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Data firm Experian records strong annual revenue on U.S. strength

(Reuters) - The world's biggest credit data firm Experian Plc EXPN.L on Wednesday reported higher annual revenue as it benefited from greater demand for its analytics products in North and Latin American markets, sending shares to a more-than-10-week high.

Shares of the company rose as much as 8.1% in morning trade to top the FTSE 100 blue-chip index as it reported a 6.5% rise in full-year statutory revenue to $5.18 billion (£4.23 billion).

Experian and its smaller peers — Equifax Inc EFX.N and TransUnion TRU.N — generate credit reports and scores based on consumer borrowing and payment habits, including bankruptcies and court judgements.

The company, whose credit reports are used by banks, car dealers, healthcare providers and retailers, said the COVID-19 crisis had only a “limited financial impact” in full year 2020.

The London-listed company said its several products including Ascend, Experian One, Open Data and CrossCore did well in the year, while Experian Boost saw “significant progress”, among its U.S. consumers.

However, the company flagged that restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, would hurt its 2021 performance and forecast first-quarter organic revenue to decline by 5% to 10% if current trends continue throughout the period.

Experian said it expected near-term revenue to be impacted by the pandemic-related restrictions, adding that April revenue fell 5%.

The investors, however, shrugged off the coronavirus-related concerns.

JP Morgan analysts, in a note, said April trading was “surprisingly resilient” and was considerably better than its peers.

Experian said its executive directors would take a 25% salary cut for six months as the data firm navigates a tough phase in managing costs.

The company’s annual statutory pretax profit fell 1.6% to $942 million for the year ended March 31, below analysts’ average estimate of $1.24 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. And Alex Richardson

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