Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Heavy Going for Bookies but Punters Still Good Bet

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Heavy Going for Bookies but Punters Still Good Bet

Article excerpt

Byline: Iain Laing

ANOTHER busy week for corporate results sees updates from leading insurers, housebuilders and bookmakers.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill go head to head with interim results next week, but both firms have seen a difficult half due to unfavourable sporting results.

Despite 100-1 shot Mon Mome winning the Grand National, race meetings at Cheltenham were kind to the bookies with more favourites taking the spoils than last year. Meanwhile Yeats won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot for a fourth time and cost bookmakers pounds 10m.

But alongside results following the form book, heavy snow caused more cancellations in the first half while better weather in June is likely to have affected retail revenues.

In football betting, the impact of good late-season form from the Premiership big four - Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool - is likely to have been offset by losing bets on United in the Champions League final against Barcelona.

Ladbrokes, the biggest bookmaker in the UK, Ireland and Belgium with more than 2,600 betting shops, is expected to show earnings before interest and tax down 21% to pounds 135m.

But the firm, which reports on Thursday, also said in May that it had seen no evidence of a consumer downturn and was looking at expanding its opportunities in Italy and Spain.

William Hill - posting figures tomorrow - has fared better despite the difficult conditions in horseracing, thanks to strong performance from gaming machines and internet revenues.

Barclays Capital forecasts a 9% fall in earnings before interest and tax to pounds 131m, although it adds that Ladbrokes's focus on cost controls could see it exceed market hopes. The question of who will fill Michael Grade'shoes at struggling broadcaster ITV could be answered in the company's interim results on Wednesday. …

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