Ladbrokes warns profits from online business to miss forecasts

LONDON Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:52pm EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Ladbrokes, Britain's second largest bookmaking group, warned on Thursday that profit from its online operations would fall well short of expectations, the latest in a series of setbacks for the company.

In a trading update brought forward from October, Ladbrokes said its digital business would have operating profit of only 10-14 million pounds this year, compared with a market forecast of 27.5 million pounds ($44.2 million).

"Our digital earnings have been disappointing reflecting a lack of competitiveness in sportsbook, lower margins than planned and a greater disruptive impact than expected from the transition necessary to grow digital for the long term," Chief Executive Richard Glynn said in a statement.

Ladbrokes has failed to match larger rival William Hill in the expanding online gambling market.

In an effort to improve its online business, Ladbrokes earlier this year formed an alliance with software developer Playtech, a former joint venture partner with William Hill. It has said it will take time for the benefits of this alliance to feed through.

Overall group operating profit fell almost 20 percent to 85.7 million pounds ($133 million) in the six months to the end of June, the company said in August.

Ladbrokes had already warned investors in April it expected group operating profit to fall this year after a poor performance from horse racing and online gaming in the first quarter.

(Writing by Keith Weir, Editing by Neil Maidment)

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