November 7, 2018 / 8:53 AM / 11 days ago

G4S shares tumble as profit growth proves elusive

LONDON (Reuters) - Shares in Britain’s G4S (GFS.L) tumbled more than nine percent on Wednesday after the world’s biggest security firm said profit would not grow this year, with its cash transportation business among the weak spots.

FILE PHOTO: A G4S security van is parked outside a bank in Loughborough, central England, August 28, 2013. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

G4S, which provides guards and security for prisons and events such as concerts, reported weaker-than-expected revenue growth in the third quarter, with profit also held back by higher labor and investment costs.

“Strong organic growth rates in security services in North America and Asia and in Cash technology solutions were partially offset by lower revenues in Benelux and conventional cash services,” said CEO Ashley Almanza, in the job since 2013.

Analysts questioned the progress under Almanza.

“After five years of turnaround strategy, G4S still struggles to gain momentum,” analysts at Jefferies said in a note to clients.

Shares fell 9.6 percent to 195.5 pence at 0945 GMT, on track for their worst day since March 2016.

“Given the CEO has been there for around 5 years and has not created any value, we wonder whether it is time for something more radical,” said Andrew Brook at RBC, arguing that a sale of all of part of its cash or justice services could hone the group’s focus.

Under Almanza, G4S has been seeking to rebuild its reputation after a series of past scandals, notably a failure in 2012 to provide enough guards for the London Olympics.

It suffered a setback in August when the British government took over the running of a prison in Birmingham after an inspection found it had fallen into a “state of crisis”.

The company reported organic revenue growth of 2.5 percent for the third quarter, which traders said was below consensus of around 4.5 percent.

UBS expected an around two to three percent cut in current consensus forecasts for core earnings.

The revenue growth was also well below the group’s medium term guidance for 4 to 6 percent growth, which was not reiterated in the statement.

G4S, which employs 570,000 people globally, indicated that it had been selective about the contracts it pursued.

“We continue to exercise commercial discipline in markets where labor supply is tight and whilst this is expected to constrain revenue growth in 2018, our new contract wins and substantial, high quality pipeline provide good momentum into 2019”, Almanza said.

Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Kate Holton/Keith Weir

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