Anite says 4G rollout sparks recovery in handset business

Reuters

(Adds details, CEO and analyst comment, updates share price)

By Noor Zainab Hussain

May 12 (Reuters) - Anite Plc said it expects a better opening half of the current financial year as the rollout of 4G networks boosts demand for handset-testing services used by customers such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Vodafone Group Plc.

Anite's shares rose more than 10 percent on Monday morning, making the stock one of the top percentage gainers on the London Stock Exchange.

The company said its handset-testing business had a "strong" final quarter of the year, with revenue broadly in line with the same period a year earlier. This would enable it to meet its full-year expectations on revenue and adjusted operating profit.

"... We are more encouraged by prospects for Handset Testing for the first half of the new financial year compared to those experienced last year," Chief Executive Christopher Humphrey said in a statement.

Anite, which is considering selling its travel reservation software business, will report its full-year results on July 2. The company's financial year ended on April 30.

In a trading update on Monday, the company did not provide numbers for its revenue and adjusted operating profit forecasts.

Analysts said the apparent recovery in handset testing, a business beset by contract delays earlier in the year, was likely to result in improved sales for the second half of the year and beyond.

The multi-billion-dollar rollout of long-term evolution (LTE) 4G networks in China has helped to boost revenues for telecoms testing companies, such as Spirent Communications Plc .

Anite said growth in its handset division during the quarter ended April 30 was helped by "the first significant benefits" from investments in 4G technology made over the last few years.

"LTE, customers re-engaging and other technology milestones all helped to deliver the material fourth-quarter uplift required after the poor first half of 2014," Investec analyst Julian Yates wrote in a note.

Fleet, Hampshire-based Anite said all three of its main businesses - handset testing, network testing and the supply of software to the travel industry - performed well in the fourth quarter.

The company said it was still investigating the potential sale of its travel reservation software business, a plan first unveiled in February, in line with its strategy to focus on wireless.

The travel business accounted for about 15 percent of Anite's total revenue of 132.5 million pounds ($223.13 million) in 2013.

The Telegraph reported on Saturday that Anite had entered exclusive talks to sell the business to LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group Plc.

The newspaper reported that Anite's travel division could fetch around 40 million pounds ($67.4 million). (http://r.reuters.com/myb39v)

Anite and LDC declined to comment on the report when contacted by Reuters.

Anite's stock was trading up 9.4 percent at 90.75 pence at at 1137 GMT. ($1 = 0.5938 British Pounds) (Editing by Robin Paxton)

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