(Adds CEO comments on outlook, updates shares)
March 8 Shares in G4S hit a 20-month
high on Wednesday after the global security provider posted a
13.9 percent jump in full-year profit, underlining its recovery
from a series of scandals at a time when rivals are still
G4S, which operates in more than 100 countries and employs
more than 600,000 people, has been selling businesses to pay off
debt and working to limit losses from British government
contracts that include providing asylum-seekers with
Pre-tax profit rose to 352 million pounds ($428.2 million)
from 309 million. It maintained its full-year dividend at 9.41
pence per share, allaying analyst concerns that it could be cut.
Chief Executive Ashley Almanza said G4S remained "a large
inefficient company" and that productivity improvements with
revenue growth were expected to lift profit over the next three
Shares of G4S rose as much as 9.2 percent to a near two-year
high of 292.1 pence before paring gains to trade up 7.3 percent
at 1214 GMT.
The company had been heavily criticised for mishandling
sensitive work, including its failure to provide enough security
guards for the 2012 London Olympics.
Together with outsourcing firm Serco, it was also
investigated by the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging the
government to provide electronic tags for offenders, some of
whom turned out to have been in jail or dead.
G4S has said it had "materially strengthened controls over
the approval of major contracts" since then and increased sales
outside of Britain.
It said on Wednesday the United States was now its biggest
market by country for the first time. G4S has contracts with the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security in operations at the Mexico
border and transports illegal immigrants in certain areas of the
Revenue from continuing business on a constant currency
basis rose to 6.82 billion pounds from 6.42 billion.
G4S said leverage fell to 2.8 times net debt over EBITDA
from 3.4 times a year earlier and net debt stood at 1.67 billion
It also stuck to its net debt-to-core earnings (EBITDA)
ratio target of 2.5 times or lower by the end of 2017.
($1 = 0.8221 pounds)
(Reporting by Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru; editing by
Jason Neely and Susan Thomas)