Norway's Telenor lifts 2020 earnings view after Q3 beat


Telenor Group president and CEO Sigve Brekke

OSLO: Norway's Telenor raised its full-year earnings guidance after beating third-quarter expectations on Wednesday as cost cuts offset lower subscriber and roaming revenue.

Shares in the telecoms provider, which late on Tuesday sold its headquarters to free up capital, were 3% higher at 0805 GMT, outperforming a 0.2% decline in Oslo's benchmark index.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the July-September quarter rose 4% to 14.6 billion Norwegian crowns ($1.58 billion), topping the 14.1 billion expected by analysts, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

Telenor, active in nine countries across Europe and Asia, said it expected underlying core earnings (EBITDA) to rise by a low single digit percentage this year, compared with its previous forecast of a flat year-on-year outcome.

The company's operations in Pakistan and Bangladesh saw strong subscriber growth in the quarter, a turnaround from the decline seen in the preceding three months when COVID-19 lockdowns prevented many from topping up pre-paid subscriptions.

"Telenor's third quarter results highlight the strength of our operating model," Chief Executive Officer Sigve Brekke said.

The company cut operating costs by 8% in the quarter, helping to cushion a 2% fall in its underlying subscriber and roaming revenue.

"The very strong cost performance once again from Telenor is driving the good quarter," JP Morgan wrote in a note to clients.

Overall revenue, including from acquired businesses, rose to 30.0 billion crowns from 28.4 billion a year ago, just missing analyst expectations of 30.3 billion.

Telenor maintained a prediction for a low single-digit percentage decline in annual subscription and traffic revenue, as well as a forecast that capital expenditure would amount to around 13% of sales for the full year.

The company's operations in Thailand took a hit from the continued shortfall in tourism revenues, while increased competition in Malaysia and a regulatory re-registration of SIM cards for mobile phones in Myanmar impacted its overall subscriber base. - Reuters

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