Anglo Danish security services firm Group 4 Securicor reported half year core earnings close to market expectations on Monday and said it would sell its troubled German cash services unit by the end of the year.
Earnings before interest, tax and amortisation rose 4.7 percent to 120.1 million pounds against a mean forecast of 124 million pounds in a Reuters survey.
The group said performance had been strong in its U.S. and New Markets businesses, and said discussions were under way for the sale of its troubled German cash services unit.
In Germany, the market shows no signs of improvement, Nick Buckles, Group 4 chief executive, said in a telephone interview. It's a very competitive and fragmented market, with very low prices. We believe it will take a long time to improve. A better alternative for us is to exit by the end of the second half.
Group 4 shares were little changed in early trading, down 0.10 Danish crowns to 18.80 crowns in Copenhagen.
Overall sales grew 8.5 percent to 2.19 billion pounds, against an expected 2.13 billion pounds in the poll.
Group 4 Securicor said sales in its biggest unit, Manned Security, grew 7.8 percent in the January June period cleared for acquisitions and currency fluctuations, while the core profit margin was 5.5 percent.
Overall organic sales growth in Europe was 4.5 percent while the corresponding rate in North America was 7.8 percent.
Buckles said organic growth at its U.S. unit Wackenhut was close to 7.8 percent as well.
The UK is now moving into positive organic growth after 12 months of negative, Buckles said.
In New Markets, defined as areas outside Europe and North America, organic growth overall was 17.4 percent.
The company said it continued to look for acquisition opportunities in Brazil, Spain, Portugal and South Korea.
There are some countries that we'd like to enter, Buckles said. Those four stand out, and in time maybe Japan and Australia. In Spain and Portugal we've been looking hard for the past years but haven't found anything suitable.
(Additional reporting by Gelu Sulugiuc.)