* Q1 sales 4.856 bln euros, down 1.9 pct reported
* Q1 l-f-l sales up 2.7 pct, U.S. accelerates
* Keeps sales, profit forecasts
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, Jan 8 (Reuters) - French catering and vouchers group Sodexo kept its full-year forecasts after new contracts in the U.S with clients such as Siemens offset the depressing effect of currencies in Latin America and weak demand in Europe.
The world’s second-biggest catering services company after Britain’s Compass Group posted a 1.9 percent fall in first-quarter revenue on a reported basis to 4.86 billion euros in the period ended Nov. 30.
Excluding currency effects, Sodexo posted a 2.7 percent rise in first-quarter sales and reiterated its forecast for 2.5 to 3 percent rise in annual sales.
It also kept a goal for annual operating profit growth of 11 percent at constant currency, and for operating margins to rise because of cost savings to 5.6 percent from 5.2 percent last year.
In Europe, clients continued to seek cost savings in the catering sector while there were still signs of weakness in demand from industrial clients in Brazil and China, notably in the mining sector.
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.
Sodexo shares gained 15.6 percent last year, compared with a 17.4 percent rise in France’s CAC 40 blue-chip index and a nearly 30 percent rise for competitor Compass Group.