Experian hit by credit crisis; plans cost cuts

Source: Experian

Experian, the global information services company, today issues an update on trading for the three months to 31 December 2007.

Commenting on the performance of Experian, Don Robert, Chief Executive Officer, said: "Experian has continued to perform well in difficult market conditions. Overall, the business achieved revenue growth of 22% and organic revenue growth of 2%. For the full year, we continue to target solid double-digit EBIT growth and a profit outcome within the range of current market expectations.

"While trading conditions are not expected to improve in the fourth quarter, our focus is on maximising profitability and we are today announcing a programme of significant efficiency measures. These measures will give rise to a non-recurring charge and will bring benefits in FY2009, with full annualised benefits the year after. We continue to invest to take advantage of the long-term growth opportunities and to position ourselves for market recovery."

In the three months to 31 December 2007, revenue from continuing activities at Experian increased by 16% at constant exchange rates. Organic revenue growth slowed to 2%, reflecting the impact of the credit crunch on financial services customers. Decision Analytics improved compared to the second quarter with organic revenue growth of 5%, while Interactive continued to perform well with organic revenue growth of 9%. There were modest organic revenue declines at Credit Services of 1% and at Marketing Services of 3%.

Acquisitions contributed 14% to revenue growth. Net debt at the end of the period was $2.9bn.

Cost efficiencies
Experian has taken a number of strategic initiatives this year to improve efficiency and reduce costs, including near-shoring activities and data centre consolidation. These actions will benefit margins in the full year, with further benefit expected in the financial year to March 2009.

Experian is today launching a programme of significant cost-efficiency measures. Identified efficiencies include offshoring of development activity, restructuring of core credit and marketing activities and infrastructure consolidation. This programme is expected to deliver annualised cost savings of approximately $80m, of which an estimated $40m will be realised in the financial year ended March 2009. One-off restructuring costs associated with achieving these cost savings will be in the region of $100m, the majority of which will be cash costs.

While taking these actions, Experian will continue to invest for growth through the income statement. During the current financial year such activity has been stepped up and investment will continue in order to capitalise on future opportunities and to position the Group strongly for recovery in its core markets.

Transaction processing in France
As part of our strategic planning process, we are undertaking a review of our transaction processing activities in France and their fit within the Experian portfolio. The review is at an early stage and we will make a further announcement when appropriate. In the year ending 31 March 2007, revenues for these activities were $308m, with low double-digit margins.

North America
Revenue in North America in the three months to 31 December 2007 increased by 3% in total. Organic growth was 2%, with Hitwise (acquired in June 2007) contributing the balance.

While revenue growth at Credit Services declined by 2% in the third quarter, we continued to gain traction in account management and collections. Decision
Analytics slowed to mid single-digit organic revenue growth, against a background of strong comparatives and an increasingly difficult market environment. Organic revenue growth at Marketing Services was 3%, while at Interactive it was mid single-digit, as strength in Consumer Direct and PriceGrabber offset continued depressed trading at LowerMyBills.

Latin America
Revenue for Latin America in the three-month period to 31 December 2007 was $111m (prior year $1m), including contributions from Serasa (acquired in June 2007) and Informarketing (acquired in April 2007). Organic revenue growth was 78%, reflecting the performance of Decision Analytics only.

Serasa continued to perform well during the period, in line with the buy plan. Integration is proceeding ahead of plan and is expected to be finalised in March 2008.

UK and Ireland
Revenue from continuing activities in the UK and Ireland increased by 5% in the third quarter at constant exchange rates. Organic revenue was flat, with the acquisitions of Tallyman (acquired in May 2007), Hitwise, The pH Group (acquired July 2007) and N4 Solutions (acquired July 2007) contributing the difference.

During the period, the environment for UK financial services became tougher, with significant declines in unsecured lending and mortgage approvals. Against this backdrop, organic revenue at Credit Services saw a modest decline of 2%, as origination volumes fell, offset by strength in the public services sector and
in business information. Decision Analytics recovered to deliver organic revenue in line with last year, reflecting strong collections activity and some improvement in pipeline conversion. Organic revenue at Marketing Services was impacted by significant cutbacks in client spending, down 10%, while performance at Interactive was very strong, with organic revenue nearly doubling year-on-year.

EMEA/Asia Pacific
At constant exchange rates, revenue in EMEA/Asia Pacific increased by 11% in the third quarter. Organic revenue growth was 4%, with acquisitions, mainly Emailing Solution (acquired in May 2007), Tallyman and Hitwise, contributing the balance. Organic revenue growth at Credit Services was low single-digit and double-digit in Decision Analytics. Marketing Services was again strong, due to QAS.

Future announcements
Experian will issue its Second Half Trading Update on 16 April 2008 and its Preliminary Announcement on 21 May 2008.

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