StockMarketWire.com - Train and bus company Stagecoach Group swung to a first-half loss after it wrote down the value of its US business, which it is considering selling.

Underlying profit, however, while falling, was ahead of the company's expectations and it upgraded its guidance for the full year.

Pre-tax losses for the six months through 27 October amounted to £22.6m, compared a £96.7m profit on-year.

Stagecoach said it wrote down the value of its US assets by £85.4m as revenue fell and profit came in below expectations, reflecting 'a number of factors including increased competition'.

The company said it was in discussion about a possible sale of all or parts of the US unit.

Adjusted pre-tax profit fell 10% to £87.0m, which the company nevertheless said was ahead of expectations,due in part to strong profits at Virgin Rail.

Stagecoach kept its interim dividend steady at at 3.8p per share.

'I am pleased to report positive half-year financial results, ahead of expectations,' Martin Griffiths said.

'We have delivered encouraging results at our UK regional bus business, where we continue to deliver high customer satisfaction.'

'We are well positioned in UK rail, with three live contract bids and more than 20 years' experience of delivering innovation and investment for customers.'

'While we recognise the competitive challenges in some of our markets in the UK and North America, we are confident that public transport will be central to delivering government priorities to grow the economy, connect people and communities, reduce road congestion and improve air quality.'

'We are reviewing strategic options for the North America division and that includes ongoing discussions regarding a possible sale of all or part of the business.'

'The group is focused on making further progress in the second half of the year and we have increased our expectation of full-year adjusted earnings per share to reflect the above-forecast rail earnings in the first half of the year.'







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