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UK's Stagecoach confirms profit target, rail revenue rises

March 29 (Reuters) - British transport company Stagecoach confirmed its full-year earnings expectations, with higher revenue in its UK rail divisions helping to offset falls in its domestic bus and North America units.

Stagecoach, which runs bus and train services in different parts of Britain, said comparable revenue for its UK bus division, both London and regional operations, fell 0.9 percent and 1.7 percent respectively for the 44 weeks to March 4.

The company blamed economic weakness in some parts of the UK and sustained lower fuel prices for the shortfall in the regional bus operation.

Like-for-like revenue for its North American business in the 10 months to the end of February declined 2.2 percent as heightened car and air competition hurt the business.

But revenue at UK rail and Virgin Rail Group rose 1.6 percent and 5.3 percent respectively in the 44 weeks to March 4.

"Our expectation of the Group's adjusted earnings per share for the year ending 29 April 2017 has not changed from when we announced our interim results in December 2016," Stagecoach said.

In December, it said its forecast for earnings per share for the year to the end of April 2017 was broadly unchanged, with analyst consensus then standing at about 25 pence. The EPS figure was 27.7 pence for the previous year.

Shares (Berlin: DI6.BE - news) in the company were up 1.6 percent at 0722 GMT, among the top five performers on the FTSE mid-cap index on Wednesday.

The company recently lost the franchise to run South West trains to a consortium of FirstGroup (LSE: FGP.L - news) and Hong Kong’s MTR (Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; editing by Susan Thomas)