PARIS French voucher and prepaid card provider Edenred (EDEN.PA) said on Tuesday that growth in Latin America drove sales 6.3 percent higher on a like-for-like basis in the first quarter, and demand in Europe was stable despite a difficult economy.
The group, which owns the Ticket Restaurant brand, confirmed a closely-watched goal to generate growth of between 6 and 14 percent in issue volume per year in the medium term.
Issue volume, the face value of its vouchers and prepaid card top-ups, rose 9.8 percent on a like-for-like basis to 4.1 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in the first quarter, while revenue was 6.3 percent higher at 260 million euros.
Edenred said issue volume declined by just 0.3 percent in Europe despite rising unemployment levels in several eurozone countries.
It grew almost 19 percent in Latin America, driven by a favorable economic environment, Edenred said in a statement.
Edenred, which also offers employee benefit management services and incentive schemes, competes with caterers Sodexo (EXHO.PA) and Compass (CPG.L), as well as credit card networks MasterCard (MA.N) and Visa (V.N).
Its shares have risen around 7 percent since the start of 2013. The company issued its trading update after the close of share trading in Paris.
($1 = 0.7616 euros)
(Reporting by Elena Berton and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan and Tom Pfeiffer)