CREDIT checking and business information firm Experian today said its biggest market had returned to growth but UK business remains weak.
The firm said its North America division - which accounts for more than half of group revenues - saw organic growth edge 1% higher in the six months to March 31 amid improving trends in its consumer credit checking arm.
Although Experian was flattered by acquisitions and comparisons with the worst of the recession 12 months earlier, the group also noted continued strong demand for its fraud prevention products in the US.
The UK and Ireland - representing just over 20% of sales - was the only region where sales remained in the red with a 2% decline.
Experian said credit services revenues in the region had fallen 7% due mainly to reduced inquiries from lenders, mergers between banks and building societies, and some firms pulling out of the UK market altogether.
Banks are focusing on managing the creditworthiness of their existing customers rather than on new lending, while Experian’s wider corporate client base is making less use of the firm’s database and software for marketing purposes as budgets come under pressure.
Despite much faster year-on-year growth from Experian’s smaller Latin American arm, growth across the group overall was 2% up on a year earlier.
Although chief executive Don Robert said the firm expected to deliver "good profit and cash outcomes" for the year, shares fell almost 4% as the update fell short of City hopes.
"At the group level, these results are mildly disappointing - we were expecting a slightly stronger pick up in growth," Seymour Pierce analyst Caroline de La Soujeole said.
Experian’s main offices in the UK and Ireland are in London, Nottingham and Dublin.