* Q3 sales 10.16 bln eur vs Reuters poll avg 10.28 bln
* Q3 adj EBITDA 3.37 bln eur vs Reuters poll avg 3.35 bln
* 2014 France mobile ARPU to fall by less than 10 pct-CFO
(Recasts, adds share data, France details)
By Leila Abboud and Gwénaëlle Barzic
PARIS, Oct 23 France's largest telecom operator,
Orange, still hopes to stabilise operating profit next
year although looming changes to European regulations on mobile
roaming fees and continued pressure in its home market could
knock it off course.
As the group posted in-line third-quarter results and
confirmed its 2013 targets, Chief Financial Officer Gervais
Pellissier said it was hard to say whether Orange would achieve
the 2014 goal given in February in an interview with Reuters.
"The pressure on revenue is still strong," Pellissier said.
"We are working now to try to achieve the objective [of
stabilising operating profit] sometime next year, but I cannot
tell you that we will be able to."
Investors are closely watching the issue especially since a
rally has sent Orange shares 35 percent higher in the past two
months, compared with an 18 percent rise for the European
telecom sector index in the same period.
Much will depend on how rival 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.
The fallout from Iliad's Free Mobile service continues, said
Pellissier, because only one-third of Orange's customers are on
2013 mobile prices while others are on higher ones from 2012.
Iliad has taken about 10 percent mobile market share in six
quarters by attracting many customers who were on pre-paid plans
at other operators.
Orange and the other established operators - Vivendi's SFR
and Bouygues - have tried to hold onto
higher-spending customers on one- or two-year contracts.
Average revenue per mobile subscriber in France will fall
again next year by "less than 10 percent", Pellissier added,
after a decline of roughly 10 percent in 2012 and a further 12
percent since January.
Europe's fourth-largest telecom carrier by sales saw revenue
fall 4 percent on a comparable basis to 10.16 billion euros
($13.99 billion) in the third quarter.
Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and
amortisation (EBITDA) slid 7 percent to 3.37 billion euros,
while operating free cash flow fell 13.5 percent to 2.07
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.
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)
(Editing by James Regan)