November 1, 2018 / 7:39 AM / 12 days ago

UPDATE 2-Just Eat says investment in Brazil and Mexico to weigh on earnings

* 2018 earnings target lowered, revenue increased

* Investments in Brazil and Mexico weigh on earnings

* Shares up 2 percent (Adds reaction)

LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Britain’s Just Eat said higher-than-expected investments in Brazil and Mexico would push full-year core earnings towards the lower end of forecasts for the takeaway giant.

Just Eat has grown rapidly since it floated in 2014 but it has spooked investors this year by repeatedly increasing the amount it needs to spend to keep ahead of rivals Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

On Thursday it reported a better-than-expected 16 percent rise in British orders to 30.3 million in the third quarter, driven by strong trading in September. Group orders were up 27 percent to 54.7 million and overall revenue rose 41 percent.

As a result it now expects 2018 revenue to be towards the top end of the 740 million pound ($952 million) to 770 million pound range, but with underlying core earnings at the lower end of the 165 million pound to 185 million pound range.

Its shares bounced around in early trading and were up 2 percent at 0815, valuing the group at 4.2 billion pounds. Analysts said they backed the group’s strategy to keep investing as the market develops rapidly around the world.

“The group has delivered another strong quarter as we helped our 97,000+ restaurant partners serve over 54 million takeaways to millions of hungry customers,” Chief Executive Peter Plumb said.

Founded in Denmark in 2001 by five entrepreneurs, Just Eat’s platform connects customers with local takeaway restaurants which generally provide their own delivery service, unlike competitors Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

As the market has developed, however, Just Eat has trialled using its own delivery riders in some key markets including Britain, increasing the amount it needs to spend.

“To us, that is exactly the right approach,” analysts at Liberum said. “While Just Eat is the market leader in nearly all the markets in which it operates, the food delivery market has not fully transformed yet from phone to online and so the emphasis should be on growing share and growth generally.” ($1 = 0.7774 pounds) (Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Susan Fenton/Sarah Young and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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