Experian sees profits drop as weakness in the Brazilian currency takes its toll

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Experian, the world’s biggest credit data company, reported a 4 per cent fall in pre-tax profit, below analysts’ expectations, hurt by the weakness of the Brazilian real and other adverse foreign exchange moves.

Profit before tax fell to $1bn (£637.7m) for the year ended March 31, compared with $1.05bn a year earlier. Analysts on average expected a pre-tax profit of $1.08bn.

The FTSE 100 company, which is best known for running consumer credit checks for banks, landlords and retailers, said yesterday it would pay a second interim dividend of 27 cents per share resulting in a full-year dividend of 39.25 cents.

Revenue for the period rose less than 1 per cent as Experian continued to witness sluggish growth in Latin America, particularly in Brazil.

Total revenue from continuing operations rose to $4.8bn, in line with analysts expectations, compared with $4.7bn a year earlier.

Exchange rate movements decreased reported revenue by $103m, the company said.

“Whilst uncertainty remains and we continue to invest in the brand and products to move the business forward, we believe we have passed the peak rate of decline,” Experian said.

Experian along with two other major credit reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion, generate credit reports and scores based on consumers’ borrowing and payment habits, including bankruptcies and court judgements.

Brian Cassin, Experian’s chief executive, said the company had outperformed the “very difficult weak economic backdrop in Brazil” but acknowledged the contracting economy there had meant lending activities in the country were lower.

Anti-fraud is Experian’s biggest growth market given rising cyber crime.

Future growth for the company, which holds credit files on 800m consumers worldwide, depends on exploiting this data in new ways.