LONDON (Reuters) - British bookmaker Ladbrokes said it expected operating profit for 2013 to meet current market forecasts and that it would maintain its dividend, reassuring investors at the end of another troubled year.
Ladbrokes, Britain's second biggest bookmaker after William Hill, has struggled to keep pace with its larger rival, and returns from its online business have been a particular concern.
In a brief trading update on Thursday, Ladbrokes said year operating profit should be around the middle of the current range of analyst forecasts of between 129.8 million pounds and 151 million pounds.
That would be a big drop from the comparable figure of 206 million pounds in 2012 after difficulties in its online business and a poor performance from horse racing early in 2013.
Chief Executive Richard Glynn is under pressure to show that he is turning the company around after a series of profit downgrades over the past couple of years.
Ladbrokes said it would maintain its dividend at 8.90 pence per share for 2013 and keep to at least that level in the following year.
It said it was on target to deliver on its strategy in the first half of the year and that should help to drive its digital performance in the second half.
Ladbrokes shares last week hit a 17-month low of 161.3p and closed at 173p on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Keith Weir, Editing by Brenda Goh)