February 8, 2018 / 9:07 AM / in 5 months

UK's Sophos shares plunge as billings growth slows

Feb 8 (Reuters) - Shares of Sophos Group Plc fell as much as 18 percent on Thursday after the cloud services and network security provider reported slower growth in the amount it bills its customers.

The company, which follows a software subscription model that analysts say is highly profitable, said billings grew 18.7 percent in the third quarter ended Dec. 31. In comparison, Sophos reported a 29 percent growth in billings in its second quarter.

A rise in global ransomware attacks that have disrupted factories, hospitals and shops had spurred increased demand for cybersecurity from firms and government agencies last year.

The company, which develops products to encrypt communications, said it was “confident” in the outlook for the full year after reporting a 23.4 percent rise in third quarter revenue.

Shares in Sophos fell to 509.5 pence on Thursday, their biggest intraday percentage drop in over 18 months.

The stock traded at 530 pence at 0856 GMT and was the top percentage loser on the FTSE Midcap Index. (Reporting by Radhika Rukmangadhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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