The pounds 150m writedown will have to go through the profit-and-loss account. While Ladbroke's pre-tax profits should show a relatively healthy 11 per cent rise to pounds 185m, pounds 40m of this will be profits from the sale of hotels. When both that and the property writedown are subtracted, the company will show a deficit.
Cyril Stein, the chairman, will be able to point, however, to a boost in the betting side from evening racing, and a recovery at Hilton hotels, thanks to the strong dollar. The shares, which rose 4.5p to 195p on Friday, are not worth chasing.