UPDATE 1-TeliaSonera boosted by data pricing focus, cost cuts

Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:52am EDT

(Adds details, background, CEO comment)

STOCKHOLM Oct 17 (Reuters) - Nordic telecom operator TeliaSonera reported third-quarter profit above expectations on Thursday helped by cost cuts and new ways to charge for data in its home markets.

Earlier this year, Telia started charging customers by the volume of data they use, with flat fees for voice and messaging, in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, aiming to boost profitability.

"It is particularly encouraging to report positive billed revenue growth in all three markets where these price plans have been introduced, reinforcing our view that we are on the right track," chief executive Johan Dennelind, who took charge of the company on Sept. 1, said in a statement.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), excluding non-recurring items, were 9.42 billion Swedish crowns ($1.5 billion) versus the average forecast of 9.15 billion in a Reuters poll and last year's 9.28 billion. It was also above the highest forecast in the poll of 9.36 billion.

The company said it continued to be affected by a difficult economic environment and lower regulated mobile termination rates, but that profitability had been supported by cost cuts.

TeliaSonera, which has seen slowing organic revenue growth for the past two years, repeated its outlook for the year for flat sales in local currencies and a slight improvement in its core profit margin in 2013.

Link to full report: r.reuters.com/xep83v

($1 = 6.5061 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Sven Nordenstam; Editing by Mark Potter)