UPDATE 1-Bezeq Israel Telecom forecasts flat earnings for 2013

Tue Feb 5, 2013 3:53am EST

* Expects 2013 net profit between $460 mln and $487 mln

* Reiterates 2012 outlook (Adds details, background)

TEL AVIV Feb 5 (Reuters) - Bezeq Israel Telecom, the country's largest telecoms group, expects 2013 net profit to be little changed from last year and slightly above analysts' forecasts.

The company on Tuesday forecast 2013 net profit of between 1.7 billion shekels ($460 million) and 1.8 billion shekels. Analysts' consensus forecast for 2013 net profit was 1.55 billion shekels, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Bezeq said it expects free cashflow to exceed 2.7 billion shekels in 2013, against the 2.5 billion shekels it forecast for 2012.

Fourth-quarter results are expected in March, providing an indication of how Bezeq is adapting to the growing competition in Israel's telecoms industry.

The company's net profit fell 38 percent in the third quarter as its mobile phone unit suffered amid a price war sparked by the entry of six new operators. It also faces increased competition in the landline market, in which it was once a monopoly.

Bezeq said that streamlining processes are expected to continue in 2013 and it intends to speed deployment of optical lines to customer premises and residential buildings.

The company also reiterated its outlook for 2012, with net profit expected to come in at between 1.75 billion and 1.85 billion shekels.

Bezeq shares were up 1.8 percent at 4.34 shekels at 0837 GMT. ($1 = 3.6931 Israeli shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by David Goodman)