* 2012/13 underlying sales rise 1.1 pct, op margin 5.2 pct
* Sees 2013/14 underlying sales up 2.5-3 pct, margin at 5.6
* Sees 2014/15 operating margin of 6 pct vs previous
forecast 6.3 pct
* Brazil, China still slowing; weak forex in emerging
(Adds details from CEO conference call)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, Nov 14 French catering-to-vouchers group
Sodexo cautioned on Thursday that weak currencies in
emerging markets, and a slowdown in Brazil and China would
continue to weigh in the coming months while austerity-hit
Europe would remain weak.
As a result, the world's No.2 catering services company
after Britain's Compass Group trimmed its operating
margin goal for fiscal year 2014/15 to 6 percent from a previous
target of 6.3 percent.
"There is a short-term slowdown in emerging markets but I am
not worried over the medium-term," Chief Executive Michel Landel
told a conference call with journalists. "Emerging markets will
return to comfortable growth levels in the future."
Brazil, where Sodexo makes revenue of some 1 billion euros
($1.34 billion), was not recovering as fast as expected, while
there was a slowdown in China, which contributes revenue of
around 200 million.
There was also weaker demand in the mining sector in Chile,
Peru, Brazil, Australia and some African countries.
Sodexo manages canteens and facilities for office workers,
the armed forces, schools, hospitals and prisons, and sells
vouchers for meals and gifts. Its clients range from the Royal
Ascot Racecourse to the U.S. Marine Corps.
For the year ended Aug. 31, Sodexo posted a 1.1 percent rise
in underlying revenue to 18.397 billion euros and predicted
growth would accelerate to between 2.5 and 3 percent in 2013/14.
It forecast that its operating margin would rise to 5.6
percent from 5.2 percent in 2012/13, helped by cost savings.
Operating profit before exceptional items declined to 953
million euros from 958 million a year earlier, amid lower food
services volumes in Continental Europe, where clients were
seeking to cut costs.
There was also inflationary pressure in emerging countries
and a negative foreign exchange impact of 21 million euros tied
to a weaker Brazilian Real against the euro. Sodexo said.
According to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll, Sodexo was on
average expected to post revenue of 18.453 billion and operating
profit of 947.5 million.
As it faces tough times in Europe, Sodexo has been focusing
more on services outside its core catering business and betting
on emerging markets to drive growth.
Emerging markets now make up 21 percent of group sales
against 10 percent in 2005.
Sodexo trades at 20.48 times estimated earnings against
17.96 times for Compass, a premium some analysts tie to hopes
that a cost-cutting plan it unveiled a year ago will boost
($1 = 0.7460 euros)
(Editing by James Regan)