Carphone Warehouse posts flat operating earnings

LONDON, June 14 Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:27am EDT

LONDON, June 14 (Reuters) - Carphone Warehouse, Europe's biggest independent mobile phone retailer, said earnings before interest and tax at its key European unit came in at the low end of its expectations, and forecast a slight rise in 2013.

The group said earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) at the European unit were 135 million pounds ($210.4 million) in the year to the end of March, unchanged versus the previous year and at the bottom of the company's 135-150 million pound forecast range.

Revenues at the division were 5.5 percent lower at 3.3 billion pounds.

It forecast headline EBIT of 130-150 for the full year 2013.

European retailers are suffering as rising prices, subdued growth in wages, government austerity measures and worries about the eurozone debt crisis hurt consumer spending.

"Looking ahead, we expect the consumer environment in Europe to remain difficult, but we see opportunities as well as challenges and we are confident in our strategic positioning and operational execution," Chief Executive Roger Taylor said in a statement.

Revenue at the group's Virgin Mobile France unit grew 18.8 percent to 390.2 million pounds. The group said the French unit had shown itself to be "very robust" in the face of increased competition - Iliad launched its Free Mobile in January.

The group said it would pay a 3.25 pence final dividend, taking its full-year dividend to 5 pence.

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