Proximus improves EBITDA guidance after 'solid' Q3

Proximus improved its EBITDA guidance for 2015 after the Belgium-based operator reported what it described as a solid performance in the third quarter of 2015.

The company said full-year underlying group EBITDA guidance had been revised upwards to 4-5 per cent growth. In the third quarter, underlying group EBITDA increased by 3.3 per cent year-on-year to €447 million ($492 million).

Analysts from Jefferies International said the full-year EBITDA growth guidance had been narrowed from the 3-5 per cent range that was previously expected, and could have something to do with delays to rival Mobistar's cable plans.

"This might be related not just to operating performance year-to-date vs business plans, but also to Mobistar's announcement that its cable resale launch would be deferred into 2016e, possibly freeing up 'defence budgets' at Proximus," the analysts said.

Mobistar competes with Proximus and Base Belgium on the mobile market, but is banking on being able to resell cable services to allow it to re-enter the multi-services market. The planned launch of cable-based broadband digital TV services cannot take place until regulators have published their final decision on wholesale cable prices.

Meanwhile Proximus said underlying revenue increased by 2.5 per cent year-on-year to €1.51 billion in the third quarter. It attributed this growth to an improvement in fixed Internet and mobile services revenue by 2.4 per cent to €1.1 billion, although growth was in part offset by lower revenue from low-margin mobile devices in the third quarter.

International wholesale unit BICS also saw revenue increase 2.5 per cent in the third quarter to €420 million. Jefferies noted that the full-year guidance for core revenue had been kept unchanged at 2 per cent growth over last year.

Proximus also said it achieved the best quarter in mobile so far in 2015, with both the Proximus and Scarlet brands increasing customer numbers. The number of mobile SIM cards increased by 146,000, bringing the total mobile customer base to 5,882,000 at the end of September.

Dominique Leroy, CEO of Proximus, attributed the "solid financial and operational achievement" to the ongoing efforts to transform Proximus into a customer-centric company.

"With these achievements, it is with confidence that we adjust upwards our full-year guidance for the group underlying EBITDA," she commented.

For more:
- see the Proximus results

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