By Mathieu Rosemain
PARIS (Reuters) -Orange, France’s biggest telecoms operator, said its third-quarter core operating profit edged up by 0.2% on a comparable basis from a year earlier, driven notably by its cost saving plan and an unexpected return to growth in Spain.
The former monopoly, whose revenues have recently been propelled by a strong performance in Africa and the Middle East region, confirmed it saw a path for profit to recover in Spain next year, where a race for no-frills offers in the mobile market severely hit activity.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation after leases (EBITDAaL) in the third quarter amounted to 3.58 billion euros ($3.5 billion), in-line with the 3.586 billion-euro average of 16 analyst estimates compiled by the company.
The group confirmed its full-year targets, including a growth in core operating profit between 2.5% and 3%.
Sales in Spain, Orange’s second-biggest market, returned to growth for the first time since the first quarter of 2019, gaining 0.2% in the third quarter, in contrast with analysts’ expectations of a fall of 2.8% over the period.
Group revenues for the three-month period ending on Sept. 30 rose by 1% on comparable basis to 10.8 billion euros, slightly above expectations.
Sales in France, where Orange generates more than 40% of its revenue, fell by 1%, as the retreat of a profitable stream of money from co-financing deals continued.
Orange, which spooked investors last quarter by revealing a sudden drop in enterprise earnings, said the turnover of the division was underway but would not bear fruit yet in the second-half of 2022.
Orange will lay out its next strategic plan when it reports full-year results on Feb. 16 next year.
($1 = 1.0129 euros)
(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain;Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Kirsten Donovan)