UPDATE 1-Anite revenue to improve as handset-testing unit recovers

Mon Dec 9, 2013 6:18am EST

* Sees revenue improving in second half

* First-half pretax profit drops 64 pct

* Revenue falls 6 pct

* Shares rise as much as 6.6 pct

By Abhirup Roy

Dec 9 (Reuters) - Anite Plc said it expected an improvement in its core handset-testing business to boost revenue in the second half, after contract delays pushed down profit by more than half in the first six months.

Shares in Anite rose as much as 6.6 percent on Monday on the London Stock Exchange.

The company's profit before tax fell 64 percent to 5.1 million pounds ($8.3 million) in the six months ended Oct. 31.

Revenue declined 6 percent to 57.5 million pounds.

Revenue from Anite's handset-testing business dropped 21 percent. The company had forecast a 25 percent fall in October.

The business, which counts Samsung Electronics, Motorola and Vodafone among its clients, contributes about 55 percent to Anite's total revenue.

"We do feel that all the underlying growth drivers for the business are still in place," Chief Executive Christopher Humphrey said.

"We are hoping to resume normal service once we get through this second-half period."

The company, which provides handset-testing systems to wireless companies and reservation software to the travel industry, had blamed consolidation in the technology industry for the contract delays, adding that it would hurt full-year results.

Anite shares have dropped 20 percent since the October warning.

Despite better-than-expected results, the company's shares are unlikely to recover much, Panmure Gordon analyst George O'Connor told Reuters.

"All (Anite's results) did is help to reconcile people to the view that the market is volatile and that there is lack of general visibility in the end-market."

Shares in peer Spirent Communications also rose 1.5 percent, which analysts attributed to Anite's results.

Spirent warned in October that fourth-quarter revenue would be $12 million lower than it had estimated as customers were delaying taking delivery of its products.

For the past few years, Anite's handset-testing unit has been riding on strong demand for long-term evolution (LTE) 4G products, getting over 50 percent of its revenue from this segment.

Carriers and wireless companies are increasingly investing in the next generation mobile technology, with 4G roll-outs expected to gain momentum globally over the next few years.

GSMA, the association that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, said last month that the number of 4G connections worldwide is forecast to top one billion by 2017.

Analysts expect developments in China's telecom industry to boost Anite's growth.

China awarded 4G licences last week to Anite's partner China Mobile Ltd and to China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd.

This has got to be the best single opportunity and the fastest-moving market for 4G in the world right now, Humphrey said.

Anite's revenue from network testing grew 34 percent to 15.6 million pounds in the first half, while revenue from its travel business rose 13 percent to 10.1 million pounds.

Shares in Anite were up 5 percent at 90.85 pence at 1102 GMT.

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