Securitas Posts Gain in Profit, but Says U.S. Ops Still Struggling

Copenhagen, Denmark (AP) - Securitas AB posted a 9.8 percent gain in fourth-quarter profit on the back of stronger sales, but warned that its U.S. unit was still struggling.

Shares of the world's second-largest security company plunged nearly 7 percent to 108 kronor ($15.18 ) in trading on the Stockholm bourse.

The Stockholm, Sweden-based business posted a net profit of 450 million kronor ($63.2 million), or 1.2 kronor (16 cents) a share, compared with 410 million kronor, or 1.12 kronor a share, a year earlier.

Revenues for the quarter that ended Dec. 31 rose 4 percent to 15.2 billion kronor (euro1.67 billion, $2.1 billion) from 14.6 billion kronor.

For the year, the company had a profit of 1.47 billion kronor ($205.2 million), up 18 percent from 1.2 billion kronor in 2003. Revenues rose to 59.7 billion kronor ($8.37 billion) from 58.9 billion kronor.

In the United States, which accounts for nearly a third of the company's sales, revenues were down by 2 percent for a third consecutive quarter, largely because of margins.

"The outlook for 2005 is a continuing positive development in line with 2004 driven by the same divisions as in 2004," the company said. "Security Services USA is expected during 2005 to turn positive in organic sales growth and be more in line with the market, whereas margins are expected to continue to be under pressure."

The U.S. division includes the U.S. security firms Pinkerton's and Burns International Services, giving the company a dominant stance in that market.

Globally, Securitas provides security guards, alarm systems and armored guards to banks, retailers, corporations and residential customers in more than 30 countries. It employs more than 210,000 workers.