MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Nexi, one of Europe's biggest payments groups, reported on Thursday higher than expected third-quarter core earnings as it confirmed guidance for the full year.
Shares extended gains after the results and were up 8% by 1521 GMT against a 2.6% rise in Italy's blue-chip index.
Asked about the weakening economic backdrop during a call with analysts, CEO Paolo Bertoluzzo said "the jury is out" on whether there would be a slowdown in the remainder of the year.
While numbers for October are "a bit lighter" than for the preceding months, there is also a seasonal element to that. Black Friday sales in November as well as the Christmas shopping season will be key, Bertoluzzo said.
Nexi said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) totalled 463.1 million euros in the third quarter, up 12% from a year earlier and above an analyst consensus of 453 million euros gathered by the company.
Revenues were 859 million euros, up 7.1% annually and above an analyst consensus of 851 million euros.
In the third quarter, revenues at Nexi's retailers' payment business posted double-digit increases in all of its markets, with Italy boosted in particular by tourist flows over the summer months, it added.
Bertoluzzo said retailers' payments, known in the industry as merchant acquiring businesses, remained the focus of Nexi's acquisition strategy, both in Italy and other European markets.
Nexi is vying with rival Worldline in a race for the merchant acquiring unit of Banco Sabadell, and two sources close to the matter said binding offers are due by the end of the year.
Asked about the planned disposal of German consumer finance business Ratepay, Chief Financial Officer Bernardo Mingrone said Nexi had received inquiries after putting the asset on the block but it was not the best moment to sell and the process would proceed without any rush.
(Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Keith Weir)