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Brazil's Not Playing Ball But Teleperformance Continues to Blaze

Teleperformance has had an impressive quarter that might have resulted in 9.1% growth if it wasn't for the extremely unfavorable exchange rate fluctuations which resulted in an overall negative impact of €32.7m ($44.2m). Despite this Teleperformance achieved 3% y/y revenue growth in the quarter to €610m.

Growth in the English-speaking market & Asia-Pacific SBU was led by new contracts in North America, and China where Teleperformance has won business to support multi-nationals’ expansion in China, also domestic and locally based foreign government agencies in China. Teleperformance has been rapidly expanding operations in China, including through its acquisition of TLS Contact in January last year.

Ibero-LATAM was hard hit by negative exchange rates, turning moderate constant currency growth to a 6.4% negative growth as reported. The Brazilian real lost 20% of its value against the Euro while the Argentine Peso lost a staggering 40% compared with Q1 2013. Colombia, Mexico and Portugal reported the highest growth while the Brazilian business continues to experience reducing volumes, a reflection of Brazil’s economically challenging periods in Q1 and Q3 last year. Brazil is an important market to Teleperformance: all the delivery is domestic, and it has ~13,000 agents in the country, its fourth largest country operation, with nearly 10% of the global agent headcount.  The Brazilian economy is once again growing relatively strongly this year, 0.7% in Q1 2014 and expected growth of 1.62% in Q2 2014. However, much of this growth is due to the temporary GDP injection from the football World Cup starting in June; whether this will transfer into growth in the domestic CMS BPO market, other than temporary contract expansions during the tournament, remains to be seen.

Within the Continental Europe & MEA SBU, there is a return to growth in several Continental European countries including Italy, and three countries - the Netherlands, Greece and Turkey - which have benefited from a refresh of the sales force. The telecoms vertical in France continues to be a challenging market.

Teleperformance has reiterated its desire to acquire during 2014. It is looking to enhance its higher margin capabilities in developed regions such as the U.K. and U.S, probably including capabilities in automated services and e-commerce, with a possible foray into the paid-for tech support market.

Teleperformance’s 2014 EBIT guidance of between 9.5% and 9.7% is a major improvement from the 8.1% margin achieved in 2013. The firm is looking to exit some unprofitable contracts and focus on higher margin activities although recent contract activity does not indicate a big take up by clients as yet. Acquisitions undertaken from this point on in the year would be highly unlikely to dramatically shift margins in the time available. Topline like-for-like guidance for 2014 is more conservative then the company’s margin aspirations with growth of between 5% and 7% expected for the full year; this is a softening of what the company has achieved since Q1 2012 and indicates a shift towards margin expansions over out and out topline growth. 

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