PARIS Oct 23 France's largest telecom operator,
Orange, posted in-line third-quarter results on
Wednesday and confirmed its annual targets, even as sales in its
key home market slid amid tough competition with low-cost mobile
Chief Financial Officer Gervais Pellissier said the group
was still working to stabilise its operating profit sometime
next year, a target given in February, but the commercial
pressures in France made it hard to say if it would be able to.
Much will depend on how Iliad moves into high-end mobile
offers where customers get help buying smartphones, which it is
expected to do by Christmas, as well as whether European
regulators further cut roaming fees.
"I can't tell you now that we will be able to achieve our
goal of stabilising operating profit next year, but it's still
our intention," he said.
Third-quarter revenue fell 4 percent on a comparable basis
to 10.16 billion euros ($13.99 billion), while adjusted earnings
before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA)
fell 7 percent to 3.37 billion.
The hit to revenue from regulations on mobile call fees was
softer than a year earlier, helping slow the quarter's revenue
decline. Commercial performance in France also improved with the
signing of 298,000 net additions of mobile customers.
Operating free cash flow fell 13.5 percent to 2.07 billion
euros in the quarter.
Analysts had been expecting third-quarter revenue of 10.28
billion euros and adjusted EBITDA of 3.35 billion, according to
a Reuters poll of eight analysts. They had also predicted
operating free cash flow of 2.05 billion.
($1 = 0.7260 euros)
(Reporting by Leila Abboud and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by