer first quarter than expected," said Chief Executive Richard Glynn.

Shares were down 6.67% at 193p.1p in the opening minutes of trade on Monday.

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