UPDATE 1-VeriFone says slowdown in Latin America to hurt profit

Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:56pm EST

* Sees first-quarter adj profit $0.70 to $0.73/share vs est $0.74

* Sees first-quarter revenue $490 mln to $500 mln vs est $498.4 mln

Dec 13 (Reuters) - Credit card swipe machine maker VeriFone Systems Inc forecast smaller-than-expected earnings for the current quarter due to a slowdown in Latin America, sending its shares down 6.6 percent after the bell.

The company forecast earnings of 70 cents to 73 cents per share on revenue of $490 million to $500 million for November-January.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 75 cents per share on revenue of $498.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We see single-digit growth in Latin America following two years of nearly 40 percent average growth," Chief Executive Doug Bergeron said on a conference call.

Latin America represented 21 percent of Verifone's revenue of $1.38 billion for the nine months ended July 31.

The CEO also said that Verifone will pull back from its micro merchant business, called SAIL, which allows small merchants sign up and accept credit card payments.

"The standalone economics of micro-merchant acquiring is fundamentally unprofitable, and destined to be a negative gross margin business," Bergeron said.

Reuters reported earlier on Thursday that VeriFone is set to pull back from the hot business.

Wedbush Securities analyst Gil Lauria said the company's forecast was hurt by wary spending by small business owners due to the impending fiscal cliff in the United States.

Fourth-quarter net income fell to $27 million, or 24 cents per share, from $198.8 million, or $1.84 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 76 cents per share.

Revenue for the quarter rose 18 percent to $485.4 million.

Analysts on average were expecting fourth-quarter earnings of 76 cents per share on revenue of $495.2 million.

Shares of the San Jose, California-based company closed at $33.2 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

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