UPDATE 1-Telecoms group Millicom profits fall less than expected
* Q3 profit $459 mln vs forecast $449 mln in poll
* Sees lower 2013 revenue, smaller losses in online unit
* Shares open up 5.5 pct (Adds more detail, background)
STOCKHOLM, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Emerging markets telecoms group Millicom reported a smaller than expected fall in third-quarter core profit on Monday as its online business made a smaller loss than forecast.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $459 million versus a mean forecast of $449 million in a Reuters poll of analysts and $507 million in the year-ago quarter.
Shares in the Latin America and Africa-focused operator were around 5.5 percent higher in early trade at 590 crowns.
Millicom, which had trimmed its margin outlook in its previous earnings report, reiterated that it expected its core profit margin to be around 40 percent in 2013, excluding its online business.
The company said in March it would double revenues over the next five years and is investing in its new platforms, squeezing margins.
The online business made an EBITDA loss of $18 million in the third quarter, less than the average forecast for a loss of $39 million from analysts. This business is involved in e-commerce, marketplace sites and online services.
Millicom said it expected an EBITDA loss of between $70 million and $90 million at the online business for 2013. Its previous forecast was for an EBITDA loss of $125-150 million.
The group also said it expected sales at its online business in 2013 above $80 million, down from close to $100 million.
The lower sales forecast for the online business was due to depreciation of the Brazilian real and a higher share of marketplace ventures, where revenue is in the form of commissions on sold items, not the total value of the goods sold, Millicom said.
The group is aiming to cut annual operating costs by $100 million by 2016 while increasing revenue from financial services, cable TV and mobile data to offset falling income from traditional voice calls.
Looking to boost growth in cable TV and broadband, Millicom struck a deal to merge its Colombian operations with Empresas Publicas de Medellin's (EPM) fixed line business earlier this year.
Millicom is also branching out into e-commerce where it sees synergies between telecoms, mobile financial services and online shopping, buying a stake in Rocket Internet's operations in Latin America and Africa.
Link to full report: r.reuters.com/fuf93v (Reporting by Sven Nordenstam. Editing by Jane Merriman)
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