Orange first-half sales, earnings beat forecasts

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Orange SA on Tuesday said first-half sales and Ebitda fell less than analysts expected while net profit increased, amid the French telecom operator's attempts to revive profitability after years of decline.

First-half earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization fell slightly to EUR5.81 billion ($6.44 billion) against analysts' expectations of EUR5.78 billion. Excluding exceptional items, Ebitda was flat compared with the same period last year.

Orange said sales declined 0.6% to EUR19.56 billion in the first half, topping analysts' expectations of EUR19.39 billion. Sales in France--its largest market--were down 1.3% on a comparable basis.

Net income for the period was EUR1.27 billion, up 75% due to the sale of its stake in the EE joint venture in the U.K. and a decrease in corporate income tax.

Along with its rivals, Orange in France has been hurt by a mobile-service price war sparked by the arrival of a new competitor, Iliad SA, although the situation has improved in recent months as prices stabilized.

Outside France, the group has been busy reviewing its portfolio of assets and is in exclusive talks to buy four Airtel subsidiaries in Africa, pushing further into a region the company has looked to for growth in recent years.

"We are particularly pleased with these results which mark a return to revenue growth in the second quarter, excluding regulation, for the first time since 2011," Orange Chairman and CEO Stephane Richard said.

The company reiterated its full year guidance of achieving Ebitda between EUR11.9 billion and EUR12.1 billion.
Source: Marketwatch 28 July 2015