(Adds analyst, CEO comments, backrgound)
By Ole Mikkelsen
COPENHAGEN, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Danish freight forwarder DSV reported on Friday fourth quarter operating profit below expectations and proposed a lower dividend than had been predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll.
DSV said operating profit before special items fell 3.4 percent to 649 million Danish crowns ($100 million) in the October-December quarter, below a forecast of 672 million crowns in a Reuters poll.
DSV, founded by 10 truckers in 1976, had expanded through acquisitions to become one of the 10 biggest freight forwarders in the world but its last major acquisition was in 2008, when it bought ABX Logistics for 750 million euros ($860 million).
“We have a clear intention of further expanding our network through additional acquisitions,” its management said in the earnings report, the strongest statement on its aims to buy other companies made in several quarters.
The company however proposed a 200 million crown buyback scheme. It said last July that as a company characterised by a small asset base, its buyback programmes were a logical outcome in the absence of acquisitions.
DSV said in December it has had “certain discussions” with UTi Worldwide about a potential acquisition although there was no outcome from the negotiations.
DSV proposed a dividend of 1.60 crowns per share, up from 1.50 crowns one year earlier but below the 1.76 crowns expected in the Reuters poll.
“The strong share performance in the last three months last year cannot be justified with this report,” said analyst Jacob Pedersen from Sydbank who has a ‘sell’ recommendation on the share.
DSV’s stock increased 15 percent during the last quarter last year while the main index on the Copenhagen burse went up by 0.9 percent in the same period.
The company said it expected its 2015 operating profit before special items of between 2.7 billion crowns and 2.9 billion crowns, at the lower end of analysts’ expectations for 2.9 billion crowns.
“We have a promising outlook for 2015; the investments we have made over the past couple of years to increase our productivity give us a solid basis for harvesting the best results from global market growth,” Chief Executive Jens Bjorn Andersen said in the statement.
$1 = 6.4925 Danish crowns $1 = 0.8728 euros Editing by Sabina Zawadzki